On a very bright and warm day, there was a select gathering of fans of
pig and goat.
1935 classic English detective fiction; third of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. In a private hospital, the Home Secretary
was operated on for appendicitis: shortly afterwards he was dead,
poisoned with hyoscine (scopolamine). And all sorts of people seem to
have had motives.
2015-2016: Ichabod Crane, survivor from the American Revolutionary
War, and Abbie Mills, FBI agent, continue to fight supernatural
beasties in the present day. (Spoilers for all seasons.)
2004 mystery; fifth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude is helping out at the Hopwicke Country House Hotel,
but the morning after a boozy meeting of the Pillars of Sussex, an
organisation of local businessmen, one of them doesn't come down to
breakfast… because he's hanging from a beam of his four-poster bed.
Obviously a suicide…
…or obviously not, but proving it will be hard work, especially
when the Pillars of Sussex close ranks to disassociate themselves from
the victim. Everybody's far too willing to talk to Carole and Jude, as
usual, but a key player appears for the first time three-quarters of
the way through the book, which doesn't help matters.
Most of the investigation is a trudge through local businesses, and
Brett's usual cast of horrible people. Everyone has something to hide,
of course, and it usually reinforces how ghastly they are.
As in The Torso in the Town, the ultimate villain goes unpunished,
which again seems to be a violation of the principles of murder
mysteries: the detectives find themselves stymied and essentially give
up and go home. But they do that seemingly because there are only a
few pages left; if it were half-way through the book they'd go after
some alternative source of information, and for their behaviour to be
so blatantly affected by a non-diegetic element breaks my suspension
But in this book, the mystery is the bread on which the pâté of human
drama is spread: what are these people's secrets, and how do they
react as things come out? Also, this marks a significant achievement
in the process of Carole's transformation into a human being, as she
finds herself become able to talk with her son and his fiancée in a
way she certainly wouldn't have been when the series started.
(However, I think Brett realised that without having Carole as a
pompous prig he loses the contrast she strikes against free-spirited
Jude, so her progress from this point on is much slower and sometimes
Followed by The Witness at the Wedding.
2015 short science fiction, dir. Luke Gilford, Pamela Anderson, Dree
An ageing fitness instructor is dissatisfied with her life, in
particular feeling disconnected from the world, and looks for a way to
2003 historical detection, thirteenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne investigates a
mummified corpse found in a carnival attraction.
Operation Hard Sell
was the adventure that convinced me I should stop running Torg, at
least for a while. Spoilers for this adventure follow.
2003; fourth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Bracketts, an Elizabethan house, is to be turned into a
museum celebrating the life and work of the local poet Esmond
Chadleigh, its most famous resident. Then a skull is dug up in the
Back to this small quarterly boardgames convention in Watford, the
first one I've got to for a while as it's usually announced at fairly
short notice. With images;
1994 science fiction, sequel to The Ring of Charon. This review
contains spoilers for that first book.
2015 mystery novel adaptation, 11 episodes:
"Everything Becomes F" or "The Perfect Insider". Shiki Magata killed
her parents when she was fourteen, but her mind was clearly disturbed,
and she's a brilliant programmer; for the fifteen years since then,
she's been confined to a few rooms within a research lab, with
extremely restricted communication with the outside world. And yet,
someone has managed to murder her.
2002 mystery; third in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). The couple who've just moved into the Big House in
Fedborough, inland up the river from Fethering, throw a dinner party
to try to get into the local social scene… which is somewhat spoiled
when a limbless body is discovered in the cellar.
I wanted to improve the experience of playing Surburbia, so I
designed some organisational aids.
1935 classic English detective fiction; second of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. When Arthur Surbonadier is fatally shot on
stage during the last act of The Rat and the Beaver, there's no
question about who pulled the trigger: the shooting was part of the
play. But there wasn't supposed to be live ammunition in the gun.
2016 science fiction crime drama, 11 episodes. Jimmy Pritchard is a
75-year-old, corrupt, disgraced, but unrepentant former sheriff. When
he's murdered, secretive tech billionaire twins restore him to life,
youth and extreme vitality (as a side effect of their own plans).
Formerly known as Frankenstein, The Frankenstein Code and
2001 mystery; second in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). While out exploring the South Downs, Carole stumbles on a
human skeleton. Jude thinks she knows who it might have been.
This supplement adds to the standard GURPS magic system, with spells
designed not just to injure or curse but to kill.
1938 fiction. Henry Warren, a successful banker, works all his waking
hours, travelling across Europe to sort out financial deals,
particularly share issues. His digestion is bad, and his wife's having
an affair with a foreigner. When all the stress catches up with him,
he winds up in the hospital of a northern town, one that's been
without significant employment since the shipyard closed, and decides
to do something about it. (US vt Kindling.)
A five-player games session on a hot afternoon at home. Images follow:
2000 mystery; first in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Carole Seddon, conventional, divorced, and retired from
the Home Office, moves to the small seaside town of Fethering
(inspired by the real Tarring in West Sussex). But her neighbour Jude
turns out to be distressingly bohemian, and she finds a dead body
while walking her dog on the beach… but by the time the police turn
up, it's gone.
My passport was a few months away from expiry, so when I got back from
the latest foreign trip I renewed it. It only took two weeks, which
isn't bad, though I think the Passport Office might take a tip or two
from an enthusiastic amateur; their professional advisors don't seem
to be doing a terribly good job.
2009 steampunk fantasy. Darian Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay
and her crew of misfits, as they go about doing small-time jobs for
small-time people. But they're all about to play for much higher
stakes than they were ever expecting.
2016 science fiction drama, 10 episodes. Aliens have landed and
conquered Earth, ruling through drones and human trusties. But there
is, of course, a resistance.
1991 military fiction; second in the Carrier series. A complex plot
sees Burmese, Thai and Chinese renegades orchestrating a breakup of
SEATO for purposes unclear at first. Carrier Battle Group 14 is going
to get caught in the middle.
This supplement clarifies and gives comprehensive examples of Wildcard
Skills, a relatively under-used element of GURPS 4th edition.
1993 detective fiction; fifth of Cleeves's novels of amateur private
detectives George and Molly Palmer-Jones. Elderly Ursula Ottway lives
in a cottage on an estate in the Cumbrian fell country; when she finds
her cats dead from eating poisoned bait, she threatens to expose her
landlord, rising politician Marcus Grenville, since he's obviously
been illegally poisoning raptors to improve the grouse shooting. The
next day she's dead. But she was Molly's aunt, and George and Molly
were on their way to visit.
Back to the boardgame café again.
1991 military fiction; first in the Carrier series. An American
intelligence ship and her crew vanish on the high seas; the North
Koreans admit nothing. Carrier Battle Group 14 is sent in to get them
2015-2016 superheroic fantasy, 10 episodes. In 1947, Peggy Carter,
still working for a secret government agency, travels to Los Angeles
to investigate strange goings-on there.
2016 SF/mystery; fifty-third (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death
series. Dennis Mira went to confront his cousin Edward over plans to
sell the family house, but found him tied up in a chair; then someone
knocked Dennis on the head. Now Edward's missing. Fortunately Dennis
is married to Charlotte Mira, police profiler and friend of Lieutenant
Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are
to youtube. Opinions are thoroughly personal.)