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Readingomnivore Reviews

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by readingomnivore, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    INFORMATION RECEIVED is the first book in the Bobby Owen mystery series written by E. R. Punshon. It was originally published in 1933, when it received a glowing review from Dorothy L. Sayers, part of her campaign to move the crime novel away from Edwardian melodrama toward more psychological realism and authentic depiction of police work. It was reissued in e-book format in 2015.

    Something is amiss from the time Sir Christopher Clarke, ruthless millionaire businessman in the City, demands his solicitor Basil Marsden of Marsden, Carsley, and Marsden, turn over the securities and accounts for the Belfort Trust. Marsden is loath to do so and, after Clarke insists and leave with the file, he confesses to his partner that he's embezzled funds and ruin is eminent. That night, Sir Christopher is found shot to death at home with the Belfort securities and a cache of diamonds missing from his safe. The situation is complicated by the secret marriage of Marsden's partner, young Peter Carsley, to Clarke's daughter Jennie. To prevent the marriage, Clarke burnt his old will; the new will he dictates to Marsden will leave Jennie penniless if she is married at the time of his death. He plans to settle some £40,000 on his stepdaughter Brenda Laing instead of dividing the estate equally between the women. Is the timing of his murder significant? An elderly man had been lurking about Clarke's home, making vague threats. Why does the gift of tickets to the new hit production of Hamlet at the Regency Theatre, for two stall seats, sent to his City office, to his home, and to the solicitor's office, spook Clarke so much?

    Most elements--victim and his family and associates, sketchy setting, central plot situation--of INFORMATION RECEIVED are typical of a puzzle plot. In the denouement, Punshon uses three major confessions to explain the disparate plot components. The device used to establish the alibi for Sir Christopher's killer may not be original, and the motive for his murder comes from so deep in the past that it is not adequately foreshadowed.

    The protagonist Bobby Owen is the key difference. Owen is an Oxford graduate, but with only a pass degree, athletic ability his major talent, very ordinary, who "...began to realize that in sober fact the detection of crime is not a matter of individual genius, of brilliant and dramatic improvisations on a given theme, but rather the slow collecting of and feeding of facts into a great machine that in the end slowly and ponderously churns out the legal proof required. And he saw that the process is often as dull and tedious a job as that of sitting all day on an office stool, adding up figures--or as he had found his own evening at 'The Green Man,' drinking beer that he did not want and exchanging commonplaces on subjects that didn't interest him with people who interested him still less." (144)

    INFORMATION RECEIVED is central to the development of the modern crime novel, but its interest lies more in its transitional nature than to its plot or characters. I doubt that I will follow up on the series. (B)
     
  2. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    PROGRESSION, V. 1 is the first of two continuations of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was written by Jodi L. Covey and published in e-book format in 2014.

    PROGRESSION, V. 1, opens during the double wedding in Meryton of Charles Bingley to Jane Bennet and of Fitzwilliam Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy guests are scarce; only his sister Georgiana and cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam attend, Darcy having failed to follow protocol in presenting his affianced wife to Lord and Lady Matlock for approval and refused Lady Catherine's edict to end the engagement altogether. It continues through the first year of the Darcys' married life, as both adjust to their marriage, entertain their combined families at Pemberley during Christmas, and prepare for both Georgiana and Elizabeth's presentation to Society during the Season. It stops with the Darcys established at Darcy House in preparation, Elizabeth newly pregnant.

    Without doing spoilers, PROGRESSION, V. 1, tries to cover too much territory, giving at least vignettes of all the major characters in Pride and Prejudice, plus introducing two major new villainous males: Stephen Fitzwilliam, Lord Ashbourne, Colonel Fitzwilliam's elder brother; and Lord Thornhaugh, oldest son of the Duke of Bedford, who's courting Caroline Bingley. Anne de Bourgh and .Charlotte Collins both face challenges, and Colonel Fitzwilliam leaves the militia to volunteer as a cavalry captain in General Wellesley's forces on the Peninsula. It's all too much. There is no conclusion, no sense of closure on any of the multitude of story lines. I much prefer a more concentrated story telling that focuses on a few of the major characters and completes the tale to this shotgun approach.

    Several things bother me. One is the improbability of such an ill-assorted house party at Pemberley at Christmas. Would Elizabeth invite her whole family including Lydia to a week's visit at the same time as the Matlocks, when it is the first time she's entertained Darcy's aristocratic relatives? Formatting often leaves words run together, not a serious flaw but distracting. Covey writes in an odd mixture of formal English, some of it Austen-like but minus her wit and irony, and slang, cant expressions, some anachronistic. The combination jars. She refers to Colonel Fitzwilliam leaving for "the Peninsular"--he is going to the Iberian Peninsula where Arthur Wellesley leads the British forces fighting Napoleon in the Peninsular War.

    PROGRESSION, V. 1, would benefit from judicious editing to tighten story lines, to reduce the number and develop the characters. (C)
     
  3. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    SONG OF THE LION is the latest to date in Anne Hillerman's continuation of Tony Hillerman's Navajo Nation mystery series. It was published in print and e-book editions in 2017.

    Bernadette Manuelito is off duty and enjoying the homecoming basketball game between alumni and current Shiprock High School basketball teams when an explosion rocks the gym. The BMW belonging to alumni stand-out Aza Palmer blows up with extensive damage to surrounding vehicles and the death of a young Navajo Richard Horseman. Is he collateral damage, the intended victim, or an inept bomb maker? Because she's first responder, Bernie becomes part of the interagency investigation of the bombing. Does it have something to do with Aza Palmer's upcoming mediation of highly controversial plans for development on the rim of the Grand Canyon on land owned by the Navajo Nation? Is he the bomber's target? Jim Chee is assigned to chauffeur and guard Palmer as the investigation continues and the conference opens to well-publicized protests.

