Rules of Murder – Julianna Deering

And another 99p Amazon deal…and another holiday read! I really need to be more selective about what I buy. There are brainless books that are a good read and others that are just brainless.

This one is the first, hopefully the last, Drew Farthering mystery. It is set between the two world wars with Drew Farthering being the inheritor of a large country house, currently occupied by his mother and step-father.

The main characters are Drew, his friend Nick, who happens to be the son of the butler, Mason Parker the step-father, and Mason’s niece.

Drew has been avoiding his home because his mother lives there and he doesn’t like her house parties or the man she is reputed to be having an affair with. He arrives home for a visit with Nick to find the house full and his mother’s reputed lover asleep in his bedroom.

The lover, Lincoln is later found dead, followed a little later by Drew’s mother seeming to commit suicide.

Drew, Nick and Mason’s nice start investigating, uncovering a web of lies and deceit within the family company. They eventually uncover the murderer…a lot later than I did whilst reading the book.

I found this book quite annoying. There were far too many Americanisms that stuck out like a sore thumb. I have no problem with people setting stories in other countries but I do feel they should do some proper research into that culture and into the era they are setting the story in so the context sits comfortably with people from that culture.

My other gripe is that it was just too easy to spot who the murderer was. In a good detective series I feel it should be difficult to spot whodunit until the last chapter or couple of chapters, at least in the first four or five books. Eventually, you get used to an author’s style and pick up clues much earlier. But in a first book? Really?

In short, don’t bother reading this book.

The Children of Green Knowe and The River at Green Knowe – Lucy M Boston

Another dip into nostalgia and another 99p Amazon bargain.

I remembered reading these books at school, probably early Junior School…or at least I thought I did!

I read the first book on holiday, sitting on a beach on a perfect summer’s day. Perhaps the setting helped to create the right atmosphere to delve back into childhood for a short while and I absolutely loved this book.

The book centres on Toseland Gunning and the great-grandmother he has just met. The child is lonely; his father has remarried and gone to work in Burma, Tolly is at boarding school and for the Christmas holidays he is going to stay with his late mother’s grandmother at the ancient family house called Green Knowe.

Whilst there Tolly learns about his mother’s family and all the family traditions. He explores the house and grounds and gets to know the family ghosts, giving him roots and a way to find his place in the world.

I found it a lovely, heart-warming story and one that was vaguely familiar but not quite what I was expecting.

There was one scary bit about Green Noah and the gypsy curse. I imagine that’s why I didn’t fully remember the story from childhood. I expect that bit gave me nightmares and I shut the memories away.

I was expecting the second book to be a continuation of Tolly’s adventures. Instead, disappointingly, Mrs Oldknowe has let the house out to a professor who wants peace and quiet to write a book. Dr Maud Biggin and her companion, Sybilla Bun, take Maud’s niece Ida and two displaced children, Ping and Oskar, with them to Green Knowe.

This book is about Ida, Oskar and Ping’s adventures on the flooded river and fens around Green Knowe. I didn’t find these children or their adventures as interesting as Tolly’s. This might be because I really wanted to know what happened next to Tolly. It might be that having indulged in one retreat to childhood I’d had my fix. It might just be that this book isn’t as engaging as the first one. Whatever the reason, I just didn’t take to it.

It also annoyed me that Ping was known as Ping because no one could pronounce his real name Hsu. Which might have been acceptable when the book was written but which seems colonialist wrong and plain rude in the 21st century.

The experience of the second book has put me off reading any of the others in the series, although I might look out for the ones that also feature Tolly and give them another go.

Stars in his eyes – Marti Gironelli

This is another of my 99p Kindle Daily Deal books and I can only assume that the blurb given about the book was really well written, or I was really bored, because I can’t understand why I would have bought it!

The book is a fictionalised biography of Ceferino Carrion who became the restaurateur and wine producer Jean Leon.

It tells of him trying to escape Franco’s Spain and managing to reach the USA via a sympathetic seaman. It creates the picture of an illegal immigrant working low paid jobs in New York under an assumed name. Then, via trips to Europe and Mexico, the newly named Jean Leon ends up in Hollywood.

He initially works as a waiter but builds relationships with Frank Sinatra and other stars and ends up owning La Scala and becoming very successful.

Where he is much less successful is as a family man and it is clear from this book that he neglected his family, believing money and security was what they required from him.

The sense I get from this book is that Leon was a man driven to succeed but otherwise a shallow and selfish man.

Overall, the book wasn’t bad enough to not finish but it felt like a chore to read and I didn’t warm to Jean Leon in any way.

A Ladybird Book about Pirates

I can’t tell you how excited I was to find a pristine copy of this book at the bargain price of £2.

I’ve been collecting Ladybird books for some time now and keeping a tight rein on myself so I don’t end up with hundreds of books we have nowhere to store. I only allow myself to buy books I know I read as a child and that belong to the same series as the ones I still have from childhood. This book met those criteria so I bought it and savoured the thought of curling up with it to read and appreciate the wonderful artwork.

The book contains brief biographies of 22 pirates, mainly British and Canadian from the 17th and 18th centuries. I loved the fact that there were a good number of women pirates included in the book.

And the biogs are the problem! There is almost no information about each pirate. I think I must have done some follow up research as a child because I know loads more than the pitiful explanations here and I certainly haven’t done any adult reading about pirates.

I’m glad to have the book in my collection. The pictures are wonderful. But I’m really disappointed with the text.