Tag Archives: Christopher Fowler

Snapshot: June 25, 2015

Time: 1:05 pm

Feeling: Revved up and motivated—yay!!

Eating & Drinking: I have fallen in love with savoury green smoothies. Last week we bought a NutriBullet blender/liquifier and I’ve been having a blast with it. I searched for savoury green smoothie recipes, then ended up making up one of my own based on seeing what other people are using in theirs.

Basically I throw in a tomato, some cucumber, a handful of cilantro, a cup of plain kefir, a quarter of a small onion, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of flaxseed, a half a tablespoon of potato starch and salt to taste. Zap it for about a minute, and it’s the most delicious veggie drink ever. And the bonus? It’s pretty filling, so easily substitutes for a light lunch.

Reading: I’m in a reading slump. Yes, I figured I should just bold that for good measure. I think it’s because I’m feeling both productive and busy, and I’m scared if I pick up a good book, I’ll end up sucked in for hours on end.

Whatever the reason, though, I haven’t picked up either a print book or a physical book for a week, other than continuing with my reading of Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. It’s not really a “how to write” book, but rather more a memoir type book in which Highsmith describes how she came to write several of her works.

But I’m headed to the library later today to pick up some holds, so something enticing might get my out of my slump. I can hope, anyway!

Watching: On the other hand, maybe what I just wrote above about being scared that picking up a good book will blow my productivity right out of the water is just an excuse. Because I started watching season 2 of “Agents of Shield” on Netflix last night …

Listening:

audiolistensJune.jpg

I’m skipping around between a bunch of things (which is often what happens when I’m in a reading slump): Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (I have the omnibus in print version in my TBR stack—all the books in the series will be rereads for me); The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, another reread/relisten; and Bryant & May: The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler.

Writing: I’m finally working on those first 20 pages of my dark fantasy, for my summer writing workshop class with Kelley Armstrong. Memory gave a me some great developmental feedback, and my older son also read my first draft and pointed out the things which puzzled him or weren’t clear. I’ve got lots of good points to work on now, and both of them tell me what I’ve got so far is very interesting, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Working: I’m back on a productivity binge. I’ve decided to try doing a daily braindump to-do on Trello and so far (for today, anyway), it’s been working. Doing the braindump turns out to be quite the relief for my poor brain which has been trying to juggle everything.

And having a list of things, big and little, seems to be helping, too. I pick and choose depending on my mood. Like this blog post.

I’ve already moved several things to the “done” list, which feels great.

Kijiji: Ward and I finally got around to listing something on Kijiji—a computer desk we no longer need or use—and I can’t believe how easy the whole sales transaction went. I listed the desk late Monday night, and someone emailed us at 7:00 in the morning the very next day. The desk was gone by early afternoon!

I have a friend who recently downsized from a huge house to a condo; she had a blast selling her too-big furniture on Kijiji. She told me it becomes addictive. I can certainly see how that could happen!

So that’s been my week so far. How’s your week been? Any tips for battling a reading slump?

Snapshot: June 16, 2015

Time: 6:26 pm

Feeling: Ready for a nap. Mainly because I’ve been up since 6:30 am—although sadly I didn’t end up gong for a walk because (a) it was raining, (b) I decided to get some social media work done first and (c) by the time I finished up the rain had stopped and things were looking too hot outside for a walk.

Eating: We’ve been eating out too much. Or so says the latest credit card bill. Sigh. I want to spend some time looking for crunchy summery salads with a dash of protein. Maybe I’ll have a cool new recipe to link to in next week’s Snapshot …

Drinking: I’ve started making kefir smoothies! I add spinach and whatever fruit I have on hand and feel rather nutritionally virtuous as a result. On the days when I remember to make them, that is.

Reading: The reading’s taken a bit of back seat because I just haven’t had much time for it lately. *sob*

BUT I’m really excited about this:

Armada.jpg

Ernest Cline’s Armada is being released on July 15 and what’s even more exciting? Wil Wheaton is narrating the audio version! I already have an Audible credit earmarked for it.

I’m also eyeing the Atlas Shrugged (#AtlasRAL) Readalong that Ti’s hosting over July and August. I’ve not been doing so well with my readalongs, though. I didn’t finish a single readalong book from last month, and this month I’m definitely behind with the #MiseryRAL readalong.

