My Name in Books

I’ve only just seen this game from reading some other people’s blog backposts. Although I now almost only read classic crime fiction, as a child and teenager I was a voracious reader, so here’s a selection of other things that make me tick – Agatha Christie excluded – with initials that spell out my online name:

Caves of Steel, The – Isaac Asimov

My Dad had a good collection of Asimov paperbacks and whilst Asimov is probably a better short story writer than a novelist, this is a good read and significant as possibly the first detective novel set in the future. I will be re-reading this later in the year and doing a full review then.

Odessa File, The – Frederick Forsyth

Borrowed from King Edward VII Upper School Library and taken daringly (in retrospect stupidly) on German Exchange. I love an intelligent thriller and this really delivers. It would be a fine book even without the twist that changes the whole way that the reader then looks back on the story. I was also able to borrow The Day of the Jackal and The Dogs of War alongside books by Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley. I doubt whether many school libraries have such books nowadays.

Underworld – Terrance Dicks

This stands for all the Target novelisations which is how my brother and I got into Doctor Who. The local library had a number of hardbacks which we devoured before both building up our own collections of books and video tapes. In fact his collection was built upon those library books which were criminally sold off at 15p each – I was absolutely furious that he was the one who was able to buy them having been the one who started reading them first. In the long run perhaps it was right that he should have them as whilst my collection is no more, his is complete and he went on to present a successful and long-running podcast – the first episode can be found here .

2005 was a significant year for me as it saw the proper return of Doctor Who to TV (let’s ignore the 1996 Paul McGann TV movie), Sheffield Wednesday get promoted, and England win the Ashes for the first time in my memory. Most importantly I got married to my wonderful wife.

Night of Errors, A – Michael Innes

I’ll be re-reading and reviewing this soon. It seems that Innes is quite a Marmite GAD writer but I am enjoying collecting the Ipso/Agora reprints. I love the loopy complexity of them. I don’t remember much about this one except for a great fire and Innes going one better than the GAD staple of twins by introducing triplets.

Ten Sixty Six and All That – W C Sellar and R J Yeatman

On my first reading I found it funny but as I got older and built up more historical knowledge it got hysterically funny. Probably appeals to my schoolboy sense of humour which was tickled by Jennings, Just William, Molesworth, Jeeves & Wooster, and Three Men in a Boat.



Death in the Tunnel – Miles Burton

This is representative of the wonderful British Library Crime Classics series. I picked up two of the short story collections and then became hooked. I eagerly await the half-yearly announcements of what is coming up next.

Olaf the Glorious – Robert Leighton

A book borrowed, and eventually given to me, from my Nannie (my Dad’s mum, you understand – despite the name of my school above we never had paid staff). A cracking tale of derring do as the orphaned Olaf is plucked from obscurity to become, after a series of adventures and battles, the rightful King of Norway. From her I also borrowed the fantastic With Lawrence in Arabia before David Lean’s biopic became one of my favourite films and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom became one of the very few books that I was never able to finish. However I never borrowed the intriguingly named The Detective Wore Silk Drawers.

Wooden Horse, The – Eric Williams

I found this in my primary school library and was expecting it to be a tale of the Trojan War. Instead it is the real-life account of a daring escape from a WWII prisoner of war camp where the escapees tunnelled out of the middle of the compound by disguising their activities with a vaulting horse. I became quite a fan of POW books including The Colditz Story and The Great Escape.

Narnia, The Chronicles of – C. S. Lewis

I got these for my seventh birthday and have read them many times. My favourites are The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle, actually the last two of the seven to be written. I need to re-read them in the light of Planet Narnia by Michael Ward which reveals the long-suspected theme that underpins the series, namely that each book is based around one of the seven medieval planets which explains, along with many other things, exactly why Father Christmas appears in The Lion, the Witch,and the Wardrobe.

John, The Gospel of

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Seriously the best thing I have read or will ever read.



Outsider, The – Jonathan Wilson

Not Albert Camus’ existentialist classic (although funnily enough he was a goalkeeper) but rather a study of the goalkeeper from the birth of football to the modern day. Of great personal interest because I am, at my own level, a goalkeeper. With the introduction of the back pass rule which lead to today’s sweeper-keepers it can no longer be true but my assumption was, based on my own experience, that you become a goalkeeper because you can’t play football. My commitment to the position paid off because in the playground I was always third pick after each of the regular captains had picked their best mate. Much later on my five aside team, The Dancing Lions, managed our very own Invincibles season!

I love books about football and cricket, especially the latter with its wealth of statistics that go from Bradman’s 99.94 down to “that’s Yorkshire’s highest second innings third wicket partnership against Sussex at Scarborough”.

Hole in the Ground, The – Commander Tom Thompson

A school prize of my Dad’s and representing The Boy’s Own Adventure style of book. After the first few introductory chapters this is non-stop action and there is a genuine feeling of peril as the villains in this book would have no hesitation in shooting the schoolboy heroes dead. Other less violent titles from my parents’ childhoods were New Forest Smugglers, New Forest Vagabond, Our Brother Nick and the Ugly Idol, and a great short story collection Adventure Stories for Boys. In a similar vein I must have read about half of the Biggles books following his adventures across all six continents and two world wars as he battled enemy combatants and criminals.

Night at the Crossroads – Georges Simenon

At the same time as starting to collect the BLCC series I also started collecting Penguin’s new translations of the Inspector Maigret books which are a completely different kettle of fish. Some of them are sort of clued but in most the reader follows Maigret and his team following routine police work to catch their man or woman. Once you have read a few you know what you’re going to get but that is part of their appeal. Maigret manages to retain his basic human decency despite witnessing some appalling sights and in Simenon’s words “understands but judges not”. It seems unlikely that Maigret would really be able to get through seventy five cases given the constant pipe smoking and I’m sure someone could come up with an interesting but very dangerous drinking game based on these books.

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