In The Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
by Patrick O'Connor
YOU can't beat a good crime thriller and this effort from Stuart MacBride is one of the best I've read in a long time.
The main protagonist is police sergeant Logan McRae whose patch is the Scottish city of Aberdeen where both cops and robbers are very tough breeds indeed.
The novel begins with the discovery of a naked corpse in some woods, with his hands bound and a bin bag taped over the head.
Logan and his team are initially involved in the murder but then a Major Investigation Team arrives with Logan's former boss DCI Steel in charge.
First suggestions are that the murder might have something to do with the passing away of local crime overlord Hamish Mowat which means that Logan's local knowledge and his connections with the area's low-life could come in useful.
The threat of violent gang war is never far away but there are other things on Logan's mind such as whether or not to turn off the life-support machine keeping his girlfriend alive and a rather chequered past history which could be construed as corrupt behaviour.
In the Cold Dark Ground is fast-paced and spicy dialogue and host of fascinating characters. Definitely worth a read.
A new study claims that sleep-deprived workers face a higher risk of death and are costing the UK economy £40bn a year.
The BBC says the calculation is based on tired employees being less productive or absent from work altogether.
Data from 62,000 people was used by research firm Rand Europe who said that the loss equated to 1.86% of economic growth.
Rand Europe's report called on employers to recognise and promote the importance of sleep, urging them to build nap rooms.
“The effects from a lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual's health and well-being but has a significant impact on a nation's economy," said Marco Hafner, a research leader at Rand Europe.
A metal detectorist came up with a truly historic find when he searched a ploughed field in Cambridgeshire, reports The Guardian.
He discovered a large gold torc which an expert thinks may have been worn to protect a pregnant woman.
The torc was made from 730 grams of almost pure gold more than 3,000 years ago, and is thought to be the best found in England in more than a century.
It was discovered within 50 miles of Must farm, a bronze age village close to Peterborough.
Neil Wilkin, the curator of bronze age Europe at the British Museum said: “It’s been a while since we’ve had anything as hefty as this.”
£2.5m could be the amount needed to purchase a 16th century English prayer book which some experts reckon could have belonged to a young Henry V111, when it is auctioned at Sotheby's.
And, reports The Guardian, 156 years ago the same auction house sold it for £84.
The Bute Hours – named after its 20th-century owner, the 5th Marquess of Bute – was made around 1500.
Mara Hoffman, senior specialist in western manuscripts at Sotheby’s, says the strong royalist bias of the images in the book indicates that it was made for a nobleman of the royal household and some experts have suggested it was made for the young prince Henry, who would become Henry VIII.
The Daily Express tells us that 20 fundraisers took part in the first ever zip-wire across the River Thames and raised over £1 million for charity.
They were suspended 52 metres (170ft) above the capital in aid of the Evelina London Children's Hospital, travelling 460m (1,500ft) from the roof of St Thomas's Hospital on London's South Bank across the river to Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament.
One of those who took part, Rosie Tapner, commented: “It was far more fun than I thought it would be, actually. It was an incredible experience.”
A new £5 bank note which has been introduced in the UK has caused an upset in the vegetarian world.
The BBC says that the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge is refusing to accept the coin because it contains animal products.
Owner Sharon Meijland said she had made a promise to customers that the cafe was an “ethical establishment” and that the £5 would not be accepted because polymer which contains tallow – a type of animal fat - was used for the notes.
She explained: “ Our whole business is based around not having anything like that on the premises.”
ONE of the country's leading actresses Imelda Staunton has urged a ban on eating and drinking in theatres.
The Guardian quotes an interview she gave to the listings magazine Radio Times in which she called on people to give the performance their full attention.
Staunton, who starred in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Vera Drake, added: “I don’t know why people can’t engage in just one thing. I don’t understand this obsession with having to eat or drink something at every moment of the day.”
IN a year of political shocks it may come as no surprise that Oxford Dictionaries has decided that 'post-truth' (an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals) is their 2016 international word of the year.
The BBC reports Oxford Dictionaries' spokesman Casper Grathwohl as saying that post-truth could become “one of the defining words of our time”.
He commented: “Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time.”
SCIENTISTS were delighted to be handed the biggest earthworm ever found in Britain before deciding to kill it!
An article in The Independent says that the earthworm, which was 40cm long and weighed 26g, was discovered in a vegetable patch by Paul Rees from Widnes whose stepson named it 'Dave.'
Scientists killed it so that 'Dave' can be preserved.
Natural History Museum scientist Emma Sherlock, who chairs the Earthworm Society of Britain, said: “Not only is it really long, it is almost twice as heavy as any other wild earthworm ever seen, weighing the same as a small chocolate bar.”
APPARENTLY the odds on this are a quintillion to one, so John Landy certainly had a surprise when he opened a box of 10 eggs to find that they all had double yolks.
He bought them during a visit to a supermarket near his home in Wigan, Lancashire.
John told the Daily Mirror: “When I got one double yolk, I was quite surprised because I had never see one before. I opened another one and that was one. We were having four eggs and they were all double yolkers. I decided to open the rest of the eggs and they were all double yolks.”
Mosquitoes are small, midge-like flies, in fact the word "mosquito" is Spanish for "little fly".
Mosquitoes feed on the blood of various kinds of hosts, mainly vertebrates, mainly mammals. However, some mosquitoes also attack invertebrates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even some kinds of fish. Although the loss of blood is seldom of any importance to the victim, the saliva of the mosquito often causes a nasty irritation that we call a bite.
However, it can be much more serious. Many species of mosquitoes act as vectors of diseases. In passing from host to host, some transmit extremely harmful infections such as malaria, yellow fever, Chikungunya, West Nile virus, dengue fever, filariasis, Zika virus and other arboviruses, rendering it the deadliest animal family in the world.