Guest Article: Adventures In Crime ~ Anthony Boucher

Over 50 years ago, on January 5th 1964 to be exact, the following article appeared in The New York Times and, as can be seen by reading it the mystery novel was a big thing back then.  I have shared this with you as I found it interesting, but it also made me wonder how much the article would differ from the original if Mr. Boucher were to write it today.

Anthony Boucher

Anthony Boucher

“The past few years have seen something of a revolution in the publishing of paperback mystery novels. From the very beginnings of the paperback industry; murder has been a trade staple, but the emphasis used to rest almost exclusively upon fast‐action novels of violence and sex, with only a very few of the most famous practi­tioners of more reasoned and contemplative detection represented on the newsstands.

Violence‐and‐sex has not disappeared: it will always (and quite rightfully) have its market. But now the paperback repertory cones to embrace more and more of the serious novels of murder and deduction which were once assumed, on no particular evidence, to be com­mercial poison in paperback. This trend is evident not merely in the more expensive “quality” paperbacks (Dolphin, Collier)

Berkley has published, and kept in print, the entire work of the subtly perceptive Josephine Tey. Lancer is well launched on a project of the complete works of the versatile and rewarding Andrew Garve. Ace’s “giant double‐books” each contains two novels by female writers of the enviable stature of Ursula Curtiss, Charlotte Arm­strong and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. And both Ballantine and Pyramid have established carefully edited lines of mysteries for connoisseurs.

Indeed, if any university were so wise as to offer a course in the mystery novel as a branch of literary history, a more than adequate reading list could be built up from paperbacks cur­rently in print—including the obvious major textbook for the course, Howard Haycraft’s splendid critical anthology

Such a reading list would start with any one of the 11 available story collections of the founding master, Edgar Allan Poe. and go on through Wilkie Collins—with the complete text of the “The Moonstone” (Dolphin), and not its truncated form (Pyramid), plus the less detectival “The Woman in White” (Dolphin, Everyman) as collateral reading—to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Since most of the Sherlock Holmes stories are now in the public domain, they are to be found in innumerable editions, none of them textually ideal; but the nod should go to the Berkley edition (now almost complete) because it is legitimately authorized and royalty‐paying, and because its jackets, by W. Teason, are the most tasteful that I have yet seen on any Doyle books. And with the stories themselves should go William S. Baring­Gould’s definitive biography, “Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street” (Popular), the one significant work of Baker Street Irregularity to appear in a newsstand paperback.

The first third of this century is not copiously represented in today’s paperbacks; but our imaginary course could get on adequately with R. Austin Free­man’s “Mr. Pottermack’s Over­sight” (Collier), E. C. Bentley’s “Trent’s Last Case” (Ballan­tine), Anthony Berkeley’s “The Poisoned Chocolates Case” (Dolphin) and Dorothy L. Sayers’s “Strong Poison” (Harper)—classics all, though these authors need more representation on the lists—plus two colIections of superb short stories, G. K. Chesterton’s “Ten Adventures of Father Brown” (Dell) and Melville Davisson Post’s “Uncle Abner” (Collier).

From there on, the problem becomes one of selection from stores of treasures. In the classic formal detective story, there are any number of books in print by Ellery Queen (Pocket Books), Rex Stout (Bantam), Elizabeth Daly (Berkley), Ngaio Marsh (Berkley) Mar­gery Allingham (Penguin, Mac­fadden) and Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, each of whom appears on the lists of many publishers. Each of these authors has produced so many of the best works in the genre that the choice would be up to the individual taste of the instructor. Oddly though Carr is everywhere, his alter ego Carter Dickson is rare in paperback: but Berkley is starting to remedy that deficiency. The superlative Michael Innes has not had quite his due in reprints as yet; but he can be well represented, in his Collinsian detectival manner by ”Lament for a Maker” (Collier) and, in his vein of romantic adventure, by “The Case of the Journeying Boy” (Berkley).

It will consider the feminine­gothic novel of romantic terror, from the work of the Brontes (many editions) through Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” (Pocket Books) to Victoria Holt’s “Mistress of Mellyn” (Crest). It will at least touch upon the spy novel, from John Buchan’s still incomparable “The 39 Steps” (Popular) to the contemporary contrast between Ian Fleming and William Haggard (both Signet).

