You kind of forget how really good the Rumpole books can be - and this is a perfect little example. Especially with Mrs Rumpole locked in the box-roomYou kind of forget how really good the Rumpole books can be - and this is a perfect little example. Especially with Mrs Rumpole locked in the box-room writing her memoirs (while not being romanced by Rumpole's nemesis of course). At the same time that Rumpole is proceeding with defending a Pakistani doctor suspected of terrorism. Who happens to have a connection to the infamous Timson family. Who have a big problem with him. Which means that Rumpole suddenly has a bit problem with cash flow.
Really should not have picked this up, but I'm having a lot of trouble resisting the lovely new Green Penguin Series. But all I've done to myself now is remind myself of another series I need to re-read from the start. As soon as I've finished all those other series I'm supposed to be reading from the start again.
First published in 1903 THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, is an early espionage novels that I remember reading ... way back. The re-release as part of the PengFirst published in 1903 THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, is an early espionage novels that I remember reading ... way back. The re-release as part of the Penguin Green Classics series, provided an excellent opportunity to revisit it. Interesting to look back now with adult eyes and to discover that it was, at the time, considered to be a prime example of British anti-German paranoia. Until a few years later. I think I've also read somewhere that Childers may have also had in mind a bit of rev up for British naval strategists.
Narrated by the uber-British Carruthers, this is the story of what starts out as a bit of yachting holiday around the coast of Germany and ends up a lot more sinister. Carruthers, classically foppish, obsessed with the minutiae of the life of a gentlemen, is a minor functionary in the Foreign Office. Despite reservations, he accepts the invitation of old-school-chum Davies to join him on his yacht. The facilities of which he somewhat under-estimates. Arriving with stacks of luggage and a series of parcels made up of the shopping requested by Davies, he finds that the "yacht" is a thirty-something foot, converted lifeboat. Despite a momentary concern that Carruthers is simply going to whinge and complain, he quickly adapts and finds himself enjoying the life of a hard working, journey-man sailor.
Whilst the story starts out somewhat light-heartedly it quickly becomes apparent that Davies' might actually be onto something. There's something afoot in the area, with skulduggery and very unsportsmanlike sailing eventually convincing Carruthers that Davies might be right to suspect the mysterious German tycoon / sailor and his very attractive daughter.
THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS is a book that comes equipped with maps. And frequent map references as Carruthers narrates events directly to the reader. Needless to say if you're a fan of maps, then this is the perfect use of them. Not that you need to follow too closely exactly where the goings on, are going on.
Told in language exactly like that you'd expect a minor functionary of the Foreign Office from 1903 to be using, this is immersion reading. Knowing the not too distant future of the British / German relationship does provide the reader with an interesting perspective, and the notion that perhaps Childers was trying to make a point some resonance. But really, you can just read this as a straight out spy / espionage thriller of its time. Perhaps a little less action packed than current day thrillers, but a ripping good yarn to boot.
(According to Wikipedia, Erskine Childers was executed by firing squad in 1922, during the Irish civil war. The article claims that his last words were a joke at the expense of his executioners: "Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way." John Bucan later wrote of him "no revolution ever produced a nobler or purer spirit.")
Penguin Green Classics have provided an excellent opportunity to read, collect and revisit classic crime fiction titles. In the case of LADY AUDLEY'SPenguin Green Classics have provided an excellent opportunity to read, collect and revisit classic crime fiction titles. In the case of LADY AUDLEY'S SECRET, readers get an opportunity to return to a book from the Victorian era.
Shocking and an absolute sensation in its time - LADY AUDLEY'S SECRET is one of the original potboiler style novels. Considerably more wordy than current day stylings, with a plot that's very weak really, this is a novel about the journey, as opposed to the resolution. It's all about whether or not our hero, Richard, can solve the mysterious disappearance of his friend George, along the way resolving the enigma that is his uncle's new wife.
In a not altogether surprising format, the main character in this book isn't Lady Audley, but Richard. A typical upper-class man of his time, he's a barrister who seems to lead a life of extreme luxury. Lady Audley is, for the most part, the figure in the wings, waiting for her secret to be revealed. She only really steps onto stage towards the end of the book, as she is forced out of cover. To try to save her reputation and keep her secret hidden.
