Good Graft with “The Gallows Thief”

 

Looking for a a gritty, historical police procedural full of highwaymen and hangings? Then check out "The Gallows Thief." The author, Bernard Cornwell, provides a full complement of eccentric characters while the CDbook's narrator, Sean Barrett, brings them to life.  

Rider Sandman is a former soldier and a hero of Waterloo. Due to a family scandal, he scrounges for employment. Given the opportunity to investigate a case for the Home Secretary, Sandman has too much integrity to confirm a corrupt conviction. Intending to find the real culprit, he questions both lowly servants and distinguished gentlemen. Sandman takes some wrong turns, proving he's human while still being a champion of truth and justice. He's assisted by an 'actress' named Sally and a veteran, Sgt. Berrigan, who are both cagey and well-versed in the seedy side of England.

Brits do Minis in a Big Way

 

The U.K. isn't known for food or dentistry, but when it comes to miniseries they set the standard. Political thrillers "State of Play" and "The State Within" stand out for acting and action.

"State of Play" was remade as a feature film in the U.S. Though the political drama is the same, the British version's additional storyline adds punch and is better cast. John Simm plays investigative reporter, Cal McCaffrey, whose college friend, Stephen Collins, is a politician. Collins comes under scrutiny for an alleged affair. Because of McCaffery's relationship with Collins, his newspaper expects exclusive information. The situation intensifies when McCaffrey investigates a shooting and unearths a briefcase that pits the paper against the police for withholding evidence. John Simm's performance is full of agonizing decisions as his profession and friendships are in conflict.

Behind the Scenes: "Hugo"

With the recent release of Martin Scorsese's film, "Hugo," based on Brian Selznick's Caldecott Award winning novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret,"  in theaters and generating Oscar buzz, some may wish to delve deeper into the movie's rich cinematic history, accessible via the SLCL database page. The story centers around an orphaned boy living in a Paris train station and the relationship he forms with the station's toy shop owner and goddaughter. What some viewers may not realize is that "Hugo" pays homage to the life and works of real life French filmmaker Georges Méliès. Méliès, who began his career as a professional magician, went on to become one of the great silent filmmakers, creating over 500 films, many of which were applauded for their special effects.  

A Brighter Star Than Sirius

"Can dogs climb trees? Evidently," writes Susan Orlean. "At least certain dogs can. And they can climb down, too." 

A staff writer for The New Yorker, Orlean's work has been snatched up by Hollywood in the movies "Adaptation" and "Blue Crush." That relationship with Hollywood has reversed direction in her latest work, "Rin Tin Tin, The Life and The Legend." 

Staff Review: “God’s Secretaries” by Adam Nicolson

 

"God's Secretaries" by Adam Nicolson is the story of the development of the King James Bible.  The author tells of the efforts and struggles to produce an English translation of the Bible, especially with competing religious factions in the wake of the Reformation. For readers who do not have a background in British history, the book does give a sufficient summary of the religious and political situation of the time in order to provide context.
 
The author keeps the reader's interest despite the ordinarily dense subject matter. Everyone has heard of the King James Bible but few know how it was written and translated; few also know the story of King James I himself.  This book weaves his story into the larger work.  Overall, this is a book worth reading, particularly for an infrequently written-about topic. 
 
--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch

 

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