Listening:

burningman.jpg

I’m having much better luck with my audiobooks. I’m listening to Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May—The Burning Man right now. It’s always nice to slip back into the world of Bryant and May (I want to say they’re octogenarian detectives, but I’m actually not sure exactly how old they are. But May is four years younger than Bryant. I think.)

Writing: The deadline for submitting my dark fantasy for the workshop class I’m taking from Kelley Armstrong next month is June 29, so I still have some time left to make my revisions. Whew.

Working: I finished up an index on Sunday night, and this week I have five articles to write. Work on the book marketing for Booktrope is going well.

I also got started with my big readers’ site project—well, sort of. I’m still developing the site, but I finally got the Twitter account up and running: @bookstormcafe! While of course it would be lovely if you’d give it a follow, I should warn you that it is simply chockful of tweets about book news, book giveaways, new book releases, book reviews and author interviews. I’m not kidding—the tweet stream is loaded. It’s been fun diving into all this bookish stuff on the one hand, but on the other hand, let me just say there’s an awful lot of book news, book giveaways and new books out there!

Playing:

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We’ve had the Lord of the Rings board game for a while, and finally opened it up last night. It was a lot of fun (once we figured out the rules) but there was a certain cat who kept wanting to join us.

Looking forward to: The weekend! For once I’m actually getting out and about. We have tickets to see Titanic the Musical this Friday night, and then on Saturday a friend of mine is holding a girls-only birthday bash, which should be fun.

What about you? How has your week been so far? And what are your plans for the rest of the week?

[TSS] Recently Read

I’ve been busy with work deadlines lately, but looking back on what I’ve been reading, it seems audiobooks have come to the rescue! With audiobooks, I’m never “too tired to read”, so it’s been a great way to keep reading despite putting in loads of work hours every day towards my deadlines.

One of my reading resolutions this year is to keep track of what I’ve been reading. In past years I haven’t been that diligent, despite various Goodreads and Pinterest lists. So I thought for today’s Sunday Salon, I’d post an update as to what I’ve recently read.

