Monday, September 21, 2009

This is a murder in a 19th century public school, so the leaves must be falling

I went to grab a new book to read the other day and found myself shoving tie-in paperbacks and gritty Harlem detective novels back in the bookcase, prefering instead to immerse myself in a hot bath ato read The Sudbury School Murders by Ashley Gardner.

It must be autumn.

Having spent the summer reading bright, shallow Star Trek: Enterprise novels and brittle autobiographies of Carry On people, I can tell it's autumn now because I find myself buying and reading mainly historical crime books.

I just finished The Galleon's Grave by Martin Stephen and before that James Anderson and now I find myself eyeing up The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale which I can see from my seat, balanced precariously on top of a copy of James White's The Watch Below, which I raked out of a box in the shed the other week having mentioned it online somewhere. It's something to do with the warmth this kind of book engenders: not quite the cosy England of Rosemary and Thyme and the like, but with a certain taste in their settings of mulled wine and the feel of brown crackling leaves underfoot, with hardy protagonists defending the reputations of near fallen young women and solving baffling crimes in the orange light of lamps and lanterns.

The Sudbury School Murders could serve as a template for these sort of books - rarely empoying a flashy turn of phrase, Gardner writes solidly and well, and creates a world where nothing is too awful. She fills that world with misty canals and public schools, retired army captains on half pay and notorious dandies with more money than sense, crisp nights of adventuring and warm pints in village pubs.

There's something terribly appealing and Octoberish in it all...


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Blogger SAF said...

That sounds like some good reading. And Ray Bradbury was always a fan of that October feeling. :-) But... Star Trek Enterprise books? How can you live with yourself?

10:14 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

I loved ST: Enterprise when I watche dit in a big splurge a couple of months ago. Possibly even my favourite iteration of the show full stop!

See, I'm getting odd withouth your reviews to keep me on the straight and narrow :)

10:25 am  
Blogger SAF said...

Ah I'll have to get busy then. Next up are Dollhouse and The Wire though and I'm not sure if you've seen either of those.

12:45 pm  

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