It's all very melodramatic of course, but it's quite attractively done, with a briskly paced narrative and some amusement and distraction along the way. The style is very arch, and probably exactly of its time, with little asides to the audience reminiscent of music hall type entertainments. There is also a surprising amount of wit and humour built into the tale, although sometimes the language of the time is very dense, and very wordy, which might defeat some current day readers. Particularly those who are more interested in the reveal - the secret, than the journey towards it.
It's wonderful to have the opportunity of going back to the early days of crime fiction with books like LADY AUDLEY'S SECRET. Stylings, tone and point of view might have changed over the intervening years, but for readers that can handle the density of words and the different cultural and social attitudes, then it could be a very enjoyable wander around in the past.
ps - the price of these little gems ($9.95) is classic Penguin as well and makes getting the entire set of Green Classics a distinct possibility which is very encouraging for book-addicts as well. Certainly it's a bit of a quest in these parts now.
Taking a bit of a wander back through some of the classic crime fiction authors, I've been reading a few Simenon's. In Maigret's Boyhood Friend, InspeTaking a bit of a wander back through some of the classic crime fiction authors, I've been reading a few Simenon's. In Maigret's Boyhood Friend, Inspector Maigret receives a visit from his old school friend Leon Florentin. Florentin had been the class clown, and despite only seeing him once since their childhood, Maigret can remember him well. Now, although, nobody is laughing as Florentin's mistress has been shot dead in her apartment, whilst Florentin was there and, not surprisingly, he is now the prime suspect in her murder....more
When prosperous wine merchant Oscar Chabut is shot dead outside a fashionable bordello he has just been visiting with his mistress and secretary, MaigWhen prosperous wine merchant Oscar Chabut is shot dead outside a fashionable bordello he has just been visiting with his mistress and secretary, Maigret finds that extra-marital behaviour in Chabut's social group is pretty much the norm. Chabut seems to regard sexual conquest as a means of exerting power and maintaining his self-esteem, and has in the course of his business, created rather a large cast of enemies. Hints of blackmail, anonymous telephone calls and letters and glimpses of a shadowy figure tracking Maigret complicate the case Maigret is struggling to come to grips with, all the while fighting a bad dose of the flu....more
There is an awful lot to like about Maigret in AND THE IDLE BURGLAR. Despite dreadful facial injuries, Maigret knows the identity of this man instantlThere is an awful lot to like about Maigret in AND THE IDLE BURGLAR. Despite dreadful facial injuries, Maigret knows the identity of this man instantly from a single tattoo on his body. The victim, Cuendet, is well known to him. He's a career burglar - a Swiss man, who started out very young as a run of the mill burglar; graduating after a period in the Foreign Legion to an extremely professional, cautious and studied burglar. He has a particular method - he carefully cases out a target, using the newspapers and social magazines to pick a victim; frequently moving into a room or hotel nearby so that he can carefully watch his intended target. He often enters houses when the victims are home, quietly leaving with their jewelery or money, not even waking up the householders. He causes no damage, he lives very simply - he even hoards a lot of his booty. And he has earned a grudging respect from Maigret. Maigret is therefore deeply aggrieved when the French Justice system decides that there are bigger fish to fry than solve a seeming underworld vendetta.
But the French Justice system is currently upside down as far as Maigret is concerned - the police don't control their own actions - Public Prosecutors now control the priorities and methods of investigation, and that is causing a lot of resentment in long-term career Police. So whilst he is seemingly concentrating on finding a gang of hold-up men - because Justice is now obsessed with crime against money - not violence against people in Maigret's opinion - he also quietly works on solving the killing of Cuendet.
In the days before mobile telephones, faxes, email and other forms of instant communication, investigation's proceeded differently. Part of the attraction of these books is the way that a police force knows it's constituency - it's citizens. They sniff the wind and find the scent, and their methodology doesn't feel overly dated because the characterisations in Simenon's books are so vivid and so enjoyable. The sense of indignation that is almost seething from Maigret's pores over the focus in crime fighting is palpable. ...more
Re-reading any of Pat Flower's excellent books is always a very bittersweet experience. Reading SHADOW SHOW even more so, as my edition was publishedRe-reading any of Pat Flower's excellent books is always a very bittersweet experience. Reading SHADOW SHOW even more so, as my edition was published after Flower died, from the effects of pentobarbitone poisoning, taken intentionally, in September 1977.
