Endeavour, Series 6 by Russell Lewis (ITV, 2019) A rather despondent series as the 1960s start to give way to the 1970s (hence Morse’s moustache) and the old crew find themselves scattered to the winds. Morse in particular has to start again. Chief Superintendent Bright has the best character moments.
Day of the Starwind by Douglas Hill (Victor Gollancz, 1980) Book three of the Last Legionary quartet sees Keill Randor edge closer to the shadowy Warlord who masterminded his planet’s destruction. Hill has a knack for upping the stakes, pitting his protagonist against ever more serious threats. Clear, fast-moving middle-grade action SF.
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace by Enid Blyton (Methuen, 1947) Entertaining but something of a misstep. Fatty proves fallible, Goon shows himself to have brains, and the Five Find-Outers shadow and disrupt a police investigation rather than go about solving the mystery themselves. (Also, the gang members’ secret communications seem needlessly convoluted.)
The Disappearing TV Star by Emily Rodda [with Mary Forrest] (Scholastic, 1994); audiobook read by Rebecca Macauley (Bolinda, 2005) Not much of a mystery. Also, while the Teen Power kids prove fractious as ever, Richelle’s character is difficult to stomach in the first person. Her surprise revelation (which would have made sense from Nick’s POV) comes across as an authorial…
Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders by Kate Griffin (Faber & Faber, 2013); audiobook read by Nicole Davis (Isis, 2016) Kitty Peck is a well-developed character and the story is steeped in the grime, squalor and injustice of London’s poorer areas in the 1880s, yet beneath these trappings the mystery is very slight. Such realisations as Kitty makes come…
The End of the Day by Claire North (Orbit, 2017) A poignant dip into humanity’s ills and ailments (beautifully written though spoiled somewhat by all the interspersed conversational snippets). North does ultimately answer the question ‘What is Death?’ but the journey is gruelling and the protagonist has less personality than a window.
The Snoopy Festival by Charles M. Schulz (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1974) A big collection of Snoopy-focussed strips—five weeklies or one colour Sunday per page across just shy of 200 pages. The colour strips are beautifully reproduced and the selection of dailies is good, albeit that a few ongoing storylines are left incomplete.
Shrek Forever After dir. Mike Mitchell (2010) Thematically, this final instalment ticks all the right boxes in putting the Shrek franchise to bed. The ‘be careful what you wish for’ plot complements that of the original film. Yet the characters seem jaded. The sparkle is same old, same old.
Vera, Series 2 (ITV, 2012) Vera is much more assured in its second season. The four feature-length mysteries are more coherent and the recurring characters benefit from being written to match the actors’ early portrayals. Brenda Blethyn goes from strength to strength as the socially maladroit lead.
Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami (Kodansha International, 1979); trans. Ted Goossen; audiobook read by Kirby Heyborne (Random House Audio, 2015) The narrator looks back on when he was a 21-year-old student of little interest to anyone. Murakami, rather like Vonnegut, writes what may or may not be deadpan literary satire. Narrator Kirby Heyborne does his best to make…