police by jo nesboPolice, by Jo Nesbo. The latest instalment (#10) in the Harry Hole series, when my copy arrived at the library, I knew I had to drop everything to read it. I took a day off working on my deadlines, and devoured this one. The gist of the plot: someone is murdering police officers at the sites of old unsolved murders in which the officers were involved in investigating, but there’s a whole lot more going on which I really can’t mention for fear of spoilers. Lots and lots of twists, right down to the very end. This was one very enjoyable, suspenseful read.
no mans nightingale by ruth rendellNo Man’s Nightingale, by Ruth Rendell. In this latest instalment of the Wexford series, former Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford is settling into retirement, working on his goal of reading all volumes of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. When Kingsmarkham vicar Sarah Hussein is murdered, though, Wexford is glad to have Detective Inspector Mike Burden pull him into a consulting role in the investigation. There’s a flaw in one of the premises Rendell uses (she states that two brown-eyed parents cannot have a blue-eyed child, which is not true, as two brown-eyed parents both having a recessive blue eye gene can have a blue-eyed child) so if errors like this annoy you, this might put you off a bit. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read with a nice twist at the end.
the invisible code by christopher fowlerThe Invisible Code, by Christopher Fowler. In this latest instalment of the Peculiar Crimes Unit series, the elderly detective duo of Bryant and May are asked by their old adversary, Oskar Kasavian, to find out why Oskar’s beautiful young wife has been behaving in such an odd and bizarre way. As always with this series, there are many strange goings-on, including an unexplainable murder and codes and symbols, plus lots of nice twists. Lots of laugh out loud moments, too. I started this one in print format, but finished up by listening to the audio version narrated by Tim Goodman, who did a great job.
bryant and may off the rails by christopher fowlerBryant and May Off the Rails, by Christopher Fowler. It seems I’m working backwards through this series, after having read most of the earlier books back to back quite a few years ago.  The Peculiar Crimes Unit has arrested the murderous Mr. Fox, only to have him break out, killing one of their own in the process. The chase is on, and we are lead through the shadowy corners of the London Underground. As always with the quirky Bryant and May detective duo, there are some very complicated twists and skillfully-placed laughs. I did this one entirely in audio, narrated by Tim Goodman, who once again does a great job with Bryant and May.
killer by jonathan kellermanKiller, by Jonathan Kellerman. It was good to see Alex Delaware back in form in this latest instalment of the series. Things start out slower than they do in most of the other books in the series, with Alex embroiled in a probate case involving the fight between two sisters for the custody of one sister’s child. But soon enough, there’s a murder, and Alex works with his old friend Detective Milo Sturgis to unravel the clues. This one’s not as intricately plotted as some of the older books, and the unveiling of “whodunnit” is a little bit out of the blue, but still it was an enjoyable read.
blood and circuses by kerry greenwoodBlood and Circuses, by Kerry Greenwood. In this earlier book (#6) in Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, someone’s been sabotaging Farrell’s Circus, and Phryne leaves behind the comforts of life, her title and her money in order to go undercover to find out why. Throw in the murder of a circus performer and some nasty characters from the Melbourne underworld, and Phryne’s in for an interesting ride. As usual with the Phryne Fisher series, there are sex scenes, although perhaps a little less than in some of the later books in the series. I could have done without the sex scenes myself, but they didn’t wreck my enjoyment of the book. I listened to this one in audio, narrated by the delightful Stephanie Daniel.
bryant and may on the looseBryant and May on the Loose, by Christopher Fowler. I continued to move backwards through the series with Bryant and May on the Loose (#7 in the series) in audio, narrated excellently once again by Tim Goodman, although this one was a reread. I was enjoying the audio versions so much, I decided to get this one, and then as I started listening, I realized I’d read the book before – but long enough ago, I didn’t recall how things ended.  In this book, #7 in the series, the Peculiar Crimes Unit has been disbanded despite their success in solving the bizarre crimes that have come their way in the past. But the discovery of a headless corpse by one of the unit’s members gives them the chance to persuade the Home Office to change its mind – as long as they can solve the case in a week. To complicate matters, there have also been a number of bizarre sightings of a half-man half-stag creature with knives for antlers who has been carrying off young women. Intricately plotted with lots of twists, this was another enjoyable listen.
the memory of blood by christopher fowlerThe Memory of Blood, by Christopher Fowler. I obviously have no problems reading a series out of order! This one is #9 in the series, but yes, I listened to this one after listening to Bryant and May on the Loose above. This one involves a locked room mystery: the young son of a theatre owner is, seemingly impossibly, killed in his bedroom during a cast party held in his father’s home. The only clue is a life-size puppet of Mr. Punch which the killer has left behind. Along with yet another complicated plot, there’s quite a bit of history of the origins of Punch and Judy, but the information is weaved seamlessly into the plot. Another fun and enjoyable listen!

So that’s what I’ve read so far in the past four weeks or so. I see now that I’ve been focused exclusively on mysteries, but I’m breaking the trend right now, as I’m a currently a third of the way into Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

What have you been reading lately? If you’ve read any of the books on my recently read list, what did you think of them?

Five on the Go–The Fiction Edition

For an extremely brief moment on the morning of January 1, 2014, I considered the following resolution: I will read only one book at a time.

Hahahaha!

I think it took all of two seconds for me to realize how horridly I’d fail at such a resolution. And so, thankfully, I didn’t add that to my 2014 list of intentions.

Which turns out to be a very a good thing, since I currently have five novels on the go, and I’m very happy with all my selections. I’d hate to have started out the new year with such a big resolution-fail.

The really nice thing is that a couple of the books I have on the go are outside my normal "reading zone", and I’m really enjoying them. (My reading zone typically consists of mysteries, urban fantasies, and middle grade fiction.)

Print Books and Ebooks on the Go

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I’ve been reading, and loving, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. While it might technically be called a mystery, I guess, it really isn’t, and it’s far more literary than most of the books I read. I find I prefer reading The Goldfinch in small, delicious chunks, with my notebook at hand, ready to scribble down phrases that captivate me. I don’t normally read like this, and I’m finding I really like it, for a change of pace from my normal reading method, where I devour the story and turn the pages as quickly as I can.

the signature of all things by elizabeth gilbert

The other book I’m reading that’s outside my normal reading zone is Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. It’s described as "a glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge" and seriously, I hardly ever read books that are glorious and sweeping novels of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge. Also, it’s historical fiction, and I generally tend to steer clear of historical fiction.

