Duplicate Death

Duplicate Death (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #7)

Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


4.5★

GH wrote this, one of her her final mysteries, after a break of ten years. I believe she really enjoyed working with her husband on these light, fun novels but the Rougiers lack of understanding of the British taxation system (& the strong minded Heyer’s reluctance to take advice from anyone!) meant they were constantly in financial difficulty – & her Regencies paid better.

This one had the welcome return of the Harte family from

They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer

& I think I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn’t been so long since I had read that book. No one could forget Terrible Timothy, but I was a bit confused by the other relationships. I love GH’s mysteries but other than

Envious Casca (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #6) by Georgette Heyer

I don’t remember them as well as her romances/historicals.

As well as a most ingenious murder method (& a title that is a play on both the social activity & the number of deaths) & engaging, vivid characters this is interesting as a slice of life in post war Britain, which GH handles without any sentimentality. I’m surprised how well she tackles homosexuality & homophobia this time around (earlier books GH has seemed quite naive) & convincing depictions of drug users. I am to have a lot of questions for the British members of the Reading the Detectives Group when they catch up to me – due to a complete brain fart, I’ve read this earlier than the rest of the group. My main question was would it be normal for a Scottish policeman to burst into snatches of Gaelic at every possible opportunity. My word, that was annoying!

The other thing that lost this book half a ★ was the decision to … I haven’t figured out how to do spoiler tags on WordPress yet, but it was part of the resolution of the story.

There were some very quotable quotes as well – & I’m going to go through what is left of my copy to try to find a couple to add to Goodreads. I have a first edition & it is a gorgeous thing

Duplicate Death (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #7) by Georgette Heyer

– but completely falling apart! A trip down Memory Lane for me as it used to be the property of The London Book Club – a private lending library in Auckland that I remember well!

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Scene of the Crime

The Scene of the Crime

The Scene of the Crime by Steve Braunias

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


4.5★

I was a fan of NZ journalist, Steve Braunias even before I read his rebuttal to literary snob Graeme Lay in my favourite online magazine, Spinoff* https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/30-12-…

This collection of essays, originally published in various NZ newspapers & magazine, shows Braunias’ great strength is not only his writing ability, but also his heart. Braunias has made me look again at one of NZ’s most notorious murder cases the Mark Lundy case – & think about it again. Ultimately, my opinion hasn’t changed, but I was able to entertain the idea that there were others who may have had a motive to harm Lundy & his wife Christine & his daughter was unlucky enough to be woken by the noise – & maybe Lundy was lucky to be away on business at the time. But in spite of incompetent scientists, whack job witnesses & police who appeared more interested in getting a result than being sure they had the right defendant, I still think Lundy is as guilty as sin. I think maybe Braunias should have expanded the 3 chapters given to the Lundy case into a book, as interest in some of the other court cases (Guy Hallwright, Derek King) has faded &, with apologies to the victims of Chris Wang, I had forgotten this case.

Yet another article about (shudder!) that disgusting pervert Rolf Harris was necessary at the time, but I don’t think I needed to read again (as an aside, I was staggered to find out that Harris is no longer behind bars) https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/r… ) This article not up to Braunias’ usual standards – its oddly passionless.But, just when I was thinking maybe Braunias should have stuck to NZ cases – well, the Australian case of Brad Murdoch was powerful stuff.

I was most interested in the strange, sad, horrifying case of Antonie Dixon, since his attack on his girlfriend & ex girlfriend happened in an isolated area not that far from where I live. Braunias’ theory (that Dixon, was insane, thought he was sane, so pretended to be insane at the trial) is the best explanation I’ve read about Dixon’s bizarre appearance & behaviour in court. Dixon did everything short of foam at the mouth.

That haircut looks familiar…

I really want to read Simonne Butler’s autobiography now, Double-edged Sword: The Simonne Butler Story She was his victim – now more than a survivor.

& on page 27, Braunias mentions, but doesn’t elaborate on other famous cases in NZ where many believe the police got it dead (pardon the pun) wrong. I do emphasise Braunias writes little to nothing about these cases.

Let’s play Guilty or Not Guilty!

