George V. Reilly

Review: Pirate King

Title: Pirate King
Author: Laurie R. King
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Bantam
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 368
Keywords: historical mystery, Holmes
Reading period: 14–16 May, 2015

Mary Russell—Sherlock Holmes’ much younger wife—in­ves­ti­gates the odd goings on in a British silent film company that’s making a pirate film on location in Lisbon and Morocco in 1924. The filmmakers get more than they bargained for, as the rogues they cast as pirates seem to be real pirates.

A decent entry in this series.

Review: The Crook Factory

Title: The Crook Factory
Author: Dan Simmons
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper Torch
Copyright: 1999
Pages: 562
Keywords: thriller, historical
Reading period: 28 May–6 June, 2015

In 1942, Ernest Hemingway ran a counter-espionage ring and submarine-seeking operation from Cuba. Staffed by amateurs, it was approved by the American ambassador. The narrator, Joe Lucas, is sent by J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate Hemingway’s op. There seems to be a lot of espionage going on in Cuba and it looks like Hemingway is being set up for something.

Based loosely on true events, this is en­ter­tain­ing, if a tad longwinded and confusing.

Review: A Midwinter Murder

Title: A Midwinter Murder
Author: Peter Tonkin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 251
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: 10–13 May, 2015

Tom Musgrave, sword master and master of logic, is called away from the Eliz­a­bethan court to the Scottish borders, where his brother has been found dead­—ap­par­ent­ly frozen in terror by the sight of a hellhound. Musgrave uncovers a nest of intrigue and murder when he returns home to in­ves­ti­gate.

Tonkin has written a good historical mystery, though I found the pro­ta­gan­ist’s ra­ti­o­ci­na­tive powers improbable.

Review: Bad Boy

Title: Bad Boy
Author: Peter Robinson
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 387
Keywords: mystery
Reading period: 10–12 May, 2015

A woman calls at a Yorkshire police station to talk to her friend, Detective Inspector Alan Banks, about the gun she found in her daughter’s bedroom. Banks is out of the country, however. An un­reg­is­tered gun is a serious offence under British law and the police take it very seriously. The daughter’s friend—Banks’ own daughter, Tracy—goes to warn the owner, and he goes on the run with Tracy. She’s willing at first then realizes that she’s in way over her head with this bad boy.

Another good entry in Robinson’s long-running series continue.

Review: In Cold Blood

Title: In Cold Blood
Author: Truman Capote
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Vintage
Copyright: 1965
Pages: 343
Keywords: true crime
Reading period: 3–8 May, 2015

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote’s best­selling non-fiction novel, describes the 1959 murder of a wealthy farmer and his family, which terrorized Kansas; the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Kansas Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion; the arrest six weeks later of two parolees, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith; and the lives and deaths of Hickock and Smith. Smith was a ne’er-do-well, brought up by footloose alcoholic parents, with two siblings dead of suicide, while Hickock had been brought up in a good home.

Capote “recre­at­ed” the events of the Clutter murder and, in­ci­den­tal­ly, helped create the genre of continue.

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, staying with 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 ho­mo­sex­u­al­i­ty continue.

Review: Skin Game

Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
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: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
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: ★ ★ ★ ★
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 continue.

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