This is the 18th instalment of “Recent Reads”, where I wrap up 3 books that I don’t have a lot to say about!
The Diary of a Bookseller, by Shaun Bythell
Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.
This was not as funny as I was hoping – I don’t think I properly got his humour – but it was still an enjoyable read. I found I couldn’t read much of it in one go, so it was a very slow read. Overall a 2*. This was from my huge TBR mountain!
The Herring in the Library, by L.C. Tyler
When literary agent Elsie Thirkettle is invited to accompany tall but obscure crime-writer Ethelred Tressider to dinner at Muntham Court, she is looking forward to sneering at his posh friends. What she is not expecting is that, half way through the evening, her host will be found strangled in his locked study. Since there is no way that a murderer could have escaped, the police conclude that Sir Robert Muntham has killed himself. A distraught Lady Muntham, however, asks Ethelred to conduct his own investigation. Ethelred (ably hindered by Elsie) sets out to resolve a classic ‘locked room’ mystery; but is any one of the assorted guests and witnesses actually telling the truth? And can Ethelred’s account be trusted? In the process, we meet one of Ethelred’s own creations, the fourteenth-century detective Master Thomas, who is helped in his investigations of a mediaeval crime at Muntham Court by a small and rather pushy Abbess with a taste for honey cakes . . . Is it possible that Master Thomas can shed some light on the twenty-first century case, and on Ethelred’s own motives for investigating Sir Robert’s death? The Herring in the Library is another ingenious outing for crime fiction’s most mismatched double-act.
An enjoyable plot, but sadly let down by the ending. I also found the character of Elsie incredibly annoying. This was a 2* read for me, and from my TBR mountain.
The Truth Will Out, by Jane Isaac
“Everything’s going to be okay.” “What if it’s not?” Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined. “Naomi, what is it?” She whisked back to face Eva. “There’s somebody in the house… ” Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder enquiry begins. Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present. Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And as the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?
I quite enjoyed this second outing with DCI Lavery. It was a fast paced plot – from the opening scenes to the nail biting end – with likeable and believable characters. This was borrowed from my in-laws, and I gave it 3*.