Newsletter: Bits and Pieces by Wendy

Monday Feb 01 2016

REVIEW: The Blood Strand by Chris Ould (TP, $19.50)

Islands seem to be popular sites for mysteries these days, the Orkneys (Ann Cleeves), the Hebrides (Peter May) to name but two series. This month, we have a new series set in the Faroes. The Faroes are a group of eighteen islands in the North Atlantic situated halfway between Iceland and Norway with a population of about 50,000. They are self-governing but remain a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The relationship between the Faroes and Denmark seems to be a little more cordial than the relationship, between Denmark and Greenland, another part of the Danish Kingdom, seen in Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Peter Hoeg).

Jan Reyna, a British Detective Inspector, was born in the Faroes but left as a small child when his mother left his father. He has not returned since and this trip is being made because his father, a successful businessman seems to be on his death bed. The circumstances surrounding the stroke which has felled his father are mysterious and Reyna is drawn into the investigation. In the course of the investigation Reyna comes into contact with more distant relatives and he begins to try to unearth what happened between his parents, and also to find out more about his mother, who committed suicide when he was five.

The story moves along well and is a very enjoyable read. It is clear from the way that the novel is constructed that this is designed to be an ongoing series. I am really interested to see how the character is going to make the transition from the UK to the Faroes especially as he does not speak either of the official languages Faroese or Danish. I guess we will find that answer in the next book, The Killing Bay.

Cats and More Cats...

If you have been in the store in the last couple of weeks you will have seen the ottoman covered in tall piles of used books, we have had number of customers selling almost complete series. One of the piles was Lilian Jackson Braun’s ‘The Cat Who...’ series. At one time we had quite a few of this series, which numbers 29 titles, in used but recently we have been down to one or two. Anyway, sitting in the store one cold and snowy afternoon, I decided to renew my acquaintance with the series. The first three books were published between 1966-68 and then there was a gap of almost twenty years until the next title appeared in 1986. The main character is a middle aged journalist called Jim Qwilleran who during the course of the first three books acquires two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum and later on a substantial fortune. These books are an interesting, enjoyable and undemanding read. But then as I was making the forthcoming title lists for the February newsletter it struck me how many “cat” books were being released this month. In total there were ten new covers with cats on, although only five were designated cat series. So if you are a mystery reader and a cat lover and are looking for something to read, you should come by because we have a lot of cat series with new ones starting all the time.

REVIEW: The Princeling of Nanjing by Ian Hamilton (TP, $19.95)

I have written about Ian Hamilton's , Ava Lee series before. You might remember that Canadian author Hamilton published a number of books in quick succession starting with The Water Rat of Wanchai in 2011. I was not as enamoured with some of the later books but I really liked this new title and am looking forward to the next one. There are rumours that this series has been optioned for television, interesting to see if this comes about.

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