Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home

The Sea DetectiveThe Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh full marks, Mr Douglas-Home! A crime series which is new, original even, and on the literary side of the genre. It's a satisfying read and avoids many of the clich├ęs common to crime novels. It's another crime series from Scotland which adds considerably to the mana of the Scottish crime genre.

Cal McGill is a PhD student in his late twenties. His doctorate is oceanography, specifically making a computer programme which will track the flotsam and jetsam of the North Atlantic. This fits nicely with his environmental, mildly eco-terrorist points of view. He can track oil slicks and fishing nets full of dolphins for environmental groups. He is interested in the feet in trainers which keep washing up on the beaches around Scotland.

The local police force is supposed to be solving this problem. Inspector Ryan is in charge and his detective constable is Helen Jamieson. He is a big bully, she is a shy, overweight intellectual. And we readers cheer at the end when she outwits him. The missing feet problem rapidly becomes something very nasty and it needs Cal's skills to sort it all out.

There's a moving subplot around Cal's grandfather and past family history but the book is beautifully knitted together so the subplot helps make for a very satisfying read. It also sets readers up with an understanding of Cal, as Helen's thoughts help readers see her as a rounded personality.
Good for readers waiting for the next book in the series.

You don't need to be a crime fan to enjoy this unusual book and it is well worth a read.

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Review 'Memory' by Margaret Mahy

MemoryMemory by Margaret Mahy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Memory' is a great Mahy novel. Typically she tells a good story, makes the reader laugh and cry and leaves the reader with plenty to think about. The problems she examines in 'Memory' are ones teenagers might well be dealing with, and as she helps her hero through his problem she also shows the reader how to cope and hope.

Old Sophie West has trouble with her memory now she is developing Alzheimer's. It makes her vulnerable. Jonny might be nineteen but he is having a terrible time with his memories of a particular incident and how other around him coped. He isn't coping, has dropped out, gets drunk. keeps getting into fights. Now he is having to rescue Sophia from her problems. Bonny shared that incident but she has found a way forward. Together they all find a way out of those memories and into making better ones in a lovely muddley and very human way.

It's a lovely read and not just for YA. Adults will enjoy this novel too.

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Review: 'The One-In-A-Million Boy'

The One-in-a-Million BoyThe One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It takes real talent to make a memorable novel from the tale of a very old lady, a boy scout, and the Guinness Book of Records. And it takes real talent to make the reader think about life, death, coping with grief, and one's own place in the universe through this gentle tale, but Monica Wood does it brilliantly.

Ona Vickus, 104, Lithuanian immigrant from the turn of the century, is still spry but needs a little help feeding her wild birds. The local boy scout troop are lined up to do Saturday help and record the life of the person they are helping. Ona's helper is Belle and Quinn's son, the boy in a million, who counts everything in tens and hoards everything in tens and we never really get to meet him except through the effect he has on the other characters. Because of his actions his 'not much there' father finds his place at last, Ona gets to live her last years challenging life not hiding away and his mother finds her feet and lives again.

It's a book I've already reread and will want to reread again. It's a pleasure to find a novel which can take the ordinary, and tell a story about it, and make those ordinary people and their lives have relevance and meaning for everyone.

Do read it.

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