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I usually wait until I have finished a novel before I blog about it, but am going to make an exception with this one.
The story is a detective one, but this is not obvious at first, plus there is no actual detective. It is set in early restoration England. The plot revolves around the death of a Robert Grove, found dead in his chambers at Oxford. The story is related by four different people who were around at the time, and as is typical when four different people are asked to relate events leading up to something like this, each person has different priorities. It becomes obvious that Robert Grove has not died a natural death, although the Warden at his Oxford college tries to have him buried before any investigation starts.

I am currently about halfway through the second account, and it is very different from the first one. Iain Pears has shown ingenuity and adaptability in telling the story from different viewpoints. This book has been one of those that I'd bought but never got around to reading, and now I'm deeply into it, am asking myself why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it. It is not a book for those who like a quick read though as it is almost 700 pages long.

Ah! and here's a link to some more information about the book.

29th March 2009.
Now I have finished the third section of the novel, and what is becoming glaringly obvious to me is the fact that all three narrators to date are possibly unreliable narrators. All three have their own agenda to follow. However, this does not distract from the novel, but enhances it. Especially as the time the novel covers must have been one of uncertainty, so it echoes the thoughts of the time.
I am still enjoying the novel, and have just started the fourth account of events. I have never read a novel in this format before, it is very intriguing, and I am guessing it is meant to leave the reader guessing which is the true account of events when they have finished reading.

4th April 2009
I finished this on Thursday. The fourth section was the same story, but also different. Told by a historian from the time, [based on an actual historical figure from the time.] If I say too much about this account it WILL spoil the book, for those of you who want to read it.
On reflection I think the book worked very well, and in my eyes it has 3 unreliable records of the events at the time and one reliable one. As I read the fourth version I saw places where the others had misconstrued the information they had. You also have to bear in mind that the fourth account is written with knowledge that two of the others do not have, and the third one of them wishes to conceal for his own purposes.
Not a quick read, as it took me around 2 and 1/2 weeks to read, and when the narrator changes it is necessary to remind yourself that you are reading an account by a different narrator. The third account did irritate me at first, as it from the viewpoint of a doctor of divinity, and in helping establish this Pears uses quite a few bible quotes, to remind the reader that this account is by a member of the clergy. Luckily once this is established the bible quotes lessen.

This book was tucked away under my bed. Had been there for some time. I know this, because it was a special offer from Ottakar's, the name of the Waterstones I tend to go to before they were bought out. The jacket is flashed at 99p so it was a bargain. At that price you feel quite happy to dip your toe into the waters of an author unknown to you.

If you follow this link it will tell you about the novel in detail.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will probably be interested in more of Patrick Gale's books. So the 99p taster worked in this case.

This is the second of a trilogy by Cormac McCarthy, it's quite a while since I read the first one.

As this book follows Billy Parnham crossing and recrossing the USA/Mexico border we are given insight into Billy's thoughts. The first time he crosses, he is taking a wolf back to the mountains. The second time, the trip is made with his younger brother, in search of his dead father's horses that were stolen during a raid on his parents homestead, this raid left both his parents dead.
The third time for me was the most poignant, as he crosses into Mexico to settle being unable to settle in USA after returning from the second world war. The book however seems not to "belong" in any set time period, until the mention of the war.
Not a quick read, but definitely an engrossing one.

The thing that people noticed about this book whilst I was reading it was the fact it has part of the cover missing.
Probably a marketing thing, I wonder if the paperback will sport the same "chewed" front cover.
Firmin is a rat, a literary rat , unusual in the "rat" world.
When I'd finished this book I remember my creative writing lecturer at uni saying that internal monologues from and animals point of view "don't work". They obviously do.

Now for the bumph!

Firmin is the runt of a litter of rats born in the basement of Pembroke Books, a ramshackle old bookshop run by an equally shambolic owner, Norman Shine. Forced to compete for food, Firmin ends up chewing on the books that surround him. Thanks to his unusual diet, he acquires the miraculous ability to read. He subsequently develops an insatiable hunger for literature, and a very unratlike sense of the world and his place in it. He is a debonair soul trapped in a rat's body.....
But a literary rat is a lonely rat and , spurned by his own kind, he thinks he recognises a kindred soul in Norman. Firmin seeks solace in the Lovelies of the local burlesque cinema and in his own imagination. But the days of the bookshop and of the close community around it are numbered. The area has been marked out for urban regeneration and soon the faded glory of the bookshop, the low-life bars, loan sharks and pawn shops will face the bulldozers.
Brilliantly original and richly allegorical, Firmin is brimming with charm and wistful longing for a world that treasures it's seedy theatres , one-of-a-kind characters, and cluttered bookshops.

Definitely different, Firmin is a book you would either hate or love.

This is the first of a series of books written by Jacqueline Winspear. And in time I might get hold of some of the others.
Masie Dobbs is a private investigator, just starting up in her own business.

London, 1929. Having set herself up as a private investigator, Masie Dobbs is relieved when her first client arrives. Christopher Davenham suspects that his wife is conducting an affair. But Masie's investigations confound her expectations at every turn. And she is forced by her findings to revisit her own turbulent experience of the Great War. For Masie, the boundary between her private and professional life is suddenly blurred.

This is a world still reeling in the aftermath of war, a world in which many secrets lie buried. But Masie is determined to hunt down the truth, however painful it might be....

This book, like the Kellerman was a refreshing change in the "investigation" genre of novels.

In a New York slum, a tenant has mysteriously disappeared - leaving behind as huge collection of sick but brilliant paintings.
For art dealer Ethan Muller, this is the discovery of a lifetime. He displays the pictures in his gallery and watches as they rocket up in value.
But suddenly the police want to talk to him. It seems that the missing artist had a deadly past. Sucked into an investigation four decades cold, Ethan will uncover a secret legacy of shame and death, one that will touch horrifyingly close to home - and leave him fearing for his own life.
A brilliant and thought-provoking thriller that flips between past and present, The Brutal Art will appeal to anyone who enjoyed The Interpretation of Murder.

This book lived up to the blurb, and more. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The past and present storylines knit together very well. I haven't read The Interpretation of Murder, but think I have it in my "waiting to be read" pile somewhere.
Jesse Kellerman is the son of Faye and Johnathon Kellerman, but doesn't need his parents success to help him along.

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