Patricia Mary Bryson Flower was born in February 1914 in Kent, England. Her family came to New South Wales in 1928, where she lived firstly at Kyogle and then in Sydney. In the 1940's, whilst working as a secretary for the New Theatre League, she wrote sketches and plays in her spare time.
Whilst she was back in England with her second husband, between 1950 and 1955, Flower began to write crime novels, the first of which was published in 1958 - Wax Flowers for Gloria. She went onto publish at least one crime novel every two years until 1975, including Goodbye Sweet William in 1959, featuring her Australian "Maigret" character - Inspector Swinton, and then onto a number of excellent psychological thrillers including Cobweb (1972), Slyboots (1974) and Crisscross (1976).
After returning to Sydney, Flower wrote film and tv scripts, whilst she also worked as an advertising copywriter until she began to write full time in 1963. For more of her personal story - check out the Biography of Pat Flower at The Australian Dictionary of Biography.
So getting, finally to Shadow Show. You need to read this book with an eye to the period in which it was published. Before mobile phones, computers, and an enormous amount of technology and fast communications, this book might read as a little "mannered" in tone perhaps. But the fundamental elements of a psychological thriller, the slow unmasking of the truth, the increasing tension being felt by central characters, the all too human reactions to both of those elements is done so incredibly well in Flower's thrillers, they are still fantastic books to read - even with the passage of time.
It is never a chore to go back to Pat Flower's books. It's always sad to realise there are so few. Each and every one of my copies are highly treasured, and every time I return, I kick myself for not doing so more often.
Originally published in the 1940's the Gervase Fen mysteries are one of those rights of passage for crime lovers. Or at least they were in my house asOriginally published in the 1940's the Gervase Fen mysteries are one of those rights of passage for crime lovers. Or at least they were in my house as I was growing up. Vintage Books have done us all an enormous favour in turning their attention back to some of the classic books - and this set from Edmund Crispin is a real job to behold. Now I have read a lot of these books before, but the chance to reread them, without having to rely on falling on fragile old copies in second-hand bookshops is a joy.
And these are still very good crime stories. Slightly eccentric in that vaguely bats sort of what-ho English style, they are built around a good solid foundation of a problem and a solution, no matter how odd the methodology might seem these days.
They are ultimately extremely enjoyable books - and Gervase Fen is a wonderfully eccentric, but extremely alert British investigating sort of chap - and I cannot recommend them highly enough - either as a reread or as a new experience if you're new to these classic English crime books.
Leah Kolbe's father, a dealer in antiquities, left the business to her when he died. Now the Japanese have occupied most of mainland ChBook Synopsis:
Leah Kolbe's father, a dealer in antiquities, left the business to her when he died. Now the Japanese have occupied most of mainland China and threaten the British colony of Hong Kong where Leah lives. When they unexpectedly invade, her fiancé becomes a prisoner of war, interned under the harshest conditions with the rest of the colonialists. She escapes to Macau, arriving there penniless after everything - including her shoes - has been stolen.
Leah finds a job at the British consulate and is accepted into local Portuguese society. But when she is asked, she agrees to become a spy and to take a Japanese armaments manufacturer as a lover, putting her life in constant peril.
DEEP NIGHT is the second Leah Kolbe book from USA-born, Australian resident author Caroline Petit. Set in 1940's Hong Kong, Leah finally agrees to marry her lover English ex-pat Jonathon. Unfortunately the date of their wedding - Christmas 1941 - finds her exiled to Macau and Jonathon in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The Japanese push from occupied China into Hong Kong is rapid and brutal. Those that can escape to Macau live a hand to mouth existence as refugees. The rest of the story you can get from the synopsis of the book really.
DEEP NIGHT was just one of those highly entertaining books that turned out to be perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Leah's a great character (I was reminded somewhat of Phyrne Fisher, but there's more of a serious side to Leah as well). She's quite the survivor and she's very much the pragmatist and in war - needs must, regardless of how unpleasant the circumstances. Leah isn't a prude though, and her sexual exploits are frequently enjoyable no matter the circumstances. One of the great strengths of DEEP NIGHT is that although there's a bit of a fun side to Leah, you never lose the sense of the war and the danger around her. Whilst there's definitely spy thriller brave doings and a bit of dashing around, under it all there's the ever present threat of the Japanese, as well as the distress of not knowing the fate of friends and her loved ones in Hong Kong. The personal aspects of war are wonderfully portrayed simply by placing the British and Japanese consulates side by side in Macau and then drawing on the difficulties between two friends (the respective consuls) now on different sides of a conflict.