It will look into the exotic of detection: the fine Australian regional novels of Arthur W. Upfield (Berkley), the work of Georges Simenon, especially the revolutionary early Maigret novels (Penguin); the Argentine “Ficciones” of Jorge Luis Borges (Evergreen); the glori­ous Chinoiserie of Robert Van Gulik, whose Judge Dee novels both Dell and Avon begin re­printing in the same week

It will notice the occasional isolated masterpiece by an author who wrote nothing else in the field—such important ice­breaking detective stories as Helen Eustic’s “The Horizontal Man (Dolphin) or Leo Perutz’s “The Master of the Day of Judgment” (Collier).

And it will not overlook, among all these reprints, the original paperback novels, the legitimate heirs to the dead pulps in which Hammett and Chandler flourished—their serious and substantial authors, such as John D. MacDonald, Charles Williams, Donald Hamilton and Vin Packer (all Gold Medal), and their highly competent purveyors of light amusement, like Carter Brown (Signet), Richard S. Prather (Gold Medal) and Henry Kane (many publishers).

Starting as paperback originals and later as reprints from hard‐cover are the 87th Precinct novels of Ed McBain (Permabooks). all still in print and invaluable for the course as prime specimens of the modern novel of police procedure—to which should be added J. J. Marric’s novels of Commander Gideon of Scotland Yard (Berkley).

Only on fifth Thursdays of the month will the lecturer regret that he is unable to make a point by reference to current paperbacks. There is, for instance, no novel in print by Freeman Willis Croft, the great master of the perfect timetable alibi, or by Craig Rice, the most warmly humorous personality ever to communicate with her readers through murder.

The more I talk about this hypothetical course the more I hope you might enjoy enrolling in it. And why not? It’s available at your nearest bookstore.”

Anthony Boucher, August 21, 1911 – April 29, 1968

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Review: The Quick ~ Lauren Owen

the quickLondon, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

5 Thumbs-UpSo, what can I say about this book?  Three things really, a) it is a debut novel for this Author b) I really didn’t see that coming and c) Noooooo!!!

I found this book by chance on a rummage through my local lending library the other day, and was intrigued both by the cover and the synopsis, so home with me it came and I’m glad I took a chance on something so unknown to me.  If other readers have already heard of this novel they may think I live under some rock and rarely venture out; that is not the case, I never read reviews on books and choose them purely on their own merit when out and about and this was the case with this one.

From a character point of view they are plentiful in this novel, and they are morose, they are arrogant; you may love them or you may hate them, but each of them will bring about a reaction in the reader of some description.  In my opinion it was hard to pinpoint one main character in the whole of this novel, as so many come and take centre stage in a way that will impact all those around them; and once they step away from the limelight they do not fade out of the plotline entirely as many Authors have their lesser characters doing.  Despite the time period in which this novel was set, there was one particular character I really connected with and I was rooting for her every time she appeared in the story; there were also others that no matter how hard I tried I could not find anything redeeming in their character and found myself chuckling when rough things happened to them.

Because of the way in which this book is written it is hard to write an in-depth review without giving away the plot.  It is written from a multi-perspective point of view , as each character comes to the front and also includes journal entries; all the good stuff that combine together to make an exceptional Victorian gothic novel.  It is very apparent from the way in which the Author addresses class issues and gender expectations that they have done an extensive amount of research into this period of history; the shock one woman expresses at seeing another wearing trousers is a good example.  The location descriptions are the best I have read in a long time, and in this area put me in mind of Dickens and Conan-Doyle in the way the Author uses the surroundings to propel the storyline along.  The grandeur of some buildings is, in the next paragraph startling contrasted against the poorer areas of London; along with smells and attire I could almost feel I was back in this time with the characters.

This is a moody, dark and gritty novel which really doesn’t show London at its best, but this is what adds to the novel.  There is no sugar coating of the privations some suffered and the excesses others enjoyed.  Because of its abrupt ending however, I am hoping that this may be the start of a series, one that I will definitely be following.  If not, and the Author decided to leave the reader with a cliff-hanger, I don’t really mind as I will definitely be reading this Author again.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, and those who enjoy a good gothic novel.  Also those who enjoy Victorian crime fiction may find this to their liking.

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Vive la révolution!

