Friday, September 30, 2011

A MEANS OF ESCAPE


TITLE: A MEANS OF ESCAPE
AUTHOR: JOANNA PRICE
Pages: 281
Date: 30/09/2011
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 1 Kate Linton
            ARC received from Real  Readers/Book Dagger
Own

On a cold November morning the body of a young woman is found on the Glastonbury Tor. The girl has been strangled and her body is surrounded by twelve small holes surrounded by candle wax.
Detective Sergeant Kate Linton is one of the police officers working the case, together with her superior Detective Inspector Rob Brown.
They soon discover that similar holes with wax were found surrounding two women murdered at Avebury’s stone circle and fear they may be dealing with a serial killer.
When, shortly afterwards another young woman goes missing and a star from a reality television show also disappears their fears become more urgent. The suspected killer may be holding two more women, while waiting for a chance to kill them too, and the police haven’t got any clear clues about his identity.
The case however is not the only thing occupying Kate Linton’s time and mind. She has quite a few issues in her own life concerning her relationship with her parents, her troubled brother and a messed up love life. And there are also the very mixed feelings she has about her superior, Brown.
With time running out for the missing girls, Kate and her colleagues appear to be fighting an uphill battle.

I enjoyed this mystery. It was well written, with plausible characters and an interesting story-line. I found myself compulsively turning the pages in order to find out what exactly was happening and how it would all be resolved.
However, there were one or two things I was less happy about.
It seems to me that Kate Linton may have one or two issues too many in her life. I understand that it is important to give a main character a good back story in order to make her come to life, and that this is even more important when the book in question is the first in a planned series. However, since there are more books involving this character to come, I felt that maybe the issues could have been spread out over future stories a bit more. Having said that, I also think it will be interesting to see how those story-lines develop in future books.
The way in which the story shifted perspective between quite a few characters in the book, including quite a few minor ones, did throw me off the reading rhythm at times. But, those sections were usually short and it wasn’t long before I would find myself back to the main story and captivated again.
Overall I would say this was a good first instalment in a planned series, and I will definitely pick up future books featuring Kate Linton.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TROUBLE WITH LICHEN

TITLE: TROUBLE WITH LICHEN
AUTHOR: JOHN WYNDHAM
Pages: 204
Date: 28/09/2011
Grade: 4+
Details: Read for The Loft Bookshop Book Club
            First published in 1963
Own

When Francis Saxover and Diana Brackley, two scientists, independently but simultaneously discover that rare lichen has the properties necessary to extend human life-expectancy quite dramatically, they have very different ways of dealing with the fact.
While Saxover is determined to keep the discovery a secret, fearing that public knowledge of the discovery will lead to chaos, Diana is determined to use the lichen to empower women and enhance their role in a male dominated society.
However, with the lichen being very rare and a synthetic version unavailable this is a treatment that will only be available to the privileged few. When knowledge of the treatment and its effects becomes public knowledge problems soon emerge and the situation becomes potentially explosive. Will Diana be able to make her dream of empowering women come true, or will her revelations result in chaos and violence?

This was an interesting book. The idea of a product that can extend human life by several hundred years is fascinating and the author spends a great deal of time going over the implications such a discovery would have for society. At times this leads to the story reading more like a scientific or political manifest rather than a novel.
There are more examples of places where this book read more like a work of non-fiction, with the main character’s responses and thoughts being reported more than narrated. The extracts from newspapers and the long explanations both Saxover and Brackley give for their decisions have the same result.
There is at least one story-line in the book that is introduced and subsequently not really resolved, which I found a bit frustrating.
On the other hand, I found it fascinating that a male author would write a book with such a strong emphasis on the rights of women, especially given that the book was first published in the 1960’s.
I could have done with the story and characters drawing me in more. I felt like a distant observer to what was happening and didn’t connect with any of the characters. This was a bit disappointing since I like it when a book grabs me to such an extend that I start to feel like I’m part of the story.

Overall I have to say that I enjoyed reading this book, and will probably find myself thinking about the implications of the ideas in it for some time to come.

Sunday, September 25, 2011