I hope everyone is well. It’s been a while and I have a lot of catching up to do 🙂
I did a lot better last year with the quantity of books read – I read eight books in 2021 (also bear in mind that two of the eight books were quick reads) and last year I managed twelve. Twelve actual big books. One a month! Steady, steady. So –
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and then later in the year his sequel The Man Who Died Twice.
First one I enjoyed quite a bit but the second felt slightly more like a chore in places. They’re both undeniably very well written books with sharp observation and dialogue (I’m already a fan of Richard Osman and his big brain) but just not a genre I read tons of. Having said that, as soon as it’s donated to me I will definitely read the third.
Lockdown by Peter May
This book only got released because of actual, real lockdown.
Author Peter May wrote it in 2005 but the book was continually rejected, only getting publication after the 2020 pandemic. I can’t actually remember the exact plot too well but it was a fun read full of action packed scenes that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a proper action movie. Plus the leading detective is brimming full of all the clichés I just love about leading detectives.
Here’s the on-the-back-of-the-book synopsis (note the cliché detective stuff at the bottom please) –
A CITY IN QUARANTINE
London is in lockdown under martial law. A hospital is being urgently built by the river Thames to contain the thousands of victims of a flu-like epidemic. Construction is brought to a sudden halt when a leather holdall containing the bones of a child is unearthed from the rubble.
A KILLER WITHOUT REMORSE
A psychopath has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified. But why are he and his handlers determined to go to such murderous lengths to hide the origins of the body?
A GRIEVING INSPECTOR
DI Jack MacNeil is facing his last day on the force, his career in ruins, his marriage over and his beloved son Jack dying from the virus. He has only hours to prevent the killer from eliminating all witnesses to a conspiracy whose evil effects are beyond belief.
See that sounds quite fun right? And some of the parallels to the real COVID-19 pandemic are uncanny.
On with the list and three Old Favourite re-reads – The Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith, All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills and You’ve Got Nothing Coming by Jimmy Lerner.
All Quiet on the Orient Express is simply one of the best books I’ve ever read and I’ve read it soooo many times. It’s bonkers, so clever, completely original and impossible to explain.
Here’s a description of the author taken from Wikipedia – “Magnus Mills’ style has been called “deceptively” simple. His prose style is rhythmic, often repetitious, and his humour is deadpan. He favours short sentences, little description and a lot of dialogue” – though the book itself is hard to explain, this an accurate description. If you like reading fiction then please do give it a try.
Similarly, The Diary of a Nobody – a very funny book detailing the diary entries of a very normal man living in London circa 1890. As well as being a very normal man, Mr Pooter is also a bit of prat – think David Brent set a hundred years ago and you get some idea.
Now, generally I’m not a fan of autobiographies at all – preferring a good story rather than seeing someone’s first school photo and hearing how they got into the ‘industry’ (yawn) – but You Got Nothing Coming is a superb prison autobiography detailing Jimmy Lerner’s time in a Nevada state prison for committing manslaughter in an incident that could happen to anyone. Scary and massively brutal, it’s a compelling read.
Two Lisa Jewell’s – Invisible Girl and Watching You
These type of mystery thrillers I always really, really enjoy and I have another Lisa Jewell already lined up to read this year woo hoo. I wouldn’t say they’re memorable stories as such, or even anything you’d read again (probably not) but they always hook me and I enjoy the genre a lot.
Lisa Jewell’s are particularly good because they focus on the ‘normal’ characters rather than a detective or police force point of view which is not usually my preference. Easy reads at their core, but very good easy reads.
In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green
Absolutely same type of thing as the Lisa Jewells and a decent, relatively creepy read too. A very enjoyable mystery thriller with a twist ending I half saw coming. First book I’ve read by Cass Green but I’d definitely read more.
The Rats and its sequel Lair by James Herbert
I did actually start reading the third in the sequence too, Domain. But having read the first two books consecutively I think I was a bit ‘Ratted’ out, plus the third one is a lot longer and starts off in the middle of a nuclear war in London. A different flavour to say the least. I managed forty odd pages and we were still firmly stuck in a nuclear war zone so I decided to have a break (Domain is also on my list for this year).
The Rats was my favourite of the two I did read, but I definitely enjoyed Lair (and its setting of Epping Forest, not far from me). Both books are also soooo very gory – which was excellent fun and also made me feel a tiny bit queasy at times.
Not only did the rats do REALLY gross things (far more complex than simply killing people quickly for food) but the carnage was also described in graphic, graphic detail. One or two questionable sex scenes too. In fact, in Lair there was one that went on literally five pages (!).
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
This was the book that inspired me to read The Rats. I enjoyed Rosemary’s Baby (having never seen the film either) so much that I just wanted to read another horror novel ‘set back in the day’.
I was hooked from the beginning. Not only the horror and mystery but I enjoyed generally the lifestyle of Rosemary and her husband. Manhattan in the sixties, being part of ‘society’ and wearing nice clothes. The gorgeous apartment (shame about the neighbours) and Cosmopolitan cocktails. I feel if the devil didn’t have to get involved I could have dealt with that life myself.
And I’ve already started with my 2023 reads (lucky considering it’s February…) having just finished Wrong Place by Michelle Davies and now currently on Dark Angel Pass By by Michael T. Hinkemeyer. Check out my read list –
I think I’m the only person left in Britain who hasn’t read the Richard Osman novels….
I wouldn’t worry too much 🙂
A great collection! Did you ultimately see “Rosemary’s Baby?” As good as the book is, the film is incredible. And Levin also wrote the novel “The Stepford Wives!” The 70’s film is terrific, the remake not so much…
Not yet!! But I will definitely watch it soon 🙂 Ooh I bet The Stepford Wives is a good read, I might buy that and put it on my read list. I’ve seen the film remake but only once and I imagine the book is great and creepy! I will definitely read it, thanks John! 🙂
Well done, Em. I read The Rats and Rosemary’s Baby donkey’s years ago, but since the start of the pandemic in 2020, I have struggled to finish even one book. My concentration went away, and it hasn’t come back to find me. 🙂
As ever, Pete. XXX