Showing posts with label Edinburgh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edinburgh. Show all posts

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Undertaker: A female undertaker in nineteenth century Scotland sets out to solve the mysteries of the dead by Carmel Audsley

This was one of these books that I just had to read. I love historical fiction and non fiction. The fact that it was set in Edinburgh a city I used to live in was the main attraction. When I saw that the main lead was a female undertaker I had to buy it. I loved the way Carmel Audsley took me around the familiar streets of Edinburgh. But also on the long journey to Dundee, in those days a 9 hour journey by train and two ferries. Well researched and an enjoyable mystery. 5 stars.

This book ticked all the right boxes for me in the blurb ; A murder mystery set in Victorian Edinburgh and an unusual heroine in the shape of undertaker and business owner; Kate Grainger. I wasn’t disappointed. Kate Grainger is a fascinating character, she is curious to the point of obsessive and she is determined. Not only is she determined to make it in a man’s profession, but also to bring justice to the woman who she suspects has been murdered. This book has been well researched and having lived in Edinburgh I recognise many of the streets and places she mentions. It was also an interesting look into the world of funerals and customs of the 1850’s. Above all it is a cracking murder mystery with a strong female lead. I’m sure Kate Grainger’s curiosity will no doubt entangle her into another investigation and I can’t wait to read more of her adventures.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Betrayal: The Consequences by Sharon Browlie

This is the follow up to a book I enjoyed and reviewed earlier. The sequel is much shorter and i think the author has missed some opportunities. I decided to give it 5 stars anyway as it was a very good read. I always enjoy Sharon's descriptions of Edinburgh in the late 1980's. I've lived in the town from 1991 to 2011 and know all the land marks she describes. One of the places she goes to in this book was a nightclub called Cinderella's rockefella's in St Stephen street.
This is right around the corner from where Cameron grew up; Clarence street. Cameron would have known this building as a theatre, which it remained from it's opening in 1890 until 1915. Then it became a riding school, a cinema, a dance hall and in the 80's a nightclub. It burned down in 1991 and I lived in Clarence street at that time but had the misfortune to be on a family visit that evening and therefor missed the fire. (And by all accounts it was the fire of the decade!!!) Now the review of the book:
Betrayal: The Consequences by Sharon Brownlie on Amazon.com

I hugely enjoyed Sharon Brownlie’s debut novel, Betrayal, so I was looking forwards to the follow up Betrayal: The Consequences. We catch up with DI Brennan and her team at the day of Helen King’s sentencing. If Brennan thinks this will be the end of her involvement in the case she is mistaken. A heart wrenching letter from Helen lands on her desk shortly after she is taken off to prison. So is the sequel as good as Betrayal? I would have to say yes and no. The book was engrossing and Sharon brings her characters to life, we feel compassion for them and we understand them. The only reason I say no is because the book is very short and I think the author has left some obvious avenues unexplored. I wanted more of Brennan and her team and the carrot of a fresh case was not taken. I hope Ms Brownlie will come back to Gayfield police station as I think she has a great cast of characters here. Her descriptions of Edinburgh in the late 80’s are wonderful and provide a fantastic back drop for a gritty crime thriller such as Betrayal.


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Things Fall Apart by Tracy Black

This book brought back many memories for me as I moved to Edinburgh in 1991, just a few years after the year the story is set in. Edinburgh at that time was the drug capital of Europe and it was a rude awakening for me to discover that the beautiful city I had moved to had such a seedy underbelly. I quickly learned to recognise a junky. Working in the jewellery trade, a runny nose, glassy eyes and an unkempt appearance made us extra alert. It should have made Mandy, the mother in the book alert too, but she didn’t realise her two eldest were using drugs until one ended up in hospital to have her stomach pumped. Her son was by this time a frequent Heroine user. A lot of people might be baffled by her naivity, but I think Edinburgh’s drug and AIDS problem got so out of hand because people in 1986 were not as knowledgeable as we are today. What I found harder to believe was the fact that Mandy couldn’t see that her youngest son was having problems of a different kind. Her neglect of him, led him to act out by shoplifting. She should have realised that he needed her too and that his problem was easier to fix than the drug use of the other two. I thought the book was well written, and even though the subject matter was harrowing at times I had no hesitation in reading on. I can’t say that stories like this don’t happen anymore in Edinburgh, but a lot of the areas in the book have improved, especially The Shore. In the book it is an area where street walkers ply their trade. These days it’s full of trendy bars and expensive restaurants. Read Train Spotting and this book as it will give you a good insight into Edinburgh of the 80’s and 90’s, but don’t let it put you off visiting this beautiful town.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Betrayal by Sharon Browlie


