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[personal profile] cyphomandra
I took these back to the library just before the quake, which is annoying as they are practically the only books I haven't had to pay overdues on in the last two years, and if I'd just waited a few days I could have kept them until May completely legitimately. Not that either of these were particularly tempting, but this batch also included Steven King's Full Dark, No Stars, which I liked a lot and am struggling to write a review of this far down the track without the actual book.

Gladys Mitchell, Tom Brown's Body. Unlikeable junior master at boys’ school found murdered; crime investigated and solved by Mrs Bradley, who despite not being given her title is a psychiatrist with an interest in witchcraft. The cover compares this (excitedly) to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, and the writer is of a similar period, but I liked it much less than either – the narrative has a nice dry voice to it, but there’s no sense of urgency about the crime, the detective is unconvincing, and there’s an odd assortment of stereotypes in the text that is sort of knowingly offensive (bad characters are admonished for disliking Jews, but then the text gives the sole Jewish character speeches a la Shylock and the job of organising all the betting books for the school). I would also have liked the Roman bath (in which the victim is drowned) to have had more prominence, as unless I’ve missed something it stays stubbornly off-stage throughout.

Joelle Anthony, Restoring Harmony. Holly leaves her isolated but functional farm in Canada to retrieve her grandfather from Oregon, after the Collapse (loss of technology, lawlessness, dodgy gangs using standover tactics in the markets but containing members with secret hearts of gold and age-appropriate fondnesses for teenage fiddle-players). I am iffy about post-apocalypse, but picked this up because it was dedicated to both Nevil Shute and John Rowe Townsend, who have written excellent versions of the trope; it’s not bad, but the best bits are the travelling, and the romance plotline is just deeply, deeply irritating. It's also a conservative book, and although I like small scale non world shaking plots, having a global collapse just so you can ignore it comfortably is a bit startling.


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