Saturday, February 19, 2011


I have managed to read two books so far this year, and both were good enough to keep my attention, no mean feat in the current circumstances.

The Serpent's Pool by Martin Edwards continues his brilliant Lake District Mystery series. DCI Hannah Scarlett finds that one of her old cold cases has links to the recent horrific death of a wealthy book collector, who happens to be one of boyfriend Marc's best customers. The story has a cast of great characters many of whom are the wealthy incomers, who in every country seem to occupy the most beautiful scenic areas ensuring that the locals cannot afford to live where they were born.
Martin Edwards has successfully blended the history of the Lake District, police politics, book shops, literary festivals and the personal relationships of his characters to give the reader an up to date version of the traditional English police procedural.
I will definitely return to this series to find out if Hannah dumps Marc, and does something about her attraction to Daniel.

U for Undertow by Sue Grafton is the first book I have read on my Kindle.
I am not sure I am a Kindle person as I love the feel of a book in my hands, but I can definitely see the advantages when faced by a heavy hardback of the neat easy to hold Kindle. The ability to increase the print size was a major factor in my purchasing the Kindle, and as I also had the clever cover with a built in light it was very useful when reading in bed, and not disturbing Mrs Crime Scraps.
The Kindle's ability to allow the reader to place bookmarks and comments, and retrieve them with ease is a boon to reviewers, and I might take more advantage of this in the future.
I must have read Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone novels before, after all A for Alibi was published in 1983, but I cannot remember which book it was among all the alphabetical titles.
In U for Undertow it is 1988 when Michael Sutton consults PI Kinsey Milhone, claiming to have seen two men burying a body behind a school friend's house back in 1967. It was around that time that a young girl was kidnapped and never seen again. Michael believes they were burying the victim but he was only six years old at that time and had a very disturbed childhood; so we can't be certain the event actually occurred. Is he crying wolf?
Sue Grafton alternates Kinsey's 1988 investigation with flashbacks to 1967. She writes from different perspectives, and takes us back into the world of the sexually liberated drug obsessed sixties, while also portraying the lives of her characters in Santa Teresa, a prosperous California town in the 1980s.
Family problems, including Kinsey's own, are the theme of the novel, and the reader is involved with the why and how, rather than who committed the crime. I am very tempted to go back and read some of Kinsey Milhone's earlier cases.

Sue Grafton and Martin Edwards are both excellent storytellers, more important in my mind than writing beautiful prose, and have created two of the most interesting female protagonists in crime fiction.

I should point out that owning a Kindle one does have to be very careful not to purchase book after book, because the ordering process is made dangerously easy. Be warned!


Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Nice reviews, Norman. I've read both these and agree with your verdicts - though I did not quite follow the logic of some of the outcome of the Sue Grafton book. Either the author missed out some logic or I was not paying attention.
Totally agree with you about the ease of downloads to kindle - I am sure this is one reason why e-book sales are so high(especially as so many of them are free or as good as)!
If you are looking for a kindle or conventional book to read, I recommend Open Season by C J Box, which was very cheap on kindle over xmas. Very readable and lots of "local colour" (Wyoming), I find the series a very comforting read for difficult times.

all my best

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Oh, I am so glad that you liked The Serpent Pool. I richly enjoyed it myself, and in fact, I've become quite a fan of the Lake District series. I agree with you that Edwards has a very engaging take on the police procedural. He also includes enough backstory and personal information to make the characters real without overwhelming the reader; I like that very much too.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine. I will try C J Box, the thought of all those open spaces in Wyoming, somewhere I have always wanted to visit, is lovely.
We have been out to grab some sunshine on a very bright warm day here.
Best wishes

8:22 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot. I am enjoying this series and I am surprised it does not get interest from a TV production company, good plots, glamourous characters, and superb scenery in the Lakes would be ideal for creating a successful series. The only problem might be the weather. ;o)
Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy the books.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

I am glad these books were able to keep you preoccupied. I enjoyed Martin´s book very much, and Grafton´s is on my TBR, but I will have to buy and read the one before it first (for some odd reason U was cheaper than T).

11:52 AM  
Blogger Martin Edwards said...

Needless to say, I'm truly grateful for your review. Much appreciated.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

You are welcome, Martin.
This is a really enjoyable series, I am waiting for the next to see what happens to Hannah and Daniel.

2:11 PM  

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