Reading - August 2021

Death Comes To Pemberley by P.D. James (2011)
I moved from an unsuccessful Austen pastiche (The Duke & I) to arguably one of the best, and best known. I've not read any of James's books before but given that she has made her name with murder mysteries I suspect that the overall structure of the plot here is similar to her others. What distinguishes this novel is the superb evocation of the period, the use of language and occasional subtle but amusing references to the modern day. She even manages to tie in Austen characters from other books (such as "Mr & Mrs Knightley of Donwell"). Very enjoyable and essential for any Austen fan.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)
I find it hard to understand why so many people are quite so scathing about The Da Vinci Code. It's a good thriller, with an interesting plot that keeps you reading through the twists and turns to find out how it's all going to end. Sure, the writing is a little clunky in places, but no more so than, say, John Grisham or other similar writers. Yet somehow it's become the apotheosis of low-brow fiction. I think it's just snobbery. And anything that so comprehensively got up the noses of religious zealots can't be all bad.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton (2009)
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge by Harry Harrison (1970)
The next instalment, read again to Z. Harrison is getting more into the swing of things here.
Nemesis by Agatha Christie (1971)
I probably first read this when I was in my teens, at which time the book was probably less than fifteen years old, yet it feels like it belongs to another world. Quite how murder mysteries became suitable reading for minors and maiden aunts, I don't know, but the gentle pace of this, like all of Christie's books, belies the inherent violence of murder. Still, the story is well-told and carries you with it. Easy reading.
A Very English Scandal by John Preston (2016)
The book that was adapted for the drama is a compelling read, and it's an astonishing story of deeply flawed characters that makes you think about the kind of people who choose to get involved in politics. What grates is that there is no citations of evidence. I think it's probably fairly accurate, but how would we know this?
Murder At The Vicarage by Agatha Christie (1930)
Read while waiting for C to complete a hospital appointment (routine check-up, nothing to worry about). This was Miss Marple's first appearance in a novel and she was already an old woman. How long did she actually live?

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