    Hillerman does an excellent job of keeping the motive and thus the identity of the bomber hidden, though she does include some foreshadowing. The role of the mountain lion seems a bit contrived. Sense of place is good but not so well developed as in her earlier novels. icat

    Two things I particularly like. One is that Bernie is full, equal partner in police work to husband Sgt. Jim Chee, also of the Navajo Tribal Police. She is quite capable of taking care of herself and rescuing victims as necessary. She is agreeably complex, a dedicated, professional cop but also a loving daughter who cares deeply about her aging mother. The other is Joe Leaphorn's involvement in solving the case. Leaphorn still has trouble with verbal communication, particularly in Englsh, but he's become adept in computer research and use of e-mail to communicate and, of course, his memory and his contacts make him a valuable resource. He's impaired but definitely functional.

    SONG OF THE LION is satisfying. (B+)
     
  4. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    Catherine Bilson's INFAMOUS RELATIONS is one of the more original fan fiction variants on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in e-book format in 2016.

    ~~~MINOR SPOILERS~~~

    When Fitzwilliam Darcy gives Elizabeth Bennet his letter of explanation for the misdeeds she charged him with following his disastrous proposal at Hunsford, she is caught in the rain and does not read it before running back to the parsonage. There, in removing her coat, she drops it; Mr. Collins picks it up, recognizes the Darcy seal, and reads it. The impropriety and the insult to Lady Catherine de Bourgh's plans inflames him to molest Elizabeth sexually. She flees back into the storm, falls and hits her head, to be found by Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. Collins takes the letter to Lady Catherine, who tries to use the knowledge of Georgiana's projected elopement to blackmail Darcy into marrying Anne. Charlotte Collins and neighbor Dr. Daniel Trent are desperate to keep the assault on Elizabeth secret since public knowledge would ruin her reputation even though she was not raped. The story continues as Trent treats Elizabeth, Lady Catherine demands her immediate expulsion from the parsonage, Darcy and Fitzwilliam defy their aunt and learn of the assault, and the four gradually determine the location of the attack and the attacker's identity. Both self-perceptions and judgments about others change dramatically during this process. Once Elizabeth regains consciousness, she and Darcy soon reconcile their misunderstandings. What happens with Collins and Lady Catherine is exquisitely ironic.

    Bilson makes important changes in several characters, though Darcy, Elizabeth, and Charlotte are essentially unchanged. When Jane Bennet arrives at Hunsford to nurse Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam quickly is impressed with her beauty, manners, and spirit. Understanding from Elizabeth's unconscious mutterings that Darcy is the assailant, Jane slaps him not once but twice across the face at first sight. Jane also decides she could not possibly be happy with a man who allowed his sisters and a friend to determine whom he should marry. Mr. Bennet demands more appropriate behavior from the younger Bennet sisters and forbids Lydia's trip to Brighton. Jane and Elizabeth take more active roles in guiding their sisters' public conduct. Anne stands up to her mother and blocks her attempt to blackmail Darcy. All satisfying changes, with Dr. Daniel Trent an interesting addition.

    I do have a few reservations. Editing could be better. The Gardiners' address is given as "Gracechurch-street." Mr. Bennet calls Mr. Gardiner "Edward," but he introduces himself as "Edwin." Colonel Fitzwilliam refers to General Arthur Wellesley as 'Wellingon" before he was created Duke of Wellington. Too many expressions and gestures are described as "arch." Darcy smirks. Bilson has him quote Rhett Butler when he tells his aunt, "Frankly, Aunt Catherine, I don't give a damn" when she denies future association with him. My biggest problem comes back to the entail. With Mrs. Bennet's obsession about being thrown out into the hedgerows when Mr. Bennet dies, it's hard to believe that the succession to Longbourn in the case of failure of the male line had not been thoroughly examined beforehand.

    INFAMOUS RELATIONS is one of the more original, more satisfying variants. Recommended. (A-)
     
  5. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    MISS SEETON SINGS is the fourth book in Heron Carvic's mystery series featuring Miss Emily Dorothea Seeton, retired art teacher of Plummergen, Kent. She is on retainer from Scotland Yard as a civilian artist because "...wherever Miss Seeton has been in contact with or... put in touch with any form of crime, she has unconsciously, maybe one should say she has unwittingly, had the effect of one of those lawn weed killers which startle the plants into excessive growth until the plants, in this case the crimes, have blown themselves up, distorted themselves and finally solved themselves or killed themselves through their own overstimulated energy." Originally published in 1993, MISS SEETON SINGS was issued in e-book format in 2016.

    Under pressure from the Foreign Office, Scotland Yard reluctantly seconds Miss Seeton to the Banque du Lac in Geneva as part of its investigation of huge quantities of forged £5 notes passing through the Swiss accounts of Greek shipping millionaire Herakles Stemkos. The counterfeit notes are part of a conspiracy to destabilize the British economy along with side criminal enterprises of embezzlement, art thefts, and jewel robberies. Seeton-induced chaos begins at Heathrow, when she inadvertently prevents the transfer of forged notes between couriers and takes the flight to Genoa; she proceeds to Milan en route to Switzerland, encountering the criminals again and confounding them, before arriving in Geneva where everything goes pear-shaped. Stemkos demands Miss Seeton in Paris, where she accidentally becomes the star of a new hit nudist review. She, of course, is neither nude nor in costume; gentlewomen don't behave so. It's only when she returns to Heathrow that the final threads of the conspiracy unravel.

    I am whimsy impaired, but I have no problem in putting aside disbelief and enjoying the silliness. I admire the skill with which Carvic develops the truism that "the guilty flee when no man pursueth." Probable events, no; good fun, yes.

    Carvic carefully establishes settings as Miss Seeton moves about in Europe, nowhere better than in his evocation of Geneva: "Geneva: city of intrigue; where Machiavelli would have felt right at home; where delegations come from every other land and every delegate is other than they seem; where informers sell to spies and spies are counterspies and only unite to undermine the United Nations; where dubious financiers put doubtful gains into unnamed accounts and use the city as a springboard to new lives in brighter sunshine at their shareholders' expense; where deviation from accepted standards is accepted as the norm; where infiltration is the order of the day and honesty is more suspect than the lie."

    MISS SEETON SINGS (the title refers to "Song of India" by Rimsky-Korsakov, the humming or singing of which is the password between couriers of the forged notes) is over the top, even by the standard of earlier books in the series, but it's an amusing read. (B)
     
  6. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    PROGRESSION, V. 2 is the second volume in Jodi L. Covey's continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It continues the changed story lines introduced in the first volume and, like it, resolves none. It was published in e-book format without a copyright date. The ending assures us of a volume 3. I do not plan to continue the series. I feel cheated that in a total of 61 chapters over two full-length novels, NOT ONE of the plot lines has reached closure.

