Actress Sheila Mitchell, the widow of the late writer H.R.F. Keating, joins Robin Morgan in the Audible Studios to discuss A Kind of Light, a new piece of writing written by her husband, published for the first time, in audio only.
This classic memoir of the First World War is now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander and Kit Harington. In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the lives of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil prewar era.
"Old Favorite With Issues"
When Harriet Unwin takes the position of governess in the well-to-do Thackerton household, it would seem that fortune has smiled on her at last. That is until William Thackerton is found stabbed and Harriet is accused of murder.... In a desperate attempt to prove her innocence, she embarks on a daring scheme to save herself from the gallows. In doing so she uncovers the dark secrets which the family is trying to hide behind a veneer of Victorian respectability.
"It was OK."
Several years ago, Diana Athill accepted that she could no longer live entirely independently and moved to a retirement home in Highgate. There, she found herself released from the daily anxieties of caring for her own property and free to settle in to her remaining years. From this vantage point, she reflects on what it feels like to be very old and on the moments in her long life that have risen to the surface and which sustain her in these last years. What really matters in the end?
Whilst relaxing with her husband at the Majestic pool one hot August bank holiday, Harriet Martens does not expect the refreshing glass of Campari soda at her side to conceal a deadly drug. When she awakes from a doze she is no longer by the water, but in a hospital bed recovering from a near fatal dose of aconitine. As Harriet makes a slow recovery, she tries to come to terms with the fact that someone wanted to kill her....
For a respectable governess like Harriet Unwin, her first few weeks in the shabby, inhospitable home of the Partingtons were as unhappy as any she could remember. The bone-chilling cold, the grim sparseness of the meals, the embittered meanness of old Mr Partington: But for the kindness shown by his son, her spirit must surely have been crushed. But worse was to come for Harriet. Her chance discovery of the old man's cherished secret was, she felt sure, the cause of the attack that finally stilled his heart. The doctor, however, thought otherwise. It was neither illness nor old age that killed poor Mr Partington. It was poison....
The singers who have come to perform at the Flinwich Festival have large temperaments as well as large voices, and cannot readily be diverted from the furious feuds and obsessive quarrels that are essential to their natures. To detect which of these exotic creatures has committed murder become the task of Superintendent Pryde of Scotland Yard. Luckily, or unluckily, for him his work falls under the unsparing scrutiny of Mrs Craggs, the charlady.
Written in 1987 and recently discovered by his widow, H. R. F. Keating's A Kind of Light is an homage to Joseph Conrad, a writer he greatly admired. It is from that author's Heart of Darkness that the title is taken. Conrad's African jungle is the setting, and it has two interwoven stories. The first concerns a young Victorian gentlewoman who sets out into the heart of the Dark Continent, accompanied only by native bearers, in search of a plant which she has been told is the cure for the ravaging disease typhoid.
On Friday next, pub owner Jack Steadman would hang for the murder of Alfie Goode, drunkard and ne'er-do-well. The case was open-and-shut to everyone but Miss Harriet Unwin, who had less than a week to prove that Jack, a Crimean war hero, was innocent. Her snooping soon took her to the ballroom of a retired general's stately manor. But there, between the quadrilles and waltzes, Miss Unwin had to step most carefully, for a killer could make her next partner....death!
It was six-thirty in the morning when Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens took the call that informed her that Britain’s number one tennis star and media darling, the wonderfully pretty Bubbles Xingara, has been murdered in the grounds of her big country house. Harriet is now in charge of a case that will have the world’s media – already massing for the start of Wimbledon out in force.
Val Leary is handsome, charming and broke. On the morning of April Fool's Day 1871, while walking through one of London's wealthiest districts, he notices a young maidservant scrubbing the steps of 53 Northbourne Park Villas. In that instant he conceives the idea for a remarkable case of burglary. The set-up seems perfect, but chance intervenes in a succession of coincidences that place the jewels further and further beyond the reach of Val and his cronies - until...
Harriet Martens, named ‘The Hard Detective’ by the media because of her unrelenting opposition to every sort of evil-doing, has been secretly summoned to London to investigate corruption in the country’s most prestigious crime-fighting team, the elite Maximum Crimes Squad. And she suddenly finds herself under fire. Not only is she opposed at every turn by the head of the Squad, but she is menaced by other, more mysterious, figures.
When Martin Trent rings home to announce his return from an assignment as a tour guide in Venice, Susan is filled with fear, a fear based on what has happened before, and her dread of further violence. Why does Susan put up with Martin's treatment? Though neighbours suspect what is going on, Susan covers her bruises with make-up and pretends that nothing is wrong and, despite everything, she loves Martin. But what is the truth about the relationship between Susan and Martin?
The Imperial Hotel, scene of the brutal murder of the Boy Preacher over 30 years ago, is about to be demolished, and the Chief Constable wants Harriet to take one last look at the scene. Seven people had waited outside the ballroom where the Boy Preacher was to begin his sermon shortly before he was found brutally strangled. Now, with the use of DNA, the suspects' clothes are to be scientifically examined. The Chief Constable is intending to close this case once and for all.
Sister Bernard has lived in a convent in rural France for more than 70 years. In that time, a once youthful and lively cloister has gradually emptied, until only Bernard and two other nuns remain. Now, the halls will fall silent as the three women pack away their few possessions into wooden boxes and prepare to leave the building that has been their home for decades. For the nuns, the closing of the convent means more than losing a home.
Harriet Martens is a tough cop, but now two of her officers have been murdered within hours of each other - the circumstances of their deaths echoing the Book of Exodus' "a life for a life, and eye for an eye". Harriet must now muster all her strength to prevent a serial killer completing a gruesome plan of revenge.
Nora is just 12 when the war breaks out and she joins trainloads of evacuees leaving London's East End for the safety of rural Kent. Her surrogate family,the Rivers,are unline anyone she has ever met and she soon comes to lover her new life with them,in particular with their daughter Grace. The two become as close as sisters,although, to Nora's confusion,even this is not quite as close as she would like. What happens next is a secret that wil eat away at Nora for the rest of her life.
In honour of H.R.F Keating's 80th Birthday, his fellow Detection Club Members and the leading lights in crime fiction serve up a new selection of tantalising conundrums. Edited by Peter Lovesey. Foreword by Dick Francis. Stories include: Lionel Davidson's Tuesday's Child; Len Deighton's Sherlock Holmes and the Titanic Swindle; Reginal Hill's Uncle Harry; P.D. James' Hearing Ghote; H.R.F Keating's Arkady Nikolaivich and many others.
Young Alexia Erskine is swept up into a glamorous world that she hardly knew existed when she attends the first debutante ball of the Season.