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Spirit of the North: One Knock for Yes!

Ian Thomson ’ s Northern Trilogy (beginning with The Northern Elements and Northern Flames ) weaves history, nostalgia, and autobiography into highly engaging and thought-provoking tales. Spirit of the North is no different in that, but it is different. The plot looks at three episodes of spiritualism, two relatively harmless, and one with serious consequences. While the first two are reminiscent of Agatha Christiesque table-turning, the third involves murder. This is the one that leads to a serious investigation by Tom Catlow with his childhood friend, Will Melling, playing Watson. Readers met these two mischievous friends in The Northern Elements . Tom is a retired police Senior Scientific Officer (Forensics) and Will a former sports journalist. Now to fill their time, Tom and Will investigate another very old case while continuing their friendship with teasing and banter. The third main character is long-dead. Cornelius Pickup, was a successful businessman, kind employer, a
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Jonathan Creek Revisted

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A Grateful Nation

For the past few days, I have had a small window open on my computer showing the stream of those filing by the coffin of Her Late Majesty. I find it strangely moving. Some bow, some curtsey, come bless themselves (in both the Roman and Eastern manners), a North American Indian in a magnificent headdress raised his arm solemnly, while others simply file by in silence. Why did they all come? And wait so long? It's not as though they knew the Queen. (Those that did appear to need bodyguards and a convoy of tanks disguised as motorcars). Of course, many wanted to say goodbye to someone who had been part of their lives for as long as they can remember. Others simply wanted to be "part of the moment."  I think almost everyone recognises this as a major landmark in their lives and in the country's history.  A new monarch will mean great change. Change of style, emphasis, and even values. The King has already stated that he will work to continue his mother's way of reigni

Lord Lindum’s Anus Mirabilis: A Christmas Confection by Ian Thomson *****

  "This book, Fiskerton, how’s one supposed to take it? It’s not really a diary, as it’s not about your life, is it, Fiskerton, which is hardly worth writing about? It’s not really satire, either, although there are some good barbs at the deserving, Matt Hancock, Prince Harry and   Princess Oprah, environmental protesters, the paucity of decent television, English football, and Doctrix Who. "Still, it’s entertaining stuff and several hours in gloomy November were relieved by reading it. Good wit, wordplay and invective are all too rare in these days of trying not to offend anyone – which, to my mind is the biggest reason for rocketing mental health issues. I mean, how can one put up with this nonsense without being drunk and/or schizophrenic? I suspect that’s why all the leaders are both.  "The good thing about humans and climate change is that the mouth will be one of the last things to go under, so there will be No Claret Left Behind!" This second romp for Lord

We wove a web in childhood: Northern Flames by Ian Thomson

There are a number of good reasons to want to write about one’s past, albeit, a past veiled in fiction. One is to record thoughts and memories about a specific place and a way of life that no longer exists. Another is to help the process of making sense of one’s life and those of one’s friends. Keeping these memories clear and free from sentimentality and the golden glow that settles like dust on temps perdu is no mean feat, especially when there is a great deal of affection associated with them. Northern Flames escapes these pitfalls. Indeed, it never gets near them. The book follows the lives of two boys, Stuart (Stewpot) and Ben, from their school days in Blackburn in the 1960s and charts the events that caused their paths to diverge. The detail is rich, but never tedious, and the descriptions of the boys on an outing to Blackpool, at Scout camp and other youthful escapades, are not only very amusing, but ring true – even the ones involving fireworks. The structure is dec

The Power of Personal Perspective: Gold Cufflinks by Derrick Swain

In these days of social media blogs and vlogs, it is highly unusual that an ordinary businessman writes a book about his experiences – even if it is of a time and place of extraordinary events. Such books are usually the domain of politicians and historians whose first-hand experiences are limited and much influenced by others. What Derrick Swain’s Gold Cufflinks does is to present a picture of transitional Africa – Zambia in particular – as it moves from colonial to national rule. While the news media’s view of the   struggle – or “bloody birth” as the media had it – was focused on political, faction and tribal leaders, Swain’s account is from the perspective of a young executive in a division of a British trading conglomerate, managing wholesale and retail distribution in Zambia for eight years from 1969. This was a period of the transfer of assets and management from erstwhile colonial organisations to newly established local authorities and the integration of local nationals i

Blue Christmas by Emma Jameson - #6 of the Lord and Lady Hetheridge Series

In spite of everything I say below, I have thoroughly enjoyed this series (six so far) of murder mysteries. There is nothing pretentious about them. They are well plotted, and the attention to detail is pretty accurate - except when it isn't. American terminology can be found, but that's the prime market, so Brits can turn up their noses but still enjoy the good bits. It's a win-win. While not egregious, such faux pas as the persistent misspelling of “whisky” really grate. “Whisky” = Scotch whisky; “Whiskey” = Irish whiskey or bourbon. We all know that Tony Hetheridge does not drink whiskey.  I also object to paper being referred to as "stationary." (There's a paper aeroplane joke there somewhere.) One wonders what editors do for their money. Briefly, Tony Hetheridge ( Anthony  Hetheridge , ninth Baron of Wellegrave)   is a chief inspector assigned to Scotland Yard's "toff squad," a unit that handles the crimes of the upper class and aristocracy.