Posts filed under ‘Reviews’

The Dry

by Catherine Hume

Wow! This is a stunning debut novel! I’ve not read anything as good as this for quite a while. Not only is Jane Harper‘s The Dry – a modern take on a whodunnit – a fast-paced and gripping read, but it is also so well written.

Aaron Falk had been away from Kiewarra – a small, struggling town in Australia’s outback – for twenty years since a tragedy in his teens. He now returns – a police officer specialising in fraud – and the family who raised him ask him to investigate a new tragedy. Falk’s childhood friend has murdered his wife and eldest child before turning the gun on himself: what at first seems like a terrible homicide/suicide in a town pushed to the edge by drought and poverty … Falk must ask – is everyone what they seem to be? (more…)

March 28, 2018 at 3:58 pm Leave a comment

The Beckoning Lady

by Steve Savage

Published in 1955, The Beckoning Lady, by Margery Allingham, drags Albert Campion, her gentleman sleuth, into the countryside once more. A grand rural party is being arranged. Campion’s old school friends, or at least old schoolfellows, crop up here and there – Tonker Cassands and also Gilbert Whippet of the ‘MOLE’, who communicates with Campion using bunches of flowers – each flower has a traditional meaning. Whippet featured in The Case of the Late Pig. And of course there is Lugg with his rhyming slang, and there is Amanda.

Recently I came across a story of Allingham’s (‘Safer than Love’) set in a boys’ school, that featured a different detective, Fred South, a very characterful police superintendent nicknamed Uncle. (more…)

March 28, 2018 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

A Man Called Ove

by Catherine Hume

I have really enjoyed this novel! Although my book club, generally, didn’t enjoy it. One woman said that her reason for not enjoying the novel was that she found the book “too masculine”. I don’t know what that means so I can’t comment.

A Man Called Ove is Fredrik Backman‘s sixth novel, and has recently been made into a film. Ove is a man who was retired from his job against his will. He lives in a small Swedish town and simply cannot function in the modern world. Orphaned at a young age, Ove learned to be self-sufficient. He fixes things. He is someone who does instead of someone who talks. Ove’s world is turned upside down when a racially mixed family move in next door. These neighbours provide an annoyance each day that disturbs Ove’s daily attempts to commit suicide. The family gradually weave themselves into Ove’s life in a way that is both heart-warming and inspiring. (more…)

February 27, 2018 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

Famous Trials 5

Review by Steve Savage

Five murder trials ranging in date from 1892 to 1935 – what would they have in common? When you read this book, which is an abridged version of five titles in the Notable British Trials series from William Hodge & Co, Ltd, perhaps the main common factor is inexplicability, or randomness. Unlike in fiction, these murders often lack clear motives. The question repeatedly arises whether the accused were entirely responsible for their actions. That is a question that dates back to Don Quixote and no doubt earlier. In the case of the “Arran murderer”, John Laurie, the Scottish authorities came under pressure from an emotional public campaign against his execution, and although the defence had not claimed any mental incapacity, after Laurie was condemned to death it was decided that, for unspecified reasons, he was “of unsound mind”, and the unfortunate criminal spent the rest of his life (over 40 years) behind bars. (more…)

February 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

Angels and Demons

Review by Catherine Hume

I came to Angels and Demons already a fan of Dan Brown. Sure, he’s not going to win any prizes for a blindingly outstanding literary style, but that’s part of what I love about reading Dan Brown. Dan Brown writes as though he already has a blockbuster film in mind – which is how a lot of writing tutors encourage novel writers to think these days – and he writes in an immediate and pacy way. This means we keep turning the pages. He is also clever in that most of the time, his novels have three or more storylines and these are interspersed throughout the novel, and so if you want to find out what happens next, it sounds silly, but you have to keep reading – reading for another three chapters beyond the other storylines. (more…)

May 5, 2017 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

The Sleeper

Review by Steve Savage

The Sleeper is a Cold War thriller. We are in the 1950s. The premise of Holly Roth‘s novel is that the US military have court-martialled and imprisoned a spy they uncovered in the Army, a “sleeper”. Public unease apparently induces them to give a journalist – Robert Kendall – unique access to Lt. Hollister, and he has written a whole book about the man and his case. But after Buddy Hollister kills himself in his cell, (more…)

May 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales

Review by Max Scratchmann

The Rental Heart, by Kirsty Logan, is more than just a short story collection. It is a Pandora’s box, a literary confection, a doorway to a place of magical enchantment.

These stories are flights of pure fantasy, sometimes Magical Realism, sometimes Steampunk, sometimes Fairy Tales. Most defy categorisation (more…)

January 8, 2015 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

Sicilian Uncles

Review by Steve Savage

There are four longish stories in Sicilian Uncles, by Leonardo Sciascia. Until a few days ago, had you asked me what they were about, I would have said that they were all set in Sicily and were all about uncles in one way or another. Admittedly, one of the uncles was Uncle Joe, as Stalin used to be known, but there were four uncles. However, when I came to read the book a second time, I discovered that my memory was quite false. (more…)

January 8, 2015 at 10:34 am Leave a comment


Review by Max Scratchmann

Having particularly enjoyed Rosie Garland‘s gothic Palace of Curiosities I formed an eager queue at Waterstones for her latest opus, Vixen, but found a completely different bill of fare on offer.

One of the things I loved most about Palace of Curiosities was its sense of Victorian claustrophobia and dark urban settings, as if all the scenes took place by the light of whale-oil lamps in the dank chambers of tottering rooming-houses; but Vixen, in its early chapters at least, appears to be a bright and sunny romp through the forests and hamlets of medieval England (more…)

October 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum

Review by Steve Savage

This short novel was written by Heinrich Böll in the early 1970s, at a time when the West German authorities were confronted by the Baader-Meinhof gang, whose leaders had been arrested in 1972.

The book starts with an item of information, that one Katharina Blum has telephoned a Crime Commissioner to tell him that she has shot and killed a newspaper reporter. The narrator then investigates, in an apparently aimless and hesitant fashion, the events leading up to this dramatic turn of events. (more…)

October 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and get email notification of new posts.

Join 30 other followers