Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume

The Mystery of a Hansom CabThe Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've wanted to read this for a long time. A thrilling Victorian crime mystery with all sorts of sensationalism. There are murder and mayhem, mistresses and illegitimate children, poison and blackmail. It's a well-written and easy to read novel from this era. The suspense during the trial and at the unravelling of the mystery are delicious. There is a death scene of a drunken hag which is outrageously overdramatic. In fact, there are a few melodramatic scenes which made me giggle with delight. Written in Australia, this was a huge bestseller there, and I can just envisage how the lurid plot stoked the imaginations of the public at that time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine April 1983

Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine April 1983Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine April 1983
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last of my three issues of this magazine and certainly my favourite. Decent crime stories.

1. Shadow of Death by Brett Halliday - A fast-paced, easy to read Mike Shayne adventure. This was pretty hokey and dated with ninjas, revenge and a message that Viet Nam vets aren't crazy, drug-addled psychos but just like the rest of us. (3/5)

2. The Crucifixion by Mel D. Ames - A man is discovered nailed to a thirty-foot cross at a local church. Even though I couldn't stand the attitude of the lead detective, it was a fun mystery with the classic ending scenario of the suspects gathered in a room while the lieutenant explained which of them was the murderer. (5/5)

3. Blind Justice by Jerry Jacobson - I enjoyed this hardcore crime story. A punk severely maims an old man who lives downstairs in his low-income building. Justice is not served, but in the end, the assailant gets his due. (5/5)

4. A Matter of Organization by Dick Stodghill - A day in the life of an insurance investigator. He starts out finishing a job about a woman who broke her arm on a bus.He spends the rest of the day sorting out a jewellery heist for the insurance company. In the end, it turns out that everybody is a winner except him. (4/5)

5. Trial By Fire by Hal Charles - An excellent read, very different from the others. Set in a time when horse and buggies were still in use, this is a story of redemption. Arson is committed, and a body long-buried is found. Secrets and the truth finally come out. (5/5)

6. The Last of Clyde Dough by Wade Mosby - A small county finds a naked body with seared fingerprints in a snowbank during the March thaw. They can't identify the body nor do they have the facilities for an unclaimed body. What ensues is a comedic farce that is as funny as it is witty. My favourite in this magazine. (5/5)

7. Comeback by R. Tuttle - A short story about a has-been actress who still has a few business arrangements with her first ex-husband. Mary becomes a nuisance, and the ex decides to get rid of her. Enjoyable but predictable.(3/5)

8. The Assassin's Assassin by John Keating - More an encounter than a story at about 1 page in length. As the title indicates, an assassin goes to kill another assassin and finds the tables turned. Has a shock ending but not much. (2/5)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tin Soldier by Sigmund Brouwer

Tin SoldierTin Soldier by Sigmund Brouwer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book I've read in this series and probably my favourite so far. An excellent, exciting adventure for teens. This book deals with the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, secrets, spies and the CIA. A fast-paced read that was a real page-turner for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed - A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed - A Memoir of the Cleveland KidnappingsFinding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed - A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is so powerful and heart-wrenching. I hardly have the words to describe how much it affected me. I've read the book by Amanda and Gina already, but Michelle's book is superior.She is such an inspiration and her story so brutal. I was crying at her life before she was even kidnapped. The book held me in a shocked grip, and I read it in two sittings. A must read!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII by Jack El-Hai

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWIIThe Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII by Jack El-Hai

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very engrossing book. A page-turner. I had never heard of Dr.Kelley before, but of course, know who Goring is.I've also read a lot of books about WWII but had never read about the Nuremberg Trials before. Therefore, I found the content absorbing, and the writing flows in a story-telling narrative voice. The story is told in an unusual order with the first half about Kelley in Germany and his research with the Nazis while the second half settles into a complete biography of the doctor. Recommended!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett

The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other StoriesThe Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A collection of early works by Sir Terry. These were all written from the mid-sixties to the early seventies and published in Pratchett's local newspaper where he worked as a junior reporter. The stories are written for children and are all fun. Most of them were good with a couple of duds and a couple of excellent ones, averaging out to a solid rating of 3/5.

1. The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner - Cute story about a magician who gets cursed by a witch. Everything he touches changes into something else, usually odd, but he comes up with a way to appease the witch, Mrs. Riley. (3/5)

2. The Great Train Robbery - This is a story about the Wild West, the other Wild West, the one in Britain ... Wales. Amusing story of how the law derailed a heist. Lots of silly wordplay. (4/5)

3. The Truly Terrible Toothache - A deliciously fun magic story. A librarian finds an old book and reads an interesting bit which brings back Black William from the 16th century. Very quickly everything in the town turns back to its Elizabethan version. The librarian and police sergeant find out a way to help Black William and return to the 21st century. (5/5)

4. The Frozen Feud - This is another tale of the Wild West (Wales) with the same characters as the second story. This time the sergeant has to deal with two rival ice cream vans. Cute, but nothing special. (3/5)

5. Darby and the Submarine - This didn't do anything for me. Little people have an adventure while boating. (1/5)

6. The Sheep Rodeo Scandal - Another tale of the Wild West town in Wales. Not as comical as the other too but ok. Sheep rustlers come to town for the annual Sheep Rodeo. (2/5)

7. An Ant Called 4179003 - An ant decides life is dull in the colony and escapes. Then he meets a bee who has left the hive, and the two enjoy a quiet life together. Cute but not much.(3/5)

8. The Fire Opal - This a fun fantasy quest. The Troll Prince loses the fire opal set in his crown.It is said to have come from the centre of the earth. As it rolls away, three trolls including the Prince set off running after it. Along the way, they meet others of their own kind: tree trolls, troll nymphs, sea trolls, etc. Everything ends well but where they ended up is perfect.(4/5)

9. Lord Cake and The Battle for Banwen's Beacon - Once again we visit the Wild West in Wales, only this time we travel back into the past and find out about how the town was almost tricked out of its Coal Rush. (3/5)

10. The Time-Travelling Television -Several of these stories take place in a village called Blackbury, as does this one.After finding some strange fossilised items, a Professor looks up Bill Powers, and he takes her time-travelling where they meet a man from the future. Good.(3/5)

11. The Blackbury Park Statues - The statues in a park get worried when an old lady who has regularly visited her whole life suddenly stops coming. They find a way to bring her back. (3/5)

12. Wizard War - Two wizards can't stand each other and are always getting into spats sending spells at each other. When things get worse, the apprentice of one and the cat of the other go to the Grand Wizard for help .(3/5)

13. The Extraordinary Adventures of Doggins - A little longer than the other stories in this book. A fun fantasy of a man who lives alone on a mountain is visited by an airship and takes off with the captain and a girl to have some BIG ADVENTURES. Excellent.(5/5)

14. Rincemangle, The Gnome of Evan Moor - A gnome living in the country thinking he is the only gnome in the world takes off for the town. He arrives at a department store full of other gnomes, but tragedy strikes and all the gnomes have to learn to drive to escape. A very familiar story! This idea eventually expanded into the "Bromeliad Trilogy". (5/5)