Posted by: billpurdue | March 20, 2008

Second edition

Whodunnit – American style

I have to confess that I’m not a regular crime novel reader- but I know someone who is. Arthur is very keen on Ian Rankin and Stephen Booth, but he’s been trying out Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson lately. “Blow Fly”(1) is Patricia Cornwell’s twelfth novel in the Kay Scarpetta series. Scarpetta was, in previous novels, the Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Virginia, but has now moved to Florida to be a private forensic consultant. She soon becomes involved in a complicated case of a woman found dead holding a set of keys, but then receives news that the “Wolfman”, who is on death row is demanding to see her. After being accustomed to English crime writers, Arthur found the style a little unusual at first and thought the very short chapters a little odd (there are 124 all together), but enjoyed the book overall. Have you read it and, if so, what did you think?  Talking about chapters, “You’ve been Warned” (2), the latest from James Patterson and Howard Roughen has 110 chapters (is this the way most American crime writers write?). Arthur tells me he really enjoyed this, but I have a feeling he still prefers Ian Rankin above all others. Who is your favourite?

 A bit of nostalgia

Now another confession – I’m a railway buff and enjoy a browse through the transport section of any bookshop. Paul Atterbury has produced a series of books which evoke nostalgia for railways of times gone by. Following “Branch Line Britain”, “Along Country Lines” and “Tickets Please”, comes “Along Lost Lines” (3). Like the previous three, this is pure railway nostalgia, but not for those who want much in the way of detail. The book is crammed with railway photographs, reproductions of railway postcards, tickets, ephemera (such as London Midland and Scottish Railway Shunting Horn Code) and colourful posters. If you like a good wallow in nostalgia – even if you’re not a great railway fan – then you’d probably like this. As it’s the fourth in the series though, you get the impression that the author is running out of themes and at times the book is just a sort of miscellany. My copy had an unfortunate printing error. All the text on page 92 is repeated on page 94, though the accompanying photographs are different. If you’re buying, check that out first before you check it out, if you see what I mean.

 National year of reading

Another National Year of Reading is almost upon us, in an attempt to get more people reading. It seems hard to believe that the previous NYR was ten years ago – or am I mistaken? The “year” lasts from April to December ; the months of January to March are counted as planning months. Each of the nine months has a theme and numerous events around the country are being planned as you read this. Presumably the events will connect with the monthly themes – here’s a list of the them (taken from the NYR website )

• April: Read all about it! Links to newspapers and magazines; library membership campaign.

• May: Mind and Body. Reading and learning at work. The knock-on benefits of reading.

• June: Reading escapes. Holiday and summer reads.

• July: Rhythm and Rhyme. Poems, poetry and lyrics.

• August: Read the Game. The influence of sport and how this can help promote reading.

• September: You are what you read. Cultural, personal and local identity.

• October: Word of Mouth. Storytelling, reading out loud, reading together, reading aloud, live literature.

• November: Screen reads. Exploring the diversity of reading and writing; scripts, TV and films.

• December: Write the future. Writing, texting, blogging etc.

The website gives information about the events and you can search on a map to find out if there are any events in your area. I clicked on Mansfield and Nottingham, but I found no details of anything about to happen or planned for the future. It might be worth enquiring at your local library if any events are planned and if so why are they not on the website?. I have to say that so far the build up to the previous National Year of Reading had a greater impact here in Nottinghamshire, if my memory serves me right, but if you Google National Year of Reading 2008  you’ll find that plenty of other local authorites and some booksellers are planning events. Is anything happening in  Notts. ?

Oddest book title

Last time I mentioned my favourite for the Oddest Book Title of the Year prize organized by the Diagram Group and featured in The Bookseller magazine. You can get a complete list of the shortlisted titles along with more details of what the books are about at The Bookseller website  . What’s your favourite ? The winner is to be announced on March 28th.

 Next time..A visit to a reading group, Jacqueline Wilson brings out another bestseller and something to say about the weather for every day of the year bar one 

 (1)   Patricia Cornwell  “Blow Fly” Time Warner (paperback) £6.99 9780751530742 

(2)   James Patterson and Howard Roughen  “You’ve been Warned”  Headline £18.99  9780755330430

(3)   Paul Atterbury  “Along Lost Lines”  David & Charles 9780715325681 £25

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