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So it’s a sunny if windy day here in London after a week of heat and humidity which I always find difficult to handle. And my usual summer grumpiness has arrived slightly earlier this year (I usually wait until August to feel annoyed with heat and my favourite people not being around and travelling on crowded public transport and all that jazz) but is not as intense as in previous years so I may just get through this OK (fingers crossed).

So my thoughts are turning to what I might read over July and August.

The latter is usually Crime Month and I will certainly be reading that sort of thing, but I had the thought that I might do some re-reading of old favourites in tandem with the murder/mayhem thing. Said thought was triggered by purchasing books for friends, a practice I’ve started in preference to lending things to people as (a) it takes the pressure off  (no hurry to read the thing just to get it back to the owner) and (b) I don’t get twitchy wondering what’s happened to my precious, precious books.

I recently got Espedair Street by Iain Banks for Silvery Dude and Fifth Business by Robertson Davies for another good friend, the Semi-Scandinavian. So that’s two for the re-read pile, plus I want to read the sequence of four novels by AS Byatt that starts with The Virgin in the Garden, plus I want to re-read all my Laurie Colwin books (especially Family Happiness) and suddenly this look like it might be fun.

But I’m not giving any hostages to fortune so no lists will be posted, and you’ll just have to watch this space……..

I also have a small stack of reviews to catch up on (hurrah, actually managed to finish some books), so hopefully activity on the blog will pick up over the next wee while.

TheVictoriaVanishesBryant49878_fSo in The Victoria Vanishes our favourite elderly detectives, Arthur Bryant and John  May become involved in yet another peculiar crime as women start turning up dead in London pubs. Not violently dead, you understand, but drugged and basically put to sleep. Bryant in particular has cause to be concerned as it becomes clear he saw one of the women shortly before her death entering a pub which, the following day, has mysteriously disappeared and possibly hasn’t actually existed since before the war. So, why are these women being killed? Why are they being killed in pubs? And what happened to The Victoria?

The joy of this novel isn’t just the plot, which is enjoyable and ingenious if a tiny wee bit far-fetched (a very minor quibble believe me), but the knowledge of and love for London which comes through every page. Fowler gives a list of the pubs frequented or at least mentioned in the book, and a number of them are in the area near my office (around Holborn, Fleet St, The Strand and Shaftesbury Avenue) and between us the Book God and I managed to identify a number that one or other or both of us had been in over the years we have lived in London. Sadly a lot of these pubs are beginning to be overrun by developers, but there are still one or two dotted around that are worth visiting, and they give a colourful backdrop to an enjoyable story.

And that brings August to an end and Crime Month is over for another year. I managed to read eight from what was quite an extensive list, and could quite happily have read more if the need to earn a living hadn’t inconveniently got in the way!

So it’s August Bank Holiday and in London it’s  warm and humid but there is a promise of autumn (my favourite season) later in the week, and I am two thirds of the way through the Annual Lord of the Rings Extended Version DVD marathon which finishes this evening with (of course) The Return of the King. It’s only five weeks until I go on holiday, and I have Carl’s RIP IV challenge to participate in so what more could a girl need? Apart from a new handbag, of course…….

Ilan Volkov prom38So I moaned quite a bit here about how much I dislike August and gave some (though by no means all, believe me) of the reasons why I felt that way. But we are now more than half way through the month and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A number of things are conspiring to help me get through the month with only a modicum of my usual summer grumpiness:

  • my Crime Month book reading is going well and I’m keeping my reviews up to date;
  • from tomorrow I start working at home for a proportion of each week, so no more daily commute on hot and horrible trains; and
  • the BBC Proms have been really good this year (so far)

Yes, I have been enjoying my summer fix of classical music; in particular,  I headed off on a sunny, sultry London Saturday to the Royal Albert Hall, and despite the best efforts of London Transport got there in plenty of time to enjoy the lovely Ilan Volkov’s final appearance at the Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Ninth. And it was absolutely wonderful, almost enough to make August worthwhile (but only almost).

Seriously, if you can access the BBC iPlayer I recommend that you have a listen; it’s Prom 40 and is available for the next seven days, I think. The concert itself will be broadcast on TV on BBC Four on 11 September, and again available on the iPlayer where allowed. Well worth a couple of hours of your valuable time, if you like that sort of thing, of course………

august-crimeI don’t like August very much. It can be too hot (though the weather here in London up till now has suggested otherwise, but I bet a mini-heatwave will sneak up on me when I least expect it); all my friends and a large proportion of my team at work head off on holiday (and I get grumpy because my hols aren’t until October but they’ll all miss me when I’m not here, just wait and see); there is very little on TV and all of these things added together mean that I get very bored very easily.

But there are two things that help to keep me going. One is the BBC Proms (and I am going to five concerts this year between 4 August and 12 September) and the other is Crime Month on Bride of the Book God. Because of all the things I’ve said above, I don’t want to read anything too heavy or difficult where my brain has to work even though I’m sitting in a hot train trying to manage a bottle of water, a fan, my bags, my iPod and a book, and crime fiction has been the perfect solution in the past.

So between now and August Bank Holiday (after which life gets back to a semblance of normality) I intend to read as many of the following as I possibly can (in no particular order):

Broken Skin, Flesh House and Blind Eye, all by Stuart MacBride

The Victoria Vanishes and Bryant and May on the Loose by Christopher Fowler

When Will There be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

In the Dark by Mark Billingham

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

Dead Clever by Scarlett Thomas

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson

Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder by Giles Brandreth

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

The September Society by Charles Finch

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

I hope that the Language of Bees by Laurie King will arrive very shortly and if it does it will almost immediately go to the top of the pile. And I’ve made a start with The Dead of Winter by Rennie Airth. If you’ve read any of the above I’d love to know what you think.

So it’s August in London; hot, humid, wet, busy with tourists and grumpy commuters, and it’s nine weeks today until my holiday. What is a girl to do to cheer herself up, I hear you ask, with no Dr Who on TV, Criminal Minds finishing this week, and not many Without a Traces left to divert her from the long haul through what remains of the summer?

The answer is clearly to plunge into my large tbr pile of crime fiction. There is nothing like murder, mayhem and failing to guess the culprit to bring a smile to the Bride’s face, so all my reading in August will have crime as a theme; even the stuff I am reading for challenges.

And as if to endorse this plan, Thursday’s podcast from Simon Mayo’s book panel on Radio 5 Live reviewed new books by Mark Billingham and Karin Slaughter, so this is clearly a sign that I’m on the right track!

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

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.

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March 2023