Murder Book Club

This Group is full.There is a waiting list if you would like to join it.

The Murder Book Programme May 2016 – March 2017

June 2017 Newsletter

Jeffrey Deaver, John Harvey, Barbara Nadel, Martin O’Brien and Nicci French have been the writers we have looked at since the start of 2017. My thanks go to Jim, to Di, to Elizabeth and to Helen Hubert for taking us through the crime series (Lincoln Rhyme, Resnick, Inspector Ikmen, Jacquot and Frieda Klein) so expertly.

We do like our crime novels to be well written. Most of us also like our books to be violent which probably says something about us as a group of individuals! An important criteria in our judgement of the books is the setting. The Resnick books rated highly because they are set, convincingly, in Nottingham and the south of France setting of Jacquot also rated a high score. We were fascinated by the politics in Turkey revealed by Barbara Nadel’s book “Arabesk” even if the plot-line was not a gripping one. Most agreed that Deaver’s “The Bone Collector” was well-plotted and contained the blood and gore we were seeking although all of us felt that the endless lists in this series were unnecessary.

The group is now full having squeezed in one more person after the Group Fair. Thankfully, we all seem to take holidays at different times which means everyone can fit into our readers’ circle.

Helen

March 2017 Newsletter

We have only had two meetings since an article was last written for the Newsletter. Since then we have been taken through the Lincoln Rhyme books by Jeffrey Deaver and the Resnick books by John Harvey.

Jim Turner gave an impassioned defence of the books of Jeffrey Deaver. Most of us agreed with him as we found the plots fascinating and the character of Lincoln Rhyme absorbing. Unfortunately, when it came to “recommendation ” most of us found that we would have to be careful when recommending the books as they would not be to everyone’s taste as some were very gruesome.

Di Fischer-Harman’s choice of the local detective, Resnick, by John Harvey however, rated as joint highest with C.J. Sansom achieving a 19/20 points in our criteria system. The main reason for liking these books seem to be the delightfully portrayed character of John Resnick himself and the way that Harvey uses Nottingham as a background to the crimes. One member even said that, as a newcomer to the area, she had learned about Nottingham through walking the streets with Resnick.

Our book next month is Arabesk by Barbara Nadel or any book in that series. This Turkish detective will be introduced to us by Elizabeth le Marchant Brock. As always, a big “thank you” to all the people who have led us, or about to lead us in our sessions.

In our last meeting, we accepted everyone who had been on our waiting list since last year’s Group Fair. It does take our numbers up to more than we had intended but the meetings are never totally full each month. It does mean that we will be starting a new waiting list at the Group Fair 2017.

Helen

December 2016 Newsletter

I think we should rename ourselves as “Murder, Mystery and Mayhem”. Why I hear you ask? To begin with we have continued with our exploration of the murder book or crime book genre. There have been some interesting outcomes with C. J. Sansom’s book “Dissolution” (the first of the Shardlake series) winning hands-down on our criteria system. It gained a staggering 19/20 at our last meeting. It is going to take something very special to overtake or even match that score. Well done Anne for picking that as your choice!

“Mystery”: where has the last year gone? We have been functioning as a group for over a year now and it hardly seems like yesterday that we started. My thanks go to all the members who have led each session by leading us in our analysis of a book from the crime genre.

“Mayhem”?: our sessions seems to have become more and more vociferous. It’s wonderful that people have such strong opinions regarding the books they read. We are also very grateful to Sergio who is very laid back about the noise we make whilst discussing our monthly book.

Please find below the books we have looked at so far. Perhaps it will help you select a future read. You will see that “The Moonstone” is unrated only because it was a difficult book to study and few actually enjoyed it – but as it is a such an important book in this genre, being the first of its kind, we felt it needed to stand alone.

Titles and Authors Rating/20
The Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers 13
The DCI Banks Novels by Peter Robinson 15
The Mistress of the Art of Death Novels by Ariana Franklin 16
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson 17
 Bruno: Chief of Police by Martin Walker 16
The Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie 13
The Three Pines Novels by Louise Penny 10
The Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich 14
The Falco novels by Lindsey Davis 17
The Tony Hill novels by Val McDermid 17
The Sister Fidelma Novels by Peter Tremayne 11
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (unrated)
Dissolution by C.J. Sansom 19

September 2016 Newsletter

The group has been established for almost a year. It is astounding how quickly the time has gone by. We have lost a few members and have gained a few in their place but a steady fifteen people still meet once a month to discuss a writer of the murder genre and their most famous protagonists. We hope to maintain the group at fifteen as that number allows everyone to join in with any discussion.

