The Durham Chronicles–Always Take the Weather with You


There is a famous song by Crowded House about having four seasons in one day, with the choral advice 'wherever you go, always take the weather with you'. It would surely be nice if you could do that, especially in the United Kingdom. But alas and alack, the United Kingdom is a largish island (plus extra bits) and cannot hold a weather pattern. Here, the old adage if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, can actually be true.There have been studies, lengthy ones, on the effects … [Read more...]

The Vows of Silence– Susan Hill’s Fourth Crime Novel


Once is an anomaly, twice is the beginning of a pattern. Susan Hill carries story or character lines over from one Simon Serailler novel to the next, which is not a bad thing, but what it does mean is: 1) you need to read the series in order, and 2) you'd better read them all. This particular novel has as its crime story, the story of a lone shooter who is an expert marksman and apparently he has it out for young women about to get married. This story line could be called the spine of this … [Read more...]

The Durham Chronicles– the Highland Fling


By now, everyone in the world knows that Will and Kate hung out at St. Andrews for a good while before they became king and queen in waiting, just proving that anything is possible if you go to St. Andrews..... which I did last Sunday, and stayed a couple of days with my friends Tom and Maggie Wright, and Scott and Deborah Hafemann. It would be hard to find nicer hosts, and the students were pretty great to, whom I met at my lecture, and in a luncheon meeting. St. Andrews definitely has one of … [Read more...]

The Boston Marathon Massacre


Exactly twenty years ago yesterday I was running the Boston marathon... it was Patriots Day 1993. It was one of the greatest and most religious experiences I have ever had, and it strengthened my faith. Patriots Day, the day we remember what the Patriots did to help us secure our freedoms, our democracy. It is always a day of celebration, joy, and for the marathoners who finish, agony and ecstasy. I remember well my dear old friend Rick Sanders meeting me at the finish line, taking the … [Read more...]

The Risk of Darkness– The Third Susan Hill Thriller


Sometimes you get snookered, even by a good writer. When last I left the reviewing of Susan Hill's ouevre, we were talking about the case of a serial kidnapper and killer of children. Case never solved, even after 500 detailed pages..... or so we thought. That is, until we opened up The Risk of Darkness' and discovered, the hunt was still on, and now there were fresh clues, even a suspect taken into custody, found with a young girl stashed in the trunk of her Ford.For the record, I … [Read more...]

Durham Chronicles 5—Sing to Me an Evensong


It was a chilly but sunny Friday evening, and the Lincoln Singers had trundled up to Durham to do the weekend singing in the cathedral. First port of call--- evensong. Evensong is one of the great Anglican choral traditions. It's sort of like having Christmas Eve candlelight service all year round. Like any BCP service, it has certain elements--- an OT and a NT reading BUT no preaching, except by special exception (say a special festival day). The apostle's creed said and the Lord's Prayer … [Read more...]

Game of Thrones– The Second Season


Long running serials are difficult to sustain, episode after episode after episode. One way to avoid monotony of course is to have a plot so gargantuan, involving so many characters and sub-plots, that you avoid repetition altogether. What you do not avoid is your audience losing the ability to keep up with all the comings and goings and toings and froings, or in this case killings and thrillings.Game of Thrones is after all, a war flick. Its about multiple families fighting to be able to … [Read more...]

The Durham Chronicles– Part Four


Durham Cathedral is without argument the greatest Norman cathedral in all of Europe. One of it's most notable enduring and endearing features is of course it's bells.The bells ring the hours, the half hours, the quarter hours, and when you live in the shadow of the cathedral you hardly need a watch. The bells will tell you what time it is, and can be heard all around. But the bells are also used to call you to church, to the vast array of church services offered daily in an English … [Read more...]

The Pure in Heart— Murder Mystery 2 by Susan Hill


Murder mysteries are by definition, explorations of darkness, evil. After all, we are talking about murder here, not accidental death. And so necessarily the murder mystery novelist must do what few of us relish doing--- pull up the front door mat, and show us the unseen and obscene disgusting things that crawl around right under our noses, unnoticed.Hill is very good at such explorations and revelations, and yet maintains a ray of hope in her characters that are Christian, particularly Cat … [Read more...]