He used to go about once a month to the Percival David Museum of Chinese Art to build up his knowledge of Chinese porcelain. That was before the collection was moved to the British Museum , when it was still in a house in Bloomsbury. On that cold, wet November day he had the place to himself – or so he thought. He gazed at pots that were becoming as familiar as the crockery in his kitchen and were infinitely more beautiful: Qing dynasty bowls with delicate designs of peach and cherry blossom and chrysanthemums; Ming plates with brilliant green dragons chasing their tails on a lemon-yellow ground. It was when he turned to look at the Ru ware that he realised he was not alone.
There was a woman, wearing a belted raincoat, raindrops glistening on dark hair. She stood before the case transfixed. He didn’t wonder. The pots were perfect: so simple, so plain and undecorated and such a wonderful colour, hard to define – a greyish, greenish blue. As he drew closer, he saw that she was staring at a little bowl. ‘That’s one of my favourite pieces,’ he heard himself say and she gave a little jump.
observations: Now, we’re not taking credit for this book at Clothes in Books, but a recent entry on one of Christine Poulson’s earlier books, Footfall, wondered when she would produce something new, and how she could be encouraged to do so asap. Et voila, here is a new book. Well, actually it was already written by then – Poulson came into the comments to tell us. And we promised to feature it, so here we go.
All her previous crime stories – three excellent books featuring academic sleuth Cassandra James – have appeared on the blog (Murder is Academic, Stage Fright and Footfall) , but this is a standalone thriller, with an intriguing premise involving a man going into the witness protection programme, and a woman who finds she doesn’t know very much at all about the man she has been meeting regularly and falling in love with.
It’s got an excellent, tense plot, shifting between the two main characters, with a good number of surprises along the way, and settings including a cemetery in Sweden and the British Library (libraries are definitely a Poulson interest – see Footfall for more), as well as the china collection above. Poulson always has great, strong women characters, with real lives and feelings. And, although there are some very gruesome goings-on, I liked the fact that the depictions of violence and injury were realistic without being over-detailed or gloating. In far too many modern crime books there are far too many unpleasant descriptions of violence against, particularly, women and children – it was a pleasure to find a book that did the excitement, the jeopardy and the thrills without putting off this reader. I know I'm not the only crime fan to feel like this, and I would be strongly recommending this book on those grounds alone: but it is a very good read for anyone.
The book is published by Accent Press, and Christine Poulson has a blog called A Reading Life.
My only complaint is: not quite enough clothes descriptions of a kind suitable for the blog. So the pictures are a cheat, but as the book is called Invisible, I thought it was fair enough to have shadowy figures in the correct setting – this is the right china, though in its new home of the British Museum.
Both pictures are from Wikimedia commons and used with the permission of the photographer, Babel Stone.