Review: Death of a Ghost

Death of a Ghost
Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is OK, as far as it goes.

It is a thirties crime mystery based around a posh family and their connections, and almost everyone is connected with the art world in some way.

The initial murder, there are more to come, takes place early on during the first viewing of one of the paintings which has been left by a famous artist to be revealed at the rate of one per year.

Some of the characters are so appalling, that I woud have loved to have leapt into the pages of my book and killed them off myself. When I say “appalling,” I don’t mean that they are badly written, quite the contrary, but they are just people that I wouldn’t ever want anywhere near me. So that is good writing, is it not?

The main policeman in the plot is just so straight and humourless, and appears to lack the wit to outsmart a slug on the garden fence, never mind a dangerous criminal. Campion also lacks humour. He is such a serious man who happens to be on the scene due to his long-standing connection with the widow. To me, he seemed to be rather slow in picking up the clues and sorting out the motive and the killer, but I suppose that prolongs the ending.

It may seem a strange thing to say about a story which revolves around the art world, but I got irritated by the amount of art talk and technicalities in this book. Others may love that, but it was not for me.

In summary, the book was OK, I don’t regret reading it, but there are many other books out there that I should prefer to read ahead of another Campion mystery.

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Review: Sister Sister

Sister Sister
Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was excited when I started reading this book. It has so many really good reviews. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

As a psychological thriller, it is OK, and I enjoyed reading it. However, many of the twists and turns were predictable. There were a few that weren’t. The plot is very good, but I feel that more could have been done with it.

There were chunks of the book with which I became very frustrated. Firstly, the behaviour of Clare as the story unfolds. I couldn’t believe that a top solicitor could be so stupid. Also, there were parts that were simply not credible. I cannot tell you about most them without insterting a spoiler, but one of them which particularly wound me up was the central thread around a photograph of the long lost sister, Alice, and her friend, Martha. (view spoiler)

There were quite a few inconsitencies in the narrative. One which almost stopped me from reading on was when Clare is in Florida and tries to call her husband, Luke.

It’s early evening here in Florida, which, given the five-hour time difference, means that it’s mid-afternoon in UK.”

In actual fact, the five-hour time difference works out the opposite way around and it would be past midnight in UK. As she goes on to describe that Luke has taken their daughters swimming, it makes matters worse.

So my summary is that it is a good story, but the twists and turns were mainly predictable and there are too many implausibilities.

However, I would recommend it to people who want a psychological thriller to read on their sunbed on holiday.

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Review: Someone Like Me

Someone Like Me
Someone Like Me by Tom Holt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Someone Like Me by Tom Holt is a bloodthirsty, gripping thriller, which is set in the future but in a world that has regressed into almost primitive times. There is no electricity or transport system. The human race lives in fear of a race of aggressive beasts that hunt people for their flesh.

The hero, who is a hired hunter of the beasts, narrates the story in the first person. The quest of the hero and his colleagues is to eliminate all of the beasts before they can totally eliminate mankind.
The opening scene places the hero in the midst of recently inflicted carnage resulting from an attack by two of the beasts. It is not long before he finds himself trapped in dark underground tunnels with one of them. It is literally a case of kill or be killed.

The story moves at a very fast pace but the style may not be to the liking of all readers. Certainly, I would not recommend this book to anyone who faints at the first sight of blood, even if it is only in print. However, the twists at the end of the tale are worth waiting for and leave the reader deep in thought. The book took me less than ninety minutes to read, and is about the right length. Any more, and I would have begun to feel bored. Any less, and I would have felt slightly cheated.

I can’t honestly say whether I would recommend it to a friend or not. That would depend on what I knew about the friend!

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Cover Reveal of My New Book ‘Perilous Path: a Writer’s Journey’

Here’s the cover of my friend’s new book and a sneak preview of one of the chapters. Take a look.

SC Skillman Blog

I’m delighted to reveal the cover design of my new book which is due out soon:final-cover-design-jpgThe cover was created by graphic designer Annabelle Bradford.

Perilous Path: a writer’s journey is a short non-fiction book (106 pages) which will be available both as a paperback and also as a Kindle ebook.

It’s in the Self-Help / Creativity category and it’s for aspiring writers, keen fiction readers fascinated by the subject of literary inspiration and creativity, and anyone interested in how fiction writers get their ideas and go about creating full-length novels.

Here’s the blurb:

How do you find courage and motivation when your novel sinks in the middle?

How do you stay focused as a writer despite all the setbacks and disappointments?

How can great artists, musicians and psychologists give you inspiration?

You’ll find the answer to these questions and many others in this book. SC Skillman offers deep…

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Are You Letting Your Blog Get Out Of Control?

This is a very thoughtful piece about how we manage our blogs, our blogging time and the time that we spend reading and commenting the blogs of others.

It certainly made me think.

Hugh's Views & News

If I had children I would do all I could to make sure they never got out of control.  I do the same with my dog, Toby.  When he was a puppy I took him to training classes and, on the odd occasion when he does disobey me, I put what I learned at those classes into place to make sure he behaves.  Fortunately, I’m pleased to say that he behaves most of the time.

