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The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

glorious-heresies2The Glorious Heresies is a bold, brash debut novel that won Lisa McInerney numerous accolades including the Bailey’s Prize and the Desmond Elliot prize in 2016.

McInerney’s edgy style will not be to everyone’s liking and her portrayal of Cork’s seedy underworld is unlikely to do much for the city’s tourist trade. Forget any images of pastoral landscape and Guiness-fuelled booze ups to the sound of a few jolly fiddlers. The world of The Glorious Heresies is a crowded vista of brothels and grim housing estates of schoolboy drug dealers and malicious thugs.

Tony Cusack’s terrace was only one of dozens flung out in a lattice of reluctant socialism. There was always some brat lighting bonfires on the green, or a lout with a belly out to next Friday being drunkenly ejected from home (with a measure of screaming fishwife fucked in for good luck), or squad cars or teenage squeals or gibbering dogs.

The novel begins with an accidental murder in a block of flats used as a temporary residence for Maureen Phelan, the mother of one of the city’s leading gangland bosses. When she hits an intruder over the head with a Holy Stone, Maureen sets in motion a chain of events that entangle her son and three other members of the city’s underclass.

To describe the plot further would be to do an injustice to McInderney’s novel because the power of The Glorious Heresies really stems from the brilliantly delineated misfits that make up her cast.  The guy drafted in to dispose of the body is Tony, a drunken wastrel and father of six, whose alcoholism and obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family.  Georgie, the murdered man’s girlfriend, is a wildchild who has run away from her village home because “if she didn’t get up and march out, she’d grow roots down through the thin carpet, down through the foundations, down into the soil, the dirt, the rock and trap herself there until her brain turned to jelly.”  Her new life in Cork is one of drugs and prostitution.

Feeding her habit is Tony’s fifeteen year old son, Ryan. He’s desperate not to turn out like his father who is rather too free with his fists when he’s in his cups. He’s an intelligent boy though disruptive in school, one who hides his talent for playing the piano and puts on a show of bravado. But deep down he mourns the mother who died four years earlier and whose presence is still felt in the family home:

It was a three-bedroom terrace so cavernous without his mother he could barely stand it. It echoed shit he didnt want to think about in chasms that shouldnt have been there.

As the novel opens, Ryan is on the fringe of manhood, about to leave behind his “pile of mangled, skinny limbs” and emerge with “squared shulders and jaws, and strong arms.” His metamorphosis is achieved with the aid of Karine D’Arcy, “”whip-smart and as beautiful as morning”, the most desirable girl in his school. She was now in his bedroom, helping him lose his virginity.  Their relationship is the only stability Ryan can count on as his life goes into spin: a predatory next door neighbour seduces him; his father is implicated in the disposal of the corpse and Ryan’s drug dealing gets him sent down for nine months in a young offenders’ institution.

Though Ryan is the central character, it’s the gangster’s mother Maureen, a woman “crazier than a dustbin fox”, I warmed to the most. After 40 years of exile in London she’s returned to Cork to discover the illegitimate son she had to give up for adoption, has become a much-feared thug, drug baron and sex-industry entrepreneur.  She’s determined to atone for the death, despite her son’s protestations that she’s already caused enough trouble. But when she goes to church to confess her crime, her encounter with a priest stirs up memories of the way the Catholic Church treated unmarried mothers like herself.  She ends up accusing the priest of hypocrisy:

The most natural thing in the world is giving birth; you built your whole religion around it. And yet you poured pitch on girls like me and sold us into slavery and took our humanity from us.”scarred by the treatment yet still vividly scarred by having spent her years in fear of the Holy Trinity: “the priests, the nuns and the neighbours”.

The switching narrative viewpoints take us deep into the minds and hearts of these people and make us cry and despair alongside them, and, at times, laugh.  For though their prospects are bleak and the city is in a post economic-boom tailspin, the sheer muddle of their lives produces some dark humour.

