Archive for June 1, 2009


The last book I reviewed here was excellent The Sardine Deception by Leif Davidsen and since then I have read two books I was given by the generous Karen Meek to review for Euro Crime.

Book A, was written by an award winning author whose work I had read previously and enjoyed. The subject looked promising……

Book B, had a smaller font than I would find comfortable to read and was by a former British television journalist I had never read before and looked very long. The subject looked like it would be better handled by a local writer. I was on the point of posting Book B back to Karen, but didn’t…….

What makes us enjoy one book and find another a complete waste of time? 

For me if the story is set in the past the book has to feel right and have the correct ambience for the period. The characters have to speak, think, and act in a believable way.
I have a book on my shelf that I haven’t got round to reading yet entitled Arc of Justice, by Kevin Boyle a professor of history at Ohio Sate University. 
I quote from the authors notes; “readers of early drafts told me that seeing African American in the text jarred them out of the story so I substituted terms common in the 1920s”. 
He goes on to rightly apologise and say he means no disrespect for using these terms, but they are essential to set the story in the correct period. 

My point is that some writers have the skill to put you right into the action and with others either the narrative or the dialogue jars you out of the story. Book A jarred while Book B was right on target. 

Do we as bloggers just fall into line and accept that someone is a prize winner and therefore we can’t be critical of their books?
If so what is the point of blogging? Authors do go off the boil and become infatuated with literary style or their characters to a point where they lose the plot. 

I have started reading Andrew Taylor‘s Bleeding Heart Square, and am finding it difficult to get into the story. The author creates a group of Dickensian characters that just don’t seem to fit into the London of 1934 and are quaintly Victorian. You need more than a mention of Oswald Mosley to create the right period feel, while I have a suspicion that the Dickens feel is deliberate and I find it mildly annoying.

But then I am only on page 114 so I am very interested in whether the narrative style is going to change or whether the Mid Victorian feel of the story will continue ignoring the fact that the setting is 1934. 

Is Bleeding Heart Square intended simply as a pastiche of Charles Dickens, or Wilkie Collins