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A wilding

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  1. I will join in. In the UK saving is a no brainer for the average person (assuming you have paid off any debts and have a sufficient rainy day chunk of cash somewhere). Put in in a stock market ISA, invested in a spread of lost cost index tracking funds. Forget about a pension unless (as is often the case) your employer offers a good one as a job perk, in which case you probably want to do whatever is needed to maximise their contribution to it. If you want to save more than the ISA limit of £20K a year, then you are certainly a higher rate taxpayer so start looking at a SIPP, or perhaps a buy to let property.
  2. So many, yes. Though this one needs to be read with some care and background knowledge. For example there is a single letter from the "Mischling" to her boyfriend's sister in Holland in the book, written when she needed to pass on some important information (the sister, despite not being anti-semitic herself, had still advised her brother to end the relationship). This letter is full of praise for Hitler's regime. My first thought was "poor brainwashed idiot". But then my second thought was "she knows she is likely being watched and wants to avoid trouble for herself and to make sure this letter gets through".
  3. I have been reading up on European social history around World War II and have come across a fascinating book "Between Two Homelands" by Hedda Kalshoven. This consists of the 1920 - 1949 correspondence of a German woman who in 1929 married a Dutchman and moved to Holland. It tells an extraordinary story and gives some real insight into attitudes of the times. For example in the 1930s she is supporting a charity looking after Jewish refugees in Holland while her mother is writing from Germany "I know I am not supposed to talk about politics, but our wonderful Fuhrer, marvellous rallies, we all owe him our loyalty, ignore the lies in the news, he is quite right to address the Jewish Question". (Parallels with the current day are inescapable, but could be taken too far.) Then later, in the war, she is still close to her Nazi brother in the German army while her husband is involved in the Dutch resistance and she herself is sheltering Jewish people in hiding. Though the brother's Nazi allegiance clearly wavers when he falls in love with a "Mischling" (1/4 Jew) that he is not allowed to marry. And then comes the Hunger Winter ...
  4. Can't get into the Matthew Venn books either. For me the issue is with his characterisation. As with Vera's skin complaint (though that gets forgotten after the first few books), she has given him an initial character trait to make him more interesting, but failed to flesh it out and make it plausible. I suppose details are a mild spoiler:
  5. In the UK it is a great deal easier to get your first book published, and to get the publisher to push it hard, if you are already famous or connected, and so the dice are loaded in your favour. Though it is still quite possible that no one remembers the book a few years later. At least in Osman's case we can be reasonably sure it was not ghost written by someone else.
  6. <pedant mode> Wasn't it G. K. Chesterton? Certainly I am sure that Oscar Wilde himself would have shuddered at the word "someplace". </pedant mode>
  7. It is basically an idealised version of 18th - 19th century rural England. Frodo is your classic English gentleman. He inherited a nice house and enough money to have no need to work, and is related in one way or another to most of the important people in the Shire. And when an out of context problem turns up in the shape of the Ring. he considers it his duty to step up and solve it himself.
  8. ... and that tells you all you need to know about Facebook in one post.
  9. It does occur - I can see Mrs W's point in wanting to be careful - but is still relatively rare.
  10. Interesting. Ticks are a problem in the Scottish Highlands also. My wife has to be very careful there (she has a special tool for pulling them out of your skin in one piece) but I also have never had one.
  11. Personally I think the Shetland series is not as good as the Vera series. The first 3 books are okay, but then it goes downhill (and in a book that once more features ornithology). And if you don't want to read about religious bigotry, the Shardlake series is definitely not for you! I have been on a reread of the classic golden age story (and also slight send up of the genre) Trent's Last Case by E.C.Bentley. It has aged extremely well considering it was published in 1913, possibly partly because, like The Moonstone, it is almost the only mystery story he ever wrote. (He co-wrote a sequel 25 years later, which is also good - a strong theme of failure and futility - but suffers a little from the co-writer's interest in food and drink.) I recommend it to any golden age fan who has not already come across it.