It’s an exuberant debut, unflinching in exposing the dark underbelly of  a city  “spread out in soft mounds and hollows, like a duvet dropped into a well” and biting in its denouncement of the Catholic church as well as a missionary cult that seems to think the answer to the city’s drug problem is to hand out pamphlet. This is a novel that asks serious questions about salvation, guilt and the effects of the past on the present.

Footnotes 

The Book: The Glorious Heresies was published by John Murray in 2015.  It won The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2016 and the Desmond Elliot Prize for 2016. It was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prie 2016. I read the e-version.

The Author: Lisa McInerney is from Galway and is the author of an award-winning blog ‘Arse End of Ireland’ (no longer active or available). The Irish Times has called her ‘arguably the most talented writer at work in Ireland today’. Her latest novel The Blood Miracles is published in April 2017 – it features Ryan Cusak (from The Glorious Heresies).

Why I read this book: Although I often ignore books that attract huge levels of attentionl this one appealed to me. I read it for ReadingIreland2017 hosted by 746books and  The Fluff is Raging.

 

 

8 Favourite Reads of 2017 (so far)

Best reads of 2017We’re approaching the mid point of the year so what better opportunity to review the last six months and pick my favourite reads to date. Top Ten Tuesday this week in fact is all about the best 10 books of 2017. Of the 30 books I’ve read so far there were eight that stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel: I never thought to find myself choosing a sci-fi novel as a favourite read. But this was outstanding. My review noted: The combination of beautiful style of writing  and a compelling narrative made this a book I found hard to put down.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: Not only is this one of my favourites of 2017, it’s high up on my list of favourite Booker Prize winners because of its glorious characters and dazzling language. My review is here 

Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney: Bold and brash, this is a novel that pulls no punches in its depiction of the underbelly of Cork in Ireland. But as much as the drug dealers, prostitutes and thugs will have you rolling your eyes in despair, there will be times you can’t help but feel a wave of sympathy for their predicament. As I noted in my review, this is a novel which poses serious questions about salvation and guilt.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather: It took me long enough to get around to reading what is considered one of Cather’s finest novels. It celebrates the pioneering spirit but not in a rose-tinted glasses way; there is plenty of sorrow mixed in with the nostalgia. My review is here

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey: “a marvellously idiosyncratic tale of two misfits” is how I described this Booker Prize winner in my review. It has some wonderfully surreal scenes including one where a gangly young priest is hoisted aboard a steam ship in a cage normally used for transporting animals.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Burnett McCrae: a cleverly constructed novel that purports to be a true account of a young Scottish lad accused of three murders. It’s presented in the style of a case study into the murders in late 1860s and the subsequent trial so readers get witness statements, a newspaper account and an investigation by a criminologist. My review is here.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang: This has to be the most bizarre and disturbing novel I’ve read this year. It begins with a decision by a Korean housewife to stop eating meat and traces her mental and physical decline. My review summed up my reaction: This is not a novel you can say you ‘enjoy’ or ‘like’ but it’s certainly one that you will not forget.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki: this is quite an extraordinary novel which covers a dazzling array of topics and themes. Zen Buddhism; environmental degredation; bullying; suicide; memory – to name just a few. The result should be a complete mess but it’s a surprisingly mesmerizing story of a Japanese teenager writing a diary to express her feelings of dislocation – that diary is found many years later washed up on a beach in British Colombia. I haven’t got around to reviewing it yet in full.

