The Lost Horizon (James Hilton)

In the early 1930s four people, two British political officials, a British missionary woman and an American financier, escape the political unrest in Baskul, China by boarding a plane, bound for Peshawar. The plane, however, has been hijacked and eventually crash lands deep in the far reaches of the Tibetan Himalayas. Seeking shelter, the group soon finds themselves in the valley of the blue moon, guests at a lamasery, a place named…Shangri-La! This classic novel clips along in eleven short chapters making it pleasingly easy to read and absorb.
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The Forbidden Territory (Dennis Wheatley)

This was a smash hit in 1933 for its first time author. And he never looked back. By the 1960s he was selling a million books a year. He was never ‘big’ in America though, and with his elitist views and prudish characters, Wheatley’s name has faded into near obscurity now. As well as being well written from a technical perspective—plot, story, dialogue, exposition, The Forbidden Territory is also an interesting window on the late British Empire. For this reason, if no other, the books of Dennis Wheatley are worth reading. If you have a warm fire and a comfortable reading chair, this slim novel should provide a top-hole evening of very British entertainment: wealthy debonair characters (resolutely heterosexual) tanning the hide of uppity foreigners. It almost makes one wish for the return of the British Empire. [Read more…]

Ask The Dust (2006 USA)

1939. John Fante writes “Ask the Dust” about a young man embarking on a literary career. Years later a young Robert Towne voraciously devours Fante’s novels, most of which attempt to paint a portrait of early 20th century Los Angeles. Decades pass. Towne embarks on his own literary career. He scores big with his script for Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown”, a LA noir influenced and flavoured by Fante. Towne and Fante personally meet in the 1970s. Fante dies in 1983. Two decades later Towne adapts “Ask the Dust” for the screen… [Read more…]

The Sting (1973 USA)

the-sting-graphicFew films can draw me in and indulge me on repeat viewings like The Sting does. Brilliantly directed by George Roy Hill, the film runs at a relaxed pace for a while during which it introduces each one of its characters. But once the board is set, it starts throwing one twist after another which continues until the very end. This stylishly creates a place in space and time that may never existed but it feels real. It deserved its haul of seven Academy awards. [Read more…]

Pigeons From Hell (Robert E Howard)

thriller-3This is one of the great horror tales of all time. I find the title particularly irresistable. If you are going to read this short story, go off alone somewhere with just a fading flashlight. Find an abandoned house with a cold unlit fireplace and read the story while sitting on the stone hearth. It will have a bigger impact.  I’ve added images from the 1961 television classic version, one of the Boris Karloff Thriller series. [Read more…]

The Thin Man (Dashiell Hammett)

bookThis book actually is worth reading a couple of times. Read it the first time for fun, but then reread it to see what you missed seeing the first time around. A former private eye has given up on the detective work after his wife has inherited her father’s businesses, and is running her financial affairs for her. On vacation, they run into his former acquaintances and, of course, a mystery develops which he reluctantly is persuaded to investigate. [Read more…]

At The Mountains Of Madness (H P Lovecraft)

LovecraftThis author’s Achilles heel was dialogue, no doubt about that. However, At The Mountains of Madness has none, therefore it is simply page after page of what Lovecraft does best: narrate. He put together so many ideas, including a mythos that many writers today continue to use. As for this 110 page story – its  frightening, as the setting is so lonely. [Read more…]

Rogue Male (Geoffrey Household)

A-new-jacket-for-a-reissu-002A big game hunter gets arrested on the point of shooting at a character who is probably Hitler, escapes death after horrible torture and spends the rest of the novel evading recapture. How the world has changed since 1939. Our hero here felt that man was not intended to travel over 40 miles per hour, and he’s troubled by litter from paper bags. [Read more…]

All Creatures Great And Small (1978 – 1990 Britain)

acgasJames Herriot came to Yorkshire as a young vet looking for his first job, and despite being Scottish, made the place his own. This classic TV series is full of gorgeous countryside, cosy fireside chats, home cooking and warm nostalgia. It makes you yearn for the 1930s/40s; relaxing in the sitting room while Neville Chamberlain speaks through the wireless. [Read more…]

CHINATOWN (1974 United States)

faye“You’ve seen it all years ago”, my ex-wife liked to say. “Why would you wanna see it again?” Like many of you, I feel like I have seen too much, but what the hell. If this blog is my second wife then I have to heed her call to “fill me up!” You, the voters, need something new to read, right? Never mind the spoilers, here’s the review… [Read more…]

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