Maigret and the Ghost

Maigret is my favourite detective because he’s depicted as an ordinary man but is extraordinarily good at what he does. He has the respect of his colleagues and is quite content to eat sandwiches and drink beer when pursuing a case into the night.

In this case, the shooting of a fellow inspector and the disappearance of the key witness lead Maigret to uncover the secrets of a famous art collector. That is it. Most of the story takes place in police stations, bars, and dwellings on the Avenue Junot.

There’s plenty of dialogue and it’s not always clear who is speaking, but that detracts little from the story. That’s the key ingredient – it’s a good story with characters who all have a clearly defined role in the story. Georges Simenon was a wonderful writer.

The Sign of Four

One of the classic Sherlock Holmes’ books written by Arthur Conan Doyle, the one about India, missing treasure, a boat chase on The Thames, and Dr Watson meeting his wife.

The only thing I don’t appreciate about these tales is how weak the female characters are written, as though they’re just useful for creating plot lines. It’s very noticeable in this story. It makes me appreciate Agatha Christie even more.

But you should read this book, just to discover the powers of deduction of Sherlock – it seems obvious after he’s give his opinion. There’s no Mycroft and no Moriarty to distract from the story.

Cat Among the Pigeons

This is a superb book and it’s so easy to read. Murder(s) in a girls’ school leave some of the mistresses dead, but who did it? Well, it turns out that it’s not quite that straighforward and not everyone is who they appear to be, even one of the pupils isn’t who she says she is. Of course, Hercule Poirot has it all under control and everything is explained.

The dialogue drives the story and is so natural, that’s how people talked in those days, and you have to admire the author’s ear for making each individual sound different in such easily distinguished ways.

If you have never read an Agatha Christie book before, this would be a good one to start on as it is effortlessly brilliant from beginning to end whilst being easy to read. What more could you wish for?

The Amazing Maurice and his educated rodents

This is one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels though don’t expect any of the usual characters to appear – there are no wizards – apart from Death and the Death of Rats, who make only a fleeting appearance. Yes, some animals do perish in this book, but don’t worry remember how many lives cats have.

This is a lovely story with a squad of rats to enjoy, each with their own distinctive characteristics. Do Maurice, the rats, and the piper succeed in their aims and fleece the residents of Bad Blintz as they have with so many other towns on Discworld? No. Do they reach a compromise with the citizens to achieve a mutually beneficial living environment for both sets of animals? Well, you will have to find out. There’s even a human love story running through the narrative as well as some life lessons for us all. What more could you want from a book?

An Officer and a Spy

I’d heard of the Dreyfus Affair, but I’d never realised what a miscarriage of justice this was. After completing this book, I realised two things: how far the authorities can go in order to cover up their mistakes and how much difference one person can make when they can be bothered to pursue what they know to be right.

Major / Colonel / General Picquart is a hero, an example to everyone who knows when there’s been a miscarriage of justice and errors have been made.

This book applies the techniques of a novel to retell the story of the Dreyfus Affair between 1894 and 1906. None of the characters are wholly fictional and most of the events described in the book happened in real life. There are dramatisations and many ‘personal’ conversations are imagined, because this is a novel.

However, the central tenet that the French Army was anti-semetic and easily took to the idea that a particular person had to be the spy because of his religion rather than because he was the guilty party holds true. The lengths they went to cover up this miscarriage of justice are repellent and yet believable. This makes the book so readable, what would the authorities do next to deter Picquart? Whatever they threw at him, even potential suicide missions into the Tunisian Sahara, didn’t succeed.

Picquart is a shining example of what can be achieved by those who care and believe in the truth.

Office Life

Office Life is a book. It is the story of 5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend and another has horrible personal habits. Some characters are quiet and others aren’t.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it although he is loathe to admit it. However, he does become the unlikely hero when he finds some information that will help save his company.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price of $0.99 from 20th April to 27th April.

Office Life

Office Life is a book. It is the story of 5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend and another has horrible personal habits. Some characters are quiet and others aren’t.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it although he is loathe to admit it. However, he does become the unlikely hero when he finds some information that will help save his company.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price of $0.99 from 20th April to 27th April.

Office Life – Example chapter

Wood parked his car as close to the office door as possible. He didn’t particularly like exercise as it tended to show his smoking in a bad light. Joan and Trandorf jumped out of the car and headed to the door.

“That bloody Phil Bracewell is outside again,” said Trandorf pointing, “he’s hiding behind the bushes, presumably despoiling the air around him.”

“Those bushes are looking rather ill, aren’t they?” replied Joan.

“At least it’s not us he’s gassing,” said Trandorf, “you have to look on the bright side.” With that he opened the door to be met by Roger Laurence.

“Hello Martian,” said Laurence.

“What are you doing here?” replied Trandorf.

“Just to warn you that Pete Brown is on the warpath; I think you might have had him arrested by mistake this morning.”

“What?”

Trandorf moved past Laurence and approached his desk.

“That’s him, that’s the bastard there,” said a heavily accented, male voice from the desk by the window. The man had a bushy, greying beard, a large forehead and had a well-developed suntan.

“Who the hell let you in here,” shouted Trandorf, “Ted and Roger why is there a homeless person sitting in my office?”

“I am not homeless,” said Brown, “‘let me in’ I mouthed to you through the window this morning. ‘Sod Off’ was your reply, you useless bastard, who did you think I was?”

“I didn’t know who you were and that’s the whole point; we manufacture weapons here and we can’t have any Tom, Dick, or Harry banging on windows and demanding to be let in to offices. You were lucky they just arrested you – I would have Tasered you, you idiot – why did you arrive so early – what was the point of that?”

“I wanted to start weaving, ‘let’s get weaving’ that is my motto, and people like you cut the thread even before I get started.”

“Why are you dressed like a homeless person with that scraggly beard, mad-professor glasses, and scrappy shoes? You’re supposed to be dressed like a contractor, look smart, even if you sound like a voiceover in a Hovis advert; ‘eeee appen me whippets deed, let’s get weaving, oooo a sit at foot of our stairs, it’s a bit black over Bill’s mothers’”.

Roger Laurence was laughing at Trandorf’s accurate accent whereas Ted was just content to smile. Brown, though, was not finished.

“You have no right to take the piss out of me like that, I can’t help the way I sound – and these clothes are my best clothes, so I can’t dress up any more than I already have done.”

“Dress up? You look like something that would appear in a Salvation Army shop window if they ever used mannequins to advertise their clothes for homeless people. If you look in a mirror you’ll probably understand why they don’t use them, because you look a big, hairy mess.”

Office Life

Office Life is a book. It is the story of 5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend and another has horrible personal habits. Some characters are quiet and others aren’t.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it although he is loathe to admit it. However, he does become the unlikely hero when he finds some information that will help save his company.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price of $0.99 from 20th April to 27th April.

Office Life

Office Life is a book. It is the story of 5 Days in the life of an English office

There’s lots of banter and insults flying around. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend and another has horrible personal habits. Some characters are quiet and others aren’t.

The main character undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it although he is loathe to admit it. However, he does become the unlikely hero when he finds some information that will help save his company.

Office Life is available here at a reduced price of $0.99 from 20th April to 27th April.