Posted by: billpurdue | March 4, 2010

89 Pam Ayres, Tony Hillerman and Gervase Phinn

Many years ago now, I had the privilege of meeting the wonderful Pam Ayres at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre. Along with a colleague from the Mansfield and Ashfield Echo, audio magazine for the blind, we met Pam backstage before her evening show and recorded an interview for the Echo. She also very kindly allowed us to record her reading one of her marvellous poems.

I’ve just been listening to Pam Ayres on Radio 4’s “Loose Ends” programme talking about her latest book The Works [BBC Books £7.99 978-1846077937]. If this title sounds familiar, then you’re right, it has been out for quite some time, but this is a new edition with line drawings and a new introduction by Pam. You may prefer to buy an audio book by Pam Ayres as her voice adds so much to the enjoyment of the poems, but the book is surely a close second.

I think I’ll put it on my wish list.

My cousin from Canada recommended three books to me the last time I saw him. One was Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, the second was The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, both of which I have already mentioned in recent postings. The third was just an author – no specific title – and the author was the crime writer Tony Hillerman. I chose his book called The Shape Shifter [Alison and Busby £6.99 978-0749080518] and not long after I started reading it I was hooked.

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn has just retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, but is finding retirement very boring. Having nothing else to do, he is keen to try to solve one of his last cases which continues to haunt him. The story centres around a Navajo Tribal rug. As I discovered when I visited the Navajo reservation in the USA last year, tribal rugs with their bold designs can be extremely valuable. This particular rug was supposed to have been destroyed in a fire along with a wanted criminal but it has been spotted in an interior photo of a luxury home in a magazine.

For quite a while Joe Leaphorn can’t really decide if there is still a case to answer – is the rug a copy or, if it is the self same rug, how did it survive the fire? Joe makes good use of his network of former buddies in the police department and gradually the action accelerates towards a thrilling conclusion. There are over 20 novels by the late Tony Hillerman as well as several non-fiction titles.

Have you heard of “Quick reads”? These are short novels aimed at regular readers who want a quick shot of entertainment or for those who may have lost the reading habit and want to get back into it. The authors are all well known and include Andy McNab, Alison Weir, Cathy Kelly and Josephine Cox. Quick Reads is celebrating its fifth birthday today, 4th March 2010, which of course also happens to be World Book Day.

I’ve just finished a quick read by Gervase Phinn and very good it was too. All these Lonely People [Penguin £1.99 9780141039923] is the story of Father McKenzie who has just found out that he has a terminal illness and only a few months to live. He always sees the good in the people he comes into contact with, in spite of local gossips and his sniffy housekeeper. There’s the little boy who wanders into his church, fascinated by the carvings and paintings, who has a reputation for being a tearaway; then the young man who is devastated, having just been told by his mother that he was adopted as baby and the little old lady who always wears the same old clothes and never has anything serious to confess. It really does what it says on the cover – a quick read, but one for which you may just need a few tissues as you get near the end. Take note of the title by the way – I’m not saying any more!



  1. I’ve just read ‘All These Lonely People’ by Gervase Phinn too. Very good, very readable – and it took me right to the end to twig!

  2. Very interesting and useful information, thanks!

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