Not got up to much writing myself or anything else for that matter as I've been engrossed in my Kindle book. An excellent story set in Edinburgh, which was a very pleasant surprise when I started reading. I give it 5 stars:
Betrayal by Sharon Brownlie

Helen king is a young woman who has been abused by her father and betrayed by the very people that should have protected her. When she sought help from her father’s employers; the Army, she was sent away to a children’s home in Edinburgh. Here she befriended a boy Ashley Renton. When he was adopted she set out to Gloucester to find him.

At age 15 Helen was ill equipped to fend for herself and soon found herself in the clutches of violent pimp Addie. Her life descended in a never-ending nightmare of drugs and prostitution.

Then one day she overhears a conversation and recognised the voice of her former teacher. Helen decided then to no longer be a victim but return to Edinburgh and revenge the wrongs that were done to her.

Betrayal is a gritty crime novel mainly set in Edinburgh. We get to experience the story from the angle of Helen and from the eyes of D.I. Belinda Brennan as she investigates ‘Helen’s revenge’. I enjoyed this book immensely; the characters are well developed and believable. Edinburgh makes a great setting. And as I used to live there for many years I could clearly imagine where the author was taking me. A great first novel!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Something Short

The new bundle of short stories I've co-written with my friend Elspeth Morrison is selling slowly but steadily. It is amazing how hard it is to get family, friends and acquaintances to part with 77p ($1.29) even when it is for a good cause. We are trying to plug the book at every opportunity so  I thought I devote another blog post to the charity we are hoping to help. The Stafford centre in Edinburgh is fundraising to send 4 volunteers plus a staff member to the family centre at Vileyka in Belarus.

This is what the Stafford centre says:

Vilejka has a population of about 26000 with a further population of 24000 living in the surrounding rural area. Within the town around 50% of families have heating and water however within the surrounding rural area most families do not have these commodities. Around 25% of the total population are elderly and struggle to survive on the state pension.
The family centre is run by the local municipal but is severely restricted in its work due to financial restraints. As a result only a very small percentage of those living in poverty have any support from outwith their family.  After finding out about stand international our service users had no hesitation in volunteering for this worthwhile cause.  

We need to raise £2000 to help us get there by donating as little as a £1 you will not only be helping our volunteers you will be helping the people in Belarus where the family centre means so much to so many people.  

So if you can, donate via the following link 

 https://www.justgiving.com/volunteering-belarus

or buy the book!

http://www.amazon.com/Something-Short-Elspeth-Morrison-ebook/dp/B00K74XHZO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1401545726&sr=1-1&keywords=elspeth+morrison 

Thanks
Angela

Monday, 13 January 2014

Clarence street

The location for the start of my book is Clarence street in Stockbridge which is a rather attractive part of Edinburgh. I chose this street as it would have existed when Cameron was a boy and because I used to live there, so I know what the flats look like from the inside. When I started to research whether it would have been plausible he lived there I found that before 1914 there is very little documentation about life in Edinburgh, so I had to keep things vague and just go with the few snippets I found.

I wanted Cameron's dad to work in the brewing industry as this was a major employer at the turn of the century in Edinburgh and my grandfather was also a beer brewer. Then I came across this fantastic photo and decided that Cameron's dad was a cooper and he would follow his dad as an apprentice when he left school, which in those days was at 14.
 A cooper was a skilled artisan and therefore well paid. The fact that these men are well dressed confirms that. This fits in nicely with the only thing I could find out about Clarence street in 1900; a sign writer lived there; also a skilled artisan.

Later in the book Cameron returns to Edinburgh and finds Clarence street much changed. The street is full of cars squeezed in between ugly black wheely bins.(in the photo you can just see the top of one) Unfortunately these eyesores became necessary as we had a problem with urban foxes and seagulls tearing open the bin bags. I quite liked encountering a fox now and then walking home at night. We even had a family of 5 foxes living in our back garden, and the cubs were very cute and playful but also very noisy. Hey Cameron, ever wondered what fox taste like?