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Welcome to Lodge Books, a small, second hand bookshop located on South Back Lane in Bridlington's Old Town.
Having spent some 30 years working in a variety of accounting environments and having packed my son off to university, the opportunity arose to realise a long held ambition to open a book shop, and in what better place to do so than Bridlington. The aim is to provide a good range of second hand books to satisfy the reading habits of local residents, regular visitors to the town and newcomers alike. In addition, I am looking forward to featuring the works of local authors with the hope of introducing them to a wider readership and offering readers the opportunity to try something new.
If you love reading and bemoan the lost art of letter writing then The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a book you are sure to enjoy.
In 1946 Juliet Ashton is a writer who, having written a wartime newspaper column, is wondering what to write next, when out of the blue she receives a letter from a gentleman on Guernsey who has acquired a book that once belonged to her. Juliet begins to correspond with him, and about him, and learns of the reading group set up during the German occupation of the island. In a desire to learn more of this unusual society she begins to correspond with other members and almost inevitably journeys to meet them. She now knows what she wants to write about.
The author Mary Ann Shaffer became interested in Guernsey during a visit to London in 1980 and later, when encouraged to write a novel, she chose the island as her setting. Unfortunately she became ill during the latter stages of the writing process and her niece, Annie Barrows, helped her finish the book.
Reminiscent of 84 Charing Cross Road, this is a delightful book and is set to be another favourite of mine.
I have just read a couple of M. C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth murder mysteries, namely Death of a Gossip and Death of an Outsider, and thoroughly enjoyed them both.
Set in the far north west of Scotland, the first story introduces the reader to the Lochdubh police constable, who generally has a fairly easy life dealing with the occasional drunk and the odd poacher, although Hamish is not averse to a little of the latter himself – but only what he can eat. However, amongst the latest attendees at the local fishing school is society widow and gossip columnist Lady Jane Winters, who wastes no time in ruffling feathers. But no one, not even Hamish, expects her strangled body to be fished out of the river. With a school of suspects who aren’t willing to talk, Hamish may well be in over his head.
The second tale sees Hamish transferred to the dreary outpost of Cnothan to cover for the absent local sergeant. Before long the most hated man in the town, Mr Mainwaring, has been dumped in a tank filled with crustaceans, but all that remains are his bones – in the meantime the lobsters have been shipped off to Britain’s best restaurants! Being an outsider himself, and having a difficult detective chief inspector to deal with, who wants the murder hushed up, Hamish is desperate to solve the case and go back home to Lochdubh.
Looking for escapism and a bit of black comedy, then look no further.
If I had a pound for every time a customer has recommended the author Lee Child to me I would be… well I’d have a few quid in my pocket. Suffice to say, it seemed like I should try him out, so I picked One Shot off the shelf to see what all the fuss was about, and was introduced to Jack Reacher.
Reacher lives off the grid and seems to miraculously appear where and when his services are most needed, like some comic book superhero. He is an ex-military cop and is the one person that James Barr, accused of multiple murders, wants on his side. Yet nobody knows why, least of all Reacher who had investigated a case involving Barr fourteen years previously. For the local cops the case is clear cut, all the evidence (and there is plenty of it) points to Barr, but his sister refuses to believe that her brother is a killer, despite the fact that Reacher knows different. However it soon becomes clear that somebody doesn’t want Reacher around, and that’s when he becomes interested!
Another great read this week – I didn’t want to put it down. If you are looking for an action hero then Reacher is your man. Although I can’t quite see Tom Cruise in the role (Reacher is 6' 5" tall) – it seems there is a 2012 movie, based on this book as it happens.
The next book on my reading pile was The Snack Thief, an Inspector Montalbano mystery by Italian author Andrea Camilleri. Coincidentally, just as I started reading it I noticed on BBC4 the start of a series of television adaptations of the novels, and the first one was ‘The Snack Thief’!
The stories are set on Sicily and feature Inspector Montalbano, ‘a cross between Columbo and Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, with the added culinary idiosyncrasies of an Italian Maigret’. This particular investigation follows the murders of an elderly man who is stabbed to death in a lift, and a crewman of an Italian fishing trawler who is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat. Montalbano alone thinks there is a link between the two deaths, and with the disappearance of a sometime prostitute called Karima, whose son is thought to have stolen other children’s snacks. However the inspector uncovers evidence of government corruption and international intrigue, putting the boy’s and his own life in danger.
I really enjoyed this book: quirky characters, witty and just great storytelling. I have to say that the book is better than the TV version, but the actor who plays Montalbano is brilliant, and so it is still well worth a watch, provided you don’t mind sub-titles.
Week 26, which means we are half way through our reading year. And this week’s offering is Treasures of Time, which won the first National Book Award for Fiction, by Penelope Lively (Booker Prize winning author of Moon Tiger in 1987). Clearly this author has an award-winning pedigree, but I’m not quite sure what to make of this one.
