Review of The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #3) by Elly Griffiths

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Another solid very readable atmospheric crime thriller from Elly Griffiths

This is the third outing of the “Magic Men” and I’m really enjoying the characters.

It is May 1953 and England is on the cusp of crowning a new Queen. The murder of a gypsy fortune and the stabbing of their old boss from the Magic Men days are linked as DI Edgar Stephens investigates.

Loads of strong characters here and excellent period details that provide and enjoyable and compelling British whodunit.

Elly Griffiths continues to capture the seedy, down at heel feel of the English South Coast expertly creating another highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place. I can’t wait for the fourth instalment of the “Magic Men”.

My thanks go to NetGalley and the Publisher for the chance to read an advance copy of this book.

Review of The Wall Between by Jesper Bugge Kold

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A gripping and moving story of the former East Germany.

Andreas lives in Copenhagen and receives a letter informing him that his father who he has never met has been stabbed to death in Berlin, and that he has inherited his flat. Keen to understand more about the father that his mother wouldn’t speak of he travels to Berlin to discover more.

Jesper Bugge Kold combines multiple timelines and characters to produce a brilliant story of the GDR, the Stasi and relationships. This book reminded somewhat of the film “Life of Others” and anyone who liked the film or is interested to the former East Germany should read this.

It’s tautly written but with some almost cinematic descriptions of Berlin. I found it an absolute page turner and read it within a day which is unusual for me.

Highly recommended.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of The War in the West:: A New History: Volume 2: The Allies Fight Back 1941-43 (New History Vol 2) by James Holland

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James Holland again has avoided repetition of previous accounts of this period and delivered a fascinating and thought provoking book that covers not just the political, but also the economic and social aspects.

I did find this volume flowed a little less smoothly than the previous, but despite that there’s much to get your teeth into. Holland argues convincingly that Nazi Germany was a busted flush by 1941 without the resources or a clear plan of how to continue the war over such a vast geographical area with a German army built for short campaigns close to the Fatherland.

Again he has unearthed some never before seen personal accounts that really add to our knowledge. For example some rarely heard voices of the Italian Army in North Africa.

This is a thought provoking book that challenges many preconceptions about the war and comes to some controversial conclusions.

Recommended.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of “Blood and Sand: Suez, Hungary, and Eisenhower’s Campaign for Peace” by Alex von Tunzelmann

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Excellent and very readable account of the Suez Crisis of 1956

Alex von Tunzelmann has put together an excellent account of the political manoeuvring that resulted in the 1956 Suez Crisis and how that crisis prevented a more effective response to the Soviet invasion of Hungary that occurred at the same time.

It’s an incredible story of British, French and Israeli duplicity and conspiracy with US President Eisenhower valiantly trying to prevent a potential World War whilst trying to fight an election.

The writing is excellent and whilst the content itself could be quite dry the author recounts the story in style that keeps your attention via an hour by hour account featuring a colourful group of international politicians.

With the 60th anniversary approaching I’d highly recommend this for anyone wanting to understand the modern Middle East and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of “Hitler’s Soldiers: The German Army in the Third Reich” by Ben H. Shepherd

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Fascinating revisionist history of the Wehrmacht

Ben Shephard pulls aside the curtain of respectability that many accounts of the German Army are cloaked in, demolishing the image of an honourable and decent fighting force compared to the SS.

In a detailed account he highlights countless occasions where the Wehrmacht are complicit in war crimes showing that many took part and a few notable exceptions complained. What some may find surprising is the early war conduct of some of July 21st conspirators.

However, the book is not purely about war crimes, but also about the combat performance of the Wehrmacht. Shephard shows how the early war effectiveness was eroded away once the gargantuan task of taking on the Soviets was clear and shows how the army still continued to retain its cohesion even when the outcome of the war was clear.

I’d recommend this for anyone who wants to read a more rounded view of the 3rd Reich and some insight into how ordinary men descend into barbarians.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of “Britain’s War: Into Battle, 1937-1941 (Britain’s War #1)” by Daniel Todman

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A hefty tome, but fast moving and very well written.

The book is expansive with 1937 to 1941 strategic, political, economic, military, cultural and social commentary covered in equal measure.

Todman covers details of the period generally ignored by many volumes. Whilst this might appear to be a dry subject he manages to inject a very readable style with many eyewitness accounts. The book continues to the end of 1941 with a second volume to follow covering the remainder of the war.

A thoroughly fascinating read – Highly recommended.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of “Churchill’s Last Wartime Secret: The 1943 German Raid Airbrushed from History” by Adrian Searle

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No hard evidence, but an interesting and well researched tale nonetheless.

Adrian Searle lives on the Isle of Wight and has written several history books. This book details the evidence he has compiled to validate the tale of a German raid on the Isle of Wight in 1943 to steal radar equipment.

The book gets into the evidence of the raid in the last two thirds with the first third detailing and debunking tales of other alleged German raids including the infamous Shingle Street story.

There’s also a chapter covering details of the British raid on Bruneval which again was to steal radar equipment and which bears some similarities to the alleged German raid.

Searle then goes onto to showcase his three key characters all of whom are unfortunately now deceased. The first two appear to be reputable characters, one a former war crimes investigator and local Isle of Wight historian and the second a German city senior archivist and apparent veteran of the raid. The third is a second hand source offered by a local military historian.

These combined with some archival evidence, such as an ARP report of “dingies full of Germans in the sea” put forward some scant flesh on the bones of what would result in a major re-write of British World War 2 history.

True or not, there’s shades of the early pages of Jack Higgins “The Eagle Has Landed” when Searle searches local cemeteries for evidence of British and possibly hidden German casualties.

I’ll leave you to decide, but you can’t deny Searle his diligence in his research and coming up with a rattling good tale that I for one would be delighted to be true.

I received this book free from Pen & Sword and was not required to write a positive review.