Arthur Thomas – Our justice system’s most notorious stuff up, imprisoned for nine years for a couple of murders he didn’t commit. Now pardoned. Not Guilty

David Bain – also pardoned, but I still think he is Guilty

David Tamihere – another famous case in my backyard. (I swear I live in one of the most peaceful parts on NZ. That made these cases all the more shocking) He was partly convicted on the evidence of a couple of secret witnesses that wouldn’t have convinced a child of four. I don’t agree with wrong methods being used to get the “right” results. I lost a lot of confidence in our justice system after this one. Nevertheless Guilty

John Barlow- I was glad Braunias mentioned this. Less famous than the other cases, for me this case didn’t make sense. In spite of Barlow’s lies & really stupid behaviour, I’m still not convinced he did it. Neither were the first two juries. I hate things that don’t make sense – & nothing about this case did.I’m going to go with the Scottish option Not Proven Since this isn’t as well known as the other cases (where Google is your friend) I’m providing a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murders…

Scott Watson. I’m not certain he is guilty. More importantly, neither is Olivia Hope’s father. Probably Not Guilty

Teina Pora. No doubt on this one – & Malcolm Rewa was just convicted of Susan Burdett’s rape & murder. Since he was already in prison for multiple violent rapes, Rewa will never be a free man again. Shame on the police concerned & shame on some on some of Pora’s family who dobbed him in to collect a relatively small reward. Not Guilty

I don’t want to bag on NZ police too much. Newspapers & the public put a lot of pressure on them To Get a Result.

Reading these cases & the other ones I have mentioned will give the idea that NZ is an extremely violent place. It is (sadly) no better or no worse than anywhere else.

I’ve rambled again, sorry. I do that.

* I just wish Spinoff hadn’t farmed it’s comments out to Facebook. The comments lost a lot of their vitality then.

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Eat, Pray, Die

Eat, Pray, Die (An Eat, Pray, Die Humorous Mystery, #1)

Eat, Pray, Die by Chelsea Field

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Chelsea Field is obviously a massive fan of Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series, but she has managed to find a new twist on this tired, tired theme, by having her heroine Isabel be a poison taster for the rich & famous. There is (of course) a Joe to rescue Izzy from her stupider mistakes & I think I have picked out this book’s Ranger.Field strays into Kinsey territory with the friendly older neighbor, but the personality is more like my favourite Evanovich creation, Grandma Mazur.

Isabel has a bright & quirky personality, but although Field is an Australian herself, Isabel doesn’t seem particularly Australian – other than her longing to find a decent cup of coffee in Los Angeles. Possibly Ms Field’s editors & beta readers have urged her to remove every bit of Aussie slang from her vocabulary, but I think that is a pity. A writer can chase the American market too hard. Saying that, I like this series spoof literary titles & clever jacket branding. The constant book cover changing of some new authors just makes me crazy!

The book itself did have a couple of patches where the pace slowed & the whole story was highly improbable. I enjoyed, partly because I’ve had a run of dull, turgid books & partly because I switched my brain off and just had fun!

But if you want a decent coffee – pfft! New Zealand coffee & cafes are way superior to any I have encountered in Australia.

So there!

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Black Roses

Black Roses (Clara Vine, #1)

Black Roses by Jane Thynne

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Ms Thynne obviously didn’t want to waste a single bit of research. Not. One. Bit. It weighs the story down -& that is the main reason I’m giving up on this novel. I feel like I have been reading it forever!

I have other peeves.

❁I make no secret of being very shallow – good cover art is very important to me. My edition has dark haired, olive skinned Clara as a blonde with a tanned back.

Black Roses (Clara Vine, #1) by Jane Thynne

Jars every time I look at it!

❁ Flat characters

❁ After a good beginning there is a lack of excitement, in what was a very exciting time

I’ve fallen asleep the last two times I’ve tried to read this.

Time to move on.

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Lonely Planet New Zealand’s Best Trips

Lonely Planet New Zealand's Best Trips

Lonely Planet New Zealand’s Best Trips by Brett Atkinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

What a gorgeous, evocative cover this book has! All three are typical New Zealand shots.

The problem with using a book designed for overseas readers is that in your own country you aren’t trying to cover a vast amount of the country at breakneck speed.* I was looking for a bit more detail than this slim book can supply. What I really liked were the small detail maps breaking up how much you can do in a day. But I needed more information on what to do when I’m at my destination.