 

bastille-day-450x3372

Today is Bastille Day, or as the French call it, la Fête Nationale or le quatorze juillet, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, the flashpoint of the French Revolution that symbolizes the birth of the modern nation. So basically the French version of the fourth of July, only slightly bloodier and with more presidential garden parties. In honour of the French’s national holiday, I’ve put together a list of three French novels that will get anyone in the spirit.

ptitprinceTitle – Le Petit Prince
Author – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
ISBN 13– 978-0156013987
Pub Date – September 4, 2001 (first published 1940)
Publisher – Harcourt, Inc.; French language edition

Description – Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.  Seeing as it’s the most read and most translated book in the French language, not to mention one of the best-selling books of all time, you’ve probably already read the gorgeous, absurdist, heartbreaking novella The Little Prince. But you should probably read it again.

musketeersTitle – The Three Musketeers
Author – Alexandre Dumas
ISBN 13– 978-0451530035
Pub Date – January 3rd 2006 (first published 1844)
Publisher – Signet Classics

Description – One of the most celebrated & popular historical romances ever written. The Three Musketeers tell the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman d’Artagnan & his three friends from the regiment of the King’s Musketeers-Athos, Porthos & Aramis.

Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of the Cardinal Richelieu, & the honor of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of 17th-century France are vividly played out in the background.

But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal’s spy. Milady, one of literature’s most memorable female villains, & Alexandre Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping & dramatic conclusion

gigiTitle – Gigi
Author – Colette
ISBN 13– 978-2253109341
Pub Date – June 1st, 2004 (first published 1942)
Publisher – Livre de Poche

Description – A story of burgeoning womanhood and blossoming love, Colette’s masterpiece reveals the author’s grasp of the politics of relationships. With music, drama, and the charm of French-inflected English, this unabridged novella follows Gigi’s training as a courtesan. Leslie Caron, the star of the best-loved film based on Gigi brings to life the Paris of 1899 in all its sensuous detail.

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Review: The Devil’s Workshop (The Murder Squad #3) ~ Alex Grecian

The Devil's WorkshopThey thought he was gone, but they were wrong. Jack the Ripper is loose in London once more.

Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad faces the most shocking case of its existence, in the extraordinary new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national bestsellers The Yard and The Black Country.

London, 1890. A small group of the city’s elite, fed up with the murder rate, have made it their business to capture violent criminals and mete out their own terrible brand of retribution. Now they are taking it a step further: They have arranged for four murderers to escape from prison, and into the group’s hands.

But the plan goes wrong. The killers elude them, and now it is up to Walter Day, Nevil Hammersmith, and the rest of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad to hunt the convicts down before they can resume their bloody spree. But the Murder Squad may already be too late. The killers have retribution in mind, and one of them is heading straight toward a member of the Murder Squad, and his family.

And that isn’t even the worst of it. During the escape, one of the killers has stumbled upon the location of another notorious murderer, one thought gone for good, but who is now prepared to join forces with them.

And Saucy Jack has learned some new tricks while he’s been away.

2 Thumbs-UpI thought this was going to be a gripping historical police procedure, but the only thing gripping about it were my hands on the cover to stop me throwing it across the room unfinished.  Yes, I was disappointed in this book, and have read far better thriller/mysteries from Authors who are releasing their works to the reading public for the first time.  However, this really isn’t just one book as there is the main story that centres around the Scotland Yard Murder Squad shortly after the Ripper killings, and then there is the secondary, and in my mind much more enjoyable story, about the criminals the squad are pursuing.

The main character was not at all likeable, and in fact came across as a bit of a wimp at times.  The Author apparently wanted him to appear as a stalwart of Scotland Yard but in the end he appeared to be nothing more than a self-righteous man.  He was very much in awe of his mentor, even though this man had left the force under a cloud, he deferred to him at every turn even when he had made it clear it was not the right thing to do.  His indecisiveness was definitely at odds to the character I had expected in one of his importance when embarking on this book.  On the flip side, I found his ‘sidekick’ to be a lot more interesting and likeable, and found myself wanting to read more about him than his Inspector.  He was full of energy and stuck to a single course once his mind was made up, even if this meant going against the wishes of his superiors; the Author gifted this character will the kind of mind I had expected in the main protagonist and, rather than it being annoying to find in a secondary player, I found it one of two things that kept me reading to the end.  As to the villains their story made the hair on the back of my neck stand up in places.  Through a great deal of imagination and maybe some psychological research, the Author was able to bring these criminals to life in all their shocking and violent glory, while at the same time showing that you can never truly spot evil when it walks among us.  It was the tale of the criminals that produced the second reason I kept reading.

