Posted by: billpurdue | September 22, 2009

67 Back in harness

Top crime seller

The ComplaintsIan Rankin may have “retired” Rebus, the hard drinking Edinburgh detective and though Rebus is still on the telly, Rankin fans may be suffering from withdrawal symptoms. From all accounts though, Rankin’s new creation is just as good. Inspector Malcolm Fox seems quite a different kettle of fish from Rebus: he’s teetotal for one thing. He’s a pretty successful detective and he works in the Complaints and Conduct section of the police force. His private life is a little more complicated and in this new book – The Complaints [Orion £18.99 978-0752889511], out this month, his private life gets mixed up with his job.  For an in depth review, see P D James in the Guardian.

How does it work?

Eagle cutawaysWhen I was at school, I used to swap comics with my friends. One comic I particularly liked was The Eagle. I wasn’t specially bothered about Dan Dare; the section in the middle was my favourite – those cutaway drawings showing the workings of some boat, aircraft or piece of machinery, something  weird and wonderful like The “Scopitone” colour film juke box or more mundane machinery like a milk processing plant. I can’t claim that it encouraged me to take up a career in engineering or that I could really understand exactly how something worked after studying the diagram. I just think that the  coloured cutaway drawings were fascinating to look at and almost works of art.  Published last year, The Eagle Annual of the Cutaways [ Orion £14.99 9781409100140] complete with a “distressed” cover and pages made to appear browning with age at the edges, has hundreds of cutaway drawings faithfully reproduced from the pages of The Eagle. The editor, Daniel Tatarsky, has another book – The Eagle Annual: the best of the 1960s comic [Orion £14.99 978-0752888958] due out at the beginning of next month

What I did on my holidays

I promised last time to explain the four week gap in the appearance of my postings – the reason is I was in the USA, specifically in Utah, northern Arizona, Yellowstone National Park and Idaho. It was the holiday of a lifetime and we did a fair bit of travelling about as you can imagine. There wasn’t much time to do any reading, never mind visit a bookshop, sorry, bookstore as they call them over there. We were busy visiting as many of the big tourist attractions as possible and at most of them the tourist information centres stocked a very good selection of books about the area.  The Yellowstone Association information centre at Gardiner, Montana, on the northern edge of the park was no exception. In fact if you log on to the Association’s website, you’ll find a large selection of titles on just about every aspect of the Park, including of course, the wildlife. I brought back a souvenir of Yellowstone – a photographic book called The Abundance of Summer by Tom Murphy [Crystal Creek Press, $40 978-0966861983] It’s what you might call a coffee table book I suppose, but  it contains some excellent photography and it’s part of a series called “The Seasons of Yellowstone”. The other titles are The Light of Spring and The Comfort of Autumn, both $35 each.

As for visiting real book stores I did get to look around Barnes and Noble in Salt Lake City, which reminded me of our Waterstone’s shops in the UK. It was a large shop, all on one floor, with a Starbuck’s coffee bar. The general “feel” of the store was a little austere compared to Waterstone’s, but none the Y Triviaworse for that. I bought two books, one of which is Yellowstone Trivia by Janet Spencer (who calls herself “The Trivia Queen”) [Riverbend Publishing $9.95 9781931832700]. As its name implies it’s full of useful/useless facts such as a grizzly bear can run 100 metres from a standing start in six seconds or with every eruption of the geyser “Old Faithful”, 65lbs of dissolved silica is spewed out.  I’ll tell you about the other one in a few weeks time.

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