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A WEEKLY FEAST OF READING WITH CATHY MACLEOD

OOPS! Microchip technology has little to do with the honest-to-goodness tales she produces where the heroin ends up in the hero’s arms. – DERBYSHIRE TIMES

Hurray for the Raj

19 August 2018

IN days of old, when Britain ruled the world and the natives knew their place and corruption was unknown, or undiscovered . . .
seeds were planted for wonderful tales to be penned by authors of the future. India, Pakistan, Malaya, Egypt and the rest of Africa, West Indies and many other locations enriched the Raj and inspired imaginations into our present wealth of fiction.

Kipling, Henty, Frances Burnett, JG Farrell, MM Kaye, Paul Scott, John Masters and the like have been succeeded by others who charm Space Age readers with British Empire tales. In recent times a good percentage of Raj authors are indigenous to the former colonies. And this gives a fresh slant to the ‘ripping yarns’ of imperialist days.

One Indian author I particularly like is Abir Mukherjee, who recently published Smoke And Ashes, book 3 of his crime fiction series featuring Captain Wyndham (ex Scotland Yard) and his irrepressible sidekick Sergeant Surrender-not Banerjee. Following A Rising Man and A Necessary Evil, this one sympathetically relates to India’s 1920s agitation for independence.

At the worst possible time, the Prince of Wales, future King-Emperor, is on a ‘goodwill’ visit. This actually happened in 1921 and nobody tried to assassinate him. Step forward a storyteller who brilliantly blends thrilling plots with real history. Abir Mukherjee’s research is keen and often, as here, uncovers shock facts. His rare sense of humour adds to the entertainment.

Even more chuckles and some succinct philosophy accompany another of my favourites, Raj joker Bryce McBryce. He claims to have been the BRAT of his book thus-called.

In pre WW2 Ceylon the British Army brass label him ‘a bigger menace than militant Japan’. The colonel trembles in rage, the nuns pray, while Wee Charlie strives to understand that peculiar species the Adult.

Believe him or not, the episodes he chronicles are delightful humour from a social niche in Empire’s history.

The author explains: “We all live in the big human comedy which never changes. I give it a setting in a far fortress of the 1930s, where a well-meaning child spotlights the pomposity of grownups.”

Happy reading! from Cathy.

HOW  TO  CAPTURE  READERS

5 AUGUST 2018

FROM the opening sentence to the very end, author Ann Morven captures readers in her latest whodunit, Unfaithful Unto Death. For August release in paperback, it features the murder of a promiscuous princess on a cruiseliner.

Bumbling female sleuth Sheil B Wright is on board to entertain the passengers with her songs, and thus finds herself thrust into a mystery that will (as always!) threaten her own life.

This amateur detective appeared in earlier Ann Morven puzzles and is one of my favourites in the genre. I like her inevitable rivalry with a police investigator, which now seems to be a repeated pattern in Morven plots. The cop this time is a pedantic knowall female descendant of Sherlock Holmes, previously outsleuthed in Morven’s bestselling Murder Piping Hot.

Not all the action is on board. There are pageturning developments in a West Australian vineyard and pagan blood rites on a tropical island.

In innovative style the author takes readers inside flashbacks imagined by different suspects. It’s a technique that maintains the pace and teases with possible outcomes.

Happy reading! from Cathy.

 

99morven

ANN MORVEN
whodunit diva

99IVOR

JOHN IVOR
Historical fiction

99McB

BRYCE McBRYCE
Humour

99chas

CHARLES BRYCE
Non-fiction and
jjuvenile
 

PaintMO

ANN MORVEN
whodunit diva

PaintIVOR

JOHN IVOR
historical tales

PaintMcB

BRYCE McBRYCE
humour

150chas

CHARLES BRYCE
non-fiction