Tag Archives: crime

For the term of his natural life

Marcus Clarke

This really is a ripping yarn. A tale of convict Australia, and the harsh prisons of Port Macquarie, Port Arthur, and Norfolk Island. It follows the story of “Rufus Dawes”, a man wrongly convicted for murder and transported to Australia.

Interestingly we only see brief glimpses of Dawes for about the first third of the novel. What we do see are mutinies, crime, punishment, heroism, love, and the very harsh landscape of the penal colonies of Tasmania.

Clarke draws well rounded characters. He shows human nature at its best and worst. Not all convicts are bad, but some of them are very nasty. Whatever the nature of the convict, you have got to feel appalled at their treatment and condition at Port Arthur and Norfolk Island.

The authorities are completely sure they are right. The gaolers would be tried war crimes in different times.

This novel was first published in serial form from 1870 to 1872. For me, interestingly from me, this novel was written only about 20 years after the closure of the penal colony of Port Arthur. It was popular at the time, which tells me that society had changed … or the make up of that society as the prisoners gained their freedom and the injustices of the justice system had come to light.

It was a rollicking read. One of its time, so it’s not hard to read but it is long and uses the language of the day. I did find it quite depressing because of what continuously happens Dawes. There seem to be no breaks, and not everybody gets their comeuppance.

I have read some literary articles about this novel, but they were focused on theses and I really just wanted to talk about the yarn.

Feel free to disagree.


Poldark: Ross Poldark

By Winston Graham

A good and easy read for me. I wouldn’t call it exactly light, and it didn’t have the battles of Bernard Cornwall, but I found this first book in the Poldark series interesting. It’s well written and easy to read. There are likeable and unlikeable characters.

The action centres around Ross Poldark (oddly enough!). In 1783 young Ross Poldark returns from fighting in American war of independence to his native Cornwall. His father has died, and has inherited his fathers land, crumbling house and not much more, and the woman he loves is engaged to his cousin.

It’s not a rollicking pot-boiler, although it does include some romance. I started reading it because of the new sumptuous BBC series, Poldark, then I couldn’t be bothered watching the TV series and stuck the book! It’s not as saucy as the TV series … but in it’s day it may be been (the novel was first published in 1945).

Poldark sets about restoring his fortunes, by opening an abandoned copper mine. I don’t know much about Cornish history, so I did find the mining and the life of the minors fascinating. That is to say if you can call such hardship fascinating. Poldark was a man who liked to support the working and poor people of his community. He spoke up for them. There may have been people like Ross Poldark in the 1780’s … or this seemingly noble and heroic character may just have a few 20th century sensibilities.

This is the first in a series, and I would consider reading another in the series.

Feel free to disagree!

Whispers in the Underground

Well, I read this a couple of months ago so I am a bit sketchy with it. It’s Ben Aaronovitch, need I say more. Readers familiar with my posts will know that I totally love these Peter Grant novels set in London. This time, apprentice wizard and Detective Constable of the Met, Peter Grant, is trying to figure something out about a death in the underground. There is the usual bunch of awesome characters, and some laugh out loud moments. And the number of residents at the folly is expanding too.

It rocks. If you like detectives, the supernatural, and London, then these are the books for you.

Moon over Soho

By Ben Aaronovitch

Another DC Peter Grant novel. As fabulous as Rivers of London, funny, gripping, just fabulous. In Moon Over Soho something supernatural is killing jazz musicians and Peter is trying to find out what and how. We meet Peter’s dad Richard ‘Lord’ Grant who had once been a great Jazz musician, and learn about his fall.


And because this is a novel about the supernatural in London, we also find snippets abut the history of London which is always fascinating. This time, jazz style clubs etc.

It has been a while since I have read this novel, so please excuse the shortness of the review.

So, if you like detective novels, humour, and the supernatural, do check out these books. They totally rock.

Feel free to disagree.

Blue Diary

By Alice Hoffman

Now, I really like Alice Hoffman too.   I feel she is a really good writer, who constructs great and believable characters.   Some of whom have magical abilities, of course.   Not so much in Blue Diary, though.  No, or very little “magic”.

Blue Diary is quite a sad novel.   A girl is murdered 15 years prior to the present day in this novel.   It goes on to tell the story of the family of the murderer, how their lives went from perfect to perfectly awful.  It is about guilt and innocence, about right and wrong, about friendship, about love.

For me, the murderer didn’t get his comeuppence, which I really feel he should have done.   But then again, this novel wasn’t about revenge.   And his reaction was probably more realistic.

It is well written, but sad.   Not long before I started my blog I read The Probable Future, which I really enjoyed.   OK, some sad stuff in their too … and some magic, but also more resolution for me too.

Feel free to disagree.


Started early, took my dog

By Kate Atkinson

OK.   So I love Kate Atkinson.   Have been a long time fan, and I do like these new “Jackson Brodie” case-histories novels.

I must confess to being a bit of a chicken though.  I started reading Started early, took my dog ages ago, but I read the first few pages and thought, “Oh that is going to open a whole big can of worms” and I was too scared to read it because I knew bad things were going to happen.

It is fantastic.   Jackson Brodie is now a PI, and has been hired by a woman in New Zealand to track down her birth parents.   They have been traced back to Yorkshire.   Tracey Waterhouse is an ex-cop, now security chief who sees a child being mistreated and does something about it.   And Tilly is an actress who witnesses the mistreatment.   All of their stories interconnect, with more twists and turns than the Rimutaka hills.   Kate Atkinson really isn’t predictable, and it’s great.   And the baddies get their comupences.   Ye hah!   And there is a small dog.

Started early, took my dog is about a crime, so it is sad at times.  Well I found it so anyways.   Kate Atkinson is a great writer.  So easy to read.   I haven’t yet read the first two books featuring Jackson Brodie, but I have also read When will there be good news.   Oh yeah, and the “Case histories” books have been turned into a TV series (I have only seen one but it seemed very faithful).   Check out the series on Kate Atkinson’s website.

My favourite “other” Kate Atkinson is Emotionally Weird, which has a bit of a mystery at the heart of it too.   Mind you, that seems to be fiction all around doesn’t it?!   And I was looking for a review of Emotionally Weird, and found the NY Times one, but didn’t agree with it.   I was not prepared to agree to disagree.  Har har.

You, however, are welcome agree to disagree!


By Terry Pratchett

My latest home read.   Well, as you already know, I am a major Terry Pratchett fan.   If a new book comes out, I cannot go passed a book store without buying it.   So I had Snuff in hand before I needed a good dose of TP.

I started reading Snuff a couple of months ago, but just didn’t get into it.  I am not sure why, because when I picked it back up a couple of weeks ago I was totally into it.   And I know this is going to sound odd, but I forgot that Sam Vime’s first name is indeed Sam!   I always think of him as Vimes, and he is one of my favourite characters.

I wasn’t disappointed.   I love reading this book.   Many people don’t like Pratchett, but I love him.   Snuff had humour, commentary about the human condition, what it means to be “a person”, the way people are willing to stand by even when they know people are doing bad things … yep, so typically cutting.   Pratchett knows people well, and how crap people can be.

Plot. Sam Vimes has been ordered to go on holiday, so Lady Sybil takes him and young Sam to the Ramkin’s country seat. Soon after he arrives a young goblin girl is murdered, and nobody seems to care – but Sam is now on the case.

It rocks.   Feel free to disagree.

Coming soon, A thousand acres by Jane Smiley.