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Old 12-27-2012, 01:38 PM   #17
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To record the books I read in 2013.

Books read for pleasure:

"Can Anyone Hear Me?: Testing Times with Test Match Special on Tour" by Peter Baxter. Completed 3/1/13.

Probably not of the slightest interest to anyone who's not a cricket fan, this was, for me, a wonderful book. It's the memoirs of Peter Baxter, the man who was the producer for 34 years of BBC radio's long-running "Test Match Special" commentary programme on English cricket "Test Matches" (ie international cricket matches between England and other countries.) Extremely amusing and well-written. I bought it for 99p in the Amazon UK "12 days of Kindle" sale.

"The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes" by Mike Ashley. Completed 12/1/13.

A superb anthology of mysteries of the "locked-room" variety. Very good indeed, and it's introduced me to a number of new authors whose work I shall certainly investigate further. Highly recommended if this type of mystery story appeals to you.

"Skyfall" by Harry Harrison. Completed 13/1/13.

"Prometheus" is the largest rocket ever built - a joint US/Soviet mission to place a solar power generator in orbit. But something goes wrong after launch, and the spacecraft is left in a decaying orbit, with only a day until it re-enters the atmosphere and falls to Earth with potentially catastrophic consequences. Can the crew restart the engines and save things? A very good read - thoroughly enjoyable. A little spoilt by the fact that it's full of OCR errors. I've written to the publisher to complain.

"Hand in Glove" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 18/1/13.

The 22nd book in Ngaio Marsh's "Inspector Alleyn" series. Not a very taxing story: a man is found dead in a ditch after a treasure hunt at a party, and Alleyn must find the murderer. Marsh's usual interesting cast of characters make it a worthwhile read. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

"When Worlds Collide", by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie. Completed 21/1/13.

Excellent 1933 "end of the world" novel. A rogue planet is discovered on a collision course with Earth. Can scientists build a spaceship to save some people, as civilisation collapses?

"Terminal Freeze" by Lincoln Child. Completed 24/1/13.

I very much enjoyed this - a classic "hunt to kill a nasty monster before it kills you" story. Ludicrously implausible, of course, but fun to read.

"The Wench is Dead" by Colin Dexter. Completed 26/1/13.

An absolutely excellent book, and one which I thoroughly recommend. Morse is in hospital, suffering from a stomach ulcer. While there, he reads a book about a murder which occurred on an Oxford canal in 1860, where a woman passenger on a canal boat was found drowned, and the boatmen hanged for her murder. Convinced that a miscarriage of justice took place, he sets out to try and find out what really happened on that long-ago day.

"Blasphemy" by Douglas Preston. Completed 29/1/13.

A very enjoyable thriller. The US has built the world's largest particle accelerator, to probe the secrets of the Big Bang. A Christian fundamentalism preacher starts a campaign against it, claiming that the research is blasphemy because it denies the existence of God. The book has a real "sting in the tail" which I didn't see coming at all. Recommended.

"Dead Water" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 1/2/13.

The 23rd book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series, originally published in 1963. Alleyn investigates the death of a woman on a small island at a spring with reputed healing powers. Very enjoyable - the best in the series for quite a few books, to my mind. As with all of Ngaio Marsh's books, it's the characters rather than the crime which make the book worth reading. Recommended.

"How Firm a Foundation" by David Webber. Completed 17/2/13.

The 5th book in the "Safehold" series. A long book (it's taken me 16 days to read it, but very satisfying. The "Safehold" series is slow-paced, but I'm really enjoying it, and can't wait for the next book to be released in the UK (it's already out in the US).

"The Accidental Time Machine" by Joe Haldeman. Completely 18/2/13.

I really enjoyed this one. A fun, classic time-travel story. A graduate student at MIT accidentally builds a time machine, but the problem is that it will only take him forwards in time. He has to travel further and further into the future, looking for a society which has the technology to send him back to his own time again. Well worth reading.

"At Home" by Bill Bryson. Completed 25/2/13.

A look at the history of the modern home, and how each room ended up the way it has done. Interesting and informative.

"Impact" by Douglas Preston. Completed 28/2/13.

The third book in the "Wyman Ford" series. A ridiculous mixture of bad SF and corny thriller. One to be avoided.