But I’m loving it! Gilbert’s writing is sumptuous but oh-so-readable, and she drew me in from the very first chapter. The unfortunate thing with this book is I have it on loan from the Toronto Public Library’s ebook selection, which doesn’t allow for renewals (not that I’d be able to renew this one anyway, as it’s got a holds list). I’ll probably end up buying the ebook so I can finish it.

the invisible code by christopher fowler

Moving on, back into my reading zone, I’ve been delighting myself with the latest and deliciously quirky Bryant and May book, The Invisible Code: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery, by Christopher Fowler. I’ve read several of the books in this series (not in order, though …) and each one is always such fun. The Invisible Code is no exception, and it’s fun to see Bryant and May, both "senior" detectives – especially Bryant – ambling through the world of cellphones and Facebook.

Audiobooks on the Go

I also have a couple of novels going in audio.

dry bones by peter may

I started listening to Peter May’s Dry Bones, narrated by Simon Vance. This is my introduction to Scottish forensic scientist and biologist Enzo Macleod (and it’s the first in the series – finally, I’m starting a series at the beginning!). I’m only a couple of chapters in so far, and am enjoying Vance’s narration immensely.

prisoners base by rex stout

And I’m near the end of Prisoner’s Base, a Nero Wolfe mystery by Rex Stout, narrated by Michael Pritchard. This is a reread in audio; like the Agatha Christie mysteries, I’ve listened to all the audio versions currently available (that I can find, anyway) of the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Along with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, they are what I like to call my "comfort listens" – I can have them on in the background even when I’m working, because I already know the stories so well. I can tune in and tune out, filling in the blanks whenever needed!

What about you? What are you currently reading, fiction-wise? Do you stick with one book, or are you more comfortable having several on the go?

Reading!

I’ve officially come out of my heavy deadline season – finished off the last big one early last week and have spent most of the time since recuperating, resting … and reading!

As soon as I could, I started on The Shining, for the #shineon readalong on Twitter this month. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a nice long stretch of reading time, so I found myself very distracted by all the other books that have been waiting for me to read them.

I put The Shining down at page 80 when Diana Wynne Jones’ Reflections on the Magic of Writing came through for me at the library. I devoured Reflections over the course of two days, and it truly inspired me. With huge thanks to Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, who recommended a little iPhone app called eHighlighter, I ended up saving lots and lots of quotes from the book – not quite the same as covering it with highlights, but still very satisfying.

Reflections

Reflections is on my to-buy list, the next time I go on a book-buying splurge. And in the meantime, I plan to devote a post to it sometime soon, helped along by all the quotes I saved while I was reading.

I moved straight from Reflections to Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, by Sam Weller. I enjoyed this book immensely, too. You get a very real taste of Ray Bradbury the person: quirky, opinionated, loving. What came through the most for me was Bradbury’s immense love and appreciation of LIFE, in capitals.

On the fiction side of things, I’m about a third of the way through The Demi-Monde, by Rod Rees; I’m part of the book tour for the sequel, The Shadow Wars, and I wanted to get up-to-speed with the Demi-Monde world by reading the first book in the series before I start on The Shadow Wars.

I also started The Red Box, by Rex Stout, one of the few Nero Wolfe mysteries I haven’t read yet. I adore Nero Wolfe and Archie, so it was a thrill to see this one at my library’s ebook lending site. I really enjoy the Nero Wolfe novels in audio, but unfortunately this one  hasn’t made it to Audible yet.

In audio, I’ve been listening to Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, a really fun thriller of a revenge novel. I’m near the end, and had a tough time turning my iPod off last night, but it was sooooo late.

And I have lots more waiting for me, including:

Pursuing the Times, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. I read a sample of this romcom before deciding to review it, and it was delightfully funny.

I am Half Sick of Shadows, the fourth book in the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I’m playing catch-up, because next up is the newly released book five, Speaking from Among the Bones!

The Memory of Blood, by Christopher Fowler. Bryant and May, of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, are one of the funniest duos in crime literature, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

In other readalong news, I’ll be reading A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle with Joanna of Create Your World. If you’d like to join us, let me know in the comments or zip me an email. I’m also eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Diana Wynne Jones book for the readalong Kristen of We Be Reading will be holding for her month-long event, DWJ March.

