Wednesday 16 July 2014


There's no point going away for a weekend and not buying the odd book or thirteen, even if that equates to over 4 month's reading if last month's atrocious progress is anything to go by.

As I have tried to get a bit more organised regarding my books I have already stashed them in the library in the sky, otherwise known as the attic. For that reason I have been hunting web photos of the books I bought.

All bar one of them were secondhand buys ranging from 3 for 70p, at the sale in Lowestoft Library; 2 for £1, 3 for £1, 1 @ 75p in Charity shops. A new book for £1 from The Works and 3 books from a dedicated secondhand bookshop for £1.49.

I did peruse Waterstones and WH Smith's looking at new titles and whilst there are a few current titles that interest me, nothing jumped off the shelves and into my lap.

In no particular order......

Spook Country
Hopefully not too high-brow.

Now that the present has caught up with William Gibson's vision of the future, which made him the most influential science fiction writer of the past quarter century, he has started writing about a time--our time--in which everyday life feels like science fiction. With his previous novel, Pattern Recognition, the challenge of writing about the present-day world drove him to create perhaps his best novel yet, and in Spook Country he remains at the top of his game. It's a stripped-down thriller that reads like the best DeLillo (or the best Gibson), with the lives of a half-dozen evocative characters connected by a tightly converging plot and by the general senses of unease and wonder in our networked, post-9/11 time.

Unknown to me UK Crime 

Less than Kind

1968, and Charles Somerville, son of impoverished landowner Philip Somerville, is on the run from drug dealers in the Welsh borders. In nearby Llantrisillio, newcomers James and Suzie find their idyll shattered by the voyeurism of their farming neighbour.

Driving Lessons

Already read it!
A sunny, quiet, perfectly ordinary school day in autumn turns suddenly dark when sixteen-year-old Rebecca Patton runs down and kills a pedestrian during a driving lesson. It all happens so quickly, so inexplicably, like an accident. The victim - a woman carrying a red handbag - had been stepping off the curb at the corner of Grove and Third. Then she was lying in the street, in critical condition.

When police detective Katie Logan arrives at the station house, she finds a distraught but cooperative Rebecca. Her driving instructor, Andrew Newell, is totally disoriented, however. He appears to be drunk. Or on drugs. Certainly, his apparent incompetence warrants his arrest in what has now become a case of negligent homicide.

The situation in this adroitly told tale by a master at the top of his form grows far more sinister, though, when Logan learns that the victim's handbag has been recovered. It identifies the dead woman as Andrew Newell's wife.

Morning Dark
New to me US author.

Daniel Buckman has been praised for his stunning prose and sharp, riveting portrayals of the lives of American veterans in the wake of this country's twentieth-century wars.Morning Dark is the story of three generations of men from Watega County, Illinois, each pursued by the memories of the battles they fought and the wars they still dream of.

Big Walt Michalski is a decorated World War II veteran who built a plumbing empire in his hometown only to have his drunk, Vietnam-vet son, Walt, fritter away his inheritance, and the family business, on drugs and a series of dead-end marriages. Tom Jane, Walt's nephew and Big Walt's grandson, is a thirty-year-old career marine just out of the service with a dishonorable discharge. When Walt lets the memories of his failed life get the better of him, he takes off, intent on finding again the one place he ever felt free: outside the disappointed glare of Big Walt. But when he gets where he's going, he finds himself all too easily drawn back into a harrowing situation in which the life he's running from may turn out to be his only chance for salvation.

Daniel Buckman memorializes a lost class of American men who go to war and come home to work, men who exist on the fringes of the society they once risked their lives to protect. Haunting and startling, Morning Dark is a remarkable literary achievement from a talented young writer.

Black Gangster

2nd Goines in the library.

A large part of Goines' thirty nine years of life was spent being a successful pimp, a heif, an operator of corn liquor houses, an armed robber, and a small time dope dealer. He lived the life of the streets and out of that experience he created Prince, the anti-hero of Black Gangster! It's the story of the shocking underworld of black organised crime and the fledgling black "godfather" who goes from teenager ganglord to powerful Detroit mobster. Like the gangsters of the 1920's, he begins with boot-legging and branches out into every known crime.

The Job
Kurdish hitman!