"Death at the Dolphin" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 3/3/13.

The 24th book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series. This book, like many in the series, is set in the world of the theatre. An attempt is made to steal a priceless glove, made by William Shakespeare for his young son Hamnett, from the Dolphin theatre where it's on display, during which attempt a watchman at the theatre dies. Alleyn must solve the mystery. As with all the books in this series, the crime really forms only the background to the novel - it's the wonderful characters that are the reason to read it, so very different from the flat, two-dimensional characters of Agatha Christie. A very good read.

"Hunting Party" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed 6/3/13.

The first book in the "Heris Serrano" series. Heris Serrano gets a job as the Captain of the wealthy old lady's pleasure yacht after being forced to resign from the Regular Space Service, but life in the civilian world proves more challenging than she had expected. Star ships and fox hunting. Great fun!

"Death of a Gossip" by M.C. Beaton. Completed 7/3/13.

The first book in the "Hamish Macbeth" series. A quick read, but very enjoyable. An odious woman who seems to know the darkest secrets of everyone else is murdered while attending a fishing course in the Scottish Highlands. Everyone had a motive for her death, but who actually killed her?

"Sporting Chance" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed 9/3/13.

The 2nd book in the "Heris Serrano" series. This follows directly on from the previous book. Lady Cecilia has been put into a coma by her enemies; Heris must try to save her life and, at the same time, carry out a secret mission for the King which makes her an outlaw in the eyes of the world. Very enjoyable.

"Clutch of Constables" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 14/3/13.

This was perhaps the best book in the entire series so far for me. I can't put my finger on any one thing - it just gripped me from start to finish. Interesting story and good characters. The story is told in "flashback", as Alleyn gives a lecture to trainee police officers at a police training college. He tells the story of the mysterious events which unfolded when his artist wife, Troy, went on a river cruise, and how it led to the capture of a major international criminal. Very, very highly recommended.

"Winning Colors" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed 16/3/13.

The 3rd book in the Heris Serrano series by Elizabeth Moon. This book is essentially the third part of a trilogy which began with "Hunting Party" and continued with "Sporting Chance". Very enjoyable SF. This continues my goal of reading more of the very early Baen books I've bought; this one dates from the late '90s.

"When in Rome" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 23/3/13.

The 26th book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series, originally published in 1968. Alleyn is posing as a tourist in Rome, on the trail of a British drug smuggler believed to be operating from their. The supposed smuggler is operating an exclusive tour company, and Alleyn joins the tour, only for tragedy to follow.

As with the previous book in the series, "Clutch of Constables", this is a superb book, one of the best in the series. Marvellously atmospheric and a fascinating cast of characters, all of whom it seems (in the finest "Agatha Christie" tradition) have their reason for wanting to commit murder. But what a contrast this is to Agatha Christie, with her cardboard 2-dimensional characters. Marsh's characters are "real people" whom you can empathise with. Thoroughly recommended.

"Magician" by Raymond Feist. Completed 30/3/13.

The fantasy classic. Stood up to re-reading very well indeed.

"Tied Up in Tinsel" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 5/4/13.

The 27th book in the Inspector Alleyn Series. Alleyn's wife, Troy, is spending Christmas at the home of an eccentric millionaire all of those domestic staff are former murderers. Inevitably, there is a murder, but who did it? A bit far-fetched. Not one of the better ones in the series.

"Once a Hero" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed 9/4/13.

The 4th book in the "Serrano" series. In this book the focus shifts to Esmay Suiza, who we encountered as a minor character in the previous book in the series. Very good military SF. Very much enjoyed this one.

"Black as He's Painted" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 14/4/13.

The 28th book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series. The British ambassador to a newly emerged black African country is murdered at an embassy party in mysterious circumstances, and Alleyn investigates. A truly excellent story, although some of the racial attitudes will be jarring to a modern reader.

"Rules of Engagement" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed 18/4/13.

The 5th book is the "Serrano" series. Esmay, a gifted Fleet officer, and Brun, daughter of the Speaker of the Grand Council, have much in common, but their enmity is the talk of the base. When Brun falls into the hands of a fanatical religious militia group, Esmay finds herself in disgrace, suspected of conniving in the abduction. Excellent.