    ~~~SPOILERS~~~

    Volume 2 deals with Darcy, Elizabeth, and Georgiana jumping through the hoops as prescribed by Lady Matlock and the Lady Patronesses of Almack's as necessary for admission to Society. Since none of the Darcys are interested in living in London or participating in the activities of the Ton, it's not clear why they subject themselves to the gossip, backbiting, and hostile machinations. At the climax of the ball at Almack's that marks Georgiana and Elizabeth's debut, Darcy introduces Georgiana's pianoforte recital with a prolonged heartfelt public proclamation of his feelings for his wife, to whom the performance is dedicated; Georgiana plays a waltz to which Elizabeth and Darcy dance, further scandalizing their audience. The waltz previously had been forbidden at Almack's because it is too intimate and risque for public performance.

    Covey continues the shotgun approach, dealing with the on-going animosity between Darcy and Lord Thornhaugh, who ruins Caroline Bingley and moves to engage Anne de Bourgh's interest. Richard Fitzwilliam is invalided home following a battlefield injury, while his older brother Stephen, Viscount Ashbourne, is gravely ill with pneumonia. Younger brother Matthew has received clandestine letters from Kitty Bennet, with whom he's fallen in love, though she loves Christian Lucas. Anne de Bourgh plans to live with the Matlocks until she can refurbish the de Bourgh townhouse in London. Charles and Jane Bingley purchase an estate in Derbyshire near Pemberley, to which they plan to move. They are encumbered with Caroline, who's delusional, believing Thornhaugh will claim her as his wife, pregnant with his heir. His father the Duke of Bedford has exiled Thornhaugh to India; his second son Lord John Russell meets Georgiana at the ball and is much taken with her. Charlotte Collins returns to Hunsford to her husband, bearing the news to Lady Catherine that Anne plans never to return to Rosings.

    Besides the lack of resolution, slang anachronisms and infelicitous word choice jar. Since I do not care for the introduced inconsistencies in major characters, and I resent the lack of resolution (which seems a deliberate ploy to enforce sales), I shan't continue the series. (C-)
     
  7. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    SO SURE OF DEATH is the second in Dana Stabenow's mystery series featuring Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell and Bush pilot Wyanot Chosinard. She owns the Nushagak Air Taxi Service out of Newenham, where Campbell, newly promoted to Corporal, is station chief. It was originally published in 1999 and reissued in e-book format in 2013.

    Alaska State Trooper Diana Prince's first day in Newenham is a busy one. Campbell receives a call to Kulukak where fishermen found the fishing boat Marybethia adrift, burned and sinking, with seven bodies on board: David and Molly Malone, their two teenaged children, his brother Jonathan, and two deck hands. Autopsy shows all had been shot some two hours before the boat was set on fire and her plugs pulled to scuttle her. Meanwhile, Wy flies Professor Desmond X. McMcLynn of the University of Alaska, into his long-running archaeological dig at Tulukaruk, to discover the body of his graduate student go-for Don Nelson. Nelson'd been dead for two days, stabbed in the mouth with a story knife. Liam soon captures Frank Petla; Petla had attacked Prince and McLynn at the dig, stolen artifacts, and fled the scene with the rifle he used, with no alibi for the time of Nelson's death. But Petla had been drunk since the weekend and claims to be innocent. After investigation shows the Kulukak tribal chief Walter Larsgaard, Jr., had been having an affair with Molly Malone, he confesses to the the Marybethia murders. But Liam isn't sure about either man's guilt.

    One of Stabenow's great gifts as a writer is the ability to root her stories in the unique Alaskan setting; "Kulukak was a small village of two hundred, mostly Yupik souls. It sat on the northwest side of Kulukak Bay, a circle of water eight miles across and ten miles north to south, enclosed by rolling hills and thick green vegetation that reminded Liam of Puget Sound without Seattle. It was calm and still, not a ripple moving the surface of the bay; each hill and rock and narrow beach represented on that surface with mirrorlike fidelity. A low-lying mist clung to the tops of the trees, which reflection gave the scene an eerie black and white look, and a still, moody, almost sullen air." (25)

    . Stabenow also excels at characterization. She has developed a viable community of Newenham inhabitants, judiciously used to support and/or challenge the protagonists. Because the evolution of Liam and Wy's relationship is key to the series, it's best read in order. She is adept in succinct, wry revelation of personality: "Professor Desmond X. McLynn was not in the business of admiring views. Professor Desmond X. McLynn reserved his regard for artifacts of a pre-Columbian nature, preferably in a precarious state of preservation which left more room for speculation and the positing of new theories, properly attributed to himself, on the course of anthropological and social development of Homo sapiens in this godforsaken corner of the world." (16-7)

    Stabenow's plot is fair, hiding killer(s) in plain sight but with foreshadowing that supports her conclusion. SO SURE OF DEATH moves along Liam and Wy's relationship while introducing the complication of the unexpected arrival of Air Force Colonel Charles Bradley Campbell, Liam's estranged father. Why is he in Newenham? It is a good story. (B+)
     
  8. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    MR. DARCY DANCES is Sophie Lynbrook's unique interpretation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in e-book format in 2016.

    MR. DARCY DANCES opens at the assembly in Meryton, but Fitzwilliam Darcy, instead of alienating the locals and especially Elizabeth Bennet with his aloof behavior and scornful remarks, turns himself into a dancing fool. Aroused by Caroline Bingley's pointed criticism of Mrs. Bennet and her five daughters, all out and not the oldest of them married, he vows to dance with each. His capering, boisterous behavior encourages the younger girls to new heights and thoroughly annoys Miss Bingley, to whom he's engaged. He discovers he's having fun and continues his affability, making himself popular with both the civilians and the militia officers in Meryton. Trying to force Caroline to renounce the engagement, he argues with her every opinion and continues his free and open demeanor. Elizabeth does not know what to make of him; she's repulsed by the foolishness of an intelligent man even as he and she discover a mutual attraction. When she takes him to task for his wild behavior worsening her sisters' reputations, he's faced with the need to rectify his mistakes and to change her opinion.

