Reviews and Comments

Paul Oldham

Joined 5 months, 1 week ago

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Djinn Rummy (Paperback, 1995, Orbit) 2 stars

If this is the sort of thing you like ...

2 stars

... then you'll probably like it rather more than I did. Easy reading but just not funny which, given it's meant to be "a work of comic genius" is a bit of a disappointment.

On the plus side it did only cost me £1 from a second hand bookshop in Ballater. On the down side I did buy two more of his books at the same time ...

The Lincoln Lawyer (Paperback, 1895, imusti, Orion) 5 stars

A cracking read

5 stars

To begin with I should say that I read this on the back of the dramatisation on Netflix, which I really enjoyed, however the two are fundamentally different plots. The character is the same with the same life and work philosophy, the Lincolns are there, as are two ex-wives and the daughter but that's about it.

Having said that this is a very fine book. A well mapped out plot, characters who are fully rounded and well described, and you never lose your way. This is the first of several books about Mickey Haller and I'm going to be back for more.

A Spoonful of Murder (AudiobookFormat, 2022, HarperCollins UK and Blackstone Publishing) 1 star

Not the Thursday Murder Club

1 star

Our heroes here are three retired teachers and the biggest problem with it is that their personalities don't shine through so I kept forgetting which one was which. They also seem to miss enormous clues which the author lays in front of you. I struggled with it as it really didn't grab me but at page 213 of 319 I finally gave up and returned it to the library.

Best Murder in Show (2022, Boldwood Books, BOLDWOOD BOOKS LTD) 3 stars

Very ... odd

1 star

The first book I've read as a result of a review on here and I confess I was disappointed in it. Our hero is ... odd. In a number of ways not least creating murder plots in her head all the time.

And the plot for the actual murder itself is both unlikely and rushed, in that it's mentioned right and the start and then ignored through the next three quarters of the book while the author builds a cast of characters to wrangle around the murder.

All in all it's a combination of being easy to read ... but poorly written. Like I said: odd.

Three Dog Problem (2022, Zaffre Publishing) 3 stars

The Thursday Murder Club moves to the Palace

3 stars

It was rather late in the day, when I was about two thirds of the way through this but, that I read a review that likened in to Osman's Thursday Murder Club novels and they're not wrong. Like those books it's more to do about being comfortable with the characters than the plot itself, and with this one the lead character is HMQ herself which SJ Bennett obviously had a great affection for.

So it's gentle read, with the direction of travel being fairly unsurprising throughout, but none the worse for that. This is also the second book in the series, and there's a third due out soonish so I can see me coming back for one and three.

Oh, and nice hat tip to Sherlock Holmes in the title by the way.

Really Good, Actually (Paperback, 2023, HarperCollins Publishers) 1 star

Really not

1 star

Apparently this is a Sunday Times Bestseller and our library has a least two e-copies in stock but I got about a third of the way through before giving up.

For me it fails in two ways. Firstly it's just not that well written and considering this is a first person narrative it doesn't feel that way.

Second, and this is just me, but I really didn't like our hero that much, and if you're going to live with her ramblings through an entire book you really need to I think.

Anyway, moving on.

We saw the sea. (1960, St. Martin's Press) 3 stars

Easy reading if you make allowances for its time

3 stars

The follow up to 'We Joined the Navy' . I think Winton was getting the hang of the thing now and by re-discovering just a subset of characters from the first book he produced a better book as a result.

Still a mass of racism and sexism mind you.

A different age

3 stars

This book is marginally older than me (first published 1959) and it shows in the language, so words I wouldn't think of posting here, and stereotypical attitudes both gender and race which, thankfully, are long behind us.

Where it's odd is that it is very superficial. When one of our young heroes is drowned in a sailing accident there's no dwelling on the impact it would have had on his friends and it's barely mentioned again.

But it's an easy read and a good yarn and I suspect it's probably a fairly accurate reflection of the experience of young men joining the navy then.

In Plain Sight (2020, Canelo) 4 stars

Another page turner

4 stars

The second in the DI Clare Mackay series (also borrowed from my local library - hurrah for libraries) turned out to be as fine as the first with a suitably twisty plot and an easy reading style. Our hero continues to have an interesting life outside work, just like all the best detective series, and that bodes well for more reading of these books however sadly I seem to have run out of Marion Todd novels in the library so it's off to a book shop for the remaining four.

See Them Run (2020, Canelo) 4 stars

First book in the DI Clare Mackay detective series; set in St Andrews.

Page turning Tartan Noir

4 stars

This was a slightly random pick from my local library but it's a cracker. Started it this morning, finished it this evening. DI Clare Mackay, who recently moved to join the St Andrews force, leads the investigation into hit-and-run which turns out to have rather more to it than it first appears.

Amazon tell me that there are six of these in print (and available as a set for £15.99, uh oh) and a seventh due shortly so I don't think this will be my last Marion Todd book.

(This is also my 13th book of 2013 and I've still got one week left of March so I'm still, just, on target for 52 books in 2023 ...)

Bullet That Missed : (the Thursday Murder Club 3) (2023, Penguin Books, Limited) 5 stars

Osman definitely doesn't miss

5 stars

I've read the previous two Thursday Murder Club books (also as ebooks via the library) and, like those, this one is a joy. Yes, they're an increasingly unlikely set of characters but such fun to be with, and such sorrow too which comes with age but overall this was a great read.

I really must buy paper copies of all three of these as they're definitely books I'm going to want to read again.