Category Archives: Fiction

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 Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian” by David Dyer

Vivid retelling of Titanic tragedy

David Dyer ‘s story is based on real events, but is an imagining of the events that occurred on nearby ship, the Californian which failed to go to the Titanic’s aid.

I resisted googling the Californian and the reading experience was all the richer for that. Dyer’s characters are real names based on the records of the official enquiries but are more detailed than a mere official document with all their flaws and fears laid bare.

The main character is fictional journalist John Steadman who is attempting to find out the truth about the Californian. By using Steadman Dyer creates a compelling narrative that brings depth and contrast to the story and characters.

A good historical fiction debut that brings a different viewpoint to a well-trodden path

Review of ” Paris Spring” by James Naughtie

Thoughtful and fulfilling espionage novel

Set in 1968 Paris with the city on the brink of insurgency MI5 agent Will Flemyng is drawn into personal doubts over his brothers loyalty to his country following an encounter on the Metro.

James Naughtie’s novel is full of imagery of the time from smoke filled bars, burning barricades to dead letter drops in remote cemeteries. The characters are richly drawn and if you’ve seen the recent version of Tinker, Taylor, Soldier Spy you will recognise a certain personality that becomes a spook.

It’s a rich story of tested personal and national loyalties that is both thoughtful and exciting and I’d highly recommend to any fans of classic espionage novels.

Review of ” The Cleaner” by Elisabeth Herrmann

I’m always wary of any title with “unputdownable thriller” in it , however this lives up to the billing.

Judith Kepler is an industrial cleaner. Got some serious stains?, she’s your woman. However one job results in her questioning her past and regenerating some uncomfortable memories.

This is a great thriller, with a strong female lead. The story keeps you guessing with the threads of Stasi, W German intelligence and cold war politics intertwining to provide with a very entertaining and stimulating read.

Highly recommended

Review of ” The People in the Photo” by Hélène Gestern

A beautifully written poignant and moving story of parental secrets.

The story starts with Hélène who doesn’t remember her mother as she died when she was an infant. She finds a picture of her mother as a very young woman, at a tennis tournament with two young men she did not recognise at all. Hélène places an advertisement, asking for more information about the people in the photo.

Stéphane responds as he recognises one of the young men is his father and so the story unfolds via the correspondence between Stéphane and Hélène.

The book reminded me a little bit of 84 Charing Cross Road in utilising a series of letter, e-mails and postcards as the main narrative. This works particularly well as you gain insight into the feelings, thoughts and personalities of Helene and Stéphane more so than a more traditional narrative.

I particularly enjoyed the exquisite and detailed descriptions of the various photos in the story that brought the unseen fictional images to a sharp clarity.

An enchanting, moving and enjoyable read written in the most beautiful prose.

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 ” Stealing the Future: An East German Spy Thriller (East Berlin Series Book 1)” by Max Hertzberg

A fascinating alternative history of the two Germanys as well as a gripping thriller.

Max Hertzberg has come up with a fascinating alternative history of 1989 and after for Germany. It’s 1993, the Wall is open, however East Germany hasn’t been subsumed into West Germany. It has decided to stay independent and run the country via a grassroots participatory democracy, resulting in decentralising most decision making to neighbourhood committees in which everyone participates. However, all is not well in the new GDR as dark forces are trying to destabilise it.

The story revolves around Martin Grobe, a former dissident and now part of the Republicschutz, a post 9th Nov 1989 counter-espionage service which has responsibility for monitoring attempts to undermine the new East Germany. He is investigating the murder of prominent politician at a mine in West Silesia, a region looking to join West Germany.

The author certainly knows Berlin and East Germany well and captures the period in great detail even down to way the 1980s era S-Bahn train doors operate. However, what brings the story alive are the characters struggling to keep alive their dream of freedom, justice and equality in the face of corruption, West German pressure for unification and the dark forces that enforced the old regime.

Whilst some may see this book as some sort of left wing fairