Monthly Archives: September 2019

the last witness

Lou Mason #2 by Joel Goldman

From Goodreads:

What’s it like to be a target for murder? Every step you take, every sigh you make – could be your last. Could you outsmart a desperate killer?

Just as his life has returned to normal, Lou Mason’s surrogate father, Homicide Detective Harry Ryman, arrests his best friend, ex-cop Wilson ‘Blues’ Bluestone, Jr. on murder charges. Mason rolls in like a freight train to defend Blues uncovers dark and terrible secrets – secrets worth killing for. As his investigation closes in on the killer, the hunter becomes the hunted…and all Hell breaks loose.

Lou Mason is back in The Last Witness and this time, it’s personal. Our sexy, brilliant, and flawed trial lawyer unwittingly becomes the sole focus of a brutal killer. Witness this second thrilling installment in the Lou Mason series.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Really enjoyed this book. I’ve read a number of crime and investigative thrillers set around courts, prosecutors, defense lawyers etc but this series is one of the better.

The writing is a real fast pace with the plot constantly developing and little twists and turns keeping the interest going. Enough that I think I read this book in less than 3 days.

The real success of this book is the number and variety of characters involved. Most of the supporting characters are detailed enough to get to know them without complicating the story while there are plenty of central characters to give the story depth.

Looking forward to the next instalment and getting to know them better.

past tense

Jack Reacher #23 by Lee Child

From Goodreads:

Jack Reacher plans to follow the autumn sun on an epic road trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn’t get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been – the town where his father was born. He thinks, what’s one extra day? He takes the detour.

At the very same moment, close by, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians are trying to get to New York City to sell a treasure. They are stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. It’s a strange place … but it’s all there is.

The next morning in the city clerk’s office, Reacher asks about the old family home. He’s told no one named Reacher ever lived in that town. He knows his father never went back. Now he wonders, was he ever there in the first place?

So begins another nail-biting, adrenaline-fuelled adventure for Reacher. The present can be tense, but the past can be worse. That’s for damn sure.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

This is the latest in a long line of books on the same character. All the books are much the same. Reacher wanders into a small town, something is wrong, he gets involved, it all kicks off, violence ensues, Reacher comes out on top against the odds and then wanders away again. As usual there’s a strong female police officer character to contend with.

This time the story delves a little bit into his past which explains a bit more about his character adding a bit more meat to the basic story.

Many people would class these as pulp fiction with the same old story trotted out in a similar location but I enjoy them. Reacher is a no-nonsense character, very black and white. While violence comes naturally to him he has a clear sense of right and wrong and usually ends on the side of good. He’s like a cowboy character set in modern life, a modern day Clint Eastwood style character.

The stories and characters have just enough depth to keep you interested, the writing is nippy and trots along at a fast pace, enough to make you want to keep reading but not so fast you get lost in the details.

If you haven’t read any then start at the beginning. I interspersed them with other books so not to get bored with his style but I definitely recommend them.

downton abbey

From Wikipedia:

The film, set in 1927, depicts an official state visit by the King and Queen to the Crawley family’s English country house in the Yorkshire countryside. As the Royal staff descend on Downton an assassin has also arrived and attempts to kill the monarch. The family and servants are pitted against the royal entourage, including the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting who has fallen out with the Crawleys, especially the Dowager Countess, over an inheritance issue.

From the outside this is a pretty dull film with stilted, wooden acting and poor script. The storyline is full of holes and many of the plots make very little sense. For anyone that hasn’t seen the TV series it will probably be one of the worst films they’ve seen. However, if you are a fan of the TV series it will be a welcome return to the world of the Crawley family and the long gone age of British aristocracy. My description above stands but this is a kind of comfort food for the eyes with a surprising number of scenes of Edith in her underwear!

A TodayFM review described it as a full series that the writers weren’t able to air crammed into a two hour film. I think that’s a fair description.

My recommendation would be to wait until it comes to TV unless you have a particular desire to go to the cinema anyway and want something easy to watch.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 (as a film) but 🌟 🌟 🌟 for giving us a chance to see the show one more time.


The Runelords Series #3 by David Farland

From Goodreads:

Wizardborn continues the story of the struggle of Gaborn, now the Earth King, who has lost his powers but continues to lead his people. He must contend with the threat of the huge, inhuman Reavers, whose myriads Gaborn and his forces must now pursue across the nation. It has become Gaborn’s fate to follow, even into the depths.