If driving in New Zealand don’t skip the olive green section at the back.

Our planned route is Wellington for the Cubadupa Festival, I want to go to the Weka Studios & I want to visit the Garage Project (craft beers) & family stuff. Then one night in the Martinborough region (or maybe 2 if the wines are good enough!) Napier & then (yay!) Gisborne & its environs. I’ve never been to Gisborne & I’m quite excited. For me, this summer is the first time that NZ has felt over touristed, but Gisborne is still very get away from it all. We are allowing nearly four weeks which is more than some of our visitors (I’m an Airbnb host) allow for our whole country. *I made a cup of tea for one of our guests, turned around & he was literally asleep on his feet. He was doing all the driving & they only had 9 days for all of the North Island.

My husband had a good chat with one of the workers at our local I-site (tourist information bureau) the other day. Visitors look at a map & see a little country & don’t allow for little windy roads (North Island off the beaten track) very few roads (South Island) & lousy drivers. (New Zealanders & visitors) & road works just about everywhere. Slow down, see less, but enjoy it more.

Carol over & out!

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Fillets of Plaice

Fillets of Plaice

Fillets of Plaice by Gerald Durrell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

These random, “real life” (more on that later) stories from Durrell’s life were a real mixed bag for me

A natural born raconteur;

Durrell appeared to be quite at home writing his tales down, but apparently he never loved writing or thought of himself as a writer – it was always a way to raise money. Some of his stories stood the test of time. Others really didn’t. 🙄

The Birth of a Title Charming snippet that shows the close bond between GD & his brother Lawrence Durrell and tells how this book got its title. Brought back my own memories of Greece.
The book’s dedication;

This book is for my brother Larry who has always encouraged me to write and rejoiced more tan anyone else in what success I had.

5★

The Birthday Party Oh my word, I just hated Larry after (& in fact during ) this story! I know a fair few arrogant SOBs like this in real life, always thinking they know best, always trampling all over others to get their own way. (view spoiler)[ The ice box (probably a simpler affair than the one in this picture;

Probably the only thing that made life on Corfu bearable for Mother. (hide spoiler)]

Only the punchline saves this one.. 2★(barely)

A Transport of Terrapins Charming, delightful, what I hoped this whole collection would be like. GD’s life long love of the animal kingdom just shines through. The standout story 5★

A Question of Promotion Where GD shows that Larry isn’t the only insufferable member of the Durrell family. Long winded, vain & pompous (not to mention paternalistic & sexist), even GD”s rapport with animals can’t save this one 1.5★

A Question of DegreesWhile fascinating in a way about the workings of the NHS was just TMI for me! 2.5★

Ursula Where GD doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good story! Among others, his sister & mother both said he embroidered or omitted real life events.Lighthearted & funny though. 5★

Maybe I would have had a kinder view of Larry if I had read this first. Warning: may shatter a few Durrell illusions https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/even…

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The Wheel Spins (AKA: The Lady Vanishes

The Wheel Spins (The Lady Vanishes)

The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this one & wish I had had the time to review this book straight after I finished it! You know, when I was sitting on the edge of my seat with the excitement. It has been a while since I book made me feel like that.

Iris Carr would appear to have everything going for her. She is young, beautiful, bright and wealthy. But she is also bored & disenchanted with both her life style & the so called friends she is holidaying in Europe with. She decides to let these leeches travel back to England without her. Iris has a couple of adventures that make her feel somewhat vulnerable, before she boards the train for home.

The train is crowded, uncomfortable & Iris isn’t getting the attention that, with unconscious arrogance, she takes for granted. Luckily she is befriended by an experienced traveller, sprightly governess Miss Froy. Luckily until – Tah Dah! – The Lady Vanishes.

Although you may have seen this plotline a thousand times before, don’t forget that in 1936 (original date of publication) this idea would have been fresh and new. I also see a secondary theme selfishness. Watch out for this.

My only criticisms are that the ending seemed a bit drawn out, then pouf! All over. & Max is a bit of a wet noodle. I wanted to reach into my computer monitor & throttle him!

From the film, The Lady Vanishes. Michael Redgrave & Margaret Lockwood.

But all-in-all, a rattling good yarn!

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One Dark Night

One Dark Night (The Dark Moon Series #1)

One Dark Night by Anna Faversham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

I had high hopes for this one – but it didn’t quite measure up.

