Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Santa Klaus Murder - Mavis Doriel Hay

Ooh an Agatha Christie style murder mystery set over Christmas for our December book club (#oneruleofbookclub), and chosen so easily as opposed to previous December book choosings it had to be a winner!

And it was for some of us who loved the post war, upper class England setting. It had all the hallmarks of a classic whodunit (the country house isolated by the Christmas bank holidays, the family gathering, the changing of a will) and was peppered with Christmas festivities (do you send a second present if you can't remember whether you sent a first or do you risk not sending any at all?)

The book however created a great divide between the group and every 9/10 was countered by a 5 or 6 as those in the against corner couldn’t warm to the self-centred, money grabbing characters who too many times had forgotten something of vital importance as 'they didn’t think it was relevant at the time'. It's a murder investigation why would a car driving away from the scene of the crime moments after it happened be relevant? Others struggled with too many characters and the authors labouring over points that didn’t really move the plot along (who closed what door leading to what room when).

It was interesting that those who read the physical book as opposed to reading it on a Kindle thought the above points slightly less of an issue as the book contained a note of all characters and a map of the ground floor of the house which greatly helped who the second daughter was married to and whether you could access the kitchen from the study.

The ending was a bit of a let-down, I didn’t think the final scenes including the big reveal were tense enough for a classic whodunit and I also thought the Inspector wasn’t a strong enough character. So often these murder mysteries have a strong lead (yes I'm thinking Poirot but there are others) and Halstock just wasn’t one of them.

Overall we all thought it better than last years offering (A Gift From Bob) but only just. 5/6 out of ten

We were divided in opinion this month and next month we will be even further as we review two separate books. Half will be reading Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, the other will be reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Which one will you choose?

Question of the month - what's your favourite whodunit?

Aftermath - Rhidian Brook

On paper (boom boom) this book was right up my street. British soldiers and their families in Germany following the second world war, an angle that I hadn't really read about before appealed to me.

However this book left me cold. I found it very predictable, I didn't like Rachel, I didn't get why Ozi and his crew kept appearing. There were too many characters and issues spread across too few pages preventing anything from fully forming.

There were good parts, I liked reading how the British wives shopped behind blacked out Windows and were allotted an inventory consisting of champagne flutes and butter knives depending on your husband's rank. I also found it interesting to read how the British dealt with the Germans, camps, questionnaires and cleaning processes are things you don't associate with England during the war.

Yet these issues were not given the space they needed to shine. Instead being submerged by German street kids carrying around their dead mothers (what was that all about?!?) Knicker revealing angry teenagers and people's reliance on gin.

I couldn't remember anyone's name when talking about the book at book club which is always a bad sign. Others however really really enjoyed the book, there were certainly lots of talking points and I think if you were to study the book it could perhaps be an interesting one to dissect but it just left me cold and its December I need warmth!

Book averaged a 7. I think my 5 hampered the 9's which were on offer.

Next book is Christmas (One rule of bookclub) book. The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. First impressions very Agatha Christie.

Question of the month. This book was set just after World War 2, what's your favourite war story?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

David Copperfield Charles Dickens #inbetweeny

Haven't written anything for a while as I was reading the doorstop that is David Copperfield. 700 plus pages of small writing can often leave you loosing the will to live but this didn't once. Yes I wanted to get it finished but only because I had a stack of other books waiting to be read not because I was finding the book tedious or boring.

I believe that the book was initially serialized and I think you can tell as each chapter was a little interesting story all by itself. I loved the characters especially David's (or should I say Trott's) aunt.

I was surprised by Dickens at some points - noting that the food in London wasn't as good as the food in the countryside due to the environment the animals had been raised in was way before its time!

Yes there was a certain predictability in the book but I really didn't mind. There was enough going on around to keep the reader entertained until you got there.

There was humour, villains, tragedy and triump by the bucketload and I thought the beginning in particular was heart breaking.

I have a number of Dickens novels still to read following on from my Dickens buying binge at the beginning of the year (after watching Dickensian) and whilst I won't be reading one straight away (I have the Christmas book club book to read after all) I certainly won't dread reading the next one.

Enjoyable. Long but enjoyable and lets face it, you would rather have it this way than short but boring.