Book reviews

Book review – The Poison Belt: Being An Account of Another Amazing Adventure of Professor Challenger by Arthur Conan Doyle (pub. 1913).

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930). So it seems fitting to post a review of one of his stories: The Poison Belt. One of my favourite genres is the “cosy catastrophe”. A chance to sit in a comfortable armchair with a dozing cat and a mug of hot tea and contemplate the world as it’s destroyed by nuclear war, floods, monstrous sea creatures, alien children, agricultural failure and homicidal vegetables. What’s not to like? The Poison Belt fits nicely into this category. The Earth is passing through a belt of poison gas and no living thing higher than an amoeba will survive – delightful! Continue review  [May 22, 2016]


Book review – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (pub. 1899).

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is an absorbing and seductive read. It was published in the late Victorian era*, but it’s flavour is closer to modern age writing with anti-heroes and lashings of ambiguity, disillusionment, uneasiness and cynicism.

At one level it is a fairly straight-forward, though harrowing, account of a trip up the Congo river and a meeting with a dying man told by a narrator to friends whilst on board a ship moored on the River Thames (London) at the heart of the British empire. Continue review  [May 5, 2016]


Book review – The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle (pub.1912).

Long before I had heard of Sherlock Holmes I was an enthusiastic reader of Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger stories. I grew up near Crystal Palace (London), which boasts a Victorian park full of wonderful 19th century dinosaur sculptures. So it should be no surprise that The Lost World was a favourite read.

The Lost World would once have been described as a “Boy’s Own Story” or a “a rollicking good yarn”. Today we might say it was a delightful adventure story, keeping the thrills coming and the improbable plot clipping along at a pleasingly manic pace. The story is that of a scientific expedition sent to examine the reported claims by the iconic Professor Challenger that prehistoric life still exists on an inaccessible plateau in Brazil. This expedition discovers a lost world where dinosaurs, ape-men and humans co-exist. Continue review  [April 26, 2016]