The story centres on the deceased Hugh Paxton, a famous archaeologist, about whom the BBC is making a documentary. However, digging around in the past disturbs the present as well, despite Paxton’s flighty widow Laura and sombre daughter Kate trying to keep the past in its place. And then there is Kate’s fiancé Tom, who initially seems to be along for the ride but then appears to become the most prominent character in the story. A story that purports to explore the relationship between the lives that we live and the lives we think we live.
Perhaps not to be recommended to lovers of pacier fiction such as crime, thrillers or adventures, but nevertheless well written, clever and witty.
Erica James’ The Holiday as you might expect involves a holiday romance or two, but there is also a touch of the thriller and some psychological drama; so not entirely formulaic.
Art teacher Izzy Jordan is invited to spend the summer with friends at their villa on Corfu and, now single, there is the opportunity for a no-strings-attached holiday romance with the wealthy, good-looking neighbour. But he has a guest too, his oldest friend and crime writer Mark, who has a dark and complex past, from which he feels he will never escape. Izzy also has her demons to deal with, and fairly predictably they gravitate towards one another. Their respective pasts are revealed as the story progresses, and the author examines how dramatic events in childhood can affect adult lives; but perhaps these too damaged souls can save each other.
This is generally fairly easy, escapist reading, but with a bit more substance at times. It is also at once predictable and then there is a twist. In all, I enjoyed this and shall more than likely read more of her novels in the future.
Although I have read a number of John Buchan’s novels, for some reason his most famous, The Thirty-Nine Steps, has escaped me – until now. But it seemed like the ideal companion for a train journey to Scotland at the weekend; although you do need to spend some time looking out of the window at the view once you get north of Newcastle.
This is a story of suspense and adventure featuring Richard Hannay, a man who has recently returned to London from South Africa and is suffering the ennui of not knowing what to do next with his life. But when a neighbour claiming to be in mortal danger seeks refuge in Hannay’s flat and is later found murdered, all that is about to change. Pursued by police and the killers, he heads for Scotland, and a game of cat and mouse ensues among the moors of the Borders. His only hope is to make contact with someone in the British government and persuade them of the impending danger for the country.
This is a shortish book, but is full of suspense and evocative description of the Scottish countryside. However, I felt the ending was rather weak, and although I haven’t yet seen any but the latest film adaptation (with Rupert Penry-Jones) I understand that Hitchcock addresses this shortfall and makes it a better story.
Now and again I pick up a book I am not familiar with by an author I have never heard of, just for the adventure. Leninsky Prospekt by Katherine Bucknell is such a book, and although a quick glance at the cover might make you think this is ‘chick-lit’ (a genre I do read and enjoy from time to time), as we all know you should never judge a book by its cover.
Set in Moscow in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, we find Nina Davenport struggling with her new life as the wife of a preoccupied American diplomat. Nina was raised in the city and was once a student at the Bolshoi, but escaped with her mother to the West some years before; her return is a risk. She is tasked with supporting a visiting New York ballet company, whilst longing to make contact with old friends, but she is hemmed in by official constraints and is reminded of the fear of living under such a regime.
This is part love story, part spy thriller, with the joy and pain of ballet thrown in, against the backdrop of the threat of all out nuclear war. This wasn’t quite the novel I was expecting when I started reading, but that’s part of the fun of picking something unknown, and I did enjoy it.
I have been aware of Belgian (to be honest I thought he was French) author Georges Simenon and the character most featured in his novels, Inspector Maigret, for many years, but have never come across any of the books. And so I was delighted to discover that they are now being published by Penguin Classics and the first title, Pietr the Latvian, originally published in 1930, seemed to be the best place to start.
Detective Chief Inspector Maigret of the Flying Squad in Paris has received notification of the imminent arrival at the Gare du Nord of Pietr the Latvian, suspected of criminal activities in many countries. Donned in heavy overcoat and bowler hat, the imposing, pipe-smoking detective is immediately on the trail. The train arriving at platform 11 contains the first dead body and a man matching the Latvian’s description. Maigret is not going to let this one get away and doggedly pursues the suspect until he is in possession of all the evidence.
In contrast to many books I have read, there is an economy of words here that is refreshing, yet the author has the ability to tell his story and describe his characters brilliantly. Even so, as with any such book I have read, I can’t help wondering if something is lost in translation.
I have previously read only one PD James novel and on recently acquiring a box of books containing a number of hers, it seemed like high time to read some more. I picked out The Lighthouse, featuring her well known detective Commander Adam Dalgliesh, which appeared to be a classic, Agatha Christie style, ‘closed room’, murder mystery.
Dalgliesh and his depleted team are called upon to investigate the potential murder (made to look like suicide) of one of the visitors, a top selling author, to the privately owned Combe Island off the Cornish coast, but it must be carried out quickly and discreetly. The island offers respite to people in high authority who require privacy and guaranteed security, and important visitors are soon expected. Perhaps predictably there is a second murder, but not who you are expecting, and then Dalgliesh finds his own life in danger, jeopardising the success of the case.
This is a well written book, with plenty of twists and turns, and good characterisation; all of which make this well worth a read for all murder mystery fans.
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