Sunday 22 April 2018

A Spell In The Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

I always look on it as a treat when a new Goody and Grant book comes out, their own brand of literary insanity never fails to make me laugh from cover to cover. So it's no real surprise that I loved this book.

The story setting is fairly simple, a collection of witches (of varying shades from Good to Wicked) attend a self help style week away in the Lincolnshire countryside. On offer are courses designed to make them better, more proficient and more profitable witches - but, as you would expect, there is a lot more going on under the surface. As always there seems to be so much going on it should be impossible for the authors to pull it all off but, as usual, somehow they do (and they do it well).

The action scenes here are often very frantic but work well and the characters, although it took me a while to remember who was who, were generally fun and ones I hope to see more of in the future.

One character stood out for me though, for sheer comedy gold and that was the imp Jizzimus. Any scene with him in it was guaranteed to have me somewhere between grinning like a loon and maniacal laughter (apart from one, but... SPOILERS!!).

As always, a cracking comedy read from two authors who deserve to be a lot better known

Monday 16 April 2018

The Mermaid's Singing by Val McDermid

I'll be honest, I've been aware of Val McDermid and her books for probably as long as she has been writing them. Her Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series has been one of those I'll ' probably get round to one day'.

That all changed last year when I read a tweet by Val about losing a reader (I'm not going into details here but the reasoning was so ridiculous that really, that reader was probably no great loss). I guess the tweet angered me a little so I decided to redress the balance and have a look at this series.

The first book to feature profiler Tony Hill and D I Carol Jordan is The Mermaid's Singing and, to be fair, it is a brutal piece at times. In the Northern City of Bradfield men are being abducted and then murdered, using medieval style torture machines. The bodies are then dumped in various parts of the city's gay community. The police are at a loss and that is where Dr Hill and his profiling come in.

As I mentioned earlier, this story is brutal at times and the torture devices will make many men squirm but at no point did the violence feel gratuitous. Getting to know the characters of Hill and Jordan was nicely done - the balance of police work and private time, the, I guess obligatory, will they/won't they scenario was handled in a way that kept this reader interested.

And as for the killer, well, that kept me guessing right up to the reveal and I think it's fair to say I never saw that coming!

So, an enjoyable, if unsettling, read and one I'm glad I finally got around to. I may be 20 odd years late to the party but now I'm here, I'm here for the duration - and very much looking forward to it.

Thursday 12 April 2018

If You Go Down To The Woods by Seth C Adams

This reminded me so much of Stephen King's IT at times it was almost like playing 'IT Bingo' (patent pending­čśé).

Outsider kid saves fat kid from beating by bully and henchmen - check

Fat kid introduces Outsider to his coloured friend, also meets 'love internet's - check

Form a gang and hang out together in the woods - check

Gang are bullied - check

Gang have a run in with a supernatural seeming dude, The Collector - check...

I could go on but I'm sure you get my drift. That is not to say I didn't enjoy the book, I really did and I guess that's because it is so well-written. Indeed, the first half of the story, before things kick off is one of the best 'coming of age' pieces I've read in a long while.

After that though, it all gets very busy indeed. The gang find an abandoned car in the woods, in the front, $10 million, in the trunk/boot a dead body.
They hide the money until they can decide what to do with it and at this point The Collector turns up in his long coat and fedora giving them a deadline. "Get me my money or else".

Throw in an out of town gangster, his henchman and a token bent sheriff and things really do not go well for the kids.

A steady start that really rattles up the gears in the second half.

I'm just wondering if the author will resist the temptation to reunite The Outsiders 27 years later to face down The Collector one final time? I hope not, this story deserves to be left where it is, the characters have been through enough in this one long summer