Blood And Beauty by Sarah Dunant
From the author of ‘Sacred Hearts’ and ‘In The Company of the Courtesan’ comes this tome that tells of the spectacle of the Borgia papacy. The Borgia Pope and his illegitimate children are viewed with deep distrust and for good reason. Lucrezia longs for love and eventual escape from her suffocating family and the slanders hurled at her. The foolish Juan blithely negates any feelings of fondness for him and the syphilis raddled psychopath Cesare causes strife and death in accordance with the wishes of the parlous Pope.
This was good, a commendably told tale of a traduced clan. This was far superior to the ridiculous ‘The Borgia Bride’. It depicts what it must have been like to live amongst corrupt brutal people vying for power and citing the will of God as proof of their righteousness.
“Your father is elected Pope. Alexander VI. But that is no reason to parade around the house like a half-dressed courtesan with no manners.”
“They will have to make sure the doors and windows are bolted and that the company around them is either bought or blood.”
“There can be no running around the streets, bringing contamination back to the marriage bed.”
“God help our Church as long as he is in it.”
“Most of them poisoned or dead in a ditch somewhere.”
“Not even Alexander VI can storm a convent and get away with it.”
“It is always a challenge when a convent opens its doors to noble-women in distress.”
“It is not what you do or don’t do, but how convincingly you can be accused of it.”
“The poisonous dribblings of an idiot.”
“Fell - not of his own will - into the Tiber.”
“Jofre is not capable of peeling his own fruit.”
“This family was not his doing.”
“Don’t they ever sleep?”
“I think not all at the same time,”
Dead Famous by Ben Elton
This 2002 comedic whodunit was written when Elton was still funny. A murder is committed on live TV during the hugely popular reality show ‘House Arrest’. The arrogant, ignorant, rabidly inarticulate z-listers are skewed as old school copper CI Coleridge plods his way to finding out who the guilty party is.
The producers claim ‘House Arrest’ is a show with resonance even when the surviving contestants are murder suspects. The housemates are stars and legends in their own little minds as they are served up for consumption by rabid viewers. Sure there are author tracts about lack of intellectual curiosity, trash TV, lack of ambition, slutty attires, the uselessness of the internet, sex, talking about feelings, cultural vandalism, British TV, hugging and technology. But the irritating disparate housemates, their dissent and failed ambition entertain. The murderer is obvious but despite the simplicity this is funny. Read it as a reminder of Elton’s lost ability to be funny. Now he’s a sad talentless old fart ranting about yoof and making crap TV. This okay book has secrets, lies, fleas, pithy one-liners, dirt, contempt, zero accountability, provocateurs, lack of privacy, porn, indignant ill-judged drippy losers and a lumpen proletariat.
“I don’t wear no pants, see. They make my love furniture sweaty.”
“Strutting, pumped-up, tattooed, cockney geezer.”
“Are you on drugs or what?”
“She’s one of our designated hate figures!”
“All that artless knicker-flashing.”
“Ten deluded fools sitting on couches. All day.”
“This creature from the black latrine.”
“I hope they enjoy it.”
“I hope he’s died and rotted.”
“Naffed off big-time.”
“Put on her intelligent face.”
Hunting The Corrigan’s Blood by Holly Lisle
This 1997 novel is set in a high-tech future that oddly resembles the 1990s. Cadence Drake and Badger are professional finders of lost things. They’ve been hired to reclaim a stolen spaceship - the Corrigan’s Blood. As the duo track the ship through known space, strange and bloody events take place. It seems that far more than a stolen spaceship is going on. Something evil and old has insinuated itself across the stars and it’s hungry. This is a good sci-fi tale with teeth. There is a long delayed sequel 'Warpaint' which I will read. Oh yes I will.
“Now we will have the stars...They’re waiting for us. We’ll touch them in my lifetime, and spread out to them in hers.”
“Eyes that had spent a good deal of time contemplating death and liking the images such thoughts conjured.”