Monday, October 26, 2009

A place of safety

For many years the series, Midsomer Murders, where Chief Inspector Banaby and Sergeant Troy solve usually a series of crimes in each episode has been a popular television program on Channel 2. The books on which the series is based are written by Caroline Graham. In A place of safety the investigations centre around the death of Charlie Leathers, the disappearance of a Carlotta last seen falling into the river, blackmail, an attack on a woman in a carpark and the injuries inflicted upon a dog. The impact of the crimes on the villagers and village life provides the background as Barnaby and his team solve the crimes.

Forbidden fruit

Corinna Chapman is a baker and owner of the bakery, Earthly Delights. With Daniel she also is involved in solving mysteries - in this case locating a young pregnat girl who has run away from home. The books are set in Melbourne and although the exact location of the bakery is never provided many of the landmarks in the city are identified. The bakery is situated near Flinders Lane in a building containing a number of apartments. The interactions of the tenants in the building, Corina's staff and customers, the staff and volunteers of the soup run who spend their evenings helping the homeless and the people met when solving the mystery contibute to the character of inner city living and bustle, particularly with the approach of Christmas.

This is the fifth book in the series, the others being Earthly Delights, Heavenly Pleasure, Devil's Food and Trick or Treat.

Don't stop me now

The British television program, Top Gear, has developed a cult following in Australia. One of the presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, writes a regular motoring column for the Sunday Times providing his humourous and often non politically correct view on life in general as well as his thoughts on the cars he is testing. Anyone who enjoys watching Top Gear should enjoy this selection from the newspaper articles.

206 bones

The eleventh book by Kathy Reich about the cases investigated by forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan and police officer, Andrew Ryan. At a crime scene Tempe counts and bags 206 bones belonging to a body but back at the laboratory four bones are missing and she is accused of negligence. This is only one of a series of accusations that are made including an anonymous telephone message stating that she missed important evidence during an autopsy. Coupled with threatening messages Tempe realises that not only is her career is at risk but also possibly her life. Why are these accusations being made and who is behind the conspiracy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The time traveler's wife

The concept of time travelling in books, films and television programs, particularly Dr Who, is not new. Audrey Niffenegger tells the story of Clare Abshire and Henry DeTamble who first meet when Clare is six and Henry is 36, though in real time Henry is eight years older than Clare. Henry, a librarian working at the Newberry Library in Chicago has the ability to travel backwards and forwards in time, sometimes meeting himself at a different age. A major disadvantage of time travel is that Henry is unable to take anything with him or bring anything back resulting in the need to find suitable clothing when arriving at a different destination. Henry also has no control over travelling in time though he suspects that being stressed contributes to the situation. Knowing what is to happen in the future but not being able to change the outcome is another burden of time travel though occasionally Henry uses prior knowledge to his advantage.

This love story is told in two voices through the eyes of Clare and Henry. Henry often visits Clare as she grows up until eventually they are adults in real time. When they first meet in the Library the visits to Clare's childhood are in the future and Henry is initially unaware of this part of their lives. The problems of uncontrolled time travel explored with many twists and turns in the plot as well as attempts to find ways of controlling this phenomenon.

The sequences of time travel can be haphazard and confusing as the plot evolves and reducing the book by a third would have tightened up both the writing style and the storyline. However The time traveler's wife is a popular book and will no doubt increase in popularity when the film of the book is shown in Australia.