Alan Korcunc is a notorious Kurdish assassin who is perhaps not strong or mean enough to work in New York City. Known as the 'Black Stone' back in Istanbul, he has recently escaped from prison after being convicted of murdering a Turkish businessman. Now in a cockroach-infested Manhattan apartment, without his accustomed bespoke tailoring, he prepares for a new assignment against an old enemy of the Kurdish people. But his instructions are not to wipe out the big-wig himself, but his two little daughters and the lovely woman they call 'Mommy'. Although Alan doesn't understand English, or any other gibberish that turns the Big Apple - he thinks 'Mommy' is one of the prettiest names for a woman he has ever heard. As the infamously heartless killer makes his cool, controlled preparations, he has not reckoned on New York's bustling anonymity and its squirting jam donuts, nor on the distractions of an elderly neighbour who shares her tinned sardines with him in his lonely hours. A mix of satire, intrigue and odd-ball lethal suspense, THE JOB is a deft tale of light and shadows which hits unexpected targets of human emotion.

Chilled to the Bone

Scandi crime
When a shipowner is found dead, tied to a bed in one of Reykjavik's smartest hotels, sergeant Gunnhildur Gisladottir of the city police force sees no evidence of foul play but still suspects things are not as cut and dried as they seem. And as she investigates the shipowner's untimely - and embarrassing - demise, she stumbles across a discreet bondage society whose members are being systematically exploited and blackmailed.

But how does all this connect to a local gangster recently returned to Iceland after many years abroad, and the unfortunate loss of a government laptop containing sensitive data about various members of the ruling party? What begins as a straightforward case for Gunnhildur soon explodes into a dangerous investigation, uncovering secrets that ruthless men are ready to go to violent extremes to keep.

Finders Keepers
Enjoyed Blacklands previously.

The eight-year-old boy had vanished from the car and - as if by slick, sick magic - had been replaced by a note on the steering wheel...'You don't love him'...

At the height of summer a dark shadow falls across Exmoor. Children are being stolen from cars. Each disappearance is marked only by a terse note - a brutal accusation. There are no explanations, no ransom demands ...and no hope. Policeman Jonas Holly faces a precarious journey into the warped mind of the kidnapper if he's to stand any chance of catching him. But - still reeling from a personal tragedy - is Jonas really up to the task? Because there's at least one person on Exmoor who thinks that, when it comes to being the first line of defence, Jonas Holly may be the last man to trust...

Prashant's fave - someone I need to try
The Keys of Hell

Super-spy Paul Chavasse embarks on a mission to Albania, to find a double agent whose cover has been blown and put him out of commission, permanently. Once there he finds himself at the centre of a deadly double-cross, fighting for his life.

Dirty Laundry

2 star review on Amazon.....hmm.
Errol Oldfield is under pressure, from the past and from his present actions, his fantasies and sexual jealousies, the drinking, the paranoia, his very personal demons. Dirty Laundry is set in the contemporary North East, in the space between town and country. Errol works part-time in the shabby Thrifty Miss Betsy discount shop and supplements his income raiding the till and by salmon-poaching. His spends all of his money on the sexy divorcee Maxine, Desdemona of the thrift stores. But Maxine's mind is on other things, not least the star striker for the city's Premiership football team. She's the goal machine's secret good luck charm. Don Taylor's powerful first novel brings James Ellroy, via Dennis Potter, to a contemporary Britain haunted by con men, surreal capers and cruel passions.

The Rising

I've enjoyed him previously.

When Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin is summoned to a burning barn, he finds inside the charred remains of a man who is quickly identified as a local drug dealer, Martin Kielty. It soon becomes clear that Kielty's death was no accident, and suspicion falls on a local vigilante group. Former paramilitaries, the men call themselves The Rising. Meanwhile, a former colleague's teenage son has gone missing during a seaside camping trip. Devlin is relieved when the boy's mother, Caroline Williams, receives a text message from her son's phone, and so when a body is reported, washed up on a nearby beach, the inspector is baffled. When another drug dealer is killed, Devlin realises that the spate of deaths is more complex than mere vigilantism. But just as it seems he is close to understanding the case, a personal crisis will strike at the heart of Ben's own family, and he will be forced to confront the compromises his career has forced upon him. With his fourth novel, McGilloway announces himself as one of the most exciting crime novelists around: gripping, heartbreaking and always surprising, "The Rising" is a tour de force - McGilloway's most personal novel so far.