"Lion in the Valley" by Elizabeth Peters. Completed 23/4/13.

The 4th book in the "Amelia Peabody" series. The moonlight abduction of Amelia Peabody's son Rameses, and an expedition cursed by misfortune and death, have alerted her to her arch-enemy whose quest is vengenance on Amelia who has sworn to deliver him to justice. And yet again the lives of her husband and son rest in the hands of Amelia. Very good.

"Last Ditch" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 30/4/13.

The 29th book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series. A young woman is killed apparently accidentally in a horse-riding accident, and Alleyn son, now a young writer, is on hand to witness the events. But was it really an accident? Pretty good, although not up to the standards of the previous book.

"Voyage" by Stephen Baxter. Completed 5/5/13.

An "alternate history" book telling the story of a NASA mission to Mars. Absolutely superb.

"Change of Command" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed May 2013.

The 6th book in the "Serrano" series. A direct sequel to "Rules of Engagement. Good solid SF.

"Grave Mistake" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed May 2013.

The 30th book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series. Despite two husbands being dead and a daughter marrying the wrong man, no one believed Sybil Foster was the type to commit suicide, especially Superintenent Roderick Alleyn. For the field was ripe with unfortunate engagements - one of them a very grave mistake... Very good indeed.

"Against the Odds" by Elizabeth Moon. Completed May 2013.

The 7th and final book in the "Serrano" series. A very satisfying conclusion to a good series. Recommended.

"Photo Finish" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 28/5/13.

The 31st book in the "Inspector Alleyn". A traditional "house party" murder: a famous operatic soprano is murdered on a villa in a lake during a storm. Whodunnit? Excellent.

"Minds, Machines, and Evolution" by James P. Hogan. Completed 31/5/13.

A very enjoyable collection of short SF, essays on science, and general chit-chat about his life, how he became a writer, etc. Highly recommended.

"Light Thickens" by Ngaio Marsh. Completed 1/6/13.

The 32nd and final book in the "Inspector Alleyn" series. During a performance of "Macbeth" at the Dolphin Theatre is London, an actor is brutally murdered. Alleyn has to find out whodunnit. This is a superb exit to the series: well-written, engaging characters, and an ingenious murder. It's a loose sequel to the earlier book "Death at the Dolphin" (written and set 16 years earlier) and features a number of the same characters.

"Captive Universe" by Harry Harrison. Completed 2/6/13.

A rapid and fun read. A young man growing up in a remote Aztec village discovers that his world is not all it appears to be. Reasonably good.

"The Mysterious Affair at Styles" by Agatha Christie. Completed 3/6/13.

Christie's 1st book, published in 1920, in which we are introduced to Hercule Poirot, Captain Hastings, and Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard. A wealthly old lady died from strychnine poisoning. Whodunnit? Very good indeed.

"The Secret Adversary" by Agatha Christie. Completed 5/6/13.

Agatha Christie's 2nd book, "The Secret Adversary" - the first of the "Tommy and Tuppence" books, first published in 1922. Tommy Beresford and "Tuppence" Cowley are, like millions of young people following the end of WWI, short of money and finding it hard to settle down into the routine existence of civilian life. They decide, therefore, to look for adventure, and get caught up in a criminal mastermind's plot to overthrow the British government. This, like all of Christie's "international conspiracy" books, is rather far-fetched, but great fun. Recommended.

"The Apocalypse Troll" by David Weber. Completed 6/6/13.

A very enjoyable standalone military SF novel which I bought from Baen in January 2000. In the 25th century, humanity is slowly winning a war against the xenophobic and genocidal Kangas. In an attempt to change history and destroy the human race before it develops spaceflight, a Kanga batllefleet makes a desperate attempt to travel backwards in time, hotly pursued by a human fleet. They end up in the early 21st century where the sole survivor of the human fleet must attempt to cooperate with the primitive military forces of 2007 to destroy the surviving Kanga Cyborg (the "Troll" of the title) before it can destroy humanity. Very good. I recommend this one to anyone who likes military SF or thrillers.

"Murder on the Links" by Agatha Christie. Completed 11/6/13.

