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The Mystery of the Melted Coins

The Mystery of the Melted Coins

Franklin W Dixon, Leslie McFarlane & Andrew E Svenson

29th July 2019

This mystery is a classic of the Hardy Boys - seeing the brothers investigating several different mysteries which come along at the same time - a man with a missing memory, some counterfeit coins, and hidden treasure - but the greatest mystery might be the secret that Aunt Gertrude is keeping.

It contains all the key elements, cliffhangers, captures, Chet - that make the Hardy Boys books a pleasure to read - though a great deal of this is likely nostalgia value from reading them when I was younger.

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Knife

Knife

Jo Nesbo

29th July 2019

Book one-too-many in the Harry Hole series sees the crime hit a bit too close to home, and… well actually, I didn’t finish it.

The Hole novels have always been on the dark end of the popular crime spectrum, featuring quite graphic scenes, and a generally depressing alcoholic detective. But this one really goes too far for me.

I don’t know if it’s me, and I’ve aged or become more sensitive - or whether it’s the book and Nesbo has got darker over time - but this was definitely too far for me, and I found myself hating reading it, and unable to consume more than about three pages in a sitting. So I decided to abandon book and find something the I’d actually enjoy.

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The Mystery of the Missing Man

The Mystery of the Missing Man

Enid Blyton

29th July 2019

Book thirteen of the Five Find-Outers (and dog) was an interesting one in that I had very little memory of the plot from when I read it (probably multiple times) as a child.

The case is slightly unusual, in that it’s issued by the police, rather than being randomly uncovered by the children. The story is also unusual in introducing some quite prominent new characters into the lives of the children (who I again had no memory of) and having a lot going on that served as comic relief.

While the solution seemed obvious to me, I am most certainly not the target audience (any more) - and I think a child reading or being read the story would work it out before the reveal, which is the ideal timing for a mystery (although on second thoughts, some of the clues might be too dated for a modern youngster to get).

Probably one of the best in the series actually.

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The Real Town Murders

The Real Town Murders

Adam Roberts

29th July 2019

An unusual book - the first of Roberts’ that I’ve read - set in a future where most people live virtual lives, and only a few bother to inhabit the real world.

It’s a plausible imagining of a bureaucratic future, where the main character is first invited to investigate a suspicious death by one government department, before another asks her to stop.

While it wasn’t bad, I didn’t fall in love with it. There were hints of Jasper Fforde (who I absolutely adore) but the narrative didn’t capture my attention in the same way, and I didn’t find myself coming to care for and invest emotionally in the characters.

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The Traitor Queen

The Traitor Queen

Trudi Canavan

29th July 2019

The final novel in the series (after two trilogies and a standalone in between) wraps up the tale of Sonea and her magician friends, as they fight against a rogue, a country of slavers, and a drug problem.

I thought this was the worst book in the series. The narrative really drags, and I found it hard to keep going - my motivation at the end was purely to get to the end because it would be disappointing not to finish after seven books. I lost interest in the characters and really didn’t give a monkeys what happened to them.

I’m struggling to remember the details of the plot because I found it so un-engaging. I’ll admit I didn’t think the earlier novels were perfect, but this one was really disappointing.

It’s put me off trying more of Canavan’s novels, even though I already have another trilogy sitting on my shelf.

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A Colder War

A Colder War

Charles Cumming

29th July 2019

The second Thomas Kell novel sees the exiled former spy called back into action when his former boss suspects one of their colleagues of being a mole, leaking intelligence to Russia.

As with the first book, it really quickly grabbed my attention and was a compulsive read. There’s a lot going on, and yet the author manages to put it together in a way that’s easily readable and fun to roll along with.

I’ve really got back into spy novels recently and Cumming’s have been a big enabler of that. It’s the classic mix of exotic locations, mixing work and pleasure, and that impression of a secret world just below the surface that you can almost see out of the corner of your eye.

Another excellent story, and a series and author I will return to soon.

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The Flickering Torch Mystery

The Flickering Torch Mystery

Franklin W Dixon

22nd July 2019

The twenty-second of the original Hardy Boys series is one that I never read as a child. The brothers head off for some work experience at a local science farm, while investigating a mystery of some stolen butterflies at the place next door.

One thing that came up that surprised me was that they meant a torch in the US sense - for years I’ve been seeing the title on the list of novels and assumed it was what I would call a torch - what in the US is referred to as a flashlight. Not only disconcerting, but somewhat old fashioned I felt, given that I’ve never actually seen anyone wielding this sort of torch, whereas the other sort I could read out and grab from where I’m sat typing this.

As Hardy Boys novels go, this one was simple but classic. It contains all the top elements, along with a huge dose of coincidence. I enjoyed this quick adventure.

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The Rapture of the Nerds

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