The Escape Artist

Matt Seaton’s critically acclaimed memoir about his obsession for cycling and how that obsession was tamed.
Auto-bio and a change of pace for me.
For a time there were four bikes in Matt Seaton’s life. His evenings were spent 'doing the miles' on the roads out of south London and into the hills of the North Downs and Kent Weald. Weekends were taken up with track meets, time trials and road races – rides that took him from cold village halls at dawn and onto the empty bypasses of southern England.
With its rituals, its code of honour and its comradeship, cycling became a passion that bordered on possession. It was at once a world apart, private to its initiates and, through the races he rode in Belgium, Mallorca and Ireland, a passport to an international fraternity. But then marriage, children and his wife's illness forced a reckoning with real life and, ultimately, a reappraisal of why cycling had become so compelling in the first place. Today, those bikes are scattered, sold, or gathering dust in an attic.
Wry, frank and elegiac, ‘The Escape Artist’ is a celebration of an amateur sport and the simple beauty of cycling. It is also a story about the passage from youth to adulthood, about what it means to give up something fiercely loved in return for a kind of wisdom.

Snow White Must Die

One of last year's big things.
On a rainy November day police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to a mysterious traffic accident: A woman has fallen from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath. According to a witness, the woman may have been pushed. The investigation leads Pia and Oliver to a small village, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer's son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is - and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

An atmospheric, character-driven and suspenseful mystery set in a small town that could be anywhere, dealing with issues of gossip, power, and keeping up appearances.


  1. Col, a book haul is the perfect icing on a lovely holiday. For once, I'm familiar with two authors in your impressive line-up of "new" books, McBain and Higgins, though I actually read and reviewed "The Keys of Hell" three years ago. I have over a dozen McBain paperbacks that I haven't touched or looked at in over a year.

    1. Prashant cheers. When I do read the Higgins, I will check your review afterwards. I want to read McBain because his books are mercifully brief, something that seems to go against current trends.

    2. Col, I could sit with a pile of McBains and Higgins and never get bored. Of the two I haven't read McBain as much. Higgins is often sentimental and his plots are simplistic, but I enjoy his novels nonetheless.

    3. I like a bit of simplicity and sentimentality sometimes, not always. Over complicated and convoluted complex plots can make my brain overheat and boil - something I kind of fear might be the case with the Gibson book, a book I have been considering for a while.

  2. A couple of tempting ones there - I like the sound of the McBain, and I really liked a previous book by McGilloway. But right now I am having a concerted effort at getting my own TBR mountain down, so please don't tempt me...

    1. Driving Lessons would be classed as a novella or long short story - 72 pages, which was partly why I picked it up, plus I haven't read him for over 10 years and it wasn't an 87th series book.
      McGilloway's first was really good, which makes my subsequent non-reading of him fairly inexplicable. But I could say that about a lot of authors really. Good luck on your quest then!

  3. Col - You do have some good 'uns there. The McBain is good, and the McGilloway, the Baur and the Neuhaus sound tempting too. I'll be interested to hear what you think of them.

    1. Margot thanks. The McBain was a swift read and enjoyable. Not sure how soon I'll get to the others - but I've got the rest of my life to read them!

  4. I think I'd have tackled the McBain first too, although Snow White Must Die is a brilliant title.

    I hope you also got to the beach and played in the big fountain/plaza arrangement they have there...

    1. Rich - it was the shortest as well, which was something else in it's favour. SWMD - hopefully the title isn't the only thing that's brilliant.

      Yes to the beach - reading, snoozing, reading - though I didn't brave the sea myself, my 3 teenagers did. They also ran through the fountain, but weren't quite quick enough to dodge the spray, which added to our amusement!

  5. I am about 50 / 50 on this list. About 50% I have heard of and probably want to read. The rest I have not heard of. so I will wait until you review them, someday. I agree, a trip is always for buying books, assuming you can find bookstores.

    1. Tracy, I'm unsure which I will read next. Possibly the Dische book. Ten of them are new-to-me authors so law of averages dictates I probably won't like them all.
      Any trips planned yourself? (= More new books!)

  6. I feel a bit freaked out when I think how long ago it is that I read Gibson's Neuromancer, and how prescient he was about technology!

    1. I think I'm a bit worried that he might be too intelligent for me. I definitely don't feel compelled to try anything else by him (at this stage at least). I did see SPOOK COUNTRY on someone's list of best spy/espionage fiction so thought I'd keep an eye out for it.