 

 

 

 

 

Snapshot April 2017

 

The daffodils are in full bloom in gardens and hedgerows everywhere here. The tulips I planted in September also reared their heads this week but for me, the real signs of Spring are the blossoms on our neighbour’s magnolia tree and the sound of birds making their nests in our hedge. It’s fun to watch them gather on the fence, then swoop down in a synchronised movement  for a bath and splash in the pond before retreating to the safety of the hedge. Much more fun that daytime tv…

Reading

A few weeks ago as part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme I posted a list of 10 books I was thinking of reading this Spring.  One of my choices is His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, a book I bought last year when it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, but have only just opened.  It’s a historical thriller set in Scotland in 1869 that’s constructed in a way to make you think its actually a true crime story. Subtitled “Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae”, His Bloody Project is constructed from the memoir of a 17-year-old crofter charged with three brutal murders, together with witness statements, medical reports and an account of his trial. I wanted something that would keep me engrossed while I’m in hospital recovering from round 2 of surgery – but I also didnt want something too taxing. So far this is hitting the mark.

State of my personal library

One of my goals for 2017 is to enjoy the books I already own and to reign back on acquiring yet more. Three months into the year and I haven’t bought a single book. I’m making slow but steady progress on reading my own books even though March was a bit of a slow reading month. I read just three titles:

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, winner of the Bailey’s Prize in 2016

Ancient Light by John Banville

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

The first two were part of the ReadingIreland2017 month hosted by 746books and  The Fluff is Raging.

I got part of the way through The Little Theatre by the Sea  by Rosanna Ley which is the book selected for the launch of Trip Fiction’s Book Club. While I enjoyed the descriptions of the two locations  -Sardinia and West Dorset – I was less enamoured with the main character, a newly qualified interior designer, and found the narrative style rather laboured. A few years ago I would have persevered right to the end even if it wasn’t an enjoyable experience but now I’m over the guilt feelings associated with abandoning a book. Why spend time on something that doesn’t light my fire when I have so many other potentially more interesting books awaiting me???

Wishing for…

My wishlist in Goodreads continues to grow as a result of recent announcements about short/longlists for various literary prizes.  The  Man Booker International Prize alone has 13 books that I haven’t read; then there’s the 2017 ABIA Australian Book Industry Awards Longlist plus the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards and the shortlist for the Dylan Thomas International Prize  announced within the last few days. I’m going to have to be careful otherwise all that TBR is going to get out of control….

On the reading horizon…

I have an advance copy of Hell’s Gate by Laurent Gaudé to read before publication date on April 11. It’s a story of a taxi driver and his wife who are consumed by grief when their only son is killed in the crossfire of a gangland shoot-out in Naples. And then it’s back to my Booker project via The God of Small Things  by Arundhati Roy, her debut novel about  the childhood experiences of fraternal twins in Kerala whose lives are changed when their young cousin arrives.

And that’s as far ahead as I feel like planning right now…

Irish authors call the tune

reading-ireland-2017It’s March and time for Ireland Reading month hosted by Cathy at 746.com. Full details of the activities Cathy has up her sleeve can be found via the announcement post  We Celts need to stick together so I’ll be joining in as much as possible.

But what to read is the question – Cathy has put a list of 100 Irish Novels as a good starting point for anyone unsure where to begin. For my own preparations I delved into my personal library at the weekend and came up with six options.

  • The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
  • Ancient Light by John Banville
  • The Absolutionist by John Boyne
  • Good Behaviour by Molly Keane
  • The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
  • Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

It’s unlikely I’ll read more than two before the month given some other commitments.On of those is likely to be Ancient Light by John Banville which I bought as a signed copy after hearing him speak at the Hay Book Festival about three years ago. I loved the lyricism of his Booker Prize winning novel The Sea so I’m hoping Ancient Light will deliver more of the same.  The synopsis sounds promising:

… a brilliant, profoundly moving new novel about an actor in the twilight of his life and his career: a meditation on love and loss, and on the inscrutable immediacy of the past in our present lives.

I’m not going to decide in advance on my second choice yet – maybe it’s time to give Molly Keane another try – I’ve read only one by her so far (Devoted Ladies under her pen name of M. J Farrell)  – but then I’ve been meaning to get around to The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney ever since it won the Bailey’s prize in 2016. The chairman of the judges described it as “a superbly original, compassionate novel that delivers insights into the very darkest of lives through humour and skilful storytelling.”  Skilfull storytelling sounds just the ticket..