Her 3rd published book, and the 2nd Poirot book, published in 1923. Poirot receives a letter asking for his help from a South American millionaire living in France, but when he arrives he finds he's too late - the man has already been murdered. An ingenious plot, albeit with a ludicrously over-complex solution involving the coincidence of twins and identical copies of the murder weapon, but still a very good read.

"Eagle Among the Stars" by Steve White. Completed 15/6/13.

Pretty good military SF. Earth has been taken over by the Lokoran, a trading confederation who view Earth as a new market to be exploited. An underground group - the Eaglemen - plan to overthrow their domination.

"The Inimitable Jeeves" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 17/6/13.

The first "Jeeves" novel. A true classic.

"The Man in the Brown Suit" by Agatha Christie. Completed 19/6/13.

Her 4th novel, originally published in 1924. This is an excellent "thriller", and tells the story of a young woman's search to uncover the mystery of the death that she is a witness to of a man on the London Underground. The story is largely set in South Africa (a country which Christie had recently visited herself). Well worth reading.

"The Pothunters" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 21/6/13.

Originally published in 1902. Wodehouse is best known for his "Jeeves" and "Blandings Castle" books, but I've always had a soft spot for his "School" books, of which this is the first. The book (like most in the series) is set in St Austin's, a (fictional) minor public (ie private) school. There's been a burglary in which several of the school's sports cups (these are the "pots" of the title) have been stolen, and some of the boys set out to try to solve the mystery and recover the cups. A quick read, but very enjoyable indeed.

"A Prefect's Uncle" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 23/6/13.

This is the 2nd book in the "School" series, and is set in the (fictional) Beckford College. Gethryn, a school prefect, is dismayed to learn that his uncle - a boy 4 years younger than himself - is to attend the school, and his fears are fully justified. Hugely enjoyable.

"Silverthorn" by Raymond E. Feist. Completed 27/6/13.

The 2nd book in the "Riftware" series. Classic fantasy. Excellent.

"Tales of St Austin's" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 28/6/13.

The third book in the "School" series. A series of short stories, originally published in various magazines, and almost all set in the same St Austin's school that appeared in "The Pothunters". Excellent.

"Dragonne's Eg" by Mary Brown. Completed 29/6/13,

Fantasy in a Victorian setting - a modern-day fairy story. Thoroughly enjoyable yarn about a young school-teacher whose uncle leaves her an inheritance on the condition that she returns a dragon's egg to its original home in the mountains of China. A Baen book from January 2000.

"The Head of Kay's" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 30/6/13.

Another book in Wodehouse's "School" series. Very enjoyable, as always.

"Poirot Investigates" by Agatha Christie. Completed 3/7/13.

Christie's 5th novel and the 3rd Poirot one, this is a collection of short stories, all featuring Poirot and Captain Hastings, and many with Inspector Japp. Enjoyable.

"Firefight Y2K" by Dean Ing. Completed 6/7/13.

A collection of SF shorts and essays on future technology. Mainly, but not exclusively, military in nature (with one fantasy story thrown in, too). Enjoyable.

"The White Feather", by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 6/7/13.

The penultimate books in P.G. Wodehouse's "School" series. In this book, a member of the school who "funks out" of a fight with some local youths and is shunned by his schoolmates as a result, resolves to prove his courage by secretly learning to box. An excellent story.

"The Secret of Chimneys" by Agatha Christie. Completed 10/7/13.

Originally published in 1925, this was her 6th novel, and the first featuring Superintendent Battle and Lady Eileen "Bundle" Brent. The plot features a murder at a diplomatic conference aimed at giving British Government support to restoring the Monarchy to the (fictional) European country of Herzoslovakia, in exchange for oil rights for British companies.

"Mike" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 12/7/13.

The last (and best) of Wodehouse's "School" series, telling the story of Mike Jackson, the youngest boy in a cricketing family. Excellent.

"A Darkness at Sethanon" by Raymond Feist. Completed 17/7/13.

The final book in the (original) "Riftware" trilogy, and a worthy successor to "Magician" and "Silverthorn". Classic fantasy at its best.

"The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Agatha Christie. Completed 20/7/13.

