Friday 13 September 2019


Happy August! Another six crackers to look forward to......

David Owen - Why Neville Shot Gus (2019) - from author

Oh the kindness of authors, all the way from Tasmania to Leighton Buzzard - David Owen's latest. Minimalist blurb, to be sure from the author of the Pufferfish series.

I've enjoyed a couple of his in the last few years.



Read it.

Randy Kennedy - Presidio (2018) - purchased copy

Popped up in my Goodreads feed and I liked the sound of this.


Set in the 1970s in the vast and arid landscape of the Texas panhandle, this darkly comic and stunningly mature literary debut tells the story of a car thief and his brother who set out to recover some stolen money and inadvertently kidnap a Mennonite girl who has her own reasons for being on the run.

Troy Falconer returns home after years of working as a solitary car thief to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. When they steal a station wagon for the journey, the brothers accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. Martha turns out to be a stubborn survivor who refuses to be sent home, so together these unlikely road companions attempt to escape across the Mexican border, pursued by the police and Martha's vengeful father.

The story is told partly through Troy's journal, in which he chronicles his encounters with con artists, down-and-outers, and roadside philosophers, people looking for fast money, human connection, or a home long since vanished. The journal details a breakdown that has left Troy unable to function in conventional society; he is reduced to haunting motels, stealing from men roughly his size, living with their possessions in order to have none of his own and all but disappearing into their identities.

With a page-turning plot about a kidnapped child, gorgeously written scenes that probe the soul of the American West, and an austere landscape as real as any character, Presidio packs a powerful punch of anomie, dark humor, pathos, and suspense.

Manda Scott - A Treachery of Spies (2018) - purchased copy

Mick Herron rates it - SOLD! 


Treachery of Spies is an espionage thriller to rival the very best, a high stakes game of cat-and-mouse, played in the shadows, which will keep you guessing every step of the way.

An elderly woman of striking beauty is found murdered in Orleans, France. Her identity has been cleverly erased but the method of her death is very specific: she has been killed in the manner of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two. 

Tracking down her murderer leads police inspector Inès Picaut back to 1940s France where the men and women of the Resistance were engaged in a desperate fight for survival against the Nazi invaders. 

To find answers in the present Picaut must discover what really happened in the past, untangling a web of treachery and intrigue that stretches back to the murder victim's youth: a time when unholy alliances were forged between occupiers and occupied, deals were done and promises broken. The past has been buried for decades, but, as Picaut discovers, there are those in the present whose futures depend on it staying that way – and who will kill to keep their secrets safe...

‘A Treachery of Spies is the equal of Charlotte Gray in its insights into the period and, I would say, beats it for sheer excitement… one of the most gripping spy stories I have ever read.’ Jake Kerridge, S Magazine

'This is a rich vein for fiction, and Scott does it more than justice, with this beautifully imagined, beautifully written, smart, sophisticated - but fiercely suspenseful - thriller.' Lee Child

Stephen King - The Colorado Kid (2005) - purchased copy

Recently re-published, a bit scarcer than rocking horse pooh before that. I tried the series Haven a year or two ago and didn't get on with it. I'm sure the book will be better.


Stephen King’s bestselling unsolved mystery, THE COLORADO KID – inspiration for the TV series HAVEN -- returns to bookstores for the first time in 10 years in an all-new illustrated edition.

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There’s no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it’s more than a year before the man is identified. And that’s just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...? No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett’s THE MALTESE FALCON and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world’s great storytellers presents a moving and surprising tale whose subject is nothing less than the nature of mystery itself...

Markus Zusak - Bridge of Clay (2018)

I've enjoyed Zusak's work in the past - I am the Messenger and The Book Thief. I'm not going to pass up his latest.


Here is a story told inside out and back to front

Five Dunbar brothers are living – fighting, loving, grieving – in the perfect chaos of a house without grown-ups. Today, the father who left them has just walked right back in.
He has a surprising request: Who will build a bridge with him?

It is Clay, a boy tormented by a long-buried secret, who accepts. But why is Clay so broken? And why must he fulfil this extraordinary challenge?

Bridge of Clay is about a boy caught in a current, a boy intent on destroying everything he has in order to become everything he needs to be. Ahead of him lies the bridge, the vision that will save both his family and himself.

It will be a miracle and nothing less.

At once an existential riddle and a search for redemption, this tale of five brothers coming of age in a house with no rules brims with energy, joy and pathos. Written in Markus Zusak's distinctive style, it is a tour de force from a master storyteller of the heart.


'Bridge of Clay is one of those monumental books that can draw you across space and time' Washington Post

Lawrence Block (as Jill Emerson) - Thirty (1970) - from author

FREEBIE AUDIBLE CODE received from one of Mr Block's assistants - one of the benefits of receiving his newsletter. Another one to be listened to on the commute to and from work.


The edgy diary of a 1960s housewife's adventure of self-realization.

Turning 29 years old, Janet Giddings Kurland starts a journal and records her comfortably routine suburban lifestyle. But when she rolls the dice with her friend's husband, she starts down a path that will lead her to the hip streets of Greenwich Village. Amidst the sexually free, Janet blossoms and her housewife's journal turns into a sex diary filled with unexpected encounters, dangerous partners, and drug-fueled sexual escapades.

Will her adventures destroy her? Or will she find, as the poet William Blake proclaimed, that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom?

Lawrence Block, award-winning novelist and screenwriter, has written eight novels over the years as Jill Emerson. Thirty is one of them.

©1970, 2010 LB Productions (P)2014 LB Productions


  1. These look good, Col. I'm especially interested in Presidio. And of course, you can't go wrong with Lawrence Block. I hope you'll enjoy these - look forward to your reviews.

    1. Presidio does have a compelling hook I think. Agree wholeheartedly regarding Lawrence Block

  2. Guess I ought to give the King a try. And for some reason I'm tantalized by the Owen . . .

    1. Yes on both counts. I hunted high and low for a hint re WHY NEVILLE SHOT GUS? and failed. It's a novella but also an explanation from the author as to how it was written and how it all hangs together. An intelligent Goodreads reviewer, Karen from Aus explains it better than I could ever hope to.

  3. A Treachery of Spies sounds good. All the others sound like possibilities also. Although if I am going to read Lawrence Block, I am more likely to finally read another Matt Scudder novel.

    1. I think it might be right up your street, Tracy. Block's Scudder series is one I ought to get back to myself.