Book of the Week, December 14th 2019

The Metropolitan Police Force was established in 1829 and its headquarters at Scotland Yard was soon renowned around the world for ground breaking criminology and detection techniques.

Crime fiction from writers like Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie stimulated an insatiable appetite fascination for the crime solving exploits of their detective heroes.

But what does it take to become a top detective? And how well would you do?

This book contains a wide ranging of selection puzzles, conundrums and brain teasers that will test the most dedicated amateur sleuth.

Some of the staples of crime fiction are explored; the country house murder, the locked room mystery, the death on a train. Included are vintage questions taken from actual detective’s exam papers back in the 1930’s.

Accounts of real cases introduce each chapter and alongside the puzzles are fascinating insights about the history of Scotland Yard and the changing nature of policing.

Headline paperback, £12.99

Book of the Week, December 7th 2019

From its source in Willow Wood, Great Tey to Fingringhoe where it joins the River Colne, Roman River flows through 12 miles of flatlands, carving a narrow, deep sided valley. Stone age axe heads and tools show how long the area has been inhabited. Later, fortified with earthen dykes, it became the stronghold of Cunobelin and the most significant settlement in pre-Roman Britain.

The book is wide ranging. How otters, once almost extinct, have returned to the river, helped by habitat improvements. How local Civil engineer, Peter Bruff built the monumental Chappell Viaduct – with 32 arches and over 7 million bricks.

Ken Rickwood has been exploring Roman River for over 50 years. He is the perfect guide, always exploring to rediscover some long overgrown boundary stone or carved OS bench mark. He brings great love for our local countryside and enormous historical knowledge to describe the course of this small but important river.

Daid Cleeland, paperback, £10.00

Book of the Week, Noember 30th 2019

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ first appeared in print in a children’s book of rhymes in 1780 though it’s origins date back much further.

In twelve fascinating chapters this book explores the history, culture, folklore and behaviour of birds that feature in this popular carol.

The noisy honking and whirring wings of geese flying low overhead make a thrilling spectacle. For the Romans, Geese were sacred creatures living in the temple of Juno while their strong wing feathers were made into quills – even used to write the Dead sea scrolls.

The Turtle dove is a symbol of love and fidelity –   Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love, was pulled through the skies in her chariot by two turtle doves. Disappointingly, there is no evidence that these birds are actually monogamous and more sadly, with numbers declining rapidly they are soon likely to disappear from this country.

A perfect stocking filler for bird lovers.

Vintage hardback. £12.99

Book of the week, November 23rd 2019

Charlie Mackesy, was an artist, cartoonist and book illustrator when he first started posting a series of unique drawings on Instagram. They highlighted simple truths – like the courage it can take to ask for help or the importance of taking that first step to a distant destination. The drawings became an online sensation shared around the world and have now been developed into chart topping book.

Through these beautifully illustrated pages, four friends – a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse share their observations of life from different perspectives. Direct, wise and startlingly original they embody a straightforward approach to living that cuts through the confusion of modern life.

The themes of generosity, kindness, courage, hope and humour shine through in these simple exchanges.

The book is for everyone from eight of eighty and is to be dipped into anywhere, anytime.

Ebury hardback, £16.99.

Book of the Week, November 16th 2019

Orford Ness, the 10-mile-long shingle spit the stretches down from Aldeburgh is a strange, ever shifting landscape and a unique habitat for wildlife now looked after by the National Trust. For most of the 20th century it was one of the most secret experimental military sites in the country and rusting army relics are scattered across the bleak landscape.

Written by Robert Macfarlane with atmospheric ink drawings by Stanley Donwood, this short book is as mysteriously evocative as the landscape which inspired it. It is a kind of modern-day fable where the landscape itself becomes alive.

In folklore the ‘hagstone’ – a flint with a natural hole through it, has supernatural power. It can be a window to see deep into the future or the past. The hagstone is the image at the heart of this haunting tale which in words and pictures explores the different demands of nature and mankind.

Penguin Books hardback, £14.99

Book of the Week, November 9th 2019

Schizophrenia is the most dramatic and terrifying of mental health conditions. It is probably also the most misunderstood.

Nathan Filer, a mental health nurse, takes us into the ward to meet some of the people his has cared for and in doing so blows away much of the stigma and confusion that surround mental illness. Behaviour that may appear odd, erratic or dangerous can make perfect sense with one assumption changed about the world. If someone believes that their medicine has been poisoned it becomes rational to resist it at all costs. Someone who hears voices might feel themselves called to become a priest by God, another may be diagnosed schizophrenic. The way we view unusual behaviour and label it is inconsistent.

With contributions from doctors and psychologists who are challenging the way mental illness is diagnosed and treated this book offers kind and progressive new insights into what it means to be human.

Faber hardback, £14.99