Sycamore Gap, the second book in the DCI Ryan Mysteries, takes place about six months after the events in Holy Island. Ryan and Dr Anna are all but living together in Durham when Ryan is called to Hadrian’s Wall where a body has been found stuffed in cavity. Just as the police discover the body is only a decade old and not, as the ambitious archaeologist hanging around the site hopes, ancient, another much fresher body turns up in the same place – a body with ritualistic markings similar to those who were murdered on Lindisfarne months ago.
Once more, past and present collide for Ryan, his side-kick Phillips, and Anna as they work to uncover the killer or killers and seek connections to the brutal, sadistic Circle who caused so much havoc on Lindisfarne.
But it’s when Ryan is forced to confront his sister’s killer that events take an even more sinister turn. There are those involved who have professions and stellar careers to protect and, if they’re at risk, then what have they got to lose, especially when there are more victims to claim?
Fast-paced, the book nonetheless manages to delve slightly deeper into Ryan and Dr Anna’s relationship as well as the professional ones of Ryan, Phillips and their colleagues – as well as the case that almost broke Ryan. The dreaded Circle and its members are also fleshed out, though I confess there were times I found my disbelief stretched almost to breaking point.
While the Mills and Boonish air of the first book has, thankfully, dissipated in this one, there is still the sense that everyone is so bloody beautiful, they’ve been cast by a US modelling firm. Only some of the villains seem to bear any ordinariness in their physical characteristics… I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it did. LOL!
Still, I really enjoyed the book and Ross knows how to keep a reader turning the pages. Have already bought book three and look forward to losing myself in it.
Tags: academia, crime, DCI Ryan, doctors, Durham, gaol, Lindisfarne, murder, ritual, Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross, The Circle, university
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The Rosie Project was not what I expected at all. Having heard about this novel from numerous sources, I’m not sure what I did expect, only that after reading an interview with Graeme Simsion and his wife (the author, Anne Buist), I knew I simply had to read it – and I’m so glad I did.
Originally written as a screenplay and five years in the crafting, The Rosie Project tells the extraordinary and delightfully absurd tale of Associate Professor Don Tillman, a geneticist who, despite his eidetic memory and OCD mannerisms, is unable to understand he clearly has Aspergers. Unlucky in love – well, in anything to do with women – and recognising he’s at least socially challenged, Don decides to embark on what he calls “The Wife Project” – something that makes perfect sense to him. Rather than continue to navigate the dating minefield where he detonates explosives all too often, he composes a detailed, scientifically sound and hilarious (to the reader) questionnaire, which he submits to dating websites and hands to almost any woman he encounters in order to find himself someone of the opposite sex with whom he’ll be compatible.
Viewing the world through his own unique prism (eg. as soon as he sets eyes on a person he is able to assess their BMI), with no fashion sense and finding it difficult to deviate from the rigid self-imposed timetable by which he governs his life – professional and personal – Don is astonishingly charming and funny. Unconstrained by factors that bother all too many of us, the superficialities we deem important such as appearances, Don evaluates folk by different but significant criteria. I haven’t laughed out loud so often while reading a book in such a long time. Nor have a winced, felt my heart squeezed or rooted for a brilliant underdog quite the way I have Don Tillman.
Evoking the world of someone with Aspergers as well as the politics and egos of academia with ease (having spent twenty plus years in the academy, I know Simsion captures it all too well), this novel balances romance, comedy and pathos beautifully. Don’s efforts to uncover a wife are heart-wrenchingly naïve, gauche, painful and belly-achingly funny.
Likewise, the character of Rosie is as pragmatic and earthy as Don is impractical (for all his seeming sense). What he lacks in EQ, Rosie more than makes up for and their adventures together are a charming quest that explores love, friendship, ethics, compatibility, trust, communication and the lengths humans will go to in order to find, rebuff and recognise love.
Filled with wonderful aphorisms and observations, this is a joy to read and I cannot wait to lose myself in the sequel.
Tags: academia, Aspergers, Graeme Simision, love, OCD, relationships, The Rosie Project
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