Seemingly fitting perfectly within the timeframe that it's written in, DEEP NIGHT was really a very enjoyable spy type book, albeit with a hefty dose of sex, romance, intrigue and love's lost. This is definitely a book that would appeal to somebody looking for a good historical spy thriller with that feminine touch. It was so enjoyable I've now ordered a copy of Petit's first Leah Kolbe book THE FAT MAN'S DAUGHTER as I'm kicking myself I missed it when it was originally released.
DEEP NIGHT is on the list of nominees for Best Crime Novel at the Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards later this month.
VANISHING POINT by Pat Flower was originally published in 1975, and re-released by Wakefield Press as part of their Crime Classics series in 1993. ItVANISHING POINT by Pat Flower was originally published in 1975, and re-released by Wakefield Press as part of their Crime Classics series in 1993. It is the first of three important thrillers written by this author before her suicide in 1978.
The Wakefield edition has an afterword written by editors Michael J. Tolley and Peter Moss which is well worth reading for some background to the author herself, as well as their take on the book. It includes this quotation from the author:
"People sometimes ask as they edge away, Why Murder? I'm absorbed in characters, not in murder. In ordinary people a bit round the bend. I like to follow the effects on my characters of heredity, environment and circumstance, and reveal in action, reaction and interaction the instability which might in real life go unnoticed but in my books is fatal. For my crackpots, murder is the only way out. Instead of moving to another town, or trying sweet reason, they resort to the "final solution". And find, of course, that it isn't."
VANISHING POINT is most definitely a book about character. A character who, it becomes obvious, is more than just a bit around the bend. This central character - Geraldine - is completely, utterly and ruthlessly obsessed. Whilst her main obsession will always be with herself - the way that she sees the world and the way that she believes others see her; she imposes that obsession on her husband Noel, who would never quite live up to her expectations.
The portrayal of Geraldine is the core genius of this book. The book is told in her own voice surely making her a sympathetic character - "spinning" the story in her own favour. Geraldine is convinced of the truth of her life, her perceptions and her behaviour. She believes fully in herself. She has some awareness that other's find her a difficult character but that is obviously as a result of their short-comings. Her opinions are absolutely sacrosanct, her behaviour exemplary. Everything that happens in Geraldine's life is commentated on, observed by, understood and rationalised by Geraldine, yet she cannot engender sympathy in the reader. Her force of belief in herself makes her a disconcertingly creepy and sinister figure - myopic and self-involved, unwilling to entertain any contrary opinions (most likely totally and absolutely unaware of contrary opinions), Geraldine can't entertain the idea that she can possibly be at fault. That her behaviour might be questioned by others. There are no adverse reactions that cannot be dismissed. But the reader is watching Geraldine misreading situations, misunderstanding people's reactions and wilfully refusing to recognise what is happening around her by simply ignoring any inconvenient facts. It's a masterly writing effort - it's fascinating whilst also being ever so slightly repellant.
The book is also a story about murder - but understanding Geraldine makes it conceivable that murder is a boring inconvenience. Geraldine must retain total control over her life and if removing a few tediums along the way is no more taxing than any other boring little daily task - then so be it. Geraldine isn't so much a woman without a conscience as a woman completely without conscious.
There are some sparse hints of Geraldine's background - there is possibly a reason why she is like she is. But the background, or the causes for Geraldine's personality are not the point of this book. This isn't a why or even much of a how story. It's a stunning reminder of how unaware people can be about their affect on others. It reminds the reader of the nature of obsession and the way that it can override all logic. All reasoned perception, all mitigating behaviours are gone as Geraldine encourages obsession to rule.
Unfortunately Pat Flower doesn't seem to be very well known in Australia which is pity. Whilst some of her earlier books are less interesting, more by way of mainstream entertaining crime fiction (not that there is anything wrong with that!), her final three thrillers have often been remarked upon as fascinating examples of their type. It's a pity that they aren't more widely read. I remember reading her final three books when they were first released, but I suspect I wasn't quite old enough at that stage to understand the full impact of them. I certainly remember finding Geraldine a discomforting but somewhat illuminating character. Reading it again 30 something years on - the full impact of how Geraldine has created and reinforced and fought for her own reality is sobering....more
Wandering around in Wormhole Books in Belgrave South last Saturday, you have no idea how pleased I was to find a copy of Plaster Sinners by Colin WatsWandering around in Wormhole Books in Belgrave South last Saturday, you have no idea how pleased I was to find a copy of Plaster Sinners by Colin Watson. This is the last of his 13 Flaxborough novels that I've been looking for for such a long time.
