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abeautifulbluedeathcharle52232_fI’m not sure where I came across the name of Charles Finch – it may have been mentioned on someone’s blog, or I may have simply have been seduced by the cover somewhere, but I’m glad  I decided to put this on my Christmas list, and grateful to the Book God for buying it for me (I suspect that he wants to read it too)

The hero of A Beautiful Blue Death is Charles Lenox, a Victorian gentleman of leisure with a love for ancient history and travel, and a man who has clearly dabbled in amateur investigations in the past with some measure of success. It is winter in 1860’s London, and although he would prefer to be reading by a fire in his study, he gives in to the request of his childhood friend, and current neighbour, Lady Jane to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of a former maid from her household, who has been found at her new position apparently having committed suicide.

Of course the novel would be over fairly quickly if that were the case, and it becomes clear that the girl was poisoned, and Charles must find out why and by whom, both to satisfy himself and to keep his promise to Lady Jane.

This was a very enjoyable read, to the extent that I stayed up well past my normal bedtime so that I could finish the story. Lenox is a really attractive leading man, his relationship with Lady Jane is nicely drawn, and there is a wonderful cast of supporting characters, particularly his brother Sir Edmund, who is a distinguished Parliamentarian but nevertheless wants to help with the investigation. The denouement was very satisfying, and I will be looking out for the sequel when it becomes available later this year.

eatergregorybenfordgrego20218_fGregory Benford’s Eater is, according to the cover at any rate, an “explosive new science fiction thriller” set in the fun-packed world of astrophysics. I have some acquaintance with this world, given that the Book God’s predecessor was a Natural Philosopher with an interest in such things. That’s probably where my interest in factual science comes from – I refuse to give him all the credit for my interest in science fiction – I lay that at the door of my English teacher in junior secondary school who had us reading Arthur C Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust.

Anyhow, we are in Hawaii with the astronomers and astrophysicists and there is an anomaly in the heavens, moving the way such things should not. Turns out to be a sentient black hole heading Earthwards – I’m not giving anything away here, a casual glance at the blurb on the back of the edition I have gives away this key plot point. But what does it want and what is the world going to do about it?

This was a bit of a guilty pleasure – I quite enjoyed it while feeling all the way through that I shouldn’t. I think this is because it read very much like it was aiming for the screen, probably as a Sci-Fi Channel mini-series with all the things you would expect. Is there a crumpled deskbound hero scientist who would love to do real work again? Is there a wonderfully intelligent woman suffering from a terminal disease but working through her pain? Is there a rival of long-standing who turns out to be an ally as they all work towards a common goal? Is there tragedy, betrayal and a noble sacrifice? You bet.

I don’t mean to make fun because I did actually enjoy reading this, it was quite pacy and there was a lot of hard science which is one of the things I really enjoy. But in the back of my mind I was casting the movie, and that’s always a bit distracting.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday



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March 2009