Thursday, 26 April 2018

Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates

Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates (Phryne Fisher, #1)Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates by Kerry Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bored 1920s socialite Phryne Fisher—with a brain, a heart, and a social conscience—eschews the tiresome round of London parties for a life as a female detective. The case she accepts takes her to Melbourne, Australia, where evil apparently abounds.
The great Agatha Christie began Murder on the Links with an anecdote about a writer who, wanting to capture an editor’s attention, pens the opening line, ‘“Hell!” said the Duchess.’ Ms Greewood takes this advice to heart and starts her novel thus:
The glass in the French window shattered. The guests screamed. Over the general exclamation could be heard the shrill shriek of Madame St Clair, wife of the ambassador ‘Ciel! Mes bijoux!’

Taken in conjunction with the book’s title, you know you’re in for something that might have stepped straight from the Golden Age of Crime. There’s wee bit of sex that may feel a little foreign—as does Phryne’s automatic acceptance of the term “dairy” to describe what she would think of as a tea shop. I know what Ms Greenwood means because I grew up in New Zealand (as Phryne grew up in Australia), but when I read it, it was hard to rid my mind of Phryne and Dr MacMillan eating sandwiches in the company of milk cows.
The characters are delightful, the story cracks on apace, and there’s a good sense of history about it. What’s not to like? But that’s just my humble opinion…what’s yours? Do let me know what you think.

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Friday, 13 April 2018

Relics of the Dead

Relics of the Dead  (Mistress of the Art of Death, #3)Relics of the Dead by Ariana Franklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

1176. When fire destroys Glastonbury Abbey, two skeletons are unearthed in its grounds: one tall; one short. Could they really be the remains of Arthur and Guinevere? Henry Plantaganet sends Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to find out.
It’s an attractive proposition with a nice ensemble of characters in interesting settings, though some readers may find the slightly modern tone not entirely to their taste. Franklin herself says:
“I am sometimes criticized for making my characters use modern language…Since people then sounded contemporary to each other and, since I hate the use of what I call ‘Gadzooks’ in historical novels to denote a past age, I insist on making them sound contemporary to us.”

I know what she means. But just a little Gadzooks might have gone a long way.
The shape of story is slightly strange, with the climax coming three-quarters of the way through and the remainder of the book dedicated to explaining the historical importance of Henry II’s new laws. Since this was a completely new area to me, I was happy to go along for the ride. I’d happily read another in the series, come to that.
But that’s just my own humble opinion…what do you think? Do let me know!

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Friday, 6 April 2018

The Wench Is Dead

The Wench Is Dead (Inspector Morse, #8)The Wench Is Dead by Colin Dexter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s to my great shame that, despite being a fan of the original TV series from the very beginning, I have never read one of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse books until now. This one involves an historical crime set in the 1850s! And on a canal, no less! In my younger days as a teacher I was responsible for organizing a yearly residential for my students, which was often held on narrowboats out of Braunston Junction, one of the places the victim passed through on the way to her death.
Morse enjoys puzzles and so do I. We very similar in a number of respects. And the historical puzzle being offered here feels especially real, presented as it is in a variety of original and secondary sources. Fascinating stuff. Did I solve the puzzle? Yup. And just about as quickly as Morse solves one of his crosswords. I won’t say what gave it away, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Did I solve the cryptic crossword clue (six letters: “Bradman’s famous duck”)? I certainly wouldn’t have without Morse’s prompting. Quixote (its setter), one; me, nil, then. Oh, well. Can’t win them all.
As for the present-day Morse part of the novel, our detective is confined to hospital and fantasizes about dating the nurses, not that many of them would reciprocate his wistful yearnings. His downtrodden Sergeant Lewis is dismissed out-of-hand and taken for granted—at least until his words of wisdom surface in Morse’s distracted mind.
Would I read another Morse? I certainly would! But that’s just my own humble opinion…what do you think? Do let me know!

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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Monthly Post: April 2018
The current state of publishing

Big Bona Ogles, Boy! (Send for Octavius Guy, #3)Big Bona Ogles, Boy! (Send for Octavius Guy, #3) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.80 of 5 stars

I’m back! Or perhaps I should say: my back! It’s still giving me problems, sitting for any length of time to write being just one of them. But I couldn’t ignore this post for it marks my website’s fifth birthday. Yes! Now we are five! My enforced inactivity has given me plenty of time to read however (and I have read some particularly good thrillers of late and discovered some truly wonderful authors). It also gave me time to think about the current state of publishing. It’s never been easier to publish your novel yourself and see your own words in print. Nor harder to find anyone who is prepared to read it, let alone shell out good money for the privilege. Why? Read on…

This month’s giveaway is a free download of Big Bona Ogles, Boy!: Octavius Guy & The Case of the Mendacious Medium (#3). There’s a new woman in town, recently arrived from Boston, who claims to be able to contact the dead. Need it be said that our Victorian boy detective remains unconvinced? Offer ends on April 30th 2018 and, no, there are no strings attached. Why shell out good money if you don’t have to?

“My favorite Victorian boy investigator sets off to solve a new mystery…Words cannot describe just how much I enjoy Octavius.”—Bethany Swafford (The Quiet Reader) Goodreads Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!

Find me on my website Michael Gallagher Writes, on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @seventh7rainbow