    There is a fine line in Jane Austen fan fiction between acceptable and unacceptable changes in the canon. To me, Lynbrook's changes go too far, especially her changes in Darcy, Caroline Bingley, Mr. Bennet, and the three younger Bennet daughters. MR. DARCY DANCES is not one of my favorites. (D)

    ~~~SPOILERS~~~

    Caroline Bingley takes advantage of Darcy's exhaustion, preoccupation, and inattention to her conversation shortly after the episode at Ramsgate to propose their marriage; she immediately proclaims it to their gathered friends and pays the London newspapers to print the announcement the next morning. Darcy is by honor bound to the engagement; his breaking off with Caroline will produce a lawsuit for breach of contract, and the resulting scandal cost both money and his reputation. In Meryton, Caroline chooses Elizabeth as her particular friend and includes her at Netherfield on every possible occasion. Granted that the original is not a perceptive woman, Lynbrook's Caroline is oblivious to Elizabeth's distaste for her company and to Darcy's attraction to the challenging woman.

    The major change is in Fitzwilliam Darcy. Austen's man would never caper and make a joke of himself in a public assembly, even to annoy an unwanted fiancee. Nor would he have allowed himself to be forced into an engagement with Caroline Bingley. The difference in their wealth and social status (she, after all, is from Trade) would have provided him means to escape and, realistically, made his version of events the believed one. He fails to confront Caroline until Elizabeth makes him realize he must choose between his present pride and his future possible happiness.

    Faced with Elizabeth's accusation of encouraging the wild behavior that's spoiling her younger sisters' reputations, Darcy's decision to start a school to instruct them is too much. To keep it secret in Meryton would be impossible--he hired two houses on short notice and brought in servants, an administrator / chaperone, and noted masters of French, Italian, music, art, history, and philosophy, all of them living in the village. The younger Bennets attend daily, and he almost as often to check on their progress. Wouldn't gossip-hungry people notice and talk? He does not ask permission of Mr. Bennet, only telling him about his project some weeks after the fact. Would Mr. Bennet acquiesce to Darcy's plan to dower each of the educated girls with £5,000 so she can attract a man who can support an educated wife? (Shades of Eliza Doolittle after she learns to speak proper!) Is it likely that Mary become an accomplished musician who publishes books on philosophy, Kitty a best-selling author on military strategy (praised by Wellington, no less), and Lydia a Francophone painter exhibited at the Royal Academy?

    Lynbrook's Darcy does not interfere with Charles Bingley's courtship of Jane Bennet, but he does advise Charlotte Lucas against marrying Mr. Collins to secure her future. Instead, he endows a school where Charlotte teaches academics, practicality, and common sense to young women. Darcy is at once too hidebound in his attitude toward the coerced engagement and too free in his decision-making for other people.
     
  9. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    ODDS ON MISS SEETON is the fifth book in Heron Carvic'sn mystery series featuring Miss Emily Dorothea Seeton, retired art teacher of Plummergen, Kent, who is on Scotland Yard retainer as a civilian artist. Originally published in 1975, it was reissued in e-book format in 2016.

    Inspector Borden of the Fraud Squad sends Miss Seeton in disguise, along with DC Tom Haley as guardian, to The Gold Fish casino to observe a Mr. Thatcher, believed to be head of a violent crime syndicate taking control of gambling in the London area. Attempts to photograph Thatcher have been unsuccessful, so Borden hopes for a sketch to be used for identification purposes. Unfortunately, Thatcher recognizes Miss Seeton and arranges for her to be roughed up when his men stealing the excessive diamonds adorning her as well as the £4,000 she won at roulette. As usual when Miss Seeton is involved, the crooks' plans go pear-shaped. What ensues is a comedy of errors as Miss Seeton tries to help Deirdre Kenharding and becomes embroiled in violence at the Kempton Park racing meet and the Plummergen parish fete, kidnapping, and multiple deaths.

    With change of locations and events, this is a fair plot summary of all the Miss Seeton books. There is never any doubt that she will triumph over the most dastardly villains and their machinations; the fun comes from the absurd ways in Miss Seeton foils them. Thatcher's end in ODDS ON MISS SEETON is wonderfully ironic.

    One of Miss Seeton's engaging characteristics is her oblivion to her unusual life. "Many people tend to forget or to translate experiences in their lives which do not fit with their own conception of themselves and Miss Seeton was a past mistress of this art. Already the riot in the car park [gang attack on the Seeton group] was assuming something of the nature of a student demonstration. To protest was indigenous to youth, she mused. After all, if she remembered rightly, the very word 'university' derived from students forming a guild to protec their rights and protest, sometimes with violence, against bad conditions in the thirteenth- and fourteen-century Europe. She nodded agreement with her thoughts. It took many years of living to accept life, to appreciate the advantages of tranquility, . . . though to the young her own life would appear humdrum . . . "

    While I thoroughly enjoyed ODDS ON MISS SEETON, I did identify one historical problem. Lord Kenharding shows Miss Seeton the portrait gallery at Kenharding Abbey, pointing out a superb miniature by Nicholas Hilliard (c1547-1619); his next statement is that its subject was executed for treason in 1684. Either the artist or the 1684 date must be in error. (B+)
     
  10. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    TO BE MISTRESS OF PEMBERLEY is Charlotte Elliot's variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I found no publication date, but it is available in Kindle format.

    While touring Derbyshire with the Gardiners, Elizabeth Bennet is caught by a violent storm while walking alone in the woods between Pemberley and Lambton; she's injured by a falling tree limb. Fitzwilliam Darcy returns home a day early and finds her unconscious in the forest, already suffering from exposure and shock. The storm forces him to tend her in a nearby hunting cabin, trapping them there overnight. Should this become known, Elizabeth's reputation will be eternally compromised, with Darcy forced by honor to marry her; he is most willing, but they agree to conceal the truth so that she will not be forced into an unwanted marriage. However, Caroline Bingley, arriving early the following morning, observes Elizabeth in the woods with a man whose face she does not see. so she does not accept the story. Caroline searches for evidence that Elizabeth had not been alone overnight and uses it to expose her, thinking to extinguish Darcy's love for Elizabeth. Instead, Darcy and Elizabeth become engaged, with Darcy agreeing to an extended engagement so Elizabeth, whose opinion of him is rapidly becoming favorable, can get to know him. Things go smoothly until Mr. Bennet and Jane arrive at Pemberley, when Caroline makes a last attempt to prevent Charles Bingley from proposing to Jane.

