The rules are simple:
- Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
- Repeat until the entire list has been filtered
The ground is too hard for gardening so instead I’ll do some more weeding of my To-Read shelf on Goodreads which now contains a “mere” 496 books.
Vienna Spies by Alex Gerlis (added 4th June 2017)
“One other thing, Edgar: you mentioned about our network in Vienna. I didn’t realise we still have one there?”
“That’s the thing Fowler: we don’t. Not yet, at any rate.”
With the end of the Second World War in sight, the Allies begin to divide up the spoils and it proves to be a dangerous game. The British have become aware that, contrary to what’s been agreed, the Soviet Union is intent on controlling Austria once the war ends. And Major Edgar is given the job of establishing an espionage unit in Vienna. He sends in a married Swiss couple – Rolf Eder and Katharina Hoch – who, in fact, have only met each other a week before their journey. Their job is to track down Austria’s most respected politician – in hiding from the Nazis – and bring him over to the British cause. But the feared Soviet spy Viktor Krasotkin is already in the wartorn city, embarking on exactly the same mission.
Verdict: Keep – This sounds similar to a book I read recently – Katastrophe by Graham Hurley – which I very much enjoyed. I’ve also read a previous book in this series, The Swiss Spy.
The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy (added 13th June 2017)
Oliver has spent years trying to convince himself that he’s suited to a life of money making in the city, and that he doesn’t miss a childhood spent in pursuit of mystery, when he cycled around the cobbled lanes of Oxford, exploring its most intriguing corners.
When his girlfriend Kate inherits a derelict house – and a fierce family feud – she’s determined to strip it, sell it and move on. For Oliver though, the house has an allure, and amongst the shelves of discarded, leather bound and gilded volumes, he discovers one that conceals a hidden diary from the 1920s.
So begins a quest: to discover the identity of the author, Sophia Louis. It is a portrait of war and marriage, isolation and longing and a story that will shape the future of the abandoned house – and of Oliver – forever.
Verdict: Keep – I still like the sound of this plus it’s one of the books on my list for the 20 Books of Summer 2022 reading challenge.
The Daemoniac (Gaslamp Gothic #1) by Kat Ross (added 15th June 2017)
It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic – or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
Verdict: Dump – I read the second in this series, The Thirteenth Gate, back in 2017 as part of a blog tour and, although I’m a sucker for a historical mystery, I can’t really see me going back to the beginning after all this time.
The Secret Wound by Deirdre Quiery (added 15th June 2017)
The Secret Wound draws the reader into a complex web of relationships within the ex-pat community in Mallorca, discovering their dangerous secrets…and a potential murderer in their midst. One of their number carries a dark and deadly secret from their past, and has murderous plans for a fellow ex-pat. Can any of the close- knit community discover the brutal plans before they are all put in mortal danger?
Verdict: Dump – This has rather mixed reviews and to be honest I can’t think why it ended up on my To-Read shelf to begin with.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (added 16th June 2017)
Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.
Verdict: Dump – I know this decision is going to amaze a lot of people, especially since this was a much talked about book when it was first published, but I feel I’ve read quite enough other retellings of Greek mythology lately.
Arminius: The Limits of Empire by Robert Fabbri (added 22nd June 2017)
One man’s greatest victory. Rome’s greatest defeat.
AD 9: In the depths of the Teutoburg Wald, in a landscape riven by ravines, darkened by ancient oak and bisected by fast-flowing streams, Arminius of the Cherusci led a confederation of six Germanic tribes in the annihilation of three Roman legions. Deep in the forest almost twenty thousand men were massacred without mercy; fewer than two hundred of them ever made it back across the Rhine. To Rome’s shame, three sacred Eagles were lost that day.
But Arminius wasn’t brought up in Germania Magna – he had been raised as a Roman. This is the story of how Arminius came to turn his back on the people who raised him and went on to commit a betrayal so great and so deep, it echoed through the ages.
Verdict: Dump – Although this is the sort of book that would usually appeal to me, I have a feeling I’ve read something similar although for the life of me I can’t think of the title.
