Title: Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Reading period: 18–21 April, 2016
Good old Bertie Wooster’s got a spot of bother
and so has his aged relative, Aunt Dahlia.
A young lady authoress has grown tired of her tedious fiancé,
one “Stilton” Cheesewright by name, and set her sights on our hero.
Dash it all, she’d want to improve a chap’s mind,
when he’d rather take a cigarette for a walk and enjoy Jeeves’ cocktails.
And Cheesewright’s a hulking brute threatening to break B.W.’s spine in five places.
But Jeeves comes through in the end,
saving Bertie and Aunt D.
Title: Spy Hook
Author: Len Deighton
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Reading period: 16–17 April, 2016
Three years ago, in the events that preceded Spy Hook,
Bernard Samson’s wife Fiona defected from MI6 to the KGB.
His position at MI6 barely survived.
He’s picked up the pieces
and moved out to the suburbs
with his much younger girlfriend,
who’s barely older than his children.
Now he’s investigating a slush fund that’s gone missing
and it seems that his questions are unwelcome—so unwelcome that by the end of the book,
he’s on the run in Berlin from the British.
I preferred this book to Winter,
which served as a distant prequel for …continue.
Title: The Breath of God
Author: Guy Adams
Rating: ★ ★ ½
Keywords: mystery, sherlock holmes pastiche
Reading period: 13–15 April, 2016
This book fails both as a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and as an adventure.
The story is narrated by Watson,
but the protagonist neither sounds nor acts much like Watson.
Holmes is elsewhere for much of the book and he is very annoying when present.
The plot is a preposterous mashup of steampunk and occult magick.
As in The Sherlockian, this author does not have the skill
to write a convincing Holmes–Watson novel.
I deducted another half star for the shoddy editing and the comma splices.
Damn my supraorbital ridge anyway!
I spent at least half an hour tonight scouring the entire house for a small suitcase,
only to find it within 3 feet of the back door—but above my eyeline.
Someone (probably me) had placed the suitcase on a high shelf a couple of weeks ago.
I simply didn’t think to look up.
Most humans don’t.
Our ancestors must not have worried too much about predators dropping from above.
Title: Valor of the Healer
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Reading period: 17 March–14 April, 2016
Fleeing from his botched attempt to assassinate the Duke of Shalridan,
Julian discovers the Duke’s greatest secret:
Faanshi, a half-elven slave girl with extraordinary powers of healing.
She heals his wounds in an instant and he makes his escape.
Meanwhile, Kestar, a knight of the Order of the Hawk,
who are sworn to extirpate elven magic,
also discovers her existence.
When Julian rescues her and Kestar is gravely wounded,
she heals him too,
forming a strong mental bond with him,
which endangers them all.
This is a well-told high fantasy,
with believable …continue.
I had a mole excised from my lower calf three weeks ago,
after a biopsy found that it was “abnormal”.
The biopsy on the excised remainder came back clean.
I went back to the surgeon’s office during the week to have the stitches removed.
It turns out that the stitches were dissolvable,
but I hadn’t peeled back the wrapping to take a look.
I was given the all-clear to resume exercising
and for the rest of the week, I cycled to the office.
Today was my first run:
a 3-mile course to the Seward Park Caffè Vita.
The scar didn’t bother me, but I had to stop and walk a …continue.
Title: The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: western, mystery
Watched: 16 April, 2016
We saw the “roadshow” edition of The Hateful Eight at the Cinerama,
projected in 70mm as Tarantino and God intended.
The eight protagonists are all as hateful and violent
as you would expect given the title and the director.
Tarantino is incapable of making a film
without gratuitous violence and gore,
but neither can he make a film
without memorable characters who eviscerate with dialog.
He continues to deliver both.
During one long day, some years after the Civil War,
eight characters find themselves trapped by a blizzard in a remote inn.
Two are bounty hunters,
another claims …continue.
Title: The Locked Room
Author: Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Reading period: 8–12 April, 2016
In The Locked Room,
Martin Beck, recovering from being shot,
investigates the death of a man,
who has been found shot in a locked room with no gun.
Meanwhile, some of his former colleagues,
now serving on a special task force,
are trying to deal with an epidemic of bank robberies.
The latter is a comedy of errors, with the police consistently messing up.
The authors are severely critical of the growth of Swedish police powers
in the decade before this book was written.
They also write harshly of the …continue.
Title: A Stone of the Heart
Author: John Brady
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Reading period: 2–8 April, 2016
A student is found murdered on the grounds of Trinity College Dublin.
Sergeant Matt Minogue, newly back on duty after serious injuries,
investigates and eventually finds links to the violence
then roiling Northern Ireland.
A slow-moving but thoughtful police procedural.
Minogue may be traumatized by earlier injuries,
but he is not the cynical, hard-drinking policeman so typical of fiction,
but rather a happily married father with a nose for the truth.
I like to use io.StringIO rather than the older cStringIO.StringIO,
as it’s Python 3–ready
io.StringIO is also a context manager:
if you use it in a with statement,
the string buffer is automatically closed as you go out of scope.
I tried using io.StringIO with unicodecsv,
as I wanted to capture the CSV output into a string buffer
for use with unit tests.
unicodecsv is a drop-in replacement for Python’s built-in csv module,
which supports Unicode strings.
with io.StringIO() as csv_file:
lines = csv_file.getvalue().split('\r\n')
return lines[:-1] # drop empty line after trailing \r\n
It failed horribly with
TypeError: unicode argument expected, got 'str'.