    I have no problem with TO BE MISTRESS OF PEMBERLEY up to the point where Caroline involves herself again with Charles and Jane. Elliot's characters are faithful to the originals, their emotions are reasonable, their behavior realistic to the period. She introduces no newcomers of importance. Writing style is pleasant, though errors in word choice and word order seem to have slipped in during formatting. (A-)

    ~~~POSSIBLE SPOILER~~~


    I do not understand Elizabeth and Darcy's instant belief when Caroline says that Charles is engaged to her friend Miss Ellis. They both know Caroline's a two-faced conniver, bitter over losing Darcy to Elizabeth, willing to do most anything to hurt her. They know she's desperate to keep Charles and Jane apart. They know she already lied to Jane about Charles courting Georgiana Darcy. So why do they accept the story so unsuspiciously, even for one day? :rolleyes:
     
  11. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    CHAOS COMES TO KENT is Jann Rowland's latest variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in e-book format in 2017.

    CHAOS COMES TO KENT involves unique changes to the original story. Without interfering with Charles Bingley's feelings for Jane Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy leaves Netherfield shortly after the Meryton assembly, before the arrival of George Wickham who thus has no need to spread stories of Darcy's mistreatment, leaving Elizabeth's dislike is based only on Darcy's insult to her beauty. Parish business prevents William Collins's fall trip to Longbourn, leading him to invites the entire Bennet family to visit the Hunsford parsonage for two months in the spring. Desiring to remove his younger daughters from the militia officers in Meryton and expecting to be amused by Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet accepts. Upon arrival their arrival in Kent, Lady Catherine de Bourgh preempts Jane, Elizabeth, Kitty, and Lydia to "relieve overcrowding" at the rectory; Mary is left behind to be courted by Mr. Collins. In reality, Lady Catherine has a two-pronged plan: to civilize Lydia and Kitty's outrageous behavior and instill some accomplishments and to assess Jane and Elizabeth as potential wives for her nephews Darcy and Colonel Anthony Fitzwilliam. She finds them ideal candidates and soon, in friendly concert with Mrs. Bennet, sets about matchmaking. Anne de Bourgh, however, is obsessed with her claimed engagement to Darcy; she's arrogant, unfriendly, sarcastic about all the Bennets, enlisting Mr. Collins in her campaign to force Darcy into setting a wedding date. Despite Mrs. Bennet's confusion about which daughter is meant for which nephew, the courtships succeed despite Collins's best efforts to "save" Darcy. :eatpop

    It's hard to believe in Lady Catherine as a benevolent character whose greatest concern is the happiness of her daughter, her niece, and her nephews. Rowland has her affable, tolerant, good-intentioned, defending her family against all comers (including Caroline Bingley whom she puts straight about low connections, effectively exiling her to life in York). She's the direct opposite, while Anne is the younger embodiment, of Austen's original Lady Catherine. Anne is so monomaniacal about the engagement that the last-minute decision that she can do better than Darcy and marry into the nobility rings false.

    While reforming Lady Catherine's faults, Rowland worsens William Collins's deficiencies, making him more stupid, more pompous, more loquacious, more convinced of his own rectitude, sagacity, and moral authority to intervene in others' concerns. He so often ignores orders and statements addressed to him in plain English that he appears intellectually challenged. He is virulent against Elizabeth. Collins's nadir, the last-ditch effort to preserve Darcy for Anne de Bourgh, is his offer to marry Elizabeth himself so that he might "correct" by force, if necessary, her forward behavior. Rowland's Mr. Collins is a parody of a character already a caricature in Austen's creation.

    :rolleyes:CHAOS COMES TO KENT is a singular interpretation. (A-)
     
  12. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    DEAD SERIOUS is the seventh and apparent;ly final book in Susannah Stacey's Superintendent Bone series, set in Biddinghurst, Kent. It was printed in 1995 and does not appear to be available in e-format, but secondhand paperback editions are inexpensive.

    Superintendent Robert Bone, his pregnant wife Grizel, and his teenage daughter Charlotte view for possible purchase the cottage belonging to television and film star Nigel Wells on the day before his body is found in the boot of Heather Armitage's car. Half his head had been shaved and his face painted in blue and green stripes; cause of death is suffocation. Because Bone was already in Biddinghurst with Cha attending the church fete, he is OIC to investigate the suspicious death. While the incident room is set up, Laurie Scatchard, local gardener and womanizer acting the "head on a platter" for the teenagers' Haunted House at the fete, is discovered to be stabbed to death. Are their deaths related? Investigation leads to the disclosure of Nigel Wells as supplier of drugs to the local adolescents and child pornographer. In London, Wells's series director Darren Winter, fond of drugs, alcohol, and young girls, is drugged, hit on the head, and shoved into his pool to drown. How does his death fit?

    Stacey develops neither the continuing characters nor the setting as much as in earlier books in the series, though the detective team is realistic. Sense of place with its emphasis on ghosts and hauntings in and around the village is good. Details of personal life for Bone and his family add authenticity as they house hunt and await Cha's GCSE test results, and the case involves Cha's friend Justin Rafferty, who worked for Scatchard and played Death in the Haunted House. Biddinghurst locals are believably drawn.

    Stacey only slowly reveals possible motives for Wells's murder, so much so that interest flags somewhat. The motive seems inadequate to explain three cold-blooded murders. She does an excellent job of foreshadowing the killer's identity while focusing attention on red herrings. DEAD SERIOUS is not the best of the series, but it is a satisfying read. (B)
     
  13. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    DARCY VS BINGLEY is Gianna Thomas's variation on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was published in e-book format in 2017.

