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The Billion Dollar Art Hunt – Much Ado about Nothing

  Watching The Billion Dollar Art Hunt (BBC iPlayer) is a hugely frustrating way to spend an hour. At the end of an IKEA assembly puzzle of equal length, you have a piece of furniture. At the end of this documentary, all you have are the same questions that were posed at the beginning: Where are the bloody paintings, and who took them? The show, led by veteran art journalist, John Wilson, examines the case of the most spectacular art heist in history: the theft of fourteen pictures from the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, in Boston, in 1990. Estimates are that the paintings are now worth nearly a billion dollars. Of course, these are sensationalised prices. The major paintings were cut from their frames, and probably rolled, possibly even folded. The prints and watercolours may have fared better, but the major paintings are damaged goods and have probably not been looked after in the intervening thirty years. The circumstances of the robbery are well-documented, so I am not goin
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Roadkill - not something to take home and cook

  I hate not finishing a book. No matter how much I am not enjoying it, or how badly written it is, I feel personally defeated when I set it aside and take it to the Oxfam shop. At my advanced age, I feel this less keenly and am more ready to blame the book than my own ability to read (tolerate) it. The various travel restrictions with virtually enforced iPlayer, Netflix and Prime watching, have led me to apply this principle to films and television shows. Unfortunately, the list of these that I have never finished viewing grows daily - to the extent that I am cancelling Netflix as soon as I finish watching Midnight Diner . The latest casualty is David Hare's Roadkill (BBC iPlayer).  Great cast, high production values, dramatic filming and editing  - and dull, boring, grim and pointless script. I made it through one and a half episodes. If it's not good by then, it's never going to be. I was anticipating an elegant, witty script such as Hare had done in the Worricker trilog

Enola Holmes ** (Netflix) - Read Conan Doyle for two hours instead

  I haven't posted many (any?) film reviews because none has struck me as good enough or bad enough to be worth the effort. Unfortunately, Enola Holmes  (Netflix)comes in the latter category. Now, it's pretty hard to mess up a Sherlock Holmes mash-up. Indeed, there have been many highly successful and amusing such films over the years from The Seven Percent Solution , They Might Be Giants ,  Young Sherlock Holmes  to Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and the Canadian TV series, The Adventures of Shirley Holmes . Of course, the Mark Gatiss/Stephen Moffat series Sherlock deftly combined humour, wit, adventure with a 21st century spin to give us stories that delighted and exasperated in nearly equal measure. There are others, as well as the straight adaptations of the stories. Masquerading as a ripping yarn for young adults, the bottom line is that Enola Holmes is a woke diatribe. Rich, white, establishment men are bad; young rebellious f

Profound, moving and entertaining: A Dish of Apricots beguiles on every level

My review of Ian Thomson's new novel, A Dish of Apricots may be found here on Amazon, and also on Goodreads where it appears under my nom de web .  Below are some additional comments I shared with Ian and are not in a carefully structured review. This is not a book that spoilers can really spoil. Indeed, Ian gives the reader ample notice of what is going to happen.The genius is that it doesn't spoil anything. What at first glance is an amusing yarn is really something else. It hit me about 50 pages from the end and will hit other readers at different times. I know these characters; for the most part, I like them; none of them does anything out of character, but they certainly aren’t puppets. I also like how smoothly the narrative moves from the close detail of the first part of the book to a broader brush in the last third. That this was done without letting it feel anything but under perfect control was masterful. It never felt rushed. I love the band names: Nagasaki Flange

REVIEW: Miss Eleanor Tilney: or, The Reluctant Heroine, by Sherwood Smith

  I have always admired Eleanor Tilney. Though a minor character in Northanger Abbey , I believe she is one of the most intelligent women in 19th century literature, right up there with Marian Halcombe. In this short novel, Sherwood Smith recognises Eleanor's intelligence and good sense. She also develops some depth in her, showing her to be caring and sensitive, and deserving of a good, loving marriage. While Eleanor demonstrates a strong, yet gentle, nature, she did strike me as being rather idle, unlike, say, Emma, who is always trying to do good, or the Bennetts who are always busy with needlework, helping each other or working in the family kitchen. Now, it would not be right for Eleanor to work in the kitchen, but she does not even pick up a pair of secateurs. She is not musical either, though she dances well enough. Smith's depiction of Catherine Moreland is almost indistinguishable from Austen's and she fits into this pastiche with admirable ease. There is a cle

The Rock Pool is Chill with a Book's "Book of the Month"!!

My thanks to the judges at Chill with a Book for selecting The Rock Pool as Book of the Month for July 2020. This is a great honour and surprise. The Chill with a Book community is a great resource for indie writers.

New Review for Undivulged Crimes

My thanks to Ian Thomson for his comprehensive and enthusiastic review of  Undivulged Crimes which appears on his website , on Goodreads , and on his LinkedIn page. If anyone hasn't discovered Ian's short stories and novels, you can find them here . His perception, wisdom and spleen are wittily set out on every page.  We eagerly await his forthcoming novel, A Dish of Apricots .