As you may know, J.K. Rowling has branched out somewhat since the Harry Potter series. Aside from The Casual Vacancy (which received lukewarm reviews), she has developed the highly popular Cormoran Strike series under the nom de plume Robert Galbraith. The series has been well received, and is soon to be dramatised by the BBC. Having read the first and third books in the series (The Cuckoo’s Calling and Career of Evil respectively), I was eagerly awaiting reading the second book, The Silkworm – and I was not disappointed.
As Ben Macintyre points out in Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, the relationship between cricket (that most English of sports) and spying (at which the British have always excelled) is deep-rooted and unique. Something about the game attracts the sort of mind also drawn to the secret worlds of intelligence and counter-intelligence — for both are complex tests of brain and brawn, high-stakes games of honour and ruthless good manners interwoven with trickery, dependent on minute gradations of physics and psychology interwoven with tea breaks.
Reading James Runcie’s Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death reminded me of three classical detectives of fiction – Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, and Father Brown. In the nature of the short stories, which toy with the predominant format in similar stories of an unseen murder, investigation, and denouement, I felt some of Conan Doyle; in the setting of a rural and academic Cambridge, alongside the highly educated nature of the protagonist I felt definite echoes of Dexter; and in the ecclesiastical, gentle, and easygoing nature of the stories I felt reverberations from Chesterton. Runcie’s collection of six short(ish) stories was highly enjoyable, a nice armchair read with a good bit of character development – albeit requiring what Coleridge called a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’.
I can’t remember the last time I saw such a cliffhanger on a TV show as on Line of Duty last night (BBC1, 9 pm). Actually, I think it must have been during the previous series of Line of Duty in 2016 (which is on iPlayer, albeit expiring imminently). The previous series of the police procedural drama received near universal acclaim and was so successful that it earned the programme a switch from BBC2 to the coveted BBC1 evening slot. The cast all play their roles to perfection, and the writing ensures it’s an edge-of-the-seat watch throughout for the viewer.
Image from Goodreads
The Body in the Library–a woman dies, and someone tries to find out who killed her.
I’m on a bit of an Agatha Christie roll recently. I’ve just finished The Body in the Library, and have just started The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. One of the things I love about Christie is the near impossibility to guess the outcome of some (read: most) of her works. The Body in the Library is no different, and though not my favourite Christie novel by some way, it was entertaining enough to be a page turner and interesting, a good diversion, but not a complete occupier as some Christie stories are.
This is my 100 hundredth post on this blog, and as such will focus a little more on what’s coming up and where we’ve got to rather than on literature. Oh. and some thank yous. A lot of thank yous.