    When Fitzwiliam Darcy and Charles Bingley attend the assembly in Meryton, each is instantly attracted to a Bennet sister. Darcy dances twice with Elizabeth Bennet, and Bingley thinks Jane Bennet an angel; moreover, the young women return their feelings. Caroline Bingley, having crusaded for four years to become mistress of Pemberley and seeing his attraction for Elizabeth, after the assembly invades Darcy's bedroom in an attempt to compromise him into marriage. He foils her and forbids her speaking to anyone of the attempt but, thanks to the servants, gossip quickly spreads against Caroline. Caroline stays on at Netherfield to hostess Bingley's ball in three weeks. Courtships proceed apace, with both couples engaged before the ball. In the meantime, Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam deal with George Wickham, while the Bennets assert control over their younger two daughters. When Caroline, raging at news of Darcy's engagement to Elizabeth, does hundreds of pounds in damages to her room, she gets what she has coming.

    Quite a few things bother me about DARCY VS BINGLEY. It reads more as a modern adaptation than a variant of the original. Word choice, especially the use of anachronistic slang and jargon (including but not limited to "to die for," "sustainable" forestry, "bamming"), and writing style are modern. Attitudes and behavior of main characters are also modern, not Regency: Thomas has both Darcy and Bingley kissing the Bennet girls' bare hands and wrists at the assembly the night they met. The couples talk of love and marriage on less than two weeks' acquaintance. Items of food and drink and the times at which they are offered are strange: Mrs. Bennet serves sandwiches to Darcy and Bingley before her own family has breakfasted. Longbourn is the second largest estate in Hertfordshire, second only to Netherfield Park, which minimizes Darcy's struggle over Elizabeth's lack of status. Wickham's fate, while appropriate, is contrived. It irks me that Elizabeth, who's professed her love for Darcy, believes even for one day Wickham's lies about him. The story continues too long following the turning point of the plot, the double epilogues excessive. The second epilogue, giving Caroline a happy ending, is agreeably ironic but seems manufactured.

    ~~~POSSIBLE SPOILERS~~~

    Some changes are highly satisfying. Bingley, initially reluctant to face Caroline's wrath, deals firmly with her attempt to compromise Darcy and with her destruction of property. He even punches him in the nose when Darcy questions the sincerity of Jane Bennet's affection for Bingley. Mr. Bennet asserts his authority within Longbourn. It's gratifying that Mrs. Bennet uses a peach switch on Lydia's behind. The Hursts are a loving couple who disapprove of Caroline's ways and refuse to house her. The ladies of Meryton, alienated by rumors of her attempted compromise of Darcy and by her direct attempts to ruin Elizabeth's character, give Caroline the cut direct at the Netherfield ball. Best of all, Darcy confronts Caroline with his precise feelings for herself and her plotting, the first of several explicit assessments of her character.

    I'd prefer that DARCY VS BINGLEY be either thoroughly modern or convincingly Regency in adapting Austen's work. As written, its concept of compromise as the basis for a forced marriage contradicts the modern attitudes and behaviors. :confused: (C)
     
  14. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    MISS SEETON BY APPOINTMENT is the sixth book in the Miss Seeton mystery series, but the first written by Hampton Charles who continued the series begun by Heron Carvic. It was printed in 1990 and reissued in e-book format in 2016.

    Miss Emily Dorothea Seeton is invited to the Queen's garden party at Buckingham Palace because Deputy Associate Commissioner Roland Fenn of Scotland Yard's Special Branch wants her to meet and sketch Sir Wormelow Tump. Tump, curator of the Royal Collection Objets de Vertu, is suspected of being a Soviet spy, one of the Cambridge group. Fenn expects Miss Seeton's drawing to reveal Tump's character. She's to attend with Sir George and Lady Colveden, her neighbors in Plummergen, whose home Rytham Hall has been rented as the site of a photo shoot by noted fashion photographer Cedric Benbow. (Miss Seeton had known him in art school as Clive Bennet, a South Londoner with spots.) The shoot will feature fin de siecle styles and priceless Lalique jewelry modeled by Marigold Naseby, formerly Wendy Smith, discovered after a nationwide talent search. Chief Inspector Chris Brinton of the Ashford Police has been alerted and, knowing results of her involvement in cases, does his best to see that Miss Seeton is otherwise occupied. The jewelry is an irresistible temptation for Sir Sebastian Prothero, a cashiered Guards officer who fancies himself a mastermind gentleman jewel thief a la Raffles or the Saint. Of course, Miss Seeton does become involved, sending the plans of both police and thief into chaos.

    I enjoy the humor of the Miss Seeton series, and Charles provides a generous helping in MISS SEETON BY APPOINTMENT. Suffice it to say that a shrunken head from the Queen's collection helps to foil Prothero. I like the irony of the Tump story line.

    Characterization is good, with Charles creating an unlikely combination of men who nevertheless become friends: Sir George Colveden, retired Major General; Sir Wormelow "Wonky" Tump, whom Miss Seeton sees as Chaucer's "verray parfit, gentil" knight; Cedric Benbow, aging celebrity queen; and Ferencz Szabo, aka Frank Taylor, late of the Royal Army Service Corps. They are over the top but somehow believable.

    While I am whimsy-challenged, I find it easy to suspend disbelief and enjoy MISS SEETON BY APPOINTMENT on its own terms. (B)
     
  15. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    MAYHEM & MUSLIN is the second mystery by Erin Butler that features Elizabeth Bennet as a detective. It is set shortly after she and Darcy solved the murder of which Mr. Bennet had been accused. It was published in e-book format in 2017.

    When Elizabeth goes to tend Jane ill at Netherfield and Dr. Pendleton diagnoses arsenic poisoning, she determines to discover who poisoned her sister. She's suspicious of Caroline Bingley, but there's a new maid servant Lyla who's acting peculiarly, and George Connors, sacked from Longbourn for stalking Jane, works at Netherfield as a stablehand. Which of them poisoned Jane, and why?

    Where to begin? Sentence structure is often awkward and word choice poor ("pertinence" as noun form for "pertinent," which doesn't fit context). Words are overused, with "smirk" replacing "smile," whether or not the connotation fits. Editing falls short. The main dish at dinner at Netherfield changes from lamb to duck and back again. Either Mr. Bennet or Mr. Bingley discovers George Connors trying to enter Jane's room.

