Category Archives: Contemporary

Review of ” The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway, #8)” by Elly Griffiths

Another great labyrinthine Norfolk murder mystery.

Book 8 in the Ruth Galloway series and this centres around Walsingham, site of a popular religious pilgrimage & shrine. A young woman is found dead in a ditch and as always archaeology and history play a significant part in the story.

Having read previous books in the series this is like a comfortable pair of shoes as I’m already familiar with the great cast of characters and their complicated personal lives. New readers will find it easy to pick up, but best to start from the 1st book in the series.

The character of Ruth works really well. She’s strong, but with the human frailties we all have and prefer to keep hidden and the book captures the beautiful Norfolk coast well with a blend of fictional and real locations sprinkled through the story.

There are plenty of twists to keep you guessing and I for one didn’t guess the culprit at all!

I’d recommend the whole series for fans of Midsomer Murders, Morse, Endeavour, etc.

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.

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Review of ” The Dictator’s Last Night” by Yasmina Khadra, Julian Evans (Translation)

Tense and gripping imagining of Muammar Gaddafi’s last hours.

No one can know what went through the head of Gaddafi in his last hours but Yasmina Khadra ably aided by Julian Evans translation creates a plausible and scary insight into what the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya might have been thinking.

The book begins with Gaddafi hiding in Sirte waiting for the arrival of his son, who is going to help him break out and find refuge in another part of the country. During the wait Gaddafi ponders his life, his current circumstances and the events that have brought him to this.

The book itself is short, but this keeps the tension high even though you know what will happen. Some scenes are not for the faint hearted, but it’s a very powerful story told very well.

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 ” The Beaten Zone” by Tom Mykytiuk

I took a gamble on this one and it paid off.

I was looking for a fiction book on Tito and the partisans and came across this.

There’s a lot of criticism of self published books but Tom Mykytiuk has produced a fast moving novel that effectively melds the German attempt to capture Tito in 1943 with the ethnic conflicts of 1990s Yugoslavia.

His military background brings a high level of authenticity to the action, and his characters are not one dimensional that many in this genre suffer from.

If I had criticise there are a number of typos in the book such as OSE instead of SOE but these did not affect my enjoyment.

I understand there is another book with same characters in the pipeline which based on this debut will be well worth a look.

Review of ” The Birthday Gift” by Anthony Scott

A gripping balanced combination of thriller and romance that’s a real page turner, but ultimately a little unfulfilling.

Noah lives in St Ives with his mother Tess, grandfather Joshua, and Flora, the girl he loves. His relationship with Flora underpins the story as she is about to marry Jake.

Now this is sounding like a classic romance novel, but it isn’t. As the action moves from Cornwall to London to France to Germany and then to Poland where there’s a final flashback to World War 2 as Joshua discovers the history of “The Birthday Gift”.

I really enjoyed the descriptions in this book. Cornwall and St Ives come across as idyllic places (which of course they are). The writing style is rich, which made the relationships between the characters more believable and compelling.

I loved this book right up until the end when it finished….very suddenly and with too many loose ends…a real shame which is why it gets 4 stars instead of 5.

Review of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin” by Fiona Hill, Clifford G Gaddy

An absorbing read that seeks to understand Putin despite the dearth of information available out there on him.

Newly updated (to Nov 2014) Hill and Gaddy have put together a detailed book detailing how Putin’s ideology is formed directly from his life experiences. Whilst not unusual an interpretation in itself, Putin’s life was not a privileged upbringing of the likes of the many of the Western political elite. His was from the school of hard knocks on the mean streets of Soviet Leningrad and in Dresden during the terminal decline of East Germany as a mid-level KGB officer.
They argue that it is these experiences, the tragic history of Russia, his parents struggle to survive the Leningrad siege, and the implosion of East Germany that drive many of his policies today.

The authors’ take on the Ukraine crisis is an interesting one. Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 exposed a number of weaknesses in the Russian military resulting in downsizing and the evolution of a new approach of non-linear war which saw its first use in the 2014 Crimean crisis.

Hill and Gaddy also say that Putin’s view is that the West was already engaging in non-linear war by expanding EU and NATO membership to the borders of Russia as well as infiltration by western funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) threatening in Putin’s view Russian’s very existence.

There’s much more in this book besides, creating an absorbing read that seeks to understand Putin despite the dearth of information available out there on him.

Review of “The Accident” by Chris Pavone

Chris Pavone has created another great page turning thriller.

This masterful thriller is based in the New York publishing world where literary agent Isabelle Reed receives an anonymous manuscript that threatens to blow the lid on the Wolfe Media empire, however some people are desperate to ensure the story never gets published.

Isabelle is a great, strong female character trying to make sense of the earthquake that this manuscript has made of her world. The action ranges across Europe as well as across the US and Pavone’s writing style hardly gives you a chance to draw breath. The plot appears quite straightforward, but becomes more labyrinthine as the story moves on. That being said all is explained in the great climax on the shores of Long Island sound.

The book covers just 24 hours of one day, but what a day! Although over 350 pages long the story moves very quickly and I read this within 2 days mainly because I found it hard to put down.

If you like thrillers, belt in for a great ride!

Review of “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

A compelling and intriguing psychological thriller about human weakness and obsession.

This is Paula Hawkins first book and has already been signed up for a movie.

The book centres around Rachel, an unemployed, recently divorced alcoholic who becomes involved in a criminal investigation as a result of what she witnesses on her daily commute into London. It’s this storyline that intrigued me as I for one gaze out of trains and wonder at the lives that are glimpsed as we flash past.

The story is told from the various viewpoints of the main characters and ratchets up the tension as you discover that almost all of them have something to hide. Once I got the hang of the names the book is a relatively easy read and doesn’t get unnecessarily graphic in its descriptions.

If you like your British crime like Broadchurch or Lewis then this is for you.