March book reviewsPosted on: 21 March 2012 by Anthony Page
Tony Page reviews Action for Ageing and period thriller Princes Gate.
Action for Ageing
Wandering life’s highway I often buy or get given books to read and review. Two have come my way – as I have mentioned recently I went to the launch of the 2012 Year of Active Ageing. One of the ‘goodies’ in the press bag was a book sponsored by the European Year entitled ‘Action for Ageing’ (363 pages, published by Vicheko Limited at £19.95). Bit of a price I thought but never the less worth a browse as it was free!
The strap line under the title is – 297 tips to improve health, safety and wellbeing of your ageing loved ones! This immediately irritated me - ‘ageing loved ones’ sounds like it came out of an American funeral home brochure! Never mind I persevered and started the ‘browse’. My journey home takes an hour by bus (the redoubtable No 2 from West Norwood to Baker Street – door to door service). By the time I got off the bus I had got about two thirds of the way through the tome.
Once I had got rid of my general resentment at anyone telling me what is best for me (this seems to be increasing as I age – strange that!) I got quite absorbed and certainly picked up a few really good tips. For instance – save shopping cost – take a couple of old ice cream tubs and some seed packets and grow your own herbs – saves a fortune over a year. Wear rolled up or short sleeved tops to reduce the risk of catching a pan and having an accident. Set an alarm to remind you to check you’ve turned off the cooker. Keep your mind active by making yourself use your left hand (if you’re right handed) for regular tasks – using a computer mouse, brushing your teeth! They go on and on.
The book is structured in fifty-four topics and covers everything you or your family will come across in helping a relative – or yourself come to that.
Is this a book for a winter’s night in, in front of the fire –a resounding No! Is it worth buying for an older relative or for yourself if you are conscious of your ageing process – a definite yes!
I always like to read the ‘first book’ of any new author – ‘Princes Gate’ by Mark Ellis is just this (£7.99 and published by Matador). The very short biography of the author says he’s a barrister, ‘corporate executive’ and entrepreneur. Well it may be that he was very successful at these jobs, made loads of money and can afford to be a writer. On the other hand he may have been bad at everything and this is his latest career. If it is, he may have found his vocation in life.
Set at the onset of the ‘phoney war’ 1938/39 Princes Gate is a crime story surrounding three murders: one a civil servant working on defence issues and the other two are young members of staff at the American Embassy under Ambassador Kennedy. The book draws on the history and character of a London under threat of an impending war. The main character is Inspector Frank Merlin who has had his share of tragedy with the death of his wife. We also have well structured ‘seedy characters’ from London’s petty crime world and club land.
If a book takes me from its pages and creates in my mind the locations, ambiance and personalities of the characters then this is a good book. Ellis does this in the first chapter and it keeps you captured until the very end. If you remember those years as a child or from watching endless programmes on WWII on the Yesterday Channel you’ll enjoy this.
As the front cover credits that this is ‘a Frank Merlin novel’ then it looks like Mr Ellis is confident enough to be working on the second book. If he is, I’ll be buying it – nostalgia, sex and intrigue all rolled in to one – great!
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