    Characterization is lacking. The story is so brief that Butler does not attempt to make the suspects believable. They are cardboard cutouts moved as required by the plot. Darcy, Elizabeth, and Caroline do not fit Austen's originals. Darcy is smug and condescending to Elizabeth, while Caroline is secretive and callous, unlikely to have hired a personal maid as Butler describes. Elizabeth is petty and resents Darcy for failure to support her theories about Caroline Bingley. Darcy shuts himself with Elizabeth in her bedroom, and Charles Bingley spends time alone with Jane as she lies in bed. Both women are effectively compromised without consequences. No one reports the poisoning attempt even to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and the poisoner goes free.

    The shame is that MAYHEM & MUSLIN has real potential though Butler's treatment of arsenic poisoning is cursory and unrealistic. Arsenic, sometimes referred to as "inheritance powder," was used by heirs to speed their legacies, since arsenic poisoning was generally diagnosed as cholera or some other digestive system disease. It seems unlikely that Pendleton would immediately recognize arsenic poisoning. (The Marsh test to detect arsenic was not developed until 1836.) Butler includes but does not elaborate on two intriguing historic uses of arsenic--one in the preparation of green dyes and paints (Caroline has a green dress go missing) and another in cosmetics used to whiten the skin. Butler has Caroline taking small doses as a diet aid. Thorough revision expanding the scope of the plot could produce an effective mystery. As currently written, MAYHEM & MUSLIN simply isn't worth the time. (D):buttrock
     
  16. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY is the third book in Dana Stabenow's mystery series featuring Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell and his lover Wyanet Chouinard, owner of Nushagak Air Taxi Service, of Newenham, Alaska. It was originally published in 2000 and reissued in e-book format in 2016.

    Wy, flying mail to the post office in Kagati Lake, finds postmistress Opal Nunapitchuk shot to death. She calls in Campbell and Trooper Diana Prince. They discover both the post office till and the Nunapitchuk house robbed but, without forensic evidence, witnesses, or record of similar crimes, the killer is unlikely to be caught unless he strikes again. But Opal is the first of three murders that include hermit Pete Cole and gold miner Mark Hanover. The disappearance of his wife Rebecca Hanover is the latest in a series of mysterious disappearances of young women in the Bristol Bay area. What is going on?

    I do not care for the serial killer motif, and I dislike stories that feature long segments told from his or her point of view. While offering some insight, the killer's thoughts in NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY seems to be padding, as does Moses Alakuyak's story about the Hairy Man. Catching the killer involves much luck and coincidence. Liam and Wy's relationship progresses, with Wy's peace of mind challenged when Natalie Gosuk, the biological mother of Wy's soon-to-be-adopted son Tim, shows up in Newenham with a court order giving her the right to limited, supervised visitation with the boy. Because the relationships are so important in this series, it's best to read the books in order.

    Liam and Wy are believably complex individuals, both carrying serious emotional baggage from childhood and past relationships, both professionals skilled in their craft. "[Liam] looked at [Opal's] face first, something he had trained himself to do from his first crime scene. He wanted to imprint the face of the victim in his memory, be able to call it up at need. He wanted the face of the victim right there as he gathered evidence, as he interviewed witnesses, as he swore out an arrest warrant, as he conducted the interrogation, as he testified in court. He made sure that the victim was always with him."

    Wy is as dedicated as Liam: "Wy had toyed with the notion of adding a second Cessna to her fleet, but that would have meant hiring on another pilot, and that would mean she would have to start a payroll and find a group health insurance provider and begin paying Social Security and unemployment. It might have been the smart thing to do as far as the business was concerned, but it would be the top of a slippery slope toward a desk for her, and from the age of sixteen when she had first stepped into the cockpit of an aircraft, all she had ever wanted o do was fly." Continuing characters, especially magistrate Linda "Bill" Billington, Tim, and Moses, add authenticity.

    As always in Stabenow's novels, sense of place in NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY is outstanding. (B)
     
  17. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    DARCY'S SPOTLESS REPUTATION is Jane Grix's 2017 novella adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Its central image appears to originate, however, in Colin Firth's swim in the 1995 mini-series.

    Grix's Fitzwilliam Darcy habitually makes his daily ablutions in a dawn swim regardless of the weather; at Netherfield, much later in the day than usual, he emerges from the water naked to discover his clothing stolen. Elizabeth Bennet, en route to care for her ailing sister Jane, sees him, loans him her shawl to cover him as he returns to the house, and promises not to tell of their encounter. He is already smitten with Elizabeth and, when she accidentally breaks a porcelain figurine, suggests that she may need spectacles. She is astonished to discover him correct. With augmented vision, she see him clearly, both physically and emotionally. All issues between them--Wickham's lies about Darcy, Darcy's misunderstanding of Jane's feelings for Bingley, Mrs. Bennet's vulgarity and gossip about Darcy's being nude in the garden, Collins's intent to marry Elizabeth, Caroline's obsession to marry Darcy--are resolved at the Netherfield ball.

    The most important change in DARCY'S SPOTLESS REPUTATION is Elizabeth Bennet's needing spectacles. Grix does not alter or develop any of the original characters, she creates no new ones. Darcy's swimming well after sunup within view of the house, hung over after a late dinner with the Meryton officers, in late November in drizzling rain, seems improbable.

    Grix has a major sartorial mistake in Darcy's dress. A stock was worn as a necktie or cravat; it would not be padded with sawdust to fill out an inadequate calf. :buttrock

    DARCY'S SPOTLESS REPUTATION is worth neither the time or the money. (F)
     
  18. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    ADVANTAGE MISS SEETON is the seventh book in the Miss Seeton mystery series originated by Heron Carvic, the second in the continuations written by Hampton Charles. It was originally published in 1990 and reissued in e-book format in 2016.

