Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Love Crime Novels Set In Europe?.... You Might Like This Then...

If you love the crime fiction genre and can't resist the atmosphere of a Paris cafe scene, a dark foggy mystery in London, a chase through the streets of Prague or the seedy side of Berlin in the 20s, you'll probably quite like the suitably named site http://www.eurocrime.co.uk 

It doesn't seem to get updated that often, but hey, I'm guilty of that sin myself to some degree, but it has some great links and bits n bobs from the genre.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

A Weekend In The 1930s.....

I've been away this weekend. 

One of the pleasures of being a book lover is how much I get to travel, fitting global (and temporal) odysseys into just one weekend of 'real' time.

After spending much of last week flitting around Melbourne in 1929, in the scintillating company of Ms Phyrne Fisher, I found myself unable to pull out of the inter-war years. 

So, I elected to spend some of it in Berlin, circa 1930, where, in the company of Mr Isherwood, I was lucky enough to meet the delectably decadent Ms Sally Bowles. 

Sally likes to party, in spite of, (or, it could be argued, with total disregard for) the state of the world around her. She is a wonderful creature, as all her boyfriends know. Her life could be likened to a cabaret, all flash, glamour and entertainment on the surface, with the dirty reality hidden from the outside world by props and scenery. 

I'm still enjoying Sally's life, but my magical travel powers have allowed me to skip forward to 1932, where I've spent some time aboard the majestic vessel RMS Aquitania as she makes her way across the Atlantic to New York, then on to Sydney. In the company of the the Honourable Rowland Sinclair, (accompanied, of course by his good friends, Milton, Clyde and the irresistibly flame-haired Edna) I have been introduced to the guiding lights of the Theosophical Society. Of course, someone is inconsiderate enough to have gotten murdered, and even young Roly himself has been shot at! 

It's always so dangerous hanging around this gang of artistic Sydney-siders!

I look forward to continuing both of these journeys over the next few days!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Phryne Fisher... Queen Of The Bright Young Things...

As a 'dyed in the wool' lover of classic Golden Age mysteries, and being possessed of a need to be retrospectively reincarnated into the turbulent times of the roaring twenties and the tumultuous thirties, what better vehicle for my escapism than the Phryne Fisher novels of Kerry Greenwood?

With a generous ladelling of period appropriate mis-en-scene, an intelligent, beautiful, talented, protagonist, and the requisite twists, red-herrings and villains of a Christie-esque creation, Cocaine Blues, ticks all the right boxes.

Many of you will have met Miss Fisher through the excellent TV series that has catalogued her adventures, but, in time-honoured fashion, the books, of course, far out-do the TV show based on this, the first offering. There are already a whole bunch of Phryne Fisher novels out there, great news for those of us who love a single author binge. I can't wait to get my teeth into the rest of them!

The visual assistance of the TV show definitely aided my easy fall into love with this book, who couldn't fall for Essie Davies? But the novel stands alone admirably. 

Greenwood has a talent for detailing the costumes her heroine inhabits throughout the adventure that might cause the non-sartorialy inclined to gloss over them a bit, but if flapper style is not your bag, if your interests lay along a more traditionally 'masculine' plane, just Google her choice of automobile, in this instance a 1920's Hispano-Suiza 46CV in red.... If you don't find that sexy, accompanied by the delectable Miss Fisher, you are clearly dead.

Read Cocaine Blues, it's wonderful!!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Murder Most Horrid....

As an unashamed lover of the detective genre, the fascination of murder as a literary vehicle, for all its horrific significance in reality, is one which has always struck a chord with me. 

Equally at home in the 'Golden Age' crime stories of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, or the modern police procedurals of Peter James' Roy Grace series, I love a good murder!

I've never personally got into the 'True Crime' genre for the purposes of a pleasant Sunday afternoon read, but I get the attraction, so Lucy Worsley's "A Very British Murder" definitely appealed to my baser instincts. 

Some of you will be familiar with Lucy Worsley's work as an historian, via the medium of TV and a number of books on various elements of historical interest. 

The book "A Very British Murder" was written to accompany the TV series of the same name in 2013 and gives the reader an excellent, rounded exposure to murder as an 'entertainment' form over the the last couple of centuries. 

To get an insight into where the crime genre has its roots I'd definitely recommend this book.

It's dead good.....

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Big Day For The Little Corporal......

On this day in history, 18th of May, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte took the ultimate accolade for a (relatively) low-born Corsican when he was declared (mainly by himself) Emperor of France. 

Arguably the single most influential figure of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe, and still today one of the most recognised names of European history. Less diminutive than you might think at 5'7" in modern measurements (5'2" in the then form of French measurement apparently, which led to his reputation for being a little chap) he certainly made a big impact on the world at the time. 

There are more books out there about 'Boney' than you can shake an Imperial Crown at, but Bonaparte by Corelli Barnett, published in 1978 is a good starting point if you want to learn a little more.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

George Orwell: A Life In Pictures....

For any fan or George Orwell, this is a 'must watch'... 

There are no 'real' moving pictures, or recordings of his voice in interviews... so this work has to utilise the massive quantities of writing Orwell produced in his relatively short life.

George Orwell, A Life In Pictures...