Are any of you planning to join Reading Ireland month – if so what are you planning to read? In the meantime, I shall raise my glass of Guinness and wish you “Sláinte” (good health).

 

10 books that escaped 2016

escape-_final

The Broke and Bookish has chosen as the theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: 10 books released in 2016 I meant to read – but didn’t. I read more contemporary fiction last year than in previous years but even then couldn’t keep up with so much that was new. Here’s my list of the ones that got away….

The Sellout by Paul Beatty – the novel that won the 2016 Booker prize. I have a signed copy awaiting me….

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh: I read a sample of this when it was longlisted for the 2016 Booker Prize and was struck by the strong voice of the narrator. It’s had mixed reviews since then but I have my own copy now so will get around to reading it. Someday..

The Book of Memory by  Petina Gappah: I wanted to read her collection of short stories before starting on this novel but never got to finish the collection.

Paris Mon Amour by Isabel Costello: This is an unusual choice for me because it’s essentially a story of love but it’s set in one of my favourite cities (Paris). I know from Isabel’s blog that she researched the setting extensively.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, the debut novel that ‘everyone’ seemed to be talking about last year

His Bloody Project  by  Graeme Macrae Burnet- another Booker contender. I’ve taken this out of the library twice now and each time had to return it unread. Third time lucky maybe.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I saw a number of reviews all recommending this but couldn’t get it via our library system and I don’t typically buy novels in hardcover on the grounds of cost so have been waiting for this to come out in paperback.

Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards. This account of life in the trenches of World War 1 was published in 1933. It was given fresh life last year through a new edition by the National Library of Wales

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. Another popular novel from 2016 that I missed. Usually the more attention a novel gets the less likely I am to want to read it but this one refused to go away.

Human Acts by Han Kang. A very intriguing novel but before I get to this I’d better hurry up and read her earlier novel The Vegetarian 

 

Book reviews 2017

BookshelvesA list of the books I read in 2017. Click on the link for each title to see the review. All reviews are by BookerTalk.

  1. Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
  2. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayli
  3. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  4. Miss Christie Regrets by Guy  Fraser-Sampson
  5. Off to Philadelphia in the Morning by Jack Jones
  6. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruis Zafon
  7. Dominion by C. J.Sansom
  8. The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
  9. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
  10. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
  11. The Evenings by Gerard Reve
  12. Time for Silence by Thorne Moore
  13. Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope
  14. Ancient Light by John Banville
  15. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
  16. His Bloody Project  by Graeme Burnett McCrae
  17. Tomorrow by Graham Swift
  18. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
  19. The God of Small Things  by Arundhati Roy
  20. Hell’s Gate by Laurent Gaudé
  21. The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude
  22. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Wheedon Grossmith
  23. The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths
  24. The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien
  25. Miss Silver’s Past by Josef Škvorecký
  26. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  27. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  28. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  29. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  30. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  31. Anglesey Blue by Dylan Jones
  32. Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto
  33. Good Women of China by Xinran
  34. The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius
  35. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  36. Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth
  37. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane
  38. Larkinland by Jonathan Tulloch

Snapshot December 2016

I can’t believe I let December 1, 2016 come and go without marking it with a snapshot of  what I’m reading, thinking about reading, buying. It got to almost half way through the month before I even realised I had forgotten. So let me do a quick re-wind…..