    Nigel Colveden's latest love is rising tennis star Trish Thumper, daughter of hanging judge Sir Wilfred Thumper, formerly schoolboy servitor* of Sir George Colveden. She's provided tickets for the Colvedens and Miss Seeton to attend her match against American Nancy Wiesendonck at the Hurlingham Club, where she loses after being dosed. Sir Wilfred, frightened because he's receiving anonymous letters threatening his daughter, approaches the Commissioner of Scotland Yard, who passes down orders that Chief Superintendent Delphick find the writer. In the meantime, Sir Wilfred arranges for Trish to be a guest of the Colvedens until Wimbledon. Since this puts her near Plummergen and Miss Seeton, the Oracle arranges extra security through Chief Inspector Chris Brinton of the Ashford Division of the Kent Constabulary, as well as seconding Bob Ranger, under the cover of extra leave to help with preparations for his imminent wedding, to observe. As expected in Miss Seeton's vicinity, the best-laid plans go pear-shaped.

    I am disappointed in ADVANTAGE MISS SEETON. Despite the title, the role of tennis merely puts Miss Seeton into another improbable place to provoke mayhem. The resolution of the anonymous letters story line depends on the overheard term* taken in the wrong context. It's unlikely that the eavesdroppers would not recognize its nonsexual meaning. None of the new characters are much developed, and the continuing characters mechanically go through the motions. Humor is scarce and forced. The story meanders too long after the identification and capture of he criminals.

    What bothers me most is the introduction of sex as a significant component in the story. Mel Forby and Thrudd Banner become lovers; Chris Brinton and his wife have an intimate evening at home. One of the criminals is a camp homosexual, and the lesbian relationship between the Nuts--Miss Erica "Eric" Nuttel and Mrs. Norah "Bunny" Blaine is explicitly indicated. Charles also changes the dynamics in their relationship, moving Bunny into the subordinate role after she's dominated Eric in the first six books of the series. Even naive Nigel Colveden fantasizes abut seeing the ruffly briefs under Trish's tennis dress. None of the sex is graphic, but it's unnecessary.

    ADVANTAGE MISS SEETON does not compare to the quality of earlier books in the series. (D)l

    *Amazon will not let me post the review with the British slang term used for a younger schoolboy who was assigned to serve an older student who became his mentor.
     
  19. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    DISCOVERING MR. DARCY is one of Leenie Brown's novella variations on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.It is available in e-book format. I do not find a publication date.

    The basic change in DISCOVERING MR. DARCY involves Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Her seeming obsession with her nephew Fizwilliam Darcy's marriage to her daughter Anne has been a ruse to keep him from marrying in haste to fulfill his duty to provide an heir for Pemberley. Lady Catherine, who promised his dying mother that she would see that he marry for love and have a happy marriage, decides her vicar's cousins may contain a likely candidate, and she's impressed by Elizabeth's refusal of Collins's proposal. Lady Catherine engineers both Elizabeth's invitation to Hunsford and, certain that Darcy loves Elizabeth and that Elizabeth is attracted to Darcy, a plot with Colonel Fitzwilliam to compromise them into marriage. Locked in his rooms at Rosings, Darcy soon tells Elizabeth the truth of his relationship with George Wickham, his interference in Charles Bingley's courtship of Jane, and his own feelings; Elizabeth's feelings change as she realizes her prejudiced thinking, and they emerge happily engaged.

    It's hard to picture Lady Catherine as a sympathetic character, but she's the only character much changed in DISCOVERING MR. DARCY. Brown introduces no new active characters. Because Darcy and Elizabeth remain faithful to the originals. It seems unlikely that they would accept Lady Catherine's interference with the equanimity Brown gives them. Interest trails off after their engagement; the epilogue is too long, resolving the lives of the Bennet girls and Anne de Burgh, setting up the sequel in which Lady Catherine chooses a wife for Colonel Fitzwilliam.

    DISCOVERING MR. DARCY is a pleasant enough quick read, but it covers little new territory. (C)
     
  20. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    BRYANT & MAY AND THE BURNING MAN is one of Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes Unit novels featuring Senior Detectives Arthur Bryant and John May. It was published in e-book format in 2015.

    When banker Dexter Cornwell, partner in Findersbury Private Bank in London, is revealed at the heart of a major insider-trading scandal, London erupts in massive protests, increasingly violent as promoted and polarized through use of social media. In a firebomb attack on Findersbury Bank, a young homeless man sleeping in its doorway burns to death. The PCU receives the job of identifying the victim and soon discovers that the arsonist knew Freddie Weeks was sleeping there. On each of the following three days, another man is killed in an outre method involving fire: tar and feathering, being fastened inside a red-hot metal mask, a bomb; the fourth day an attempt is made to burn the flat of a young woman associated with two of the male victims. Because the City of London police are fully engaged with trying to protect the Square Mile as the rioting expands and intensifies, the PCU works the murders. As usual, the PCU must combat budget-cutters and police administrators who look for a reason to close it down.

    The plot in BRYANT & MAY AND THE BURNING MAN is complex, using London's long history of rioting as its framework. Fowler is adept at keeping attention firmly focused away from the motive and thus the killer; he uses a plot device at least as old as Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (aka Ten Little Indians) to obscure the identity. I don't like unreliable narrators. :mad:

    PCU personnel continue as an appealing mixture of individuals. Not only does Unit Leader Raymond Land stand up to the bullying liaison officer from the City of London Police, but he helps identify the site of the final showdown. Newcomer Fraternity DuCaine proves himself. Meera Mangeeshkar chooses between the marriage arranged by her traditional parents and the PCU, opening herself to a possible future with Colin Brimsley. But there's also a curious, almost valedictory feeling. After a dramatic rescue, Jack Renfield and Janice Longbright end their reationship. John May choose between an interesting new female companion and his old friend. Arthur Bryant suffers from periodic fugue states when he fails to recognize his surroundings, remember what he is doing or where he is. He's diagnosed with rapid-onset of an unusual form of Alzheimer's, with this his final case.

    Sense of place and history is outstanding: "The Rookery was in St Giles, a sweet Plantagenet village that started at the corner of Tottenham Court Road, going down to Seven Dials and Covent Garden. It must have been quite nice once, with cottages and garden plots and an old hospital. Then the impoverished French came in, bring violence in their wake. And pubs like The Bowl and The Angel acted as halfway houses--...halfway to execution, where prisoners were given a free final pint of beer." (260-1)

    BRYANT & MAY AND THE BURNING MAN is not one of the stronger books in the series, but it is solid. (B)
     

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