Isn’t it funny how, when you’re hooked on a series and the characters the writer has created, you develop a love/hate relationship with each new book? That’s what happens with me. I get so excited that a fresh instalment is there to lose myself in, then I absolutely hate it when I finish and have to wait for the next one!
This is how it was with The Dark Angel, book number 10. I had been longing for it to come out and, when it did, held off reading it for as long as I could – delayed gratification LOL!
Well, gratified doesn’t begin to describe how lovely it was to lose myself in Dr Ruth Galloways’ fascinating professional life and complicated personal one again. A personal life that is closely interwoven with that of DI Harry Nelson and his family – a family that’s also in the midst of its own difficulties.
In The Dark Angel, the usual setting of east-coast Britain is exchanged for a small Italian village when Ruth is called by an old friend, Dr Angelo Morelli, to help with identifying some bones. Treating it as a working holiday, Ruth takes her daughter, Kate, while her best friend, Shona and her whiny son also accompany them.
Where Ruth goes, trouble and mystery are never far behind – trouble in the form of Harry Nelson who, when he learns an earthquake has struck the region Ruth is in hurries to assure himself of her safety. Mystery is also lurking – not only with the bones, but also through the ritualistic murder of the town’s old priest which happens when Ruth is only days into her vacation.
As Ruth well knows, the present is always contingent on the past and the bones and the dreadful killing of the priest prove this over and again. But so do the Nelsons.
Left at home while Harry runs to his former lover and daughter’s side, his pregnant wife and adult daughter have to face some demons from Harry’s past, and those from more recent times as well – with tragic consequences. I didn’t see the ending coming here, and it is both heart-wrenching and adds a whole new layer of WTF to the personal lives of the characters we’ve grown to know, forgive, and love.
Once more, it’s the characters rather than the plot that make this such an excellent read. While the plot is good, it’s Griffith’s knack for capturing the sense of someone, of conveying their good heart (or otherwise), annoying idiosyncrasies, or sinister intentions in just a few words, through a look or gesture, that add so much to these novels. That, and the slow-burning complexity of the interpersonal relationships between the main characters – most of whom are very good people making unwise or selfish choices with huge ramifications and only now being forced to deal with the consequences… some of which will only be revealed in future books.
Not happy Jan – or should that be, Elly. In this instance, I want immediate gratification! J
Tags: Britain, crime, earthquake, family, Harry Nelson, history, Italy, love, murder, past, present, profession, Ruth Galloway, The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, TV
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This wonderful, brief overview of Quaker faith and history by Pink Dandelion, commences with the beginnings of Quakerism during the Interregnum in Britain and George Fox’s early epiphanies and moves to establish a “church”, to the 21st century. Following the practices, trials and tribulations of early and persecuted Quakers, Dandelion takes the reader through the intervening years and the splintering of one faith into, basically three and more branches, and the various styles and belief systems that dominated and thus established differences within the faith. While silence as a means of a direct encounter with God dominates most variations of Quakerism, a handy table towards the back of the book reveals major points of difference and equivalence in terms of worship and leadership among other things.
Mostly ignorant about this gentle but socially-conscience faith (Quakers are renown for their political actions against slavery, practical help for victims of war, those who suffer as a result of government policies, and natural disasters as well as for business acumen and honesty – in the past and present), I found this introduction (being read in conjunction with a biography of George Fox) not only managed to quash the many stereotypes and incorrect assumptions about Quakers and their faith I possessed (for example, I didn’t know about the many intra-faith divisions and co-operation but also acceptance of other faiths and even incorporation of some aspects of Christianity into doctrine and practice that has occurred over the centuries), but provided a fascinating insight into an often misunderstood religion as well.
Tags: Britain, Christianity, George Fox, God, leadership, Naylor, persecution, Pink Dandelion, Quakers, religion, scripture, Short introduction, silence, USA, worship
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If the quirky title to this book doesn’t grab you, then the author might. This wonderful, insightful and unexpected tale of four different lives converging is by Kate Atkinson, an author of which I knew nothing until I read her amazing and moving, Life After Life. This book, recommended to me by a dear friend, is one in the Jackson Brodie (PI) series and, as the first I read about the eponymous and clever investigator, happens to be a doozy.
It commences with former cop and now shopping centre Security Guard, Tracey Waterhouse, rushing to resolve a problem and then behaving in a way that is completely out of character. Her act of madness (driven by kindness) sets off a chain of events over which she has no control and which rapidly disintegrate into a life and death situation.
In the meantime, there is a woman who doesn’t know her past and hires Brodie to uncover it, a cop with an all-but dead daughter for whom he grieves constantly, an aging actress whosedementia is ruining her career and thus life but in understated ways. Seemingly disconnected, the further Jackson investigates the crime he’s involved in, the more these disparate tales and lives begin to converge.
Peppered with wit, irony and flashes into human nature that you want to savour and repeat to others they are so apt, as well as heart-breaking and astute observations, this is a fabulous read. Someone described it in an earlier Goodreads review as the ‘intelligent reader’s beach read.’ Add to that it’s for anyone who loves beautiful writing, great plotting and losing oneself in other people’s stories and this is that book.
Tags: Britain, crime, families, Jackson Brodie, Kate Atkinson, Strated Early, Took my Dog
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