This was her 7th book, and the 4th "Poirot" novel, originally published in 1926. It's widely regarded today as the best of the Hercule Poirot books, and a masterpiece of crime fiction, although when it was originally published, critical opinion was sharply divided, with some critics says that Christie wasn't "playing fair". I won't explain why that is - it would be a spoiler for the entire novel (and please don't give it away, anyone), but I would say that if you enjoy detective fiction and you haven't read this, you really should; it's one of the true "greats" of the genre.

"Psmith in the City" by P.G. Wodehouse. Completed 23/7/13.

The successor to "Mike". Mike Jackson is dismayed when his father tells him that, due to financial problems, he can no longer afford to send him to Cambridge University, and that he must start earning his living in a London bank, but his life is made bearable when he discovers that his school friend, Psmith, has also started work there. The book describes their exploits in and out of work. Highly recommended.

"1632" by Eric Flint. Completed 27/7/13.

Classic SF from Baen. The small American mining town of Grantsville is transported back in time to Germany in 1631, the middle of the 30 Years' War.
A very good read.

"The Big Four" by Agatha Christie. Completed 28/7/13.

The 8th Agatha Christie novel, originally published in 1928. Basically a book of Poirot short stories with a very weak (and ridiculous) linking theme. Not worth reading.

"Titan" by Stephen Baxter. Completed 31/7/13.

Excellent hard SF. The story of a manned NASA mission to Saturn's moon Titan.

"The Mystery of the Blue Train" by Agatha Christie. Completed 2/8/13.

This was her 9th book, and was originally published in 1928. In this book, Poirot investigates the murder of a woman and the theft of some fabulous emeralds on a luxury train running from Paris to Nice - the "Blue Train" of the title. An excellent story, and a welcome return to form after the dreadful "The Big Four", her previous novel.

"Pawn of Prophecy" by David Eddings. Completed 5/8/13.

The first book in Eddings's classic "Belgariad" series. A masterpiece of fantasy.

"The Seven Dials Mystery" by Agatha Christie. Completed 7/8/13.

Her 10th book, originally published in 1929, and a loose sequel to the earlier book "The Secret of Chimneys", featuring many of the same characters. An archetypal Christie "thriller" featuring the usual cast of secret societies and international conspiracies. Nicely done, and well worth reading.

"Shakespeare: The World as a Stage" by Bill Bryson. Completed 8/8/13.

I enjoy everything that Bryson writes, and this short biography of Shakespeare is no exception. It has the wit that characterises all his work, and I thoroughly recommend it.

"Rocket Ship Galileo" by Robert Heinlein. Completed 9/8/13.

The first of Heinlein's "Juveniles", published in 1947. An early work, and the rough edges show on this one. Three teenage boys help the atomic scientist uncle of one of them to build a rocket to the Moon, where exciting adventures unfold. Enjoyable, and a quick read, but nothing special.

"Partners in Crime" by Agatha Christie. Completed 12/8/13.

Agatha Christie's 11th novel, originally published in 1927, featuring "Tommy and Tuppence", who first appeared in "The Secret Adversary". Now happily married, the couple run a detective agency and solve crimes in the manner of various fictional detectives. Entertaining.

"A Boy and His Tank" by Leo Frankowski. Completed 15/8/13.

Baen SF from Feb 2000 about a mercenary and his sentient tank. A good read, but fairly graphic in parts.

"The Murder at the Vicarage" by Agatha Christie. Completed 20/8/13.

Christie's 12th book, and the first to feature "Miss Marple". It was originally published in 1930.

When a bullying and self-opinionated man is murdered in the vicarage in the small English village of St Mary Mead, suspicion immediately falls on a young artist who's been having an affair with the man's wife, but is it really that simple? A local resident, Miss Marple, isn't so sure that the solution to the murder is as simple as it at first appears.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's well-written, with a good story, and an interesting cast of characters. The narrator of the book is the vicar (in whose home the murder occurs) and he's extremely scathing about the gossiping, vindictive old ladies who make up the majority of his "flock", and of whom he considers Miss Marple to be the worst of the lot, always (often rightly, he has to concede) spreading gossip and taking the worst possible interpretation of events. Highly recommended.

"Magician's Gambit" by David Eddings. Completed 23/8/13.

