Life is a bit fraught at the moment. This is a very busy time of year in the world of freelance teaching. I've learnt through twelve years of experience that you have to cram in as much as possible between September and April, because the rest of the year tends to be a bit too quiet. Right now, we're at the peak of the period and I scarcely have time to breathe, let alone eat or have a cup of coffee between classes. I often come home after 7 straight teaching hours realising I haven't had anything to drink since I left the house in the morning. No good, not healthy, but no time for anything else. The result is I currently feel like all the expressions for being tired rolled up into one big mixed metaphor. To sum it up, I'm hanging on to my sanity by a thread, reaching the end of my tether, stretching to breaking point and threatening to be off with the fairies. Ha!
In between all this, though, I have managed to read a really great book. The one and (for me) only advantage of the cold weather is that I have stopped cycling. It's way too bitter to even contemplate. So I take the bus and read on the thirty minute ride to work. I don't have a Kindle, and a proper book is the only alternative.
Now a few weeks ago, I happened to buy In the Family by Christina James. Its a long time since I read a detective/crime book with any real pleasure. The last one was Deborah Crombie's latest, but apart from hers and Donna Leon's, I have largely been 'off' crime fiction. It has become too 'shock and gore' for my tastes. It was consequently with a smidgin of trepidation that I started reading Christina's book.
Perhaps I should mention here that Christina is a recent blog contact. I love her posts and when I have time, I'm a regular visitor to her page, so I thought I'd give her book a try too. And, I'm glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Christina has restored my taste for detective fiction by proving that a good police drama need not be about horrific, ghastly descriptions of the most brutal types of crime. In The Family is a book of puzzles, and I was continually trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the sad and very dysfunctional family around which the novel revolves. At each stage you think you know 'who dunnit', but in the end, nothing is quite as it seems; the only confirmation is what you, and everyone else, feel about the main character, but I won't tell you here who or what that is. I can rather recommend that you read it for yourselves.
It is a thoughtful and challenging novel in the tradition of PD James, Elizabeth George and Deborah Crombie, but for me it was closer to Ms Crombie than the other two because it had all the humanity without the darkness that seems to have become part of Elizabeth George's later books.
As I said, a great read and one of those unputdownable novels. I couldn't wait for my next bus ride home or the chance to go to bed and read till far too late.
Thank you Christina, and thank you for giving me a book to get excited about. I am now, of course, thoroughly looking forward to the next one.