So that’s my reading news so far. And I’m finding myself wishing for even more time to read!

Still Reading …

It’s been quite a whirlwind around the MsBookish household – we seem to have plunged right into spring cleaning/home renovations fever, and if that sounds chaotic … it is!

But I’m still reading. I think it’s the only way to stay sane during a renovation. The main problem is that I don’t have much time for reviewing. I’m toying with posting mini-reviews – maybe call them “In A Nutshell” or something like that, to distinguish them from my regular full-length reviews.

I’ve been having a good time, though, renovations and all. Here’s a list of the books I’ve finished the last four weeks (I may be missing some that have gone back to the library – I forgot to keep a “master list”):

The Victoria Vanishes, by Christopher Fowler

Ten Second Staircase, by Christopher Fowler

Jinx, by Meg Cabot

Missing You (1-800-Where-R-You, Book 5), by Meg Cabot

Bones, by Jonathan Kellerman

Pictures of Perfection, by Reginald Hill

Ruling Passion, by Reginald Hill

A Pinch of Snuff, by Reginald Hill

The Third Degree, by Norah McClintock

Over the Edge, by Norah McClintock

Double Cross, by Norah McClintock

A Rule Against Murder, by Louise Penny (called The Murder Stone in Canada)

The Case of the Left-handed Lady, by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, by Nancy Springer

As you can probably see, there’s a definite mystery “theme” going on in my life right now. I’m pretty sure I’m missing some titles as well, but I’ll update the list if/when the missing titles come back to me.

In the course of renovating, and moving furniture around, I’ve also been going through my bookshelves. It’s so difficult, weeding my book collection, but it must be done – we simply don’t have enough space for all my books. I must admit, my heart cries a little with each box of books that leaves this house, headed toward charity book sales! But on the bright side, I’ve been finding a ton of books that I either (1) haven’t read yet or (2) want very much to re-read.

So yes, I’m still reading …!

TSS – Book Review: Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

Full Dark HouseSynopsis:

A present-day bombing rips through London and claims the life of eighty-year-old detective Arthur Bryant. For John May, it means the end of a partnership that lasted over half a century and an eerie echo back to the Blitz of World War II, when they first met. Desperately searching for clues to the killer’s identity, May finds his irascible old friend’s notes of their very first case and becomes convinced that the past has returned … with a killing vengeance.

It was an investigation that plunged the fledgling detectives into a complex and lethal puzzle. It began when a dancer in a risqué new production of Orpheus in Hell was found without her feet. In a city shaken by war, a faceless killer was stalking London’s theaters, creating his own kind of sinister drama. And it would take Arthur Bryant’s most unorthodox techniques and John May’s dogged police work to catch a criminal whose ability to escape detection seemed almost supernatural – a murderer who decades later seems to have claimed the life of one of them … and is determined to claim the other.

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: Great quirky characters, and wonderfully adroit handling of shifts between the past and present.

First Line: “It really was a hell of a blast.”

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: This book, the debut novel in the Bryant and May series, is a wonderful look at a young Bryant and May.

Read the Full Review of Full Dark House

TSS – Currently Reading: Fowler, Springer & Berry

Time for The Sunday Salon again! Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Ten Second Staircase, by Christopher Fowler. I finished Full Dark House, the first book in the Bryant and May Peculiar Crimes Unit series, a few days ago (review coming soon), and I loved it so much I picked up the next Peculiar Crimes Unit book in my TBR, Ten Second Staircase, right away. I’m right at the beginning, and so far, so good.

The Charlemagne Pursuit, by Steve Berry. This is the first book by Steve Berry that I’ve picked up – it stars ex-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, and I’m finding Malone likeable enough to want to pick up the earlier books featuring him. I’m about midway through this book, and it’s a fun and exciting read – except that I’m finding the motivation for one part of the plot to be kind of weak. (More on that when I finish the book and write the review.) Despite this, though, I’ve been enjoying this book a lot.

The Case of the Missing Marquess, by Nancy Springer. I’m still reading this one – haven’t had a chance to pick it up again since the last time I was reading it last week. I have two other books in this series in my TBR pile, so I’m hoping this one is as interesting as the first chapters indicate.