The Sea Road West by Sally Rena (added 27th June 2017)
The road from the Scottish mainland to Kintillo lies across a ridge of craggy and forbidding hills, a natural barrier isolating the peninsular from the rest of the world and making Kintillo a place of both refuge and solitude.
But trouble begins when Father Macabe dies, and Father James, a new, young man arrives. Handsome and full of ideals, Father James is totally unprepared for the spell-binding beauty of the lonely country, and for the irrelevance of his philanthropic fervour to the lives of its inhabitants. For company, there is only a retired doctor, a charming and alcoholic wreck, and the inhabitants of the Hall – the Laird and his two pretty daughters.
Meriel Finlay is one of these daughters – a captivating 19 year old yearning for love and adventure. As mutual desire slowly ripens, can Father James continue to keep focus on his profession when it denies him his basic instincts?
Passions hidden below the surface, maturing in loneliness, erupt in a violent upsurge of love, hatred and jealousy which sweep through Kintillo like a storm…
Verdict: Keep – There might be too much of a romance element to this but the setting sounds intriguing – and it’s a short book!
The Mangle Street Murders (The Gower Street Detective #1) by M.R.C. Kasasian (added 28th June 2017)
Gower Street, London, 1882: Sidney Grice, London’s most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door.
March Middleton is Sidney Grice’s ward, and she is determined to help him on his next case. Her guardian thinks women are too feeble for detective work, but when a grisly murder in the slums proves too puzzling for even Sidney Grice’s encyclopaedic brain, March Middleton turns out to be rather useful after all…
The Curse of the House of Foskett (The Gower Street Detective #2) by M.R.C. Kasasian (added 28th June 2017)
Gower Street, London,1882: Sidney Grice once had a reputation as London’s most perspicacious personal detective. But since his last case led an innocent man to the gallows, business has been light. Listless and depressed, Grice has taken to lying in the bath for hours, emerging in the evenings for a little dry toast and a lot of tea. Usually a voracious reader, he will pick up neither book nor newspaper. He has not even gathered the strength to re-insert his glass eye.
His ward, March Middleton, has been left to dine alone. Then an eccentric member of a Final Death Society has the temerity to die on his study floor. Finally Sidney and March have an investigation to mount – an investigation that will draw them to an eerie house in Kew, and the mysterious Baroness Foskett…
Death Descends on Saturn Villa (The Gower Street Detective #3) by M.R.C. Kasasian (added 28th June 2017)
Gower Street, London: 1883: March Middleton is the niece of London’s greatest (and most curmudgeonly) private detective, Sidney Grice. March has just discovered a wealthy long-lost relative she never knew she had. When this newest family member meets with a horrible death, March is in the frame for murder—and only Sidney Grice can prove her innocence.
Grice agrees to investigate (for his usual fee) but warns that he is not entirely convinced of her innocence. If he were in her position, he might have been tempted. But the more he uncovers, the more all the clues point to Grice himself . . .
The Secrets of Gaslight Lane (The Gower Street Detective #4) by M.R.C. Kasasian (added 28th June 2017)
London, 1883: All is quiet at 125 Gower Street. Sidney Grice is swotting up on the anatomical structure of human hair whilst his ward, March Middleton, sneaks upstairs for her eighth secret cigarette of the day. The household is, perhaps, too quiet.
So, when a beautiful young woman turns up at the door, imploring London’s foremost personal detective to solve the mystery of her father’s murder, Grice can barely disguise his glee.
Mr Nathan Garstang was found slaughtered in his bed, but there is no trace of a weapon or intruder. A classic locked-room case. But what piques Grice’s interest is the crime’s link to one of London’s most notorious unsolved murders. Ten years ago, Nathan’s uncle aunt and servants were murdered in their sleep in the very same house.
Now, it seems, the Garstang murderer is back…
Verdict: Keep x 4 – I read the fifth book in this series, Dark Dawn Over Steep House back in 2017 as part of the blog tour and enjoyed its combination of historical mystery and wit so much I promptly added the four previous books to my TBR pile. So all four stay. And, yes, I know that means I’ve included eleven books in the exercise this time.
The Result – 7 kept, 4 dumped. Would you have made different choices?