From a historical point of view there was obviously a great deal of research done into the time period in which the novel is set, although at times the descriptiveness of locations did have a tendency to take over the page and pull my attention away from what was actually happening.  I’m not sure if it is just me, and there may be readers out there who enjoy this, but I do like sentences in a novel to be more than a few words long, and flow in a manner that does not make me feel as if I were on a tiny boat on a choppy sea.  Not all the sentences were written in this way, and it was a relief to come across those that had a nice flow and rhythm to them; only to have this taken away shortly after and be back in my storm-tossed boat.

I now know this is the third book in the Murder Squad series, but to be quite honest that doesn’t really matter to me as I doubt that I will read anymore by this Author.  I’m also slightly hesitant in recommending this book to anyone, but if you do like a police procedural mixed in with some history you might want to take a look at this book.  If this novel had been written purely about the criminals, from their point of view of themselves and the world they walked through, this book would definitely have rated more thumbs than it did.

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Our First Anniversary Is Coming Up!!

1st anniversary

June 17th sees the first anniversary of Cate’s Book Nut Hut, and what a year it has been.  Has time has gone by there have been alterations to the site itself, and changes in the frequency of my postings so as not overload those who read the reviews.  Fittingly, the 1st anniversary is celebrated with a gift of paper, so you can all assume correctly I’ll be heading to the bookstore.

Next week the three days of posting will be given over to three Authors whose work I have reviewed in the ‘Hut’ over the past year.  I hope you enjoy their words, as much I have in not only reading their work but the pieces they have submitted for you all to read.

If there is any genre of book I’ve not covered in the past 365 days, and you would like me to take a look at a book that you think maybe interesting, just contact me with the title and I’ll take it from there.  Thank you all for sticking with me this past year, and here’s to more to come!

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Review: Snow White Must Die (Bodenstein & Kirchhoff #4) ~ Nele Neuhaus

snow white must dieSnow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus is a tremendous new contemporary mystery series and huge international bestseller—with more than 3.5 million copies in print! On a rainy November day police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to a mysterious traffic accident: A woman has fallen from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath. According to a witness, the woman may have been pushed. The investigation leads Pia and Oliver to a small village, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer’s son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is—and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

An atmospheric, character-driven and suspenseful mystery set in a small town that could be anywhere, dealing with issues of gossip, power, and keeping up appearances.

5 Thumbs-UpAfter reading Stieg Larson’s Millennium trilogy, and also listening to it on audio book (which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end), I was eager to read another ‘import’ of the same genre regardless of the country or origin.  I was intrigued to see if the aforementioned book was a rarity in that it translated well, or whether there was a new generation of foreign Authors whose works also responded with the same impact; I’m glad to be able to say that this book checked all the blocks.

It would be unfair to compare this novel with Larson’s work, as they are not alike in any way apart from the fact they are well worth picking up and reading.  It wasn’t until I was mentally bemoaning the lack of character development in this book that I realised I had entered the world of the two main protagonists four books into their story, and so based on this I had to take them at face value.  Again I was not disappointed; all the characters in this novel are tightly and expertly written, with all their European mannerisms and quirks translating wonderfully for the American reader.  As I read about the characters, some of these mannerisms brought to mind our time living in Germany and actually made me miss it somewhat.  The two main characters are very reminiscent of Lynley and Havers from the books by Elizabeth George, but a lot less gentile and polite, and it was this kind of familiarity that made me warm to them even more.

The complexity of the plot grows as the reader progresses through this mystery, but due to the skilful handling of the Author it does so without throwing too much information too quickly at the reader.  Like a fly fisherman, this Author plays with the reader through hints and innuendos, but never reveals anything early than is necessary for the continuation of the storyline.  Because of this, and even though it is number 4 in a series, this novel works exceptionally well as a standalone read; one that will have the reader promising themselves just ‘one more chapter’ well into the night.

I will definitely be reading more by this Author, and hope that my German skills are up to the task, if not I will just have to pray to the literary gods that they translate the other books in this series.  I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a gritty and often brutal police procedure and also those who enjoy and good mystery/thriller.

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10 Book sequels you probably didn’t, or wished you didn’t, know existed.

We bookish folk are a strange breed; we think nothing of eagerly looking forward to the next instalment or sequel from our favourite Authors, but moan and mutter when Hollywood brings out Mission Impossible XVI (I know we haven’t got that far yet, but it’s coming).  I’ve put together a compilation of several classic stories have strange follow-ups you’ve never heard of, or if you’ve read them may wish you hadn’t.