We are a diverse group who have strong opinions which are voiced assertively. People, who do not like the crime genre, may feel that our discussions must be limited. We have discovered, though, that not only is there a tremendous variety of crime books but there is also a fascinating variety of opinions regarding the type of crime individuals prefer. Some of us like the gruesome and bloody; some the more cerebral; some the more traditional “who-dunnits”. Whatever our interests there are many books to discuss and to enjoy.

At the end of our meetings we do rate that month’s choice. Our system is as follows a) an overall impression b) an appreciation of the central protagonists c) a likeable setting and finally d) a recommendation to others to read the book and or series. So far three books have had the highest rating of 17/20. They are: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Falco novels by Lindsey Davis and the Tony Hill novels by Val McDermid.

For the next couple of months, we will be looking at: The Sister Fidelma novels by Peter Tremayne and then, in October the start of the crime genre, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

My thanks go to everyone who has lead us in a session and also to Sergio who has made us feel so welcome at “The White Lion”.

Helen

March 2016 Newsletter

After five meetings I think that we now know the kind of crime book we appreciate: something with violence, and a strong heroine who can “kick ass”. This was proved at the February meeting where Di Fischer-Harman took us through the Millennium novels of Stieg Larsson. We seemed to be in agreement that Lisbeth Salander, the tattooed, pierced, computer-hacker heroine was our sort of woman. Consequently, we awarded “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” our highest mark so far of 17/20.

So far we have looked at:

Detective and Author Rating
The Lord Peter Wimsey books of Dorothy L. Sayers 13/20
The D.C.I. Banks novels by Peter Robinson 15/20
The Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin 16/20

We now have the following books to look forward to reading and discussing:

Date Detective/book and Author Person Leading
March 2nd Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker or another in the series Helen Hubert
April 6th The Miss Marple books of Agatha Christie Win Azzopardi
May 4th The Three Pines books of Louise Penny (Still Life) Helen Stewart

Looking at the list we do have several months of exciting reading to do. My thanks also go those members who have brought along any crime book which they are currently reading in order to recommend them to the group.

We shall continue to meet at The White Lion since winning the battle against noisy music and vacuum cleaners. Sergio now appreciates that we need a little quiet to hear each other and we also appreciated the extra cake he brought us to celebrate the New Year!

Helen

December 2015 Newsletter

The first official meeting of the Murder Book Club took place at The White Lion, Beeston on Wednesday 5th at 1.30 where thirteen members of the group turned up to discuss the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers. We were starting with a writer from the Golden Age of crime and, interestingly, the books produced some conflicting views of the series. Some people loved the characters: the aristocratic Lord Peter; the unconventional Harriet Vane; the dependable Bunter; the snobbish Helen, the Duchess of Denver and Peter’s sister-in-law and many other fascinating individuals who people these novels. The topics covered by Sayers were also worthy of comment including her exposé of the malpractice by clairvoyants in “Strong Poison” and Lord Peter’s work for the Foreign Office between the two wars. The negatives came from the contrasts between novels written today and novels written for an audience who did not benefit from film and television; the slow build-up; the complex vocabulary; the unexplained quotations in Latin. In other words, the modern reader has to work hard whilst reading these pieces of fiction and perseverance is vital. All in all, though, most members seemed to have engaged positively with the books.

For our next meeting, Christine Dornan is taking us through the DCI Banks’ books by Peter Robinson. Christine opted to lead us in this as they are set in north Yorkshire; an area that she knows well.

What was interesting, after the meeting, was the number of members to be found in the Oxfam bookshop; all looking for copies of recommended writers and books. I think the second-hand book market will do well from us. It has also been suggested that those of us who have most of these books at home can lend them out to members to read and a system is being devised to allow that to happen.

We must also thank Sergio from The White Lion for his hospitality. The venue allows us to be a little more relaxed. Some of us met up before the meeting to benefit from his delicious lunch menu of Portuguese tapas. What a delight: good food as well as lively, murderous discussion.

Helen

November 2015

Hello Fellow Crime Lovers (the literary type),

Firstly, a reminder that we meet next Wednesday afternoon at Beeston’s White Lion at 1.30. I shall be there at about 12.30 so please join me for lunch if you so wish. Please let me know if you cannot make it. Thank you to the one apology already received.

We are looking at one of the great women of crime writing: Dorothy L. Sayers. I have put together some information on her life and on the Lord Peter Wimsey novels.  Click on Dorothy Leigh Sayers and The Lord Peter Wimsey Novels. I would be pleased if you could print off your own copy for the meeting although I shall bring some spares with me in case anyone forgets. I shall also ask Steve Austin if he would kindly place any handouts on the web site under The Murder Book Club.

There was no particular book chosen to study in detail but I did recommend Strong Poison where Lord Peter first meets Harriet Vane. However, the more the range of books read the more we can discuss Sayer’s oeuvre.

Looking forward seeing everyone again,

Regards,

Helen