George V. Reilly

Review: Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit

Title: Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Arrow
Copyright: 1954
Pages: 256
Keywords: humor
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.

Jeeves continue.

Review: Spy Hook

Title: Spy Hook
Author: Len Deighton
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Ballantine
Copyright: 1988
Pages: 320
Keywords: spy
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.

Review: The Breath of God

Title: The Breath of God
Author: Guy Adams
Rating: ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Titan
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 245
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.

Supraorbital Ridge

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.

Review: Valor of the Healer

Title: Valor of the Healer
Author: Angela Highland
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 266
Keywords: fantasy
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.

Running after Stitches

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.

Review: The Hateful Eight

Title: The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Released: 2015
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.

Review: The Locked Room

Title: The Locked Room
Author: Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Vintage
Copyright: 1973
Pages: 279
Keywords: mystery
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.

Review: A Stone of the Heart

Title: A Stone of the Heart
Author: John Brady
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Copyright: 1988
Pages: 256
Keywords: mystery
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.

io.StringIO and UnicodeCSV DictWriter

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'.

I continue.

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