Reviews & Rants - Blogging about books, authors, and generally 

Reading progress update: I've read 34 out of 171 pages.

The Taste of Murder - Joanna Cannan

It's an odd story so far in that there is a clear division of characters' outlook on life. And while I understand Ronald Price's (our chief investigator) motivations, I still would like to see him being hit with a shovel.


I plan on finishing this tonight. Then it's on to my last bingo read for 2019.

Halloween Bingo - Film at 11 ... Transfiguration Card # 3

I had other plans for Film at 11, but I got side-tracked by Terry Pratchett's Pyramids and am going to use my last Transfiguration Card to change the Film at 11 square to the Deadlands square and use Pyramids for it. Pyramids does feature - surprise, surprise! - mummies. And DEATH, in a minor role. As well as mathematics and quantum physics, and camels. I loved the main camel character, You Bastard.


Of course, the book would also work for the Grave or Graveyard square, as Pyramids are a major feature of the book.


Reading progress update: I've read 72%.

Pyramids  - Terry Pratchett

They wandered through the sunset streets of the city, and towards the harbour. All streets in the city led towards the harbour.

Someone was just putting a torch to the lighthouse, which was one of the More Than Seven Wonders of the World and had been built to a design by Pthagonal using the Golden Rule and the Five Aesthetic Principles. Unfortunately it had then been built in the wrong place because putting it in the right place would have spoiled the look of the harbour, but it was generally agreed by mariners to be a very beautiful lighthouse and something to look at while they were waiting to be towed off the rocks.


Am I missing something?

Peter Handke??? Over all the other authors in the world???

Seriously, what am I missing?


(Link to the Guardian article is in the title of this post.)

Reading progress update: I've read 53%.

Pyramids  - Terry Pratchett

It’s not generally realized that camels have a natural aptitude for advanced mathematics, particularly where they involve ballistics. This evolved as a survival trait, in the same way as a human’s hand and eye coordination, a chameleon’s camouflage and a dolphin’s renowned ability to save drowning swimmers if there’s any chance that biting them in half might be observed and commented upon adversely by other humans. The fact is that camels are far more intelligent than dolphins.



It took me quite a while to get into this book, but I am really enjoying it now.

Reading progress update: I've read 47%.

Pyramids  - Terry Pratchett

Alone now, Ptaclusp fanned himself and staggered into the shade of his tent.

Where, waiting to see him, were Ptaclusp IIa, Ptaclusp IIa, Ptaclusp IIa and Ptaclusp IIa. Ptaclusp always felt uneasy in the presence of accountants, and four of them together was very bad, especially when they were all the same person. Three Ptaclusp IIbs were there as well; the other two, unless it was three by now, were out on the site.

He waved his hands in a conciliatory way.

‘All right, all right,’ he said. ‘What’s today’s problems?’

One of the IIas pulled a stack of wax tablets towards him.

‘Have you any idea, father,’ he began, employing that thin, razor-edged voice that accountants use to preface something unexpected and very expensive, ‘what calculus is?’

‘You tell me,’ said Ptaclusp, sagging on to a stool.

‘It’s what I’ve had to invent to deal with the wages bill, father,’ said another IIa.

‘I thought that was algebra?’ said Ptaclusp.

‘We passed algebra last week,’ said a third IIa. ‘It’s calculus now. I’ve had to loop myself another four times to work on it, and there’s three of me working on—’ he glanced at his brothers – ‘quantum accountancy.’

‘What’s that for?’ said his father wearily.

‘Next week.’ The leading accountant glared at the top slab. ‘For example,’ he said. ‘You know Rthur the fresco painter?’

‘What about him?’

‘He – that is, they – have put in a bill for two years’ work.’


‘They said they did it on Tuesday. On account of how time is fractal in nature, they said.’ ‘They said that?’ said Ptaclusp.

‘It’s amazing what they pick up,’ said one of the accountants, glaring at the paracosmic architects.

Ptaclusp hesitated.

‘How many of them are there?’

‘How should we know? We know there were fifty-three. Then he went critical. We’ve certainly seen him around a lot.’

Quantum accountancy. I'd laugh harder if it wasn't such an astute observation of financial crises.

The Incredible Crime

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

The Incredible Crime was just that - unbelievable.

The plot was utterly ridiculous. For much of the book I was left wondering if there was a crime at all because there was no real plot. All we had was a CID inspector mentioning to our main character, a young woman and daughter of The Master of one of the colleges, that he suspects a drug smuggling operation to be based in Cambridge. 


I still have no real idea why the CID inspector mentions this to our intrepid main character. 


I also have no idea why it took 80% of the book to get the plot moving. 


There was so much stuffing and distraction by a romance sub-plot that the mystery took a backseat until the very end of the book. And I mean the last four or five chapters out of thirty-two. 


And as for the romance sub-plot... Gaaah.

I've never been a fan of The Taming of the Shrew.

(show spoiler)

Reading progress update: I've read 81%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

“No,” replied the doctor, “unless a man is in charge of a school, and always seeing rashes, it’s often very hard for him to be sure,” but he took the hint, and if he had been going to ask any more questions he abstained.