  12. It is a while since I read those Rebus books. But basically it is difficult to discuss clues because of their spoilery nature. Feel free to come back if/when you have worked your way through Reginald Hill.
  13. Personal opinion: classic Reginald Hill - say from Ruling Passion (1973) to Bones and Silence (1990) - is definitely worth trying. Later on he had obviously got a bit bored of police procedurals and his books got weirder and started genre hopping. Apart from anything else, one of his books contains possibly the single most audacious clue in the whole of crime fiction. Even to say which book it is in might be a slight spoiler:
  14. I fear I cannot share in your confidence that GRRM will ever finish the books, sadly.
  15. We may have been lucky with ASoIaF being finished as a TV show after all?
  16. Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series? Set in late Republic Rome with most of the key figures of the period turning up at some point. He started publishing them in the 1990's though so they may not count.
  17. I have just finished a reread of James McClure's Kramer and Zondi series. I had forgotten how good they are, so I thought I would post a recommendation. The books are decidedly uncosy police procedurals set in apartheid era South Africa. While being a good read just for the stories, they also have the added bonus of their setting. The books are superb examples of "show not tell", showing the horrors and wrongs of apartheid in clinical detail without any authorial comment at all (indeed I have seen a review that seemed to think McClure actually supported apartheid). It works all the more in that Lieutenant Kramer is an unthinking supporter of the system, except that he is humanised by constantly surreptitiously breaking the rules in favour of his very able black sidekick Sergeant Zondi, with whom he has a close working relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
  18. I would agree with that. Though I disagree about Sherlock Holmes being a Gary Stu. Holmes undoubtedly has an extraordinary talent, enhanced by him dedicating his life to nurturing and developing it, but in many other ways he is a deeply flawed human being. (And we discover in The Missing Three-Quarter that he has little knowledge of sport and absolutely no interest in it.) I also found that the realism and literary intent made it grate when Wimsey hounds suspects from his position of superiority and privilege. My sympathies were often with the suspect, which was certainly not Sayers intention!
  19. Personally I don't enjoy Dorothy L Sayers because for me Lord Peter Wimsey comes across as a bit of a Gary Stu. He is a massively wealthy aristocrat who is good at everything, effortlessly superior, and has no flaws, apart from some trivial ones designed to make him even more attractive to the reader (such as being a little squeamish after his actions have sent someone to the gallows.) For example, a medium size spoiler for Murder Must Advertise:
  20. Another Australian series worth a try is Arthur Upfield's Bony series. They are set in the mid 20th century and feature the half Aborigine Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (he was named that by the nuns at the Catholic mission that raised him). He generally investigates crimes in obscure parts of the Outback undercover, and the books give a vivid impression of the country back then. I think it was made into a TV series also.
  21. I would say The Laughing Policeman was the best one by some way. The books are deliberately stylised, with relatively little emphasis on characterisation, but they do drop you right into the period, and I also like them. The Haunted Monastery might by a good one to try.
  22. His Too Many Magicians is one of my favourites, despite almost no one in the UK apparently having heard of it. It is an excellent twist on the locked room mystery - one committed at a London hotel hosting the triennial conference of the Most Ancient and Honourable Guild of Sorcerers. Not to mention the pastiches of various famous fictional characters scattered throughout the book.
  23. I also enjoy a good mystery and have tried most of those authors. A few UK based suggestions you might also like, given that list: Josephine Tey: pseudonym under which she wrote a handful of miscellaneous golden age mysteries. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles: cosyish contemporary London based police procedural series (Inspector Slider). Reginald Hill: Northern England police procedural series written about a generation ago. Possibly also Peter Lovesey, Ruth Rendell, Ngaio Marsh.
  24. Hah, I never win anything. (Should have voted for Brexit.) Still nvm, I will read it anyway.
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