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good reads

Book Review: Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Wild Chamber (Bryant & May, #14)Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge fan of the Bryant & May novels by Christopher Fowler and have read them all with relish. They’re particularly fun for me as a Londoner and a history nerd. The author blends historical fact with fiction so well that on occasion I have found myself fact-checking several of the novels in order to distinguish between historical fact and flights of the author’s fancy.

Crime buffs will notice straight away that this story is a variation on a classic crime set up; the locked room mystery. A variation that could only really work in a London setting. The author does a great job of misleading the reader with several red herrings, and I didn’t start to zero in the the killer and his motive until the last few chapters. Even then it remained a rather nebulous notion until the denouement, when all was revealed.

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GoodReads Review: A Talent For War by Jack McDevitt

A Talent for War: Alex Benedict - Book 1A Talent for War: Alex Benedict – Book 1 by Jack McDevitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know some readers found this book boring. Perhaps they were coming at it as readers of the ‘blow stuff up, shoot anything that moves’ kind of sci-fi. Personally, I find that kind of thriller unsatisfying, whether it’s sci-fi or not.

I actually chose this book, not as a fan of sci-fi, but as a mystery junkie, and I loved it. Its a real slow burner, with a narrator who’s not some war-grizzled veteran, or retired gunslinger. Instead, Alex Benedict is an antiques dealer, whose mentor and uncle was an archaeologist and academic. Hence, this is sci-fi for history nerds, those of us who are familiar with long hours in dusty library stacks, pouring over the barely legible journals of the long dead. It’s one for those of us who know the crushing disappointment of excavating a promising archaeological site, only to get to the bottom of the hole and find absolutely nothing. It even has a little something for the English literature student, with a vital clue being hidden in a piece of heavily symbolic poetry.

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