Reading

After the dreary experience of  Little Women I needed a complete change of pace and subject.  Waking Lions by  the Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen was certainly far removed from the domestic world of Alcott – this is a novel set in Israel in which a doctor accidentally kills a man in a hit and run accident – and is then blackmailed for his actions. It had a lot of promise early on but got bogged down too much in detail.

rich-in-asiaCome December 1, my attention had turned back to the Booker prize project. I picked up The Conservationist by Nadime Gordiver about which I had heard good things. The fact that it’s set in South Africa was another plus point. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood but it didn’t do much for me – I found the untagged dialogue confusing and I’m not really sure where the book is going. So I put it to one side and picked up How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid instead. It was just the change I needed with its bold, humorous narrator who speaks directly to his main character and mocks the culture of self help books. Quite delicious.

Buying

As you’d expect at this time of the year, I’ve been very active with the book purchases. I try to get everyone in the family a book of some description – this year my mum is getting Our Souls at Night By Kent Haruf and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin; my husband is going to be opening a veritable mini library which includes Keeping On Keeping On, the latest collection of memoirs  by Alan Bennett. This is certain to be a hit because it’s a follow on from Writing Home and Untold Stories, both of which had him laughing out loud at times. My dad is getting the Little Hummingbird Cafe cookery book – though he has hundreds of cake recipes in his repertoire having been a professional baker for 40 years he still likes to see what other people create and to have a go himself.

Of course, having to go shopping on line for other people does mean I get tempted myself. It doesn’t help that so many ‘best of’ lists come out around now. I tried to be judicious knowing that I will be unwrapping some book gifts on Dec 25 and the fact my TBR has just jumped over 200. But I still succumbed to Kindle versions of The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, Tender is the Night by F. Scott. Fitzgerald (hope I like it more than Great Gatsby) and A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale (I didn’t care for his most recent novel A Place Called Winter but still think he deserves another go).

Watching

I feel rather adrift at the moment. No more episodes of The Crown which was a stupendous series on Netflix. No more riveting episodes of The Missing. No more Great British Bake Off.  I’ve been trying to like the BBC new series Rillington about the mass murderer Reginald Christie but its not a patch on the film 10 Rillington Place with Richard Attenborough. Fortunately we have Wolf Hall (the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s award winning novels about Thomas Cromwell) to keep our spirits alive….

Top 10 Tuesday: recent book buys

toptentuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks for ten books I’ve recently added to my TBR list.  This is going to be a doddle given my recent rash of book purchases. I decided to make it slightly harder by trying my hand at a video showing all the titles. Click the arrow to play.

 

Let’s start with two books I bought just last week…

  1. The Vegetarian: This novel by the South Korean author Han Kang is, according to The Guardian “an extraordinary story about dark dreams, simmering tensions, and chilling violence” which is not my usual reading fare but like the protagonist I gave up eating meat more than 20 years ago.
  2. Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto. I’ve been dipping my toe into the waters of Japanese literature with the aid of Meredith’s recommendations. This novella is about relationships between two cousins in a small Japanese seaside town.
  3. And now two books that are on the required reading list for my children’s literature course: Tom’s Midnight Garden  by Philippa Pearce – a fantasy novel based on time travel to the past that was first published in 1958. It’s now become a film.
  4. Mortal Engines by Philipe Reeve. I’m really not sure how I will react to this when I get to reading int since it’s set in a futuristic, steampunk version of London, which has been transformed into a giant machine that is trying to survive in a world that is running out of resources. I’m told it falls into a genre called steampunk that Wikipedia tells me is a “subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.” Oh boy, science fiction is going to challenge me….
  5. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. Surely I’m the last person on the planet to read this novel about a murder that affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Sounds dark but it’s actually a comedy. It won the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction earlier this year
  6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It was her final novel, published three years before her death. It’s a gothic mystery that I bought thinking it would be appropriate to read on Halloween but when it came to the day I was still ploughing my way through Little Women.
  7. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh. I read and enjoyed most of Ghosh’s epic saga The Glass Palace so thought I would give this a go when I saw it come through as a cut price e-version. It’s set in the Bay of Bengal where a young marine biologist  finds himself caught up in political undercurrents. Unlikely I will get to actually read this any time soon – I have Sea of Poppies to read first.
  8. The Blue Room by Hanne Ørstavik. My little collection of Peirene Press titles is growing slowly. This one is by a Norwegian author and is about a mother-daughter relationship. Before you start getting handkerchiefs ready this is a novel which features a very creepy mother. The narrator  wakes one morning to find that she has been locked into her bedroom by her mother. Her crime: she has a new boyfriend who has invited her to go with him to America for six weeks, and to meet him at the airport bus stop that morning. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?
  9. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This  won he 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was one of the first novels I learned about through other bloggers. I found a clean copy in a bargain bin in one of those pound shops (my American readers would call them dollar stores).  I need to brush up on my knowledge of Greek heroes before even opening this since I’m sure to get lost.
  10. My final title is one that I acquired through the generosity of a Goodreads contact who happened to have a spare copy of the Booker shortlisted title The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Not only was he willing to give this away he took it to an event the night before the Booker award was announced, and got it signed by Beatty ( he did a lovely personalised message ).The next evening Beatty learned he had won the prize. So now I have my only signed copy of a Booker winner!

