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The Three Dahlias

The Three Dahlias

Katy Watson

14th April 2024

This new twist on the golden era/cosy crime genre sees three actresses who played the fictional detective Dahlia Lively meet up for a convention, where naturally they are drawn into solving a real murder.

It’s a wonderful read, full of fascinating characters with secrets to uncover. There’s a lot going on, and Watson’s structure provides a great way to meet her characters and see the world through each of their eyes, as well as setting out a thoroughly good mystery.

I properly enjoyed every moment and have immediately put the sequels on my wish list - I can’t wait to find out what adventures await for them.

The perfect cosy read, just the sort of thing I was hoping for.

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The Olympian Affair

The Olympian Affair

Jim Butcher

7th April 2024

The second full length Cinder Spires novel and it really does feel its length. It took me two goes to read it, having a pause halfway for a holiday and two other novels.

The book does little to recap or reintroduce its world, although I’m not sure I remember much of that from the first. Instead we are thrown straight into the world and the plot. I felt that if I hadn’t recently read the novella in this series I would have been totally lost, particularly as this book follows on almost immediately and directly from the events of the novella.

It’s then a slow burn as we see a lot of politics and conversation between an array of pairings from different factions, and it’s not really until the final quarter that the action level picks up. I didn’t find it as engaging to get through as I had wanted to.

I’m not convinced at this stage that I’m going to bother to pick up a third book in this series if one comes. It wasn’t gripping enough to justify occupying so much of my limited reading time.

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Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies

Scott Lynch

7th April 2024

The second adventure of Locke Lamora finds him in a new city, with a new plan, and new things to go wrong with it.

This is a heist novel, but one that gets so complex, with lies upon lies stacked up like Inception, to the extent that every now and then I had to pause and remind myself how many layers deep we were.

I really enjoyed it. Lynch has created some really engaging characters and a rich world with so much to explore, and with really quite light fantasy elements that almost could not be there but be some sort of meta-scam.

My only criticism of the novel is the opening. It starts with the classic trope of presenting a scene from much later in the story, but out of context, which feels like it’s just trying to trick the reader into keeping going to find where it fits. Instead, this is just confusing and utterly unnecessary as the plot proper is so engaging right from the start.

I enjoyed this revisit to this world, and have book three lined up on the shelf - although I suspect it will be a few years before I get to it.

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Attack and Decay

Attack and Decay

Andrew Cartmel

7th April 2024

Book six sees the Vinyl Detective and ever expanding posse head to Sweden on the trail of a rare special edition album which has totally nothing dangerous about it whatsoever.

It’s a great detective novel, with a bunch of really compelling characters who are essentially going on holiday together and having a laugh.

I don’t feel that the humour is as strong in the earliest novel, but that’s doesn’t get in the way of adding some. One new character in particular feels like she brings a remarkable joke that someone is endearing despite it keep giving more and more material for the book to work with.

I find these novels very comforting to read and am happy to see that Cartmel has another series now started that I can catch up with too.

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Firewall

Firewall

David Mack

7th April 2024

In this prequel to Star Trek: Picard / sequel to Star Trek: Voyager, we follow Seven of Nine’s journey of discovery following the end of the Voyager TV series. Rejected by the Federation over their fear of her Borg past, she seeks to fit in elsewhere.

It’s an excellent story that shows us considerable parts of the journey the character took between her TV appearances, and feels very in keeping with everything we know from the shows. There are nice little Easter egg references, but mostly this is a standalone plot that tells a solid story that fits the era and our time.

The book does feel like it represents the time we live in. There are several aspects which just wouldn’t have happened in the books of previous eras, but now are comfortable and normal, and make for a more welcoming and authentic setting.

And yet we also get a bunch of the classic David Mack tropes as well, which continue to be a delight to find, and fit so well with this style of tie-in storytelling.

A really nice visit to this world and a beloved character who I can only hope we keep seeing more of in the future.

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A Spoonful of Murder

A Spoonful of Murder

J M Hall

9th March 2024

Picked this up in a charity shop as a random buy because the premise sounded like a casual cosy crime I could enjoy. Sadly I never found the enjoyment I was seeking.

There are three main characters, but even after a hundred pages I hadn’t noticed anything to distinguish them in my mind. All were retired primary school teachers, with husband and/or child to moan about, and didn’t really want to get into solving the crime. But they weren’t distinct enough in my mind to be able to follow which chapters went together.

The plot did little for me. I think because the characters had no strong motivation to be involved in the plot, that meant I wasn’t given one either.

And something about the structure or narrative meant that I had no interest in more than one chapter at a time - which means I end up doing something else instead of reading.

So while there was nothing awful about it, it just didn’t meet my threshold for attention. I set it aside and immediately read five chapters into another book.

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A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job

Christopher Moore

9th March 2024

My second visit to the mind of Christopher Moore was as enjoyable as the first. In this novel we meet Charlie, who through a CD-related accidental encounter, believes he has become Death.

It’s a hilarious yet also very sad novel in places, including right at the start. There are a plethora of fascinating characters, and it’s lovely to see a world populated by so many of them who are really fleshed out and leave you wanting to spend more time with them.

The plot feels a bit chaotic, and there are some parts where I’m not sure I entirely followed what was happening. Time doesn’t really pass in a linear fashion, with jumps ahead after the first act which don’t always seem to quite flow. But that doesn’t stop the fun.

I’m inspired again to find more of his books - Moore has an inspiring comic take on the world.

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Reading soon

  1. Dangerous Trade
  2. Empire of the Vampire
  3. Faebound
  4. The Hidden Queen