The third book in "The Belgariad" and a fantasy classic. Every bit as good as I remember it being.

"Hocas Pokas" by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. Completed 25/8/13.

An SF collection (actually a novel with a novella and a short story tagged on) about a planet where the local inhabitants (who resemble metre-tall teddy bears) are fascinated by Earth history, and enthusiastically impersonate any historical or fictional character which appeals to them. Very enjoyable.

"Black Coffee" by Agatha Christie and Charles Osbourne. Completed 26/8/13.

This was originally a 1929 Agatha Christie stage play, featuring Hercule Poirot, which has been novelised by Christie expert and biographer Charles Osbourne, and very nicely done it is too. The plot is a little improbable (a rich industrialist who thinks a secret formula has been stolen by a member of his household locks everyone in the drawing room, and turns the lights out, to give the thief a chance to return the formula unseen. When the lights come back on, surprise surprise the man has been murdered) and I wouldn't say the writing is at all in the style of Christie, but it's well written and the case of characters is interesting. Again, recommended.

"The Mysterious Mr Quin" by Agatha Christie. Completed 30/8/13.

Collection of 12 short stories featuring the mysterious Mr Harley Quin. Each chapter or story involves a separate mystery that is solved through the interaction between the characters of Mr Satterthwaite, a socialite, and the eponymous Mr Quin who appears almost magically at the most opportune moments and disappears just as mysteriously. Satterthwaite is a small, observant man who is able to wrap up each mystery through the careful prodding and apposite questions of Quin, who serves as a catalyst every time the men meet. Excellent.

"Castle of Wizardry" by David Eddings. Completed 5/9/13.

The 4th book is the classic fantasy series, "The Belgariad".

"Enchanter's Endgame" by David Eddings. Completed 10/9/13.

The 5th and final book of "The Belgariad".

"Peril at End House" by Agatha Christie. Completed 20/9/13.

Agatha Christie's 15th book, originally published in 1932, and the 8th to feature Hercule Poirot.

Detective Hercule Poirot and Captain Arthur Hastings are holidaying when they meet a young girl, who casually mentions that she has escaped certain death at least thrice. Poirot suspects that somebody is out to get her, and his suspicions prove true. He finds many characters that are shady and may have some reason to kill the girl. Despite Poirot's best efforts, a murder does occur, but not of the intended victim. When the motive itself is unclear, why did the murder take place?

"Guardians of the West" by David Eddings. Completed 21/9/13.

The 1st book in the "Mallorean" fantasy series; a direct sequel to the "Belgariad". Excellent.

"The Sittaford Mystery" (US title "Murder at Hazelmoor") by Agatha Christie. Completed 23/9/13.

This was her 14th book, and was originally published in 1932. This is one of her "standalone" books, rather than featuring one of her regular detectives, such as Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. As with many of her standalone books, the narrator is an independent young woman who sets out to solve a crime that she inadvertently gets involved with: in this case, clearing her fiance of a murder which she believes he has been wrongly accused of.

An extremely enjoyable book, with an interesting location (Dartmoor), a good cast of characters, and a strongly plotted mystery. Definitely one of her better books. Highly recommended.

"Wheels of Fire" by Mercedes Lackey et al. Completed 24/9/13.

Urban fantasy - the first book in "The Other World" omnibus. Elves and motor racing. Not really my genre, but enjoyable enough. Baen book from Feb 2000.

"The Thirteen Problems" by Agatha Christie (US title "The Tuesday Club Murders"). Completed 25/9/13.

This is a collection of "Miss Marple" short stories, and was her 16th book, and the 2nd featuring Miss Marple, originally published in 1932.

As in some of her other short story collections (e.g. Partners in Crime), Christie employs an overarching narrative, making the book more like an episodic novel. There are three sets of narrative, though they themselves interrelate. The first set of six are stories told by the Tuesday Night Club, a random gathering of people at the house of Miss Marple. Each week the group tell tales of mystery, always solved by the female amateur detective from the comfort of her armchair. One of the guests is Sir Henry Clithering, an ex-commissioner of Scotland Yard, and this allows Christie to resolve the story, with him usually pointing out that the criminals were caught.