That’s my list. Of course I have added many more to my wishlist…. What have you all found to buy recently?

Snapshot November 2016

Another chapter in my reading year in which I try to capture a picture of what I’m reading, thinking about reading, buying on Nov 1, 2016.

Reading

Most of my reading at the moment is for the course on children’s literature that I foolishly decided to embark upon. It’s a level 3 (equivalent to third year university) delivered via the Open University. It’s my final module on a BA Honours Lit course I started about 12 years ago I think, persuaded by a friend who heard I had an idea for a non fiction book and recommended I sharpened up the academic research skills first. I tossed about the idea of history but got swayed by my other love of literature. It was meant for me to be ‘fun’ – I already have a lit degree so why would I need another one???  But now the end is in sight.

I finished Treasure Island by R. L Stevenson last week and now am ploughing through Little Women by L.M.Alcott and absolutely hating it. I know it’s considered a classic but it’s so full of saccharine I feel an urgent need to visit the dentist every time I read a chapter. And it’s so long! Little Women (which in America is marketed as part 1 with part 2 called Good Wives) comes in at 470 of densely typed pages. Give me strength while I grit my teeth.

wakinglionsBy way of an antidote I am also crawling my way through Waking Lions by the Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. It’s not the fault of the book – just my lack of time.  It’s quite an intriguing story which looks at how the decisions we make on the spur of the moment can have long term repercussions. In this case, the decision is made by a surgeon who accidentally runs over a man on the road. Should he leave the injured man who is clearly on the path to death or should he summon help. He chooses the former. But then the victim’s widow turns up at the door intent on a very unusual form of blackmail.

Buying

lietreeRather a lot of new purchases recently. One by Sarah Crossan, a verse novel about conjoined twins which won the CILIP Carnegie Medal – an annual award for children’s fiction. Also purchased is another contender for the medal, The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge which won the Costa Book of the Year 2015. It’s described as “deliciously creepy novel”. Both of these were bought all in the interests of research you understand for my children’s literature course (what do you mean you don’t believe me!). I succumbed to an offer at the bookshop and bought The Vegetarian by Han Kang, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh and The Glorious Heresies by Lisa Mcinnerney which won the  Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016.

Watching

The BBC did a short series with Andrew Marr looking at three different genres of books: detective fiction; fantasy epics and spy stories. I’m part way through the one on detective fiction where he argues that these follow a set of “rules”. See more about this series at the Open University web page

Listening

After my recent disappointment (described here) with my first experience of Marjorie Allingham’s detective fiction, Karen at kaggsysrambling recommended another of her titles – The Tiger in the Smoke. I’ve managed to get an audio version of this. Early days yet but the characterisation at least feels more authentic than in the other title I tried. I’m also enjoying the flavour it gives of post war Britain. Apparently J. K. Rowling has described this as her favorite crime novel

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