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Posts Tagged ‘quirky’

This is the 8th book in the charming Inspector Montalbano series, and it has a slight change of pace to those which came before it.

The story starts with the Inspector recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in the course of duty. His girlfriend Livia has come to stay with him during his convalescence, and he knows that he should be resting. But when he is told of the kidnapping of a local teenage girl, he finds himself getting involved in the case.  Susanna Mistretta has been taken and a ransom is demanded – but the family are in no position to pay. When he delves deeper into the matter, Montalbano uncovers secrets and mysteries which he needs to unravel if he has a hope of finding the kidnapped girl before something terrible happens to her.

This tale finds Montalbano in a more contemplative mood than in the earlier stories. Having been badly injured, he is reminded sharply of his own mortality and of how the years are catching up with him. There is a much larger focus on the relationship between him and Livia than there previously has been, and there is less humour than before. However, Catarella, Montalbano’s hapless Sergeant is still on hand to provide light relief and (very) occasional surprising insights.

I did guess the ending of the book quite early on, which I have never done in any of the previous books in the series. There was certainly a lot less to disentangle in this mystery than in the others, but a lot of focus is given to Montalbano’s resistance against his advancing years, which constantly reminds him that whereas friends and colleagues are settling down and having families, he is still as solitary as ever (despite his relationship with Livia, which is often tempestuous). Overall then, this is probably the weakest book in the series so far, but it’s still worth reading, and a worthy addition to the series.

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This is the 4th book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which follows the life of Precious Ramotswe, private detective, as she tries to unravel the mysteries presented to her in her work, and deal with life outside of the office.

In this slice of Mma Ramotswe’s life, she attempts to track down two people from the past of one of her client’s life.  He feels that he treated these people badly, and now wants to make amends, and Precious will have to use all of her tact and skills to find them.  At the same time, she is also coping with the threat of competition, when a new detective agency is set up in the village and the manager, the brash Mr Buthelizi makes his presence known.  And when Precious’s assistant, Mma Makutsi finds romance, the relationship brings all sorts of complications with it…

As always is the case with this series, this story is told gently and with plenty of wry humour.  Throughout it all, Mma Ramotswe’s compassion and strong morals shine through, and her love for Botswana is clear.

Throughout the books, the characters are fully fleshed out and I found myself caring about what happened to them, and enjoying reading about their lives. Mma Makutsi is a great foil to Mma Ramotswe, being less tactful and more direct.

There is plenty of humour in the story, and I read it with a smile on my face. These books tell of a gentle way of life, of people who genuinely care about their country and their companions, and they have a wonderful cast of core characters.  I look forward to reading the 5th book in this lovely set.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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In this sixth outing for Sicilian Police Inspector Salvatore Montalbano, the irascible, food loving and grumpy Inspector finds himself involved in the case of a missing financial wizard, Emanuele Gargano.  Gargano has disappeared with several investors’ money, and people think that he has either crossed the wrong person and ended up murdered, or that he has pocketed the money and run away.  Also missing is Gargano’s assistant, Pellegrino, who was in the process of having a new house built in one of Montalbano’s favourite places to relax (something that upsets the Inspector tremendously).  Montalbano and his eccentric team of colleagues find themselves on the trail of the missing men, being led up one way streets and finding more questions than answers.

This was another hugely enjoyable slice of action from this series.  While there is certainly an interesting mystery at the heart of the story, for me the enjoyment comes more from the personalities and relationships of the Officers.  By this stage of the series, they are well known to the reader and it was great to catch up with them again.  There’s also a great cast of new characters in this book, who are all very interesting.

These books are fun to read, with a very quirky main character.  While Montalbano is rude at times, not averse to manipulating the truth if necessary and willing to circumvent conventional methods of investigation, he is also someone who I have formed a great affection for throughout the series.  The writing is delightful, with several humorous touches, and it’s very hard to put down.  I have enjoyed all of the Montalbano books so far, and this was probably one of the best.

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Despite the title and the subject matter, this is not a dark or depressing book, and is actually very amusing in places. It is a very quick read (less than 170 pages), and it’s quirkiness and irony makes for a very entertaining story.

Set at an undefined period of time in the future in France, we learn that Earth has been ravaged by man’s selfishness and greed.  Mankind is a depressed race, which means that business is booming at The Suicide Shop.  This business has been by the Tuvache family for generations – they sell anything and everything that one might need to commit suicide, including some very clever inventions.  The parents, Lucrece and Mishima, are very contented in their misery, and proud of their two eldest children Vincent (named after Van Gogh) and Marilyn (named after Marilyn Monroe).  These two youngsters are both incredibly bored of life, and depressed.  However, Alan (named after Alan Turing), the youngest son, is a worry to the family.  He is full of the joys of life, and has an constant sunny nature.  He refuses to buy into his parents’ misery, and this worries them.  But despite their resistance, Alan is determined to spread the joy…

All the way through this book, I was thinking that it would definitely make a great film, if someone like Tim Burton were to get their hands on it.  It’s an unusual premise, and is actually a lot of fun, but it definitely has a sting in the tail.

The characters are almost caricatural, but this is in keeping with the whole of the book, as many of the things that happen are somewhat over the top, but fit in with the point of the story.  I couldn’t help thinking that the author must have had some fun in coming up with some of his very inventive ways for someone to kill themselves.

Short enough to read in one sitting, I would definitely recommend this for a lazy afternoon!

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Edward Trencom has always lived an unremarkable life. He is the owner of Trencom’s cheese shop in London, and is married to the feisty Elizabeth. The only thing that makes Edward stand out from the crowd is his very unusual nose. Not only is it unusual in shape, but it is also extremely sensitive to all sorts of smells.

Edward’s life of normalcy soon appears under threat however, when he realises that he is being followed, and also unearths documentation relating to his family history. As Edward investigates the Trencoms who came before him, he realises that the last nine generations of his family have come to a sticky end, and it looks like he might be about to do so as well.

This book has a lot of mystery, mixed in with some eccentric comedy, and while unlikely to be very memorable in the long term, it is certainly an amusing and enjoyable read.

The characters are funny and quirky, and while I didn’t find myself caring about them particularly deeply, I was eager to read on and find out what happened throughout the story.

I would definitely read more by this author.  (One word of warning – if you like eating cheese, this book might make you crave some!)

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