And in audiobooks: last night I was feeling a bit under the weather, and even the thought of picking up a book to read was enough to make me feel kind of dizzy. So I took to my bed (I’ve always wanted to say something like that!) and started listening to an audiobook of PD James’ Skull Beneath the Skin. I’m not sure if the version I’ve linked to is the actual version I’m listening to. Mine isn’t so much an audiobook as an audio production – lots of lovely British actors saying the lines; it feels like listening to an old-time radio show.

So that’s what I’m currently reading. What books are enticing you these days?

TSS: Currently Reading Fowler, Springer, Carr and Greene

I’m in the midst of a hectic weekend of deadlines and such, but thanks to a little experiment I did involving changing my beliefs about time, I find myself with the time to write today’s Sunday Salon post!

What I love best about The Sunday Salon is checking out what everyone is reading. So my own TSS posts are usually about what I’m currently reading (unless another bookish idea sounds more interesting – I confess, I was debating writing a post about why so many novelists are lawyers, and one day I will, but today is not that day).

I normally have a whole boatload of books on the go (a reflection, I think, of my scattered eclectic way of living), and this week has not been an exception. Immediately after reading Christopher Fowler’s White Corridor, I found myself wanting more of Bryant and May, so I plucked Full Dark House, the first book in the series, out of my TBR. It’s been a great read so far.  Bryant and May are both in their mid-80s (and still working at the Peculiar Crimes Unit) – the story begins, oddly enough, with the news of Bryant’s death. May investigates, and the story goes back and forth between present day and the past. Fowler handles the flashbacks very well, and it’s interesting getting to know the characters as they were at the beginning (and, I should say, at the end).

I also started reading Nancy Springer’s The Case of the Missing Marquess today; I had brought it to Disney with me, but the cheerleaders-as-CIA series The Perfect Squad, as well as Meg Cabot, kept me too well occupied to dip into this Enola Holmes mystery. I’m only on the first chapter still, when Enola’s mother has disappeared, but so far it’s shaping up to be a fun middle-grade read.

Since I started book blogging, my TBR pile has grown tremendously, so I’ve not been re-reading as many books as I used to. But recently I stumbled on my much-loved copy of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, and I made the mistake of flipping it open and reading “just a bit”. With Carr, you can never read “just a bit”, and soon I found myself caught up in his beautiful writing and characterizations, and feeling just that little bit creeped out with the mystery. Carr is such a joy to read – I always find myself wishing he had more books out – and I suspect I will be digging out my copy of Angel of Darkness next.

If you haven’t read The Alienist yet, here’s the summary. The book is even better than the summary promises.

The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or “alienist.” On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan’s infamous brothels.

The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler’s intellect and Moore’s knowledge of New York’s vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology– amassing a psychological profile of the man they’re looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before. and will kill again before the hunt is over.

Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian’s exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

Last, but most certainly not least, is the audiobook I’m currently listening to. My experiment with time had one truly lovely result – I discovered that I can now listen to an audiobook while I work. I’ve tried this in the past, with fairly disastrous results. The nature of my work is such that I’m often at the computer, thinking and typing out what I’m thinking (it sounds like writing but alas, it’s not nearly as interesting as writing); the last time I tried to listen to an audiobook instead of music while working, I ended up typing what I was hearing, instead of what I was thinking.

But I gave it another try yesterday, and was thrilled to discover that I am able to separate the two parts of my my mind somehow and work while listening to an audiobook at the same time. I’m listening to non-fiction, which might be what’s making the difference, as I find with non-fiction if I tune out here and there, I can still get the gist when I tune back in.

So right now, I’m listening to Brian Greene’s wonderful The Elegant Universe. I’ve watched Nova’s gorgeous film of the book, and I have the book itself but never had the time to get to it. Listening while I’m working is the perfect solution. The narrator’s voice works well with the material, evoking space and time and all manner of scientific mysteries; I’ve been meeting my deadlines and overall, feeling quite happy about things!

Review: White Corridor, by Christopher Fowler

White CorridorThe Snapshot Review

What I Liked: Bryant and May and all the other wonderfully quirky characters at the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

But: I didn’t get into the book until about a third of the way.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: If, like me, you have difficulty getting into the book initially, stick with it – when the plot lines take off, they really take off, and you’ll find yourself unable to put the book down.

Read the Full Review of White Corridor