Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

No Man’s Nightingale – Ruth Rendell

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction

I succumbed to a bit of a bug last week and was looking for something comforting to read, the book on the reading schedule just didn’t fit the bill so I turned to the tab of books I own, and found this Ruth Rendell book, the twenty-fourth in the Wexford series which sounded just what I needed. There are lessons to be learnt; firstly part of the need to add new books to my shelves despite having more than enough is the fear of being left with nothing to read that fits my mood, buying lots of books has averted that near disaster. Secondly, listing all my books was the right thing to do since No Man’s Nightingale was under a stack of books at the back of a cupboard and I may have succumbed to the temptations of newer shinier books sitting on the shelf where I can see them and forgotten all about this treasure.

So, if asked I would undoubtedly state that I prefer Ruth Rendell’s standalone work to the Wexford series and I prefer her writing as Barbara Vine to both but that is a little bit disingenuous as I am very fond of dear old Wexford, this was the man who shepherded in my crime reading tendencies in early adulthood and having checked out the publication dates he’d already had at least fourteen books published about him by then.

Anyway by the time we get to book number twenty-four Wexford is in retirement, busy hiding from his very loquacious cleaner and reading The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire interspersed with lunch with his daughter and various sedate outings with his wife and the occasional beer with his old partner Mike Burden. The changes to Wexford’s life seem to accurately reflect the change that retirement brings to many a successful man without turning the protagonist into a cliché and some of his thoughts and behaviours made me smile – it is good to have some gentle humour to soften the blow of a murder! And indeed life livens up a little when the local female vicar gets murdered. Mike Burden allows Wexford to view the crime scene and help out at first with clear direction with the investigation. The whole team get busy with yet the motive and the opportunity seem somewhat scarce. Surely the fact that she was a female member of the clergy couldn’t have got her killed? There are also musings that maybe this was a racist attack but Mike Burden doesn’t care about motives – he’s looking with someone with the opportunity.

This isn’t as tautly plotted as some of the earlier books, I got the feeling that Ruth Rendell was accurately reflecting how some of the older generation find the pace of recent change bewildering; how hard it is to be in sync with modern views, especially to do with the subjects touched on in this book, when the old ones have solidified over the years. That isn’t to say there isn’t a mystery and it has a good few red herrings but this isn’t a fast-moving plot and nor does it have the clear psychological bent of many of her books. There were however apart from the familiar ones, some interesting and well-defined characters, plenty of misinformation and the curious new relationship between Mike Burden and his old boss.

This was a satisfying read, all the more so because of course it is the last book in the series, there will be no more Wexford and perhaps that swayed my feelings in a more positive direction, or maybe the familiarity of the characters followed over a quarter of a century meant that although I hadn’t read this particular book before, the rhythm of the language the gentle exploration of themes was comforting.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (May 9)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

Because I want to read the fantastic selection of books I bought last week I decided to ban myself from NetGalley until I’ve caught up with the reading that has mounted up. That went well until I heard that Angela Marsons latest book, Evil Games had been added. I’d really enjoyed Silent Scream earlier this year featuring Kim Stone so I couldn’t let that one pass me by!

Evil Games


The greater the evil, the more deadly the game …
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.
With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim soon finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.
Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal Netgalley

The publishers Harlequin sent me a copy of Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica as I’d enjoyed this author’s debut novel The Good Girl

Pretty Baby


A chance encounter
She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…
An act of kindness 
Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.
A tangled web of lies
As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures. Goodreads

And then it all went wrong! Having seen many reviews of Letters to the Lost, particularly that featured by The Book Trail, and having failed to secure a review copy, I decided I had to buy myself a copy. Like last week I fell into the trap of needing to spend £10 to get the free postage. So in addition to Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Letters to the Lost


A beautifully written and evocative novel—the story of an impossible, unstoppable love affair set in London during World War II and the present day,
An accomplished novel from a talented writer, Letters to the Lost is the kind of love story that will sweep you away from the very first page. Iona Grey’s prose is warm, evocative, and immediately engaging; her characters become so real you can’t bear to let them go.
Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.
In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton. Goodreads

I went through my extensive wishlist and got a copy of Boy A by Jonathan Trigell, a story which covers the same subject matter as my recent read Humber Boy A by Ruth Dugdall

Boy A


A is for Apple. A bad apple.? Jack has spent most of his life in juvenile institutions, to be released with a new name, new job, new life. At 24, he is utterly innocent of the world, yet guilty of a monstrous childhood crime. To his new friends, he is a good guy with occasional flashes of unexpected violence. To his new girlfriend, he is strangely inexperienced and unreachable. To his case worker, he?s a victim of the system and of media-driven hysteria. And to himself, Jack is on permanent trial: can he really start from scratch, forget the past, become someone else? Is a new name enough? Can Jack ever truly connect with his new friends while hiding a monstrous secret? This searing and heartfelt novel is a devastating indictment of society?s inability to reconcile childhood innocence with reality. Goodreads

Coincidently as Ruth Rendell sadly died just three days after I placed my order I also have a copy of No Man’s Nightingale the last Inspector Wexford book, published in 2013.

No Man's Nightingale


Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage – a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter’s Church.
But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage.
A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He has little patience with Maxine’s prattle.
But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information.
The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work.
For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. Goodreads

and as on that very day I came across a wonderful review on Rebecca Book Review, Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Girls of Tender Age


With beauty, power, and remarkable wit, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith interweaves a bittersweet portrait of growing up among the working stiffs of 1950s Hartford, Connecticut, with the chilling progress of a serial pedophile who threatens to shatter her small town’s innocence. In Girls of Tender Age, Smith lovingly evokes the jubilance and chaos of life in her extended French-Italian family and the challenges of living with her brother Tyler, an autistic at a time before anyone knew what that meant. Hanging over Smith’s rough-and-tumble youth is the shadow of the approaching killer who forever alters the landscape of her childhood. Goodreads

Any of these take your fancy or perhaps you’ve already read them?
What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below