A Voyage To Arcturus (David Lindsay)

“You may be sure that a question which requires music for an answer can’t be put into words.” Wish I’d written that! The Scottish writer David Lindsay died in 1945. He is usually regarded as a fantasy writer. While he wrote a great deal, most of his works have been hard to find, out-of-print, neglected. Voyage to Arcturus is the exception, having become a bit of a cult classic and reprinted again and again in paperback editions. Everything follows a dream-logic, which is to say no recognizable logic at all, but one that nevertheless begins to feel internally consistent. More than a parable, the entire novel feels like a transcribed dream.
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The Passenger (Lisa Lutz)

book cA fun 304 page romp. Tanya Pitts husband is dead at the bottom of the stairs. She assumes he fell down them, because she had nothing to do with his death. Instead of calling the police, she decides to “cut and run” as the Americans say. She packs a bag, grabs what money she can find and takes off into the night. It becomes apparent early on that this isn’t the first time Tanya has had to run. After making a phone call to a mysterious man, she requests a new name with credentials and some cash. Hair coloured, disposable phones in hand, Amelia Keen is born and off to find a new back roads town to start over in. The big question is why?
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The Dark Room (Minette Walters)

This book gave my brain cells a real work out. The first page is an attention grabber – two children having underage sex, the girl sullenly pulling up her knickers while taunting the boy’s inability to last more than three minutes. But this fun opening is not the real plot dynamic: a woman wakes up in a hospital with amnesia and is told she tried to kill herself. Also, her friend and her fiance are dead. Did she kill them, or is she being framed? You have to be very alert reading this book, as events are presented out of sequence, and times and dates of actions are important. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? It kept me guessing right up until the end. This is a psychological thriller, where you are invited to be a] the protagonist b] the police inspector and c] the protagonist’s psychiatrist. Got it? [Read more…]

4:50 From Paddington (Agatha Christie)

One of the major joys of Christie’s books is that they manage the difficult feat of being full of corpses and yet free of angst – a trick the Golden Age authors excelled in and modern authors seem to have forgotten. Miss Marple (our “old pussy” as she’s referred to in the book) is at the absolute top of her game. She gives us some nice village parallels to shed light on the characters of the suspects; she twinkles affectionately at both young Inspector Craddock and Lucy; she does a bit of gentle match-making; and she gives us some very ambiguous pronouncements that leave the reader as beautifully baffled as the other characters. [Read more…]

Thunderball (Ian Fleming)

The Bond originally conceived by the cinema was very much a creature of the 1960s. Yet the Bond of the books is a man of the 1950s. And like many men in the 1950s, eating an English breakfast 3 times daily and not only being unfit, but unable to even spell the word, seemed to be de rigueur: James is in poor shape it seems, 60 cigarettes a day (think of that in 2017….where would he even find a place to smoke that often!?) do not keep the doctor away. And he drinks like a fish. So M sends him away on a little vacation to recuperate…again. And, of course, each time James goes away to rest, someone tries to take him out. What a life huh? [Read more…]

If You Could See Me Now (Peter Straub)

The blurb of my copy of the book manages to drop three spoilers in the space of two sentences, and then reiterates one of the spoilers just in case I was slow on the uptake. I shall endeavor to avoid doing something similar. Straub brings class to horror unlike anyone I’ve ever read. He has literary tricks up his sleeve that will keep sophisticated readers happy throughout. He is a master of tone. And not just with the mystery he puts forth in this novel, but with the way he sets up our narrator as this haughty know-it-all faced with a town of plebeians that plague him. This book is a wonderful ride to take for that reason. [Read more…]

It! (Stephen King)

king-book-coverKing did something special with IT, and I’m not sure exactly what it is….It might just be the sum of the entire equation which makes IT such a fantastic novel. A few times, I had to remind myself it is 2016, not 1958. (It was 2016, sorry…only 2 days into the new year and I’m already confused) If you are thinking of reading IT, it is definitely worth the investment. I’m glad I took the time to read it, savour it, and not rush through it. You got that? [Read more…]

The Voice Of The Night (Dean Koontz)

voice-of-the-nightYou cannot rush Dean Koontz. He will take his time. He refuses to be intimidated by the competition. He hasn’t built such a long and successful career by turning out tripe. I know now that he wrote quite a few under different names (take a bow Owen West). As a best selling author would get a bad rep from the critics if he/she published more than one book a year in the 1970s – and an author couldn’t survive on one book a year. Strange but true. [Read more…]

Syncing Forward (W Lawrence)

Ebook-Cover-11-19-2015Despite the slow start to the book, I really enjoyed it. At first I misread the synopsis and thought it was about time travel, so I was expecting something along the lines of Doctor Who. The underlying theme of people’s reliance on technology and the destructive direction humanity is heading was spot-on. The glimpse of what may be in human kind’s future was interesting and well thought out. This is a very different kind of apocalyptic novel.
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The Overnight (Ramsey Campbell)

OvernightRamsey Campbell was once a superbly original author. But like so many things in the 21st century, he’s gone to seed. Run out of steam. This novel concerns a group of workers at a new bookstore (which is haunted of course), and their fate when they have to work overnight at the shop. Boy did I have high hopes and boy did he let me down. I have nothing but contempt for the old git now. He churned this out on reputation alone, knowing many readers would be sucked in because of his past glories. Talk about taking the public for granted. [Read more…]

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