George V. Reilly

A Berlin Summer

Emma and I are going to spend most of June and all of July 2015 in Berlin.

Two years ago, our friend Joanna announced that she was going to spend a year in Paris with her husband and daughters. This got us thinking about spending a year in Europe ourselves. After con­sid­er­ing Bilbao and some other cities, we eventually decided upon Berlin. We had both studied German in high school or college; Berlin is a vibrant cultural city, full of history and art; it's a tech hub and a startup magnet; and it's con­ve­nient­ly located for travel within Europe.

We spent a week there last year in early August, continue.

Ireland Votes Yes on Marriage Equality

I woke up this morning to the news that Ireland's referendum on Marriage Equality looked set to pass with a strong majority. Tears began running down my face as I read the reports of con­stituen­cy after con­stituen­cy voted "Yes". I'm crying again as I write this.

When I was growing up as a bisexual teenager in Dublin in the late 1970s and early '80s—out to no-one but myself—it was hard to imagine a day like this. Hardly anyone then had the fortitude to live openly as gay, if they could pass for straight. Queers and pansies and poofs were objects of derision and occasional violence. It wasn't until after I emigrated that continue.

Review: Skin Game

Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: $stars(4)
Publisher: Roc
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 600
Keywords: urban fantasy
Reading period: 5–7 May, 2015

Fifteenth book in the Dresden Files series of urban fantasies.

Harry Dresden is Chicago's only pro­fes­sion­al wizard and the Winter Knight to Queen Mab. Mab compels him to team up with one of his old enemies to rob an im­preg­nable vault, a vault that belongs to Hades, lord of the Underworld. Harry distrusts Nicode­mus—right­ful­ly, as Nicodemus turns on him. But Harry can stab backs too.

A solid entry in this long running series. Harry is in­creas­ing­ly careworn but he still cracks wise, en­ter­tain­ing the readers if not his an­tag­o­nists.

Review: Dreams Underfoot

Title: Dreams Underfoot
Author: Charles de Lint
Rating: $stars(4.5)
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 416
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 19–26 April, 2015

A collection of related short stories, all taking place in the city of Newford, which might be a little closer to other worlds than most places.

De Lint writes haunting tales of love and music and wishes being granted at a cost.

Review: The Crocodile Bird

Title: The Crocodile Bird
Author: Ruth Rendell
Rating: $stars(4)
Publisher: Dell
Copyright: 1994
Pages: 384
Keywords: mystery
Reading period: 4 April–4 May, 2015

Liza lives with her reclusive mother, Eve, in the gatehouse of Shrove, a remote English country house. Liza has never been to school and has been kept apart from the world. When Eve is about to arrested for murder, she sends Liza away to a friend in London. Instead Liza runs off with the boyfriend she had met recently. She spends much of the book, like Scheherazade, telling the story of her life to Sean, as she gradually learns to live in the world.

The story may be quiet and slow paced, but Rendell continue.

Review: The Innocent

Title: The Innocent
Author: Ian McEwen
Rating: $stars(4.5)
Publisher: Anchor Books
Copyright: 1989
Pages: 270
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 2–4 May, 2015

Operation Gold was one of the CIA's great exploits of the Cold War: a tunnel running from West Berlin into the Russian sector to tap into the Soviet com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines. It was believed to be a great success when the Russians broke into the tunnel in 1956. Later it was discovered that George Blake, the MI6 traitor, had betrayed the tunnel from the beginning.

Leonard Marnham is a British Post Office engineer who is sent to Berlin to help the Americans. A naive 25-year-old virgin who lives at home with his parents, he continue.

Review: The Reckoning

Title: The Reckoning
Author: Rennie Airth
Rating: $stars(4.5)
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 320
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: 15–18 April, 2015

A murder in Sussex bears sim­i­lar­i­ties to another recent murder in Scotland, but what could the link between the two men be? One of the victims left a half-written letter addressed to John Madden, who is now retired from Scotland Yard. Soon there are more victims and Madden and the police struggle to find the killer.

Airth evokes both the First and Second World Wars, exploring the damage done to those who survived and the injustices visited upon some who did not.

Review: The Sherlockian

Title: The Sher­lock­ian
Author: Graham Moore
Rating: $stars(3.5)
Publisher: Twelve
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 346
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: 27 April–May 2, 2015

Two mysteries are in­ter­twined in this novel. In the present day, a long-lost diary of Arthur Conan Doyle's from 1900 has apparently been re­dis­cov­ered, but the finder has been murdered, while in 1900, Doyle and Bram Stoker in­ves­ti­gate the murder of several young women.

The two mysteries are artfully in­ter­twined and the plots move along nicely. I was irritated by the author's ignorance of Victorian England—"It was a Victorian-era shilling, worth only five pennies in its day" (twelve, dammit, until dec­i­mal­i­sa­tion in 1971)—and weak grasp of ACD's style.

Review: Macbeth: A Novel

Title: Macbeth: A Novel
Author: A.J. Hartley, David Hewson
Rating: $stars(4)
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 328
Keywords: historical fiction
Reading period: 5–6 April, 2015

Macbeth is an honorable Scottish lord who serves an ignoble king. When Malcolm finally goes too far, Macbeth and his wife convince themselves that Malcolm must die. (Encounters with a trio of strange women also swayed their minds.) Macbeth himself becomes king but guilt and paranoia start eating away at him and his wife.

Hartley and Hewson retell Shake­speare's classic play as a novel, providing psy­cho­log­i­cal motivation for Macbeth's usurpation and downfall. Their Lady Macbeth is more sym­pa­thet­ic and less nakedly ambitious than she is usually portrayed.

Review: Sullivan's Sting

Title: Sullivan's Sting
Author: Lawrence Sanders
Rating: $stars(3)
Publisher: Berkeley
Copyright: 1990
Pages: 368
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 8–9 April, 2015

The charmingly amoral David Rathbone leads a small group of Palm Beach conmen. A task force of police and federal agents are trying to take them down, and Rita Sullivan goes undercover and flirts her way into David's bed. Sullivan and some of the other undercover cops start losing their per­spec­tive and get a little too close to their targets.

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