The Bad Quarto

Cover ImageI was browsing a few weeks ago among the fabulous displays done by the Lit staff at the Central Library and happened across a familiar author writing in an unfamiliar genre. Jill Paton Walsh has been one of my top 10 favorite young adult authors ever since Ellin Chu made me read A Parcel of Patterns years ago. Imagine my surprise and delight when I fouund that she’s now writing mysteries for adults.

The Bad Quarto is the latest in her Imogen Quy (rhymes with “why”) series. Imogen is a nurse at St. Agatha’s College, Cambridge University, but moonlights as a part-time sleuth. Devoted mystery readers know that the Universities in England are awash with mystery and intrigue, and in the grand tradition of Dorothy Sayers, St. Agatha’s is no different. This time around, Imogen must unravel the mysterious death of a promising scholar, which becomes tied up with a production of Shakespeare’s “Bad Quarto” version of Hamlet, which which leads her to the daring “night climbers” of Cambridge, and finally to a sad and dangerous young woman.

Imogen is everything we want in a sleuth – single, self-possessed, empathetic, smart, funny, daring — a real Nancy Drew. She handles all the (many) characters throughout the story with aplomb. The story is short, a mere 265 pages, but Paton Walsh packs a lot into that small space — almost too much. There is an over abundance of characters here and I did have some trouble keeping them all straight at times. However, Paton Walsh ties up the ends into a neat little bow, leaving me wanting more of Imogen Quy. I will be looking for her earlier titles now, and waiting for the next in the series.

The Next Harry Potter


Here’s an interesting post about the next Harry Potter. Apparently, the editor who discovered Harry and gang has just discovered the next great thing to hit children’s literature — Tunnels, a series about a boy archaeologist who discovers a world of tunnels beneath London. H’mmmmm. Kiki Strike fans? Anything sound familiar?

Am I the only one getting tired of the “Next Harry Potter?” It seems to me that much of the children’s fantasy I’ve read lately is derivative of HP, which of course is derivative in and of itself. The boy hero fighting immeasurable evil supported by two stalwart friends? You children’s lit afficiandos out there should remember the “rule of three” from a multitude of folktales. If not, go find a copy of Best-Loved Folktales of World by Joanna Cole and read a few. You’ll see what I mean. I read Rick Riordan’s newest Percy Jackson book, The Titan’s Curse, last weekend and again was struck by how much the whole plot and character ensemble resembles HP. Of course, the mythology is slightly different but the basic ensemble is the same.

I remember first reading Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone and loving it to pieces. It was something new and exciting and very, very special. I want to feel that way again about a children’s book. Don’t you?

48 Hour Book Challenge Results


No time to write full reviews right now, so here’s a quick-n-dirty lowdown on my weekend reading for the 48 Hour Book Challenge. Started at 4:00 pm Friday, ended 4:00 pm Sunday.

  1. Resurrection Men by T.K. Welsh – 214 pages
  2. The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan – 312 pages
  3. The Bad Quarto by Jill Paton Walsh – 245 pages
  4. Sacred Bones by Michael Byrnes – 293 pages
  5. The Devil in Amber byMark Gatiss – 245 pages
  6. The Hound of Rowan by Henry Neff – 414 pages

Total books read: 6
Total pages read: 1773
Books started but not finished: 1

48 Hour Reading List



Here’s what’s in my pile of reading for the 48 Hour Reading Challenge.

  • Resurrection Men by T.K. Welsh
  • The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
  • Sacred Bones by Michael Byrnes
  • The Bad Quarto by Jill Paton Walsh
  • The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss
  • The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry
  • The Hollow People by Brian Keaney
  • The Hound of Rowan by Henry Neff

I’ll be back on Sunday to report…Happy reading everyone!

48 Hour Book Challenge

MotherReader is hosting the second annual 48 Hour Book Challenge June 8-10, and all you readers out there should take this opportunity to do nothing all weekend except read! I threw my hat into the ring last year and spent a very enjoyable weekend getting a head-start on all my summer reading. Here’s my list from last year:

  • My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prudhomme – I love Julia even more after reading about her life in France. Boy, those snooty chefs at the Sorbonne must have *hated* her!
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall – Can anyone say “Bobbsey Twins?”
  • Men of Bronze by Scott Oden – an odd combination of war and sex in ancient Persia & Egypt.
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray – Good but not great, bad, but not terrible.
  • When the Missisissippi Ran Backwards by Jay Feldman – interesting, and scary, history of the New Madrid fault and the great earthquake that changed the course of a war and a country.
  • Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads – excellent treatment of how fads can affect our lives when they’re adopted by the medical, educating and business communities. TQM, the bane of my existence at library meetings during the span of 1998-about 2002 or 2003, is totally skewered.
  • Food Court Druids, Cherohonkees, and Other Creatures Unique to the Republic by Robert Lanham – totally hilarious. I think I have a touch of “Happy Monday” in me.

Not sure what I’ll be reading this year, except I know the new Percy Jackson/Rick Riordan book will be in that pile, and perhaps the newest Cotton Malone/Steve Berry thriller.