Read.  The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths.  I should say, read all of Elly Griffiths’ ‘Ruth Galloway’ books, as this one is her sixth in the series.  Griffiths weaves much factual history and science into her crime stories and leaves the telling to an endearing main character, Ruth Galloway, who is a middle-aged forensic archaeologist, with relatable insecurities and amusing self-depricating humour.  The Outcast Dead will be released March 11.  In this latest story, Ruth uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess, while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk, England.  Every year a ceremony is held at Norwich Castle for the bodies in the paupers’ graves; the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series ‘Women Who Kill’, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.  Griffiths bases the title and the book’s opening scene on an actual ceremony for ‘the outcast dead’, or paupers and prostitutes, who were long ago flung into a mass grave in London.  The ceremony is held every year at London’s Cross Bones Graveyard.  Anyone who enjoys an easy reading, good crime-mystery story will not be disappointed in the Ruth Galloway series.

Watch.  The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Wes Anderson’s latest creation, The Grand Budapest Hotel opened in theatres March 7.  While I admit, and have indicated this prior, that Anderson is an acquired taste, if you have a tendency to swim against the current where mainstream cinematic entertainment is concerned, you might like this film.  Creator of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, to name just a few, Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel has another amazing ensemble cast, featuring Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody, Willem Defoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Kietel and Tom Wilkinson.  It recounts the adventures of a legendary concierge, Gustave H, and lobby boy, Zero Moustafa, at a famous [fictitious] European hotel between the wars. It involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune.  Though it is a complex story, set across three decades, the gorgeous and odd Anderson-esque imagery will keep you mesmerized through to the ending.

Listen.  GIRL, the new album release of Pharrell Williams.  This is Williams’ second studio album, released on March 3.  The lead single of Girl is the Academy Award-nominated song ‘Happy’, from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. The album contains appearances by Kelly Osbourne, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, JoJo, Alicia Keys, Tori Kelly and Leah LaBelle.  The album can generally be described as dance-pop with a motown-funk sound.  Reflective of its name, the lyrical content of GIRL is very much celebratory of women’s power.  Oliver Keens of ‘Time Out’ gave the album four out of five stars, saying “The best you can say is that Pharrell has created, hands down, one of the biggest and best pop albums of the year.”  If you like ‘Happy’ and give credit to critical acclamation, you are sure to like this album.

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