Goodness me, it’s cold outside today. When I drove the children to school this morning the temperature was minus six Celsius. That’s 21.2 Fahrenheit for those of you who still count in pounds, shillings and pence. Never mind. At least I feel justified in staying inside with a good book. Here’s what I’ve been up to this month.
With Scarborough Ball all ready to go, I decided to spend the rest of the year playing around with an idea for a new series. I’ve started a rough draft which is now 10,000 words long and discarded a further 4,000 words, so that’s not bad going. But to take this idea forward I think I’m going to have to force myself to do some serious outlining, so that will be my challenge moving forward into December.
I’ve read a lot of fiction this month. First up was Blood Shackles by Rosemary A. Johns. This is the sequel to Blood Dragons which came out earlier in the year. Blood Shackles is a brilliantly written, sometimes harrowing, emotionally driven journal written by a vampire who’s been captured as a slave. I loved it and wrote a longer review here.
Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs was the first book by her that I’ve read. I found it in the library and thought I’d give it a go. The main character, Temperance Brennan, is a forensic anthropologist who studies bones in criminal cases. The story was exciting and definitely a page-turner, but the plot left me a little confused and the science went straight over my head 🙂
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett is such a classic of the crime genre that I thought I ought to read it and we happened to have a copy lurking on the bookshelves. It was first published in 1930 and the style of writing is very different to what you would expect today. I found it a rather dry read because of Hammett’s use of the external third person. The author never once takes you inside the head of any character but simply gives you their actions and speech. This made it very difficult to empathise with any of the characters.
Val McDermid will undoubtedly go down as my best new discovery of 2016. I found Splinter the Silence in the library and didn’t hesitate to borrow it. It tackles the topical subject of misogyny and internet trolling in a gripping thriller and sets the main characters, Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, up for future mysteries when Carol is made head of a new major crime team.
Rachel Abbott flies the flag for indie authors although her books are now published by the Amazon imprint Thomas & Mercer. She has had phenomenal success with her crime series featuring the detective Tom Douglas, although the detective is a relatively minor character in the story so I think her books better deserve the name psychological thriller. The Back Road is her second novel.
Last month I read Dead Souls by Ian Rankin and really enjoyed it so I was interested to go back to his very fist Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, published way back in 1987. Rankin has now been writing his crime novels for 30 years which is a huge achievement. The first novel is much simpler in plot and structure than the later work, but Rankin’s talent for tautly written prose, characterisation and creating an atmospheric setting is apparent from the start.
At choir we’re busy learning the music for our Christmas carol concert in December. If you’re in Oxford on 10 December please come along to the University Church at 7.30 pm. There’ll be mulled wine and mince pies too 🙂 You can buy tickets here.
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