I’m posting here later than I intended mainly because much of this last week has been spent going back and forth to my doctor and consequently I have to give advance warning that much of the early part of next year may well be spent going back and forth to the local hospital. If, therefore, I should suddenly vanish from the ether for longer than expected you will know that it is because I am either being filled full of extremely nasty substances or having equally nasty foreign bodies put into places which were definitely not originally designed to accommodate them – or quite possibly both. The irony of all this is that while I am now living with a certain amount of discomfort this is because I have had to come off a particular medication and as a result my mind is clearer than it has been for at least the last twelve months. It is worrying how the effects of seemingly innocuous drugs can creep up on you without you realising the extent of the damage they are doing. I knew I had been a bit on the dopey side recently but I hadn’t understood how much until the cause was removed.
Still, enough of that other than to say that it has rather got in the way of my reading these past few days and I have to admit that I still haven’t started my Heywood Hill book, The Great Fire. However, I hope to put that right later in the day and to finally wean myself away from the crime fiction which is always my standby when I don’t want to have to think too much. Over the weekend I read the latest in the Rebus series, Saints of the Shadow Bible and I’m halfway through a novel by an Irish writer new to me, Claire McGowan, called The Lost. This is McGowan’s second book and deals with the search for two young women who have gone missing in the border area of Northern Ireland. She has been likened to Ruth Rendell, but for me she reads more like Jane Casey and, as I prefer Casey to Rendell, that makes her a firm recommendation. Having spent much of my working life in the company of people who in one way or another were touched by the problems in the province during the very worst of the troubles, I think she’s caught the atmosphere perfectly and I am certainly going to be getting hold of her previous novel,The Fall. From what I can gather about the earlier book, McGowan is writing one offs, which is a shame because in forensic psychologist, Paula Maguire, I think she has a character worth developing. However, that’s the way S J Bolton, for me the very best of the younger generation of crime writers, started out and once she ‘discovered’ Lacey Flint she allowed her to grow and is developing a compulsive series around her. Perhaps McGowan will do the same.
Saints of the Shadow Bible was a satisfactory enough read and if I hadn’t known Rebus of old I would probably have been well pleased by it. But, I do know Rebus of old and consequently I was disappointed. What is happening to him as he gets older? The man is turning into a positive pussycat. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t yet got to the top of the library waiting list but when you see who ends up as his drinking companion you will be shocked indeed. The Rebus I know, if not quite love, would never have been seen dead in such company.
So, what about the week ahead? Well, I really am going to start The Great Fire later on today and then where more literary reading is concerned it will be either The Luminaries or The Goldfinch. Would those of you who have read them have any suggestions as to which I should try first? I’ve also decided that I’ve been wrong to neglect what’s coming out in the way of Children’s Fiction and at some point this afternoon I’m going to collect Marcus Sedgwick’s She is not Invisible and Rebecca Stead’s Liar and Spy from the library. I’ve also downloaded the Dutch children’s classic The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, which has just been translated for the first time and which I’m really looking forward to being finally able to read. I’m not going to give up the crime scene altogether, however, and have The Late Scholar, the new Peter Wimsey as told by Jill Paton Walsh and the latest William Brodrick, The Discourtesy of Death to start, as well as Louise Penny’s most recent Inspector Gamache novel, How the Light Gets In, saved specially for Christmas Day.
Oh and yesterday I did manage to get away from the doctor long enough to see the second episode of The Hobbit. Do you know, I think Tolkien would have recognised at least a third of it!