Sleepyhead

by Mark Billingham

Recommended and lent to me by Pay Ranson, who has read several of the series of books featuring DI Tom Thorne.

This is an intelligent and well-written detective thriller, with a somewhat far-fetched but nevertheless engaging plot.  One of the characters, Alison Willetts, has locked-in syndrome, and her ‘speech’ punctuates the story. (Her role in identifying the killer is also highly relevant.)

I was reading this at the time a new baby granddaughter arrived, and had to put the book down for 24 hours, so unwilling was I to read about murder and torture while revelling in a new life.

Never keen to read any genre, but especially thrillers, back to back, I will probably wait a while before reading another novel in this series.

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The Mayor of Casterbridge

by Thomas Hardy

Not sure that I have much to say about this book.  I enjoyed reading it more than I expected to, but – as with all the Hardy novels I have read – I don’t feel any urge to read it again or to mark it as one of my best-loved books.

What stays with me more than anything are the descriptions of the back streets and villages, the landscape and the harsh lives of ordinary country people.  I do feel that this is Hardy’s strength – and it comes from personal experience and detailed observation.