Saturday, 23 April 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 23/04/11

Met the old BoSS? Well, let me introduce you to the new BoSS - same as the old BoSS, more or less... except less is more. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.

Hella week! Hella, I tellya. :)

In fact, so much so I'm going to have to host a bit of a BOGOF with The BoSS on TSS this weekend, just to clear the decks. And I can already tell a few of these beauties are likely to get lost in the cracks, alas, so I'd be particularly interested to hear which of the ten recent arrivals you'd like to see reviewed the sooner.

I don't do at all well with decisions, so do tell!


On Stranger Tides
by Tim Powers

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/05/11
by Corvus

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: 1718. Puppeteer John Chandagnac has set sail for Jamaica to recover his stolen inheritance, when his ship is seized by pirates. Offered the choice to join the crew, or be killed where he stands, he decides that a pirate's life is better than none at all. Now known as Jack Shandy, this apprentice buccaneer soon learns to handle a mainsail and wield a cutlass - only to discover he is now a subject of a Caribbean pirate empire ruled by one Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard. A practitioner of voodoo, Blackbeard is building an army of the living and the dead, to voyage together to dreamlike lands where the Fountain of Youth awaits...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Thar be the basis for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film!

On Stranger's Tides has more than that dubious adaptation to recommend it, however. We had a couple of lovely sunny days hereabouts this past week, and seeking a solid Summer read, I gravitated to this Tim Powers reissue. What better than pirates and voodoo to pass the time while I try to turn this milky-ass skin of mine into something a mite more seaworthy?

An hour with On Stranger Tides turned into an afternoon turned into an evening, and the sun set, and I missed dinner, and I kept on reading. Boy did I enjoy this book. The review should be up within the next few days.

Wink Murder
by Ali Knight

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 14/04/11
by Hodder & Stoughton

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Kate Forman has an enviable life: a loving family and a perfect husband, Paul. But one night she finds Paul drunk and covered in blood, mumbling about having killed something - or someone. 

When a young and attractive woman who works for Paul is found murdered, Kate's suspicions about what he has really done send her on an increasingly desperate search for the truth that threatens to smash her carefully constructed life.

Doing the right thing should seem obvious, but as the lies multiply, the truth is not as straightforward as it seems; how well do you know the person you're married to?

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Now this... this doesn't immediately sound like my cup of tea, but it comes highly recommended from the publicist who turned me onto Tana French, so. At the very least I'll give Wink Murder an hour, see if it captures me.

Certainly the concept is novel enough. Reminds me of one of the quartet of long short stories from Full Dark, No Stars, in fact, and I'll be interested to see how long Ali Knight can keep up such a conceit without the narrative starting to drag.

Moon Over Soho
by Ben Aaronovitch

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 21/04/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: I was my dad's vinyl-wallah: I changed his records while he lounged around drinking tea, and that's how I know my Argo from my Tempo. And it's why, when Dr Walid called me to the morgue to listen to a corpse, I recognised the tune it was playing. Something violently supernatural had happened to the victim, strong enough to leave its imprint like a wax cylinder recording. Cyrus Wilkinson, part-time jazz saxophonist and full-time accountant, had apparently dropped dead of a heart attack just after finishing a gig in a Soho jazz club. He wasn't the first.

No one was going to let me exhume corpses to see if they were playing my tune, so it was back to old-fashioned legwork, starting in Soho, the heart of the scene. I didn't trust the lovely Simone, Cyrus' ex-lover, professional jazz kitten and as inviting as a Rubens' portrait, but I needed her help: there were monsters stalking Soho, creatures feeding off that special gift that separates the great musician from someone who can raise a decent tune. What they take is beauty. What they leave behind is sickness, failure and broken lives.

And as I hunted them, my investigation got tangled up in another story: a brilliant trumpet player, Richard 'Lord' Grant - my father - who managed to destroy his own career, twice. That's the thing about policing: most of the time you're doing it to maintain public order. Occasionally you're doing it for justice. And maybe once in a career, you're doing it for revenge.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Here we have the successor to Rivers of London, which you might recall I found quite delightful, and though I've a million things on my plate at this very moment, which Moon Over Soho can't quite compete with - through no fault of its own, you understand - it'd be a safe bet to wager your last ration that I'll be reading this sooner or later.

Sooner rather than later if I have my way, but then, I so rarely do. Life. Bah!

An Embarassment of Riches
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 01/03/11
by Tor

Review Priority
2 (It Could Happen)

The Blurb: The vampire Count finds himself a virtual prisoner in the Court of Kunigunde in Bohemia in the 1200s. Rakoczy Ferncsi, as Saint-Germain is known, passes his days making jewels to delight Queen Kunigunde and trying not to become involved in the Court's intrigues. In this, the vampire fails. Handsome, apparently wealthy, and obviously unmarried, he soon finds himself being sexually blackmailed by Rozsa, an ambitious lady-in-waiting. If he does not satisfy her, she will denounce him to the priests and he'll be burned at the stake, resulting in his True Death. Despite his care, the vampire makes more than one enemy at the Bohemian Court, and the Count can see only one road to freedom... through death.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Wait, how many volumes? Twenty-odd, as per the Wiki!

You know, I have issues enough starting a series from book two or three, far less volume  twenty-effing-eight. And yet... Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's one of the many authors whose work I've always meant to dip my toes into, see how the temperature is, and the lay of the land. So I might just give An Embarrassment of Riches a shot; I might just...

The Thing on the Shore
by Tom Fletcher

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 31/03/11
by Quercus Publishing

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: When Artemis Black is assigned to manage a call-centre in Whitehaven - just a short hop from Sellafield along Cumbria's grim western coastline - on behalf of a mysterious multinational corporation called Interext, the isolation and remoteness of the place encourage him to implement a decidedly unhinged personal project, installing what purports to be cutting-edge AI technology, with a real, human' voice, on the automated answering systems. As a result of Artemis' actions, one of his employees, Arthur, becomes aware of an intangible landscape inside the labyrinthine systems of the call-centre - a landscape in which he can feel some kind of otherworldly consciousness stirring and in which, perhaps as a result of his father's increasingly alarming eccentricities, he feels that he could find his recently deceased mother. Arthur takes refuge in this belief as his father, his job, and his house slowly deteriorate around him. He begins to conflate the mysterious, interstitial region that exists down the phonelines with the sea, as that was where his mother drowned. In a way he is right - Artemis' meddlings have attracted something, it is just not as benevolent as he thinks...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: After the atmosphere and the ambiguity of The Leaping, which I was utterly taken in by almost a year ago to the day, The Thing on the Shore marks a return to characters I honestly hadn't though I'd be seeing again: for one, a bit-part player from Tom Fletcher's remarkable last novel in Artemis Black.

I'm not sure what exactly to make of The Thing on the Shore, but I'm intrigued enough to see what other dark magics this young author has up his sleeve that this is next up on the leaning tower of books marked TBR. So stay tuned.


Remember, there's going to be another edition of The BoSS tomorrow, so I'll see you again then! In the interim, in I may: which of the books amongst this lovely lot would you be particularly interested in reading reviews of?

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