 

The Starlight barkingTitle ~ The Starlight Barking
Author ~ Dodie Smith
ISBN ~ 9780434964017
Publisher ~ Heinemann (October 1967)

Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later adapted by Disney, was declared a classic when first published in 1956. The Starlight Barking, Dodie’s own long-forgotten sequel, is a thrilling new adventure for Pongo and his family. As the story opens, every living creature except dogs is gripped by an enchanted sleep. One of the original Dalmatian puppies, all grown up since the first novel, is now the Prime Minister’s mascot. Relying on her spotted parents for guidance, she assumes emergency leadership for the canine population of England. Awaiting advice from Sirius, the Dog Star, dogs of every breed crowd Trafalgar Square to watch the evening skies. The message they receive is a disturbing proposition, one that might forever destroy their status as “man’s best friend.”

Comment ~ I have to say I love this book.  The Hundred and One Dalmatians never captured my imagination as a child as much as this one; I read it so many times the cover eventually gave out, while its prequel sat untouched after on e read on my shelf.

 

MessengerTitle ~ Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3)
Author ~ Lois Lowry
ISBN ~ 9780618404414
Publisher ~ HMH Books for Young Readers (April 26th, 2004)

Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before its too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

An extremely popular book for middle school students, Lois Lowry’s The Giver has become an instant classic in the 20 years since its publication. Countless children have been assigned essays about how they interpreted the book’s ambiguous ending, but they could have saved some time and just read the book’s two (with a third on the way) sequels instead.

The first sequel, Gathering Blue, is only tangentially related to The Giver by being set in the same universe. However, the following book, Messenger, ties the two together.

 

Jos BoysTitle ~ Jo’s Boys
Author ~ Louisa May Alcott
ISBN ~ 9780448060132
Publisher ~ Grosset & Dunlap (October 1st, 1949: First published 1880)

Better known for her novels Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott continued the story of her feisty protagonist Jo in this final novel chronicling the adventures and misadventures of the March family. Entertaining, surprising, and overall a joy to read, Jo’s Boys is nevertheless shaded by a bittersweet tone, for with it Alcott brought her wonderful series to an end.

Beginning ten years after Little Men, Jo’s Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo’s boys — including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musician Nat — are grown; Jo herself remains at the center of this tale, holding her boys fast through shipwreck and storm, disappointment… and even murder.

Popular for more than a century, the series that began with Little Women continues to hold universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family — the safe haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is never met alone, and our dreams of being cherished, no matter what our flaws, come true.

Comment ~ This series was another well loved set of books on my childhood bookcase, and I remember crying almost to the point of hysterics when I came to the end of Jo’s Boys knowing there would be no more.

 

Closing timeTitle ~ Closing Time
Author ~ Joseph Heller
ISBN ~ 9780671746049
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster (October 1st, 1994)

Thirty-three years and over ten million copies later…the classic story continues.

Yossarian returns — older, if not wiser — to face a new foe.

An instant classic when published in 1961, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 still ranks among the funniest — and most serious — novels ever written about war. Now Heller has dared to write the sequel to his 10-million copy bestseller, using many of Catch-22’s characters to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II.

In Closing Time, a comic masterpiece in its own right, Heller spears the inflated balloons of our national consciousness — the absurdity of our politics, the decline of society and our great cities, the greed and hypocrisy of our business and culture — with the same ferocious humor that he used against the conventional view of warfare. Back again are characters familiar from Catch-22, including Yossarian and Milo Minderbinder, the chaplain, and little Sammy Singer, as they come to the end of their lives and the end of the century — all linked, this time, in uneasy peace and old age…fighting not the Germans, but The End.

Outrageously funny and totally serious, and as brilliant and successful as Catch-22 itself, Closing Time is a fun-house mirror that captures, at once grotesquely and accurately, the truth about ourselves

 

Paradise RegainedTitle ~ Paradise Regained
Author ~ John Milton
ISBN ~ 9781598181678
Publisher ~ Aegypan (December 1st, 2006)

In purely poetic value, “Paradise Regained” is little inferior to its predecessor. There may be nothing in the poem that can quite touch the first two books of “Paradise Lost” for magnificence; but there are several things that may fairly be set beside almost anything in the last ten. The splendid “stand at bay” of the discovered tempter — “‘Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate” — in the first book; his rebuke of Belial in the second, and the picture of the magic banquet (it must be remembered that, though it is customary to extol Milton’s asceticism, the story of his remark to his third wife, and the Lawrence and Skinner sonnets, go the other way); above all, the panoramas from the mountaintop in the third and fourth; the terrors of the night of storm; the crisis on the pinnacle of the temple — are quite of the best Milton, which is equivalent to saying that they are of the best of one kind of poetry. — The Cambridge History of English and American Literature.

