Monthly Archives: July 2015

Murder Underground

murder undergroundby Mavis Doriel Haye

Over the past year or so I have read more crime novels than ever before, but so far they have been of the thriller style. “Murder Underground” is a very different kind of book. First published in 1934, Murder Underground is a very traditional murder mystery, very much the kind of book I have avoided for the past few years. I have nothing against these kind of stories, it’s just that I actually prefer watching the TV and film adaptations (there, I have admitted it!). 

“Murder Underground” is part of a series of long-lost books being re published by the British Library and is one of a couple my wife bought whilst we were on holiday last year. I wouldn’t normally have bothered reading it, but I can’t resist a “classic”, which is how this series is being promoted.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the book. The plot is a little weak, but the characters are endearing, particularly the bumbling Basil Pongleton, nephew of the murder victim, who is a little reminiscent of Bertie Wooster, but without the money.

Set on and around London’s Northern Line, the story focuses on several characters, most of whom are residents of the Frampton Hotel, a small boarding house close to Belsize Park Station, the scene of the dastardly deed. We never “meet” the victim, Miss Pongleton, as she is already dead as the book starts, but we do get insights into her character through the conversations of her fellow boarders and family. It seems she was not the easiest person to like, giving several people ample reason for wanting to bump her off.

“Murder Underground” is very much a book of its type and time. The pace is slow and the characters lack depth, but overall I found it a pleasant, though not particularly challenging read. Mavis Doreil Hay wrote just three crime novels and if I come across either of the other two I will defiantly give them a go.

If you enjoy classic 1930s detective stories, this would be right up your street. If you prefer your murders to be a little more grisly and complicated, then give this one a miss.

July 19, 2015

The Martian War

by Kevin J Anderson

Just for a moment, imagine a world where an up and coming young Victorian writer finds himself working with one of the leading scientists of the age to stop a Martian invasion of the Earth. 

Now try to imagine how one of the Victorian age’s leading astronomers would react if he were to find himself the custodian on an advance Martian scout. 

Sounds a little bizarre, but don’t worry because Kevin J Anderson has done all the imagining for us in this compelling and rather unusual story with a cast of characters that includes H G Wells and his future wife Jane, Professor T H Huxley and Percival Lowell. 

For this book, Mr Anderson has plundered the plots of several of H G Wells’ science fiction novels to create a story that is reminiscent of the late Victorian era and very much in the style of Wells himself. Not only is there the obvious connection with War Of The Worlds, but also The First Men On The Moon, The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr Moreau amongst others.

If it all sounds a little strange, don’t let that put you off. I must admit that I was unsure myself when I started reading the book, but soon put all doubts aside as I found myself engrossed in the twin plots that run through the story. This is not a modern science fiction tale at all; it is very much of the time, with all the wonder and imaginings of the late Victorian era and the assumptions about the Moon and Mars that we now know to be untrue.

Kevin J Anderson is a great storyteller who’s imagination and wonderful characters make his books so memorable and enjoyable.

“The Martian War” is one of the most intriguing books I have read for a long time. The combination of real and fictitious characters mixed with the plots and events from several of H G Wells’ most famous works, make reading this book a unique pleasure.

For fans of Anderson and Wells, this is a book that really needs to be read. If you have never read either writer, then this is a great place to start, giving you the best of each to get you started on the journey.

I note from the advertising at the end of the book that He also written another based on the life of Wells, and one that includes Jules Verne and his best loved creation Captain Nemo! Something to look forward to.