I’ve been whiling away the festive season reading Kathryn Harkup’s “The Poisons of Agatha Christie”. Perhaps not the wisest choice in some families, but for a scientifically-orientated group of people, it was full of amusing dinner-time trivia – did you know that the greater bamboo lemur is immune to cyanide poisoning? Now you do, and so do my nearest and dearest. They will thank me later. (Or not, unless they happen to be responsible for performing an autopsy on a greater bamboo lemur, in which case they will at least be able to rule out cyanide poisoning.)
In other unlikely events, I’ve actually been planning some reading for 2017. Normally I go with the flow and read whatever comes my way, but thanks to the good folks at Crimetime, I have been reminded of everything I missed during 2016. It wasn’t a good year for me, but may have been a very good year for crime fiction, if this list of the top 100 reads is anything to go by. Of the 100, fewer than 20 are rural (spookily similar to the rural population of England, at 17%), but I’ve made my own catch-up list for 2017, and it’s a New Year’s Resolution to work my way through them.
Towards the tail end of this year, I’ve been impressed by Peter May’s “The Coffin Road”, set on a Hebridean island. It starts with an intriguing premise – you’ve been washed up ashore with no memory of who you are. Fortunately a neighbour finds you, walks you home, and soon you’re rediscovering your own life with the eyes of a stranger. You have a dog, a car, and a mistress. A locked shed. And the overwhelming sense that you may have killed someone. I get a warm glow when I’m carried along in the wake of competence – this gave me the warmth of a large mug of cocoa and a spare Labrador on my lap. It’s been perfect indoors reading, when the wind is roaring down the chimney and rooks are being blown sideways out of trees. Must go put some another log on the fire – Happy New Year.