Raj Ahten, the great warlord endowed with the strength and qualities of thousands of men, once the primary threat to Gaborn, now struggles to retain his own empire. His war of conquest thwarted, his very life is now threatened by the Reaver thousands.

And a young girl, Averan, who has eaten a Reaver and absorbed some of its memories, becomes a keystone in the search for the dark Reaver lair.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

I started reading this series looking for a traditional fantasy story that I hadn’t discovered before. Book 1 was OK but a bit difficult to read. Book 2 was much better and this book has continued in the same vein.

Some of the concepts behind the story are very unusual especially the type of magic that is the central theme and the main protagonists called “reavers” that remind me so much of “walkers” from “The Walking Dead“. I was pleased to see characters like Spring and Myrrima continued in this book, even though they aren’t developed much further. The main theme of this book is to develop the character of Averan who looks set to become a central character. There are some interesting teasers about the role she will play later in the story that may be less ordinary than expected. I guess eating reaver brains isn’t enough!

As a 3rd book in a series it’s inevitable that much of the story is consumed with setting up the rest of the series but despite that this is a good read, although it did take the story a while to get going and even then did bog down in battles a bit.

Another book with strong female characters and considering the genre and age of the book that makes it quite unusual.

heart scan

Pretty wiped out this evening having spent the day travelling up and down to the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin for a CT angiogram following my appointment with the cardiac consultant in July.

The appointment was for 11am so up shortly after 6.30am and away at 7.30am. Catriona had to come with me as I wasn’t allowed to drive home.

After only a short wait I was taken for the first examination to determine heart rate and given a beta blocker to reduce heart rate to the 50bpm area. Then sent back to the waiting room for 1hr to allow the meds to take effect before having the actual scan. It was two parts with the second involving the injection of a dye into the blood system. This gives a weird sensation as it goes in, a very weird taste at the back of the throat and a warming sensation that feels like you’re peeing yourself! Importantly it also allows a map of the arterial system highlighting any possible blockages. The scan lasted about 20min and we were finished by 12:30.

The worst part of the day (apart from the long journey) was no caffeine since last night and fasting from 7am so our first stop was Applegreen for food and tea and then home for about 4.30pm.

Had thought about a short spin this evening but I’m very sleepy now. Possibly an effect of the dye but most likely an after effect of the beta blocker and the long journey.

The results go back to the consultant in about a week and then I get called for a follow up appointment to discuss. Hopefully all unnecessary as I’m expecting but still slightly apprehensive about it all.

riding into the sunset

I managed to get get badly caught out on my Friday evening spin last week.

Due to a mixture of bad planning and disorganisation I ended up leaving the house about 20min later than planned and without hiviz or proper lights. My handlebar light has a decent constant mode but it was low on battery and almost failed before I got home with the last half hour on a setting too dim for comfort.

This week I was much better organised with the lights all fully charged and in place last night and all my gear left sitting ready to go when I got in from work.

much better prepared

I got away only 5min later than hoped and did the same route as last week which has very little traffic. With an unusually clear evening I was treated to great sunsets over the Bluestacks as well as an impressive moonrise over Castlederg.

sunset over the bluestacks
barnes gap
moonrise over castlederg
moon through the trees on the derg line

It was a perfect night for cycling and I could have stayed out hours longer!

click the image to view on strava

Over the last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve really got my cycling mojo back again. Last month I managed 235km. That’s not an awful lot but in context it’s my biggest month since November last year and by a long shot!

stats for the year

I’d set myself a target of 450/500km for September and so far I’m at 285km. I’m also feeling fitter and stronger and was pleased to set a distance record on Sunday from November last year and then to beat it on Wednesday 💪

Combine my extra mileage with two nights per week in the gym and I am now optimistic about my condition and fitness come the Spring 😊


I’ve been threatening this for a while but I finally ordered a custom headset cap from



It’s not quite finished. The cap came with a silver centre bolt that’s designed to recess into the depression in the centre of the cap but it’s longer than the bolt that came with my bike. I need to shorten it but couldn’t be bothered this evening and simply reused the original black bolt.

positive start

Starting September on a positive cycling note with a 50km reverse version of my spin over The Glebe from 3 weeks ago.

I haven’t climbed to The Glebe from the Victoria Bridge side very often compared to the Clady side. It’s very different with the climbing more spread out and gradual with two short, sharp steep sections. One of these hits 10% most of the way but nothing compared to the other side.

The major bonus of going this direction is the very fast descent down into Clady. Even with a headwind I managed a respectable 64.8km/h.

mourne footbridge, strabane
click the image to view on Strava