Comment ~ I have to admit I’ve not read either of these; maybe I need to rectify this.

 

Tom SawyerTitle ~ Tom Sawyer, Detective
Author ~ Mark Twain
ISBN ~ 9781598184891
Publisher ~ Aegypan (August 1st, 2006: first published 1896)

“Well, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer set our old nigger Jim free, the time he was chained up for a runaway slave down there on Tom’s uncle Silas’s farm in Arkansaw. The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumblety-peg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. . . .” Huck Finn tells the tale in “Tom Sawyer, Detective” almost playing the role of a reporter, as he relates what he’s witnessed of a strangely peculiar murder, and tells us of Tom Sawyer’s scene-stealing exploits in the trial that follows. . . . Many of the characters “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” return in this tale, with delightful results

Comment ~ I was not aware there was a series, and enjoyed the Huckleberry Finn and first Tom Sawyer books.  These will now be on my to read list.

 

The winds of taraTitle ~ The Winds of Tara
Author ~ Katherine Pinotti
ISBN ~ 9781401063573
Publisher ~

The Unauthorised Sequel.

The most infamous love affair of all times continues on with The Winds of Tara.

Scarlett O’Hara, headstrong and beautiful, contrives to win back the love of her estranged husband and children. Broken hearted, she returns home to Tara, only to find the plantation in jeopardy by a greedy overseer and her sister’s reputation threatened. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, she spins a web of lies and deceit that force her to choose between the man she loves, and breaking a solemn promise that would expose a secret that could destroy her family’s honor forever.

Margaret Mitchell’s beloved Southern romance was not only one of the most famous books of the last century, but also spawned one of the most popular films to boot. The book has four sequels, with varying levels of authenticity. The first, Scarlett, was an authorized sequel by Alexandra Ripley and was widely panned. A second that ignores Scarlett, Rhett Butler’s People, is a re-telling of the original novel from Butler’s point of view by author Donald McCraig.

Then there are the unauthorized sequels: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a satirical re-telling from the perspective of an O’Hara family slave. Finally, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti is a direct sequel to the original that the Mitchell family legally blocked from publication in America.

 

The second jungle bookTitle ~ The Second Jungle Book
Author ~ Rudyard Kipling
ISBN ~ 9781853261350
Publisher ~ Wordsworth Classics (1994: first published 1895)

Mowgli, the man-cub who is raised by a wolf-pack, is the main character in The Second Jungle Book which contains some of the most thrilling of the Mowgli stories. It includes “Red Dog”, in which Mowgli and the python Kaa form an unlikely alliance, “How Fear Came” and “Letting in the Jungle” as well as “The Spring Running”, which brings Mowgli to manhood and the realisation that he must leave Bagheera, Baloo, and his other friends for the world of man.

Between each of these marvellously powerful stories Kipling includes some of his most stirring ballads and songs, notably “Mowgli’s Song Against People” and “The Law of the Jungle”

A year after The Jungle Book’s release, Kipling wrote a follow-up book called The Second Jungle Book, featuring five further adventures of Mowgli and his friends. Although Disney made an animated Jungle Book 2 and a live-action film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, neither actually follows the plot of The Second Jungle Book.

 

The last ring bearerTitle ~ The Last Ring-Bearer
Author ~ Kirill Yeskov, Yisroel Markov (translator)
ISBN ~
Publisher ~ (2010: first published 1990)

The premise of The Last Ring-Bearer is the proverb “history is written by the victors”, and that the Tolkien account is just that – the history as dictated by the victorious side. In Eskov’s version of the story, Mordor is described as a peaceful country on the verge of an industrial revolution that is a threat to the war-mongering and imperialistic faction represented by Gandalf (whose attitude has been described by Saruman as “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem”) and the elves.

The story of The Last Ring-Bearer begins at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as survivors of the defeated Mordor are organizing resistance and trying to save what they can of their civilization. Their story is mixed with another one, set hundreds of years in the future, as archaeologists in a “modern day Middle-earth” are rediscovering their true history, and finding artefacts that shine doubt on the established history known to us from The Lord of the Rings

Comment ~ To be reviewed in 2014

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