Colin Watson is one of the great under-appreciated and discussed British Writers as far as I'm concerned. His Flaxborough Series, written between the late 1950's and 1980 (he died in 1982) are a magnificent example of the slightly cheeky, irreverant but never scorning, school of the ever so slightly absurb Crime Fiction.
The entire set is:
Coffin, Scarcely Used (1958) Bump in the Night (1960) Hopjoy Was Here (1962) Lonelyheart 4122 (1967) Charity Ends at Home (1968) Flaxborough Chronicle (1969) The Flaxborough Crab aka Just What the Doctor Ordered (1969) Broomsticks Over Flaxborough aka Kissing Covens (1972) The Naked Nuns aka Six Nuns and a Shotgun (1975) One Man's Meat aka It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog (1975) Blue Murder (1979) Plaster Sinners (1980) Whatever's Been Going on at Mumblesby? (1982)
All of them are fantastic, witty, slightly silly, but ultimately sound mysteries with a strong plot and engaging characters.
Plaster Sinners is the tale of poor Detective Sargeant Sidney Love, an amiable sort of a policeman, and the mystery of why, when all he was doing was attending the local antique auction, somebody should take it upon themselves to hit him over the head with a doorknob. At the time he was simply appraising Lot Thirty-Four - comprising two golf balls, an LMS railway tumbler, an old meat mincer, two decanter stoppers, a soap dish and a moulded relief of a cottage entitled "At the End of Life's Lane". Enquiring minds, in the shape of Inspector Purbright, are also somewhat exercised when the same lot is keenly pursued at the auction by the local Gentry, a solicitor and a stranger who promptly take the bidding to the princely sum of 400 pounds.
I'll be honest - I was keen to read this book because of the similarity in timeframe for its writing to that of Fergus Hume's The Mystery of the HansoI'll be honest - I was keen to read this book because of the similarity in timeframe for its writing to that of Fergus Hume's The Mystery of the Hansom Cab - and because of Shane Maloney's excellent introduction to the book comments that Adam's made no particularly literary claims for this novel, and possibly wrote it in an attempt to capitalise on Mr Hume's huge success. Interestingly I liked the Hansom Cab book very much. Even allowing for the differences in timeframes, languages and sensibilities, the story still held up well - the investigation felt reasonable and realistic and the characterisations were well drawn. Alas Madeline Brown's book doesn't hold up quite so well.
The central character - Mr Stuart - investigates the brutal murder of the woman he loves and admires - he is a journalist (as was Mr Adams). She is an American beauty of slightly questionable parentage, come to the colonies with her maid, separated from her husband (with an initially vague back story of him being a bit of a brute). Mrs Brown eventually takes to the stage with a successful singing and acting career albeit short-lived. She has been introduced to society via the auspices of a vague family connection to a local Canon of the church and it is within "society" that she has risen in meteoric steps, gathering admirers around her before her death. It is to the Canon that Stuart must turn to try to find out more about the enigmatic Mrs Brown.
Mr Stuart investigates because the police are basically regarded by him (and if he is to be believed by everybody in "society") as a bunch of imbeciles and buffoons. Mr Stuart is himself dangerously close to being a bit of an idiot as he stomps around the crime scene - removing and altering evidence as he goes - all in the spirit of him being able to solve what the police couldn't possibly be trusted with. Of course, knowing the author's background one is instantly left to wonder only whether Mr Adams is trying to convince himself of his own superiority or whether this was a generally held belief in the circles he moved in - compare if you will with Mr Hume's book of a similar timeframe. All of that aside though - and to be honest - it was vaguely amusing - the biggest disappointment with THE MURDER OF MADELINE BROWN is that it's not so much a mystery (as the killer's not that tricky to guess). It is however a social history or sneak peak at the views of the time - and for that it's worth reading. ...more
Harper Perennial have recently started republishing the Martin Beck series by Sjowall and Wahloo - originally written between 1965 and 1975. (The fullHarper Perennial have recently started republishing the Martin Beck series by Sjowall and Wahloo - originally written between 1965 and 1975. (The full series as at this book, is outlined below.) These books are often included in lists of the great classics of crime fiction. They integrate a wide range of social and cultural issues alongside their crime fiction base, making some very pointed observations and statements about Swedish society at the time that they were written. Even allowing for the way that they mirror society, as seen through the author's joint eyes at that time, they also stand up incredibly well in current day terms - there is no sense that they have become dated or antiquated in any way and the message is as relevant and pointed today as it was when they were written.
THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN is the next book in the Harper series, originally from 1968. It opens with Stockholm police stretched to the limits by a series of protests against the war in Vietnam. On a rainy night, at the height of one of the major protests, off in the suburbs of Stockholm a double decker bus veers off the road, the driver and 8 of his passengers gunned down by an unknown killer. The murders seem to be totally motiveless, there doesn't seem to be any connection between any of the people on that bus. One of the passengers is one of Beck's own detectives, dead in his seat, with his service revolver in his hand and no apparent reason for being anywhere near that bus.
Again Sjowall and Wahloo weave an intricate investigation story deftly with a view of the surrounding circumstances of the time - the effect that the protests are having on police resourcing, the tension between Stockholm and more regional areas of Sweden, the tension between the investigating team members, social problems of workers coming to Sweden for a better life and finding a different story. Even Sweden's much commented on sexual freedom and liberation is considered, when the discovery of nude photographs of the dead man's girlfriend are found in his desk.
As expected in any book from this pair of writers, the investigation is deft and very human focused. The book incorporates a range of commentary on a wide range of issues, but there's nothing preachy or pushy - the tone is observational, the issues highlighted as part of the characters reactions and observations.
Each of the Harper Perennial titles incorporates an introduction written by a well known Crime writer of current times - THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN is introduced by Sean and Nicci French, who, highlight a number of the social commentary elements of the book. Whilst the entire introduction is very interesting, one of the most telling comments is right at the end:
"And speaking as another married couple who write thrillers, we don't know which of them wrote what, we can't see the joins, and we don't care".
The PS section in this book continues Richard Shepherd's analysis; briefly discusses the film adaptation of 1973 and continues the Q and A sessions with Maj Sjowall.
Full list of titles available from Harper Perennial so far:
Roseanna The Man Who Went Up in Smoke The Man on the Balcony The Laughing Policeman The Fire Engine that Disappeared (June 2007) Murder at the Savoy (June 2007)...more
Growing up around Ballarat not quite as long ago as MADAME MIDAS is set, it was really amazing to see how much of the layout of the city remains and hGrowing up around Ballarat not quite as long ago as MADAME MIDAS is set, it was really amazing to see how much of the layout of the city remains and how many of the locations are easily identifiable. Which probably meant that I ended up reading this book paying a lot more attention to the setting than I did to the plot.
That's not to say that MADAME MIDAS doesn't have a plot that isn't bad, what with a caddish Frenchman trying to have their way with the charming, intelligent and very wealthy Madame Midas. Given that it was first published in 1888, it's probably no surprise that for all her charm, brains and money somehow Madame Midas is still a woman that seems to rely a lot on the protection of well meaning men around her. When she's not attracting ne'er-do-well husbands and dodgy bookkeepers. But leeway needs to be given as this is very much a book of it's time, even though for a central character, somehow Madame Midas is strangely incidental, slightly off-key perhaps.
But as I said, a lot of the attraction of this book is Goldfields Victoria, Ballarat in particular. Hume is writing about a time in Victoria which was pivotal in the formation of our current lifestyle, and he provides some fascinating glimpses into both the hardships and the luxuries of those early days of white settlement. I won't pretend that I wasn't feeling very inadequate at times as I realised the distances, and not inconsequential hills, many of the characters walked up and down in surprising time, and frequency. I was halfway through reading the book when I found myself heading up Lydiard Street towards Black Hill at roughly the same time of year as the book is set, and I was astonished at how rapidly women, in particular - in all that 1880's regalia - toiled up and down the hill in the middle of summer. At that time of the year, even at a much younger age, I struggle to make it from Sturt Street to Seymour Street, let alone all the way up to Black Hill.
Seriously though, it's a privilege to be able to read something from that time that's extremely accessible, enlightening and still entertaining.