Tuesday 23 June 2020

A Remembrance of Ghosts by Frank Barnard

Tom Doyle is the youngest, least experienced reporter on a small local newspaper in Kent, but has big ambitions. There's not really a lot going on in the area - certainly nothing that will help him make his name  - so when he stumbles across the tale of a mysterious 'monster', a local bogey man called the Looker, used to frighten children, he hopes he can build it up into an interesting feature piece. Hanging around the church supposedly frequented by the Looker, Tom stumbles on something or someone else - a war widow who takes an interest in him because of an uncanny resemblance to her dead husband. Through her he's introduced to an upper class world in which he doesn't fit, but finds himself attracted to her daughter Alice, flighty and wild, and quite unlike anyone, particularly any girl, Tom's met before. Alice, though, despite her youth has a dark murky past, and the Looker isn't the only evil lurking in the marshes.

The story unfolds as a now-elderly Tom revisits his home after a long absence, and as he looks back on his youth he realises that those days might not have been as innocent as he believed at the time. I feel there's a certain vein of 'nostalgia TV' that portrays the '50s as some sort of idyllic, post-war, almost traffic-free, happy, gentler world. In Tom's reminiscences we see things as they were more likely to have been - narrow-minded, prejudiced - and from attitudes towards women or the forever-after sanctity of marriage I found those prejudices irritated me, but I'd rather know how things really were, than believe in a misplaced utopia. 

Something that shone through, was the author's love for all things related to flying. Tom is waiting anxiously for the day when he'll be called up to join the RAF for his National Service, and is enthralled by anything and everything about it. Personally, I have a fear of flying and heights, but joining Tom on a jaunt above the Kent marshes I could almost see the appeal.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

A Poison Tree by J.E. Mayhew

Review by The Mole

A young girl is found murdered in a park and her shoes are missing. Clearly the killer wanted a trophy. DCI Blake starts to investigate and tries to find out about the shoes. He quickly uncovers a web of intrigue which includes solved murders going back many years. How can he unpick this web to find the killer? Or is it lots of killers? As more murders occur it becomes necessary to find a common link or start looking for multiple killers.

Complex is the word I'd use to sum this up. The more I read the less it made sense - and this is what Blake found.

Blake's mother went missing a couple of years ago as she seemed to wander out the house with dementia. Blake's personal life has, as a result, been in a continuous state of hold while he waits for news. And while he waits he tends for his mother's cat who seemingly has a grudge against him.

But Blake has a team that work with him and they each have their strengths and issues. Playing to those strengths, he has his team conduct their share of the investigation while Blake tries to pull it all together.

I loved this book not just for the plot - which was certainly a challenging one for me - but also for all the characters including the pet psychologist.

The author is a facebook friend of many years and so when I saw him share an invitation to sign up for his newsletter, I signed up. That enabled me to get a free copy of "Tyger Tyger" which is a short book that predates A Poison Tree. I found it so engrossing that I bought this book as a kindle edition so that I could read it on my phone. One day I may meet the author but I won't ask him to sign it!

Publisher: Zertex Crime
Genre: Crime, Murder mystery, Police Procedural.