If we can do this with our children and pets, then shouldn’t we also do the same with our blogs?

Occasionally I hear other bloggers say they feel guilty because they do not have enough time in the day to read all the newly published posts of the blogs they follow.  This is also true of myself.  It’s impossible to read every single new post published by the bloggers I follow.  There is just not…

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UK Democracy at Work

Trump State Visit – Petition and Debate

The people of the United Kingdom are overwhelmingly against President Trump being honoured with a State visit. The nation has spoken.

On a personal level, I do not wish to see a man who thinks that it is OK to grab a woman by her genitals, although he expressed this much more crudely than I, shaking handDonald Trump presidencys with my Queen, who is the most dignified and respected woman in the world.

Many years ago, at the commencement of my long and distinguished military career, I swore an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty. I am left wondering how I can protect her from this seemingly perverted President.

Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, was one of the most eloquent and convincing speakers in the MPs’ debate. You can view and hear her four minute speech here. It is worth a few minutes of your time. Of course, DJT will not listen as this lady is a foreigner, a Muslim and a woman. Three attributes that the President rejects. It could only be worse if she were a journalist: “the enemy.”

In summary:

  • The petitioners say NO.
  • The MPs say NO.
  • The nationwide protesters say NO.
  • The prime minister and her governent are deaf to all of that and go ahead regardless.
  • That is the style of democracy in UK these days.

Footnote: Is Mrs May a dictator?

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#weekendcoffeeshare: It’s been a mixed week



I am delighted to be able to invite you to join me for coffee in my kitchen in the brand new virtual home of Nerd in the Brain. We must all thank Emily for taking over the reins and Part Time Monster for founding this society back in January 2015 and keeping it going for so long. Thank you both!

wineWhen I say that it has been a mixed week, I mean that it has included a few challenges but I am coping. That’s why I have added the option of a glass of Merlot to the usual choices of tea, coffee, ginger snaps and pastries. I just feel like I need a bit of indulgence, and I’d like to share that with you. There should be enough to go around.

My sport and fitness has gone well this week. Last weekend I was able to tell you that my veterans’ hockey team, Andover Diamonds, beat high-flying West Wilts eight-one with the final goal being slotted home by yours truly. A glowing report appeared in the Andover Advertiser on Friday and I was delighted with the final paragraph. Take a look.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite follow that performance this week when we visited Chichester. Although we suffered a four-nil deefeat, we accounted well for ourselves and felt that a more reflective score would have been a draw or a 2-1 defeat. To make matters worse, somebody locked the gate to the car park, not realising that my friend and I were still in the changing room. We had to wait about half an hour for release.

I have also enjoyed my running this week, and I just love Andover parkrun. I am addicted! I feel great if I can jog around the 5 km course with over 200 friends on a Saturday morning, and follow that up with a hockey game with fourteen or so even older, in both senses of the word, friends in the afternoon.


Andover Diamonds – February 2017 (I am fourth from the left in the back row)

So far, all positive. So why was my week “mixed?”

Well, my father and my grandson, Taran, are both in dire straights.

Those of you who have follwed me for a while will remember me telling you about how my Dad left my step-Mum and eloped at the age of 83. I had mixed feelings about this at the time. I still do. He is now 85 years old and is living in a residential home which is run by the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind. His macular degeneration has made him almost blind. His Parkinson’s Disease has made him almost immobile and has affected his memory. He finds it difficult to concentrate. He becomes irrationally angry because, having once been a globally respected and eminent professor of medical statistics with many active interests, he is now incapable of the most trivial tasks and he struggles with intelligent conversation at times. This is understandably frustrating. What annoys me slightly, is that he cannot remember anything of his elopement, not even the name of his lover nor the time that he was homeless and I was helping him to find temporary accommodation and dealing with his hospital visits. He blames my Step-Mum for his predicament, “because she did not want to look after me any more.” This is unfair.

At least he is being well looked after in the residential home, even though is is expensive and I don’t know what we will do when the funds are all gone.

Taran has been suffering from mental has suffered from menatl health problems since he was fourteen years old, and has been sectioned several times. He has not recieved the best of mental healthcare services, to put it politely, but things have been looking up for him. He met a lovely young lady, who understood his problems, and moved in to a house in Southsea with her and her Mum, and even became engaged to her. He acquired a beautiful dog who has become his best friend. Unfortunately, my son, Taran’s Dad, shirks all responsibility for him.

This week, Taran and his fiance split up and he found himself out on the streets at midnight, crying down a phone line to Joy, my wife and his Nan. He had no money and was hungry. His dog was locked in the house with his fiance. I won’t bore you with the details but, despite him losing his phone while we were trying to deal with the problems, we have come to som sort of temporary resolution. The worst of it is that, having found local mental healthcare professionals who were actually helping him in Portsmouth, Taran may end up back in Basingstoke, where the mental healthcare services are literall worse than useless. I say that from experience. They actually make matters worse rather than provide support.

So there has been good and bad in the past week. Life will improve for all of us.

So settle down with your tea, coffee or wine, and tell us all how your week has been.




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