The next set of six occur as part of a dinner party Miss Marple is invited to at the request of Sir Henry Clithering, as a result of her skill in the Tuesday Night Club. This employs a similar guessing game, and once more Miss Marple triumphs. The thirteenth story, Death by Drowning, takes place some time after the dinner party when Miss Marple finds out that Clithering is staying in St Mary Mead and asks him to help in the investigation surrounding the death of a local village girl. Miss Marple solves the murder by the end.

All the plots are ingenious, and most would have made excellent full-length novels. Very good indeed.

"When the Bough Breaks" by Mercedes Lackey et al. Completed 27/9/13.

The second half of "The Otherworld" omnibus. More urban fantasy.

"Lord Edgware Dies" by Agatha Christie. Completed 29/9/13.

Christie's 17th book, and the 9th to feature Poirot. A famous actress is suspected of having murdered her hated husband. Poirot investigates. Excellently plotted - one of her best.

"King of the Murgos" by David Eddings. Completed 3/10/13.

The 2nd book of the "Mallorean" fantasy series. A true classic of fantasy writing.

"The Hound of Death" by Agatha Christie. Completed 5/10/13.

This was her 18th book, and was originally published in 1933. Although Christie is best known as a detective novelist, she also wrote many supernatural stories, and this book, "The Hound of Death", is a collection of 12 short stories, the majority of which are supernatural in nature (although some of them are also crimes). A very interesting collection, and well worth reading if you've not read any of Christie's supernatural stories.

"Demon Lord of Karanda" by David Eddings. Completed 6/10/13.

The 3rd book in the classic "Mallorean" fantasy series.

"Forge of the Elders" by L. Neil Smith. Completed 23/10/13.

Terribly turgid SF from Baen. Not recommend.

"Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" by Agatha Christie. Completed 25/10/13.

Agatha Christie's 20th book, originally published in 1934. This is one of her "standalone" novels, in which the protagonist, as is usual with these books, is an independent young woman (in the case of this book, Lady Frances Derwent), with a "sidekick" of a loyal and courageous, but not terribly intelligent, young man.

The plot of the book: Bobby Jones (the not-very-intelligent young man already mentioned) is playing golf when he comes across a dying man who has apparently fallen from a cliff. Before he dies, the man asks the cryptic question, "Why didn't they ask Evans?", and then promptly expires. Soon after, an attempt is made on Bobby's own life, and he and his childhood friend Frankie (Lady Frances Derwent) get involved in an exciting chain of events.

This is one of Christie's half-thriller, half detective-story, novels. It's certainly not her best work, but it's a cracking good story and well worth reading.

"Sorceress of Darshiva" by David Eddings. Completed 28/10/13.

The 4th book of the "Mallorean". Excellent.

"The Listerdale Mystery" by Agatha Christie. Completed 3/11/13.

Agatha Christie's 21st book, originally published in 1934. A collection of mystery short stories. Enjoyable.

"The Compleat McAndrew" by Charles Sheffield. Completed 6/11/13.

Collection of hard SF short stories featuring the brilliant but impractical physicist, McAndrew, and his friend, the spaceship pilot Jeanie Roker. Very enjoyable indeed, and highly recommended.

"Parker Pyne Investigates" by Agatha Christie. Completed 9/11/13.

This was Agatha Christie's 22nd book, and was originally published in 1934. It's a collection of short stories, featuring the eponymous Mr Parker Pyne, who runs an agency promising to make people happy. Some excellent stories in this one, with very ingenious plots.

"Dalek I Loved You" by Nick Griffiths. Completed 11/11/13.

Nostalgic memories of growing up in 1970s Britain as a "Doctor Who" fan. Very enjoyable.

"Who Goes There" by Nick Griffiths. Completed 15/11/13.

Loose sequel to the above. Nick goes it search of Doctor Who film locations. Enjoyable.

"Seeress of Kell" by David Eddings. Completed 21/11/13.

5th and final book of the "Mallorean". Wonderful.

"Three Act Tragedy" by Agatha Christie. Completed 26/11/13.

This was her 23rd book, and was originally published in 1935. The book is notable in that it's the one Agatha Christie book in which Mr Satterthwaite, who previously appeared as one of the main characters in the collection of short stories, "The Mysterious Mr Quin", works with Poirot.

