Two quick reads

A New York Christmas (Christmas Stories, #12)A New York Christmas by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A change in setting and a slightly later date, early 20th-century New York City, than the usual “Pitt” novels, Anne Perry gives us a relatively new character, Jemima Pitt. The now grown daughter of Thomas and Charlotte, is an appealing and smart heroine, ripe for an adventure of her own.
She is accompanying a younger girl as her companion to the girl’s high society wedding. Both the families are wealthy and part of a business partnership. Delphinia (Phinnie) is marrying into one of the most powerful families in New York. In this story of betrayal, greed and power, Jemima finds herself enlisted in the search for Phinnie’s estranged and disgraced mother, Maria, in order to stop her from gate-crashing the wedding ceremony.
Unfortunately, the search results in Jemima finding much more than she bargained for and she subsequently has only a few short days to prove herself innocent of a cold-blooded murder. In this strange place, with only her wits and determination, some Christmas hope and the assistance of a young police officer, she races against time to establish her innocence, find the real culprit and prove what he has done.
Although the identity of the murderer is rather obvious to the reader, the motives and context keep the story interesting and moving along nicely. As always the story is well-paced and the background details provide a powerful sense of atmosphere and life in early 20th-century New York.

Three Detective AnecdotesThree Detective Anecdotes by Charles Dickens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The stories are: The Pair of Gloves, The Artful Touch, The Sofa.
Inspector Wield relates the first two tales of interesting cases he was involved in. In The Pair of Gloves, the pair are possibly an important clue to the identity of a murderer.  In The Artful Touch, Wield expresses his admiration for Sergeant Witchem’s quick-thinking and actions during a theft, that lead to a successful conclusion for the police.  Finally, in The Sofa, Sergeant Dornton shares his case about someone is stealing from medical students.
I picked this book because I was intrigued to see how Dickens would have written these short stories. I enjoyed the first two stories better than the last. They were interesting to read and the conclusions not obvious. I was not so taken by the last story. It did not hold my interest the same way as the earlier two and the ending was less satisfying.
This edition also contains a biography “Charles Dickens” written by English writer Gilbert K. Chesterton in 1906. This is interesting and whilst not adding to the stories , offers some interesting insights into Dickens and his writing.

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Summer Reading: a few reviews

Summer holidays allows me time to relax and read. I have a few reading challenges from my GoodReads groups that I can get ahead on before I have to go back to work. A few of the books I have enjoyed reading are as follows:

Pick Your Poison (Ruby Redfort, #5)

Pick Your Poison by Lauren Child
This is another intriguing instalment to the light-hearted spy novels that make up the Ruby Redfort series. It can be read as a stand-alone as although, references previous stories, it fills in the gaps for the reader. (This may make these books less suspenseful if a reader wants to go back to read them for the first time.) The story this time picks up seven months after ruby has joined Spectrum. There are all the scrapes and capers you expect from Ruby. She remains rebellious and although has some risky run-ins with numerous villains, she is starting to consider the risks before she jumps in. Ruby remains troubled by the idea that there might be a mole in Spectrum and this storyline is developed further. Hitch has only a small part in this story and there is a lot more of best friend Clancy, who is becoming more resourceful.
There are again codes to crack and an explanation about them at the end of the book, this time they involve tesseracts and four-dimensional shapes being  coverted into 2D drawings.
The fifth Ruby Redfort book will not disappoint fans with plenty of mystery, suspense and humour and is a great novel for young readers.

The Spy of VeniceThe Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth 

Fun to read. Is this really what Shakespeare was doing in his “lost years”?

The novel is a speculation about what Shakespeare might have done in the years where there is no historical record about him. It also seeks to explain why he knows so much about Italy.
The historical context is interesting. It is set in the time when protestant, Elizabethan England needed allies as she was up against a powerful Catholic Spain and the Pope.
William Shakespeare has to leave his home in Stratford and ends up with a troupe of itinerant actors in London. From here, he and the others in the troupe are mixed up with spies and intrigue, as they become part of a group who are sent to Venice. The city at this time was autonomous from Rome, centred on trade and very powerful in its own right. Elizabeth’s England needed all the support it could get from other protestant centres but negotiations were always delicate and Will and his fellow actors stumble about before they finally start to realise the stakes and actions that the powerful entities will take to make sure they achieve the best deal for themselves.

VoidVoid by David Staniforth
This is a mystery thriller that has an added layer with the psychological tension of the main protagonist (Tom) waking up in a freeing car with complete loss of memory. A journal, left in the car with him, slowly reveals some of his backstory to him and it explains that he, himself, wrote it. It pans out that, for one week each January, this exact same thing happens to him. The journal also reveals that the first twenty years of his life are a mystery. The journey that Tom takes to uncover who he is, what he has done and where he belongs forms the story. There is a fear of the unknown, combined with vague hints about some possible wrong-doing, that keeps the reader interested until the end.

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Quote – judgments” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by rhondda.p

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