Author Archive for Derelict Space Sheep

Chronicler of the Winds

Chronicler of the Winds by Henning Mankell; trans. Tiina Nunnally (Harvill Secker, 2006); from “Comédia Infantil (Ordfronts Förlag, 1995) Mankell’s alluring prose contrasts with his grim subject matter in this dreamy, darkly evocative description of daily life in an unnamed African port city, and particularly of its impoverished street children. Authorial skill notwithstanding, the overall effect is more despairing than…

Endeavour, Series 1

Endeavour, Series 1 by Russell Lewis (ITV, 2012-2013) Four feature-length mysteries (plus pilot episode) establishing the young Inspector Morse as a detective constable in 1960s Oxford. Morse is not yet especially redolent of his older self but Shaun Evans excels with a very expressive line in facially portrayed inner monologues.    

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (George Newnes, 1892); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (ABC, 2017) The first and arguably most accomplished batch of Sherlock Holmes short stories. The cases are consistently ingenious and Holmes is full of a vitality that Conan Doyle would not always muster. Stephen Fry reads with the obvious relish of a lifelong…

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath by Goscinny & Uderzo; trans. Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge (Orion, 1974); from Les Lauriers de César (Pilote, 1971) One of Goscinny’s more droll stories (a critique of Imperial Rome as witnessed when Asterix and Obelix sell themselves as slaves) done full justice by Uderzo’s distinctive illustration—exquisite attention to background detail coupled with colourful, caricatured…

The Library of the Unwritten

The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith (Ace, 2019); audiobook read by Lisa Flanagan (Penguin, 2019) Hackwith brings some new, fantastical ideas to the magical libraries subgenre, albeit that several of the key elements seem fashioned purely to suit the plot. The storytelling is steady if fastidiously descriptive. The characterisation gains a lot from Lisa Flanagan’s audiobook reading.…

The Case of the Missing Men

The Case of the Missing Men by Kris Bertin & Alexander Forbes (Conundrum, 2017) A Scooby-Doo style mystery investigation where the danger is real and grotesque horror elements stand in place of the humour. This graphic novel has some nice impressionist touches but the storyline is more about the journey than the destination. Engaging but unsatisfying.    

Shetland, Series 1-2

Shetland, Series 1-2 by David Kane (BBC, 2013-2014) Four 2-hour murder mysteries set on the grim and desolate Shetland Islands. The investigations have a few holes but are largely without contrivance, while the running time and location afford plenty of space for the characters to breathe. Love the Scottish accents!    

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (Little, Brown & Company, 2019) A near-perfect middle grade coming-of-age story. Blake approaches the central premise with sensitivity and does so within a wider context of family relationships. The result is a beautifully crafted book—a single-day read that will entrance readers of all ages and orientation.