   “I suppose now,” said McDonald conversationally, “a general practitioner would find it hard to say a rash like mine was nothing infectious.”

   “That’s it; he would have to treat it as infectious, and if he wasn’t in the way of constantly seeing rashes, it wouldn’t occur to him that it could be chloral poisoning. Well, in the state you are, you must keep in bed for a few days; any chill you got now might turn to pneumonia, and you can’t do better than remain where you are.”

   “That’s all very well, but nurse tells me you’ve smallpox, diphtheria, and measles in the Hospital; I don’t want to catch any of them.”

   “Lord love you, man!” said the doctor, “you won’t catch anything here! or at least you’re a great deal less likely to do so than in any other house!”

   “You really know so well how to deal with your infection?” asked McDonald.

“I should just think so; you’re a lot safer here for smallpox than you are in the road outside,” and with that the doctor went off.

Erm,... What???


Reading progress update: I've read 67%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

At this point I am wondering if we will ever get back to the mystery plot.


At least, I get to use my favourite romance kitty:


Reading progress update: I've read 47%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

We have arrived in Austen romance territory. Alas, it is more hapless Emma than persuasive Anne Elliot.


Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

Prudence thought for a little, then she said, “Did Snap actually bark or growl?”

“Well… perhaps it was half and half… I think,” hesitatingly, “he may have begun with a growl and ended barking,” replied Mary.

“The reason why I ask,” said Prudence, “is that dogs do see the supernatural more, I think, than humans, and if it had been anything of that sort I fancy he would have growled more than barked. Did he seem much frightened?”

Uh-hu... I thought the plot was ridiculous before, but now we also have an inquiry into ghosts and whether dogs are more susceptible to noticing supernatural phenomena than humans.


And I really don't care about their riding exploits.


Is it too early for gin?


The Flat Book Society: Open for November Nominations

Well, there is a theme developing with the Flat Book Society posts in that I am yet again super late posting this. 

Sorry about that.


However, book nominations for November are now open. The book with the most votes on 20th October will be our next read. 


As some of you may have added new books already, I have left the books that were up but have reset the votes. 


If there are any other books you want to add, add away!


And don't forget to vote! Vote often! You can vote for any book that takes your fancy, but I would recommend checking that the book is available to you. I had to sit out the last round because my library didn't have the book. :(


Anyway, Huggins, as always, links to the current list of nominations/votes.




Note to group: Please remember this is a science book club and we try to stick with books whose primary subject matter is science. Not science fiction, history, or, politics etc. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those subjects, they fall outside the agreed upon scope of this group.



Reading progress update: I've read 19%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh



This is not going to be a favourite story. It's turned quite ridiculous already and I can't see how the author is going to turn this story around again.


Funny thing is, this story reminds me of a short story I once had to write as part of an 8th grade school assignment...

Reading progress update: I've read 14%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

“Hold hard a moment,” said someone, “while I fetch my drink; I must listen to this.”

   “You know,” went on Maryon, “that I had a small job in the Intelligence during the war. Well…”

   His company were all listening with real interest now, and certainly no signs of laughing at him; it was generally thought that Maryon’s job in the Intelligence had not been quite so small as he liked people to think, largely because he never could be got to talk about it. His lean brown face had a tense look.

   “Well, you all are probably rather vaguely aware that our Secret Service was better than anyone else’s, and that’s come rather from what has not been said than from what has been. But no one who doesn’t actually know the facts has any idea of the bravery, ability, and intelligence displayed by that Service. I was only adopted into it temporarily,” he added, “not really one of them. But there was one man who was the king of them all; there are fables and legends round him, and I don’t even know his name—as far as I was concerned he was No. 4."

Noooooooooooooo!!!! Not No. 4!!!!!



Was this written before or after The Big Four?

Reading progress update: I've read 5%.

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

Four people were seated playing bridge in the comfortable house in Cambridge of Susan Skipwith, wife of the Dolbey Professor of Entomology. They were four friends who met regularly once a week to play what they called bridge, but what others might have been tempted to describe as cards and chatter. The rubber concluded, they cut afresh for another.

“Yes,” said Prudence, in her soft, refined voice, answering a question, “I love watching a good rugger match, but some blasted wife always gets between me and the realization of my desire.”


This sounds promising. At least, it sounds like the characters are more realistic than the ones in Death on the Cherwell.

Halloween Bingo - Dark Academia

The Incredible Crime: A Cambridge Mystery - Lois Austen-Leigh

It appears that 2019 has been my year for mysteries set in English colleges: First the very brilliant Gaudy Night, then the very much underwhelming Death on the Cherwell. Now I'm turning to The Incredible Crime as a third.


Btw, I am not pushing off The Taste of Murder, but I need an audiobook for commuting this week and since I will shortly embark on some household chores, I might as well start The Incredible Crime tonight. I'll switch back to The Taste of Murder when I finish with the housework tasks. 


How did people do housework before audiobooks? I'm serious. 



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