The time period for this historical was the the tail end of the Regency, but it wasn’t a copy cat of my beloved Georgette Heyer and this wasn’t set in her world – which usually means a cut & paste of some of GH’s dialogue and characters behaving like it is the 21st century – only wearing long dresses or pantaloons! But this was the hard and terrifying world of smugglers – and the start had quite a few threads going.

I had a few quibbles about the beginning, but they were later resolved to my satisfaction. But after these were resolved was about the time the story started to sag. It never recovered for me, sadly.

I still think Anna is a fresh new voice in historical romance and I’m happy to give her time to develop her gifts.

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Bath Tangle

Bath Tangle

Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

I haven’t read this title for about 27 years, & my memory of Bath Tangle is that, other than the three GH wrote before her death, this was her least enjoyable romance.

I thought I was going to be proved wrong at the start. After all, I wasn’t overly fond of The Foundling & A Civil Contract in my younger years, & both are now 5★ reads for me.

And I really enjoyed the start. Serena, 25 & unmarried is orphaned by the unexpected death of her father. This results in a huge change of circumstances for Serena & her very young stepmother. Both ladies finding living on the estate’s Dower House insupportable, so move to the sedate town of Bath. & their adventures start.

On this read, I loved Serena. Yes, she has a bad temper & was no doubt spoiled & indulged by her late father. But along with grieving for a parent, she has a change of circumstances to a life that is now stifling it it’s restrictions. A highly intelligent woman, she must have been ready to scream with boredom. This book is almost feminist in that it highlights the lack of opportunity for women.

There is a lot of wit in this story & some of the funniest lines are given to minor character, Mrs Floore;

“With the aid of the baluster-rail and Mr Goring’s stalwart arm she arrived, panting but triumphant, on the first floor, and paused to take breath. Observing that Lybster was about to throw open the door into the drawing room she stopped him by the simple expedient of grasping his sleeve. Affronted, he gazed at her with much hauteur, and said in freezing accents: “Madam?”

“Looby!” enunciated Mrs Floore, between gasps. “You wait! Trying to push me in – like a landed salmon!”

Love her!

As usual with GH the writing is skillful, there are some hilarious scenes, but on this reading I didn’t enjoy the secondary romance so much – & I also remembered why I don’t love this title.

I really don’t like the hero.

Ivo’s treatment of (view spoiler)[ his unfortunate fiancée, the featherheaded Emily, is appalling! (hide spoiler)] He can be kindly but mostly he is rude, arrogant & obnoxious. His saving grace is his sense of humour.

This one is enjoyable, if you don’t think about it too much, but will never be a high rotate Heyer for me.

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The Greengage Summer

The Greengage Summer

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Because this book was first published in 1958 & my edition was a Puffin Plus Reprint I was expecting a 1950s style teen book – & this book quite definitely wasn’t.

It is like serving yourself a bowl of muesli, expecting a healthy breakfast & finding it has been heavily sweetened.

Or going to a movie expecting a new version of The Sound of Music & discovering it is more like Last Tango in Paris.

Great products, but you feel mislead by the packaging.

Greengage Blossoms

A mother takes her five children to experience life in France – basically because the oldest two -Joss & Cecil (in spite of the male names, these are teen girls)- are becoming obnoxious & selfish. The mother,has a horse fly bite which has become infected, is very sick indeed before they even arrive at the hotel & ends up hospitalised. I can’t understand any mother, no matter how ill, choosing to entrust her children to the care of strangers, rather than sending for their admittedly judgemental Uncle William. Joss is the oldest and matters worsen when she also becomes ill. I can understand the hotel proprietor Mademoiselle Zizi feeling this is not her problem, but her lover, the enigmatic Elliot takes pity on these poor waifs – or does he?

To say any more would be to spoil the story (which we see through 13 year old Cecil’s eyes) For me the only good thing that happens is the feasting on greengages. I have now found out that they are a type of very sweet green plum.

This is an excellent book, very well written & every twist & turn was a shock for me. It reminds me strongly of Bonjour tristesse, published four years earlier. Also with a young protagonist, also not a YA book.

In spite of these quibbles, I highly recommend this book & I’m expecting it to be one of my top reads of 2019.

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