"Telzey Amberdon" by James H. Schmitz. Completed 5/12/13.

Collection of Schmitz's "Hub Federation" stories from Baen. Very enjoyable.

"The Forge" by S.M. Stirling and David Drake. Completed 8/12/13.

The first book in the "General" series, contained in the Baen omnibus edition called "Hope Reborn", which I bought in April 2000.

The book is set on a planet where an interstellar civilisation has collapsed back to about an 18th century level of technology, and the memory of the former high-technology civilisation has turned into a church, whose priests worship defunct computers.

A young man, Raj Whitehall, stumbles upon an ancient sentient battle computer in a base deep below the city where he lives, and is selected by the computer to be its agent to unite the planet and restore the fallen civilisation.

A very good book indeed, but contains a lot of graphic violence and strong language. This is part of my "read my old Baen Webscription ebooks" challenge.

"Death in the Clouds" by Agatha Christie. Completed 12/12/13.

This was Agatha Christie's 24th book, and her second novel published in 1935, the first being "Three-Act Tragedy".

The plot: Poirot is flying from France to England when a passenger in the plane is murdered with a poison dart, apparently shot from a blowpipe. Poirot investigates the murder.

This is basically a clever variant on the classic "English country house" murder mystery, where the reader (and the detective) knows in advance that the murderer must have been one of the people present at the scene. Well-written, with engaging characters. Very enjoyable.

"Nikon D7100 for Dummies". Completed 19/12/13.

Learning how to get the most from my DSLR. Very well-written, and excellent to read on the iPad.

"The Hammer" by S.M. Stirling and David Drake. Completed 22/12/13.

The second book in the "General" series, and the second half of the Baen omnibus "Hope Reborn". The book carries directly on from the first book in the series, and continues the story of Raj Whitehall's quest, guided by an ancient sentient Battle Computer, to unite the planet of "Bellevue", on which an interstellar civilisation collapsed back to 19th century technology a thousand years previously. Very intense - and very graphic at times - military SF. Extremely enjoyable.

"The ABC Murders" by Agatha Christie. Completed 24/12/13.

(US title "The Alphabet Murders"). This was her 25th book, originally published in 1936. A serial killer who murders people in alphabetical order of name taunts Poirot that he cannot be caught.

Pretty good, but not one of her best. This book is notable in that it's the last time we see Poirot's sidekick, Captain Hastings, until the very final Poirot book, "Curtain".

"The Anvil" by S.M. Stirling and David Drake. Completed 26/12/13.

The third book in the "General" series sees Raj Whitehall continue his mission to reunite the planet Bellevue, 1000 years after its collapse into semi-barbarism following the fall of an interstellar empire. This is the first of three books in a Baen omnibus edition called "Conqueror", which I see that I bought in March 2003.

"Inferno" by Dan Brown. Completed 29/12/13.

Rather to my surprise, I really enjoyed this. An enormous improvement over his previous book "The Lost Symbol". A rollercoaster ride of a thriller set in Italy, and (as the title suggest) having as its central theme the epic poem "Inferno" by Dante Alighieri. Highly recommended.

Total: 101

Books proofed for the MobileRead library:

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. Completed 14/1/13.
"Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen. Completed 26/2/13.
"The Circus Boys on the Flying Rings", by Edgar B.P. Darlington. Completed 28/2/13.
"The Circus Boys Across the Continent" by Edgar B.P. Darlington. Completed 2/3/13.
"The Circus Boys in Dixie Land" by Edgar B.P. Darlington. Completed 5/3/13.
"The Circus Boys on the Mississippi" by Edgar B.P. Darlington. Completed 8/3/13.
"The Circus Boys on the Plains" by Edgar B.P. Darlington. Completed 10/3/13.
"The Lost World" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle". Completed 22/3/13.
"The Poison Belt" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle". Completed 29/3/13.
"The Land of Mist" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle". Completed 3/10/13.
"Emma" by Jane Austen. Completed 29/11/13.
"Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen. Completed 22/12/13.

Total: 12

Total of books read + proofed: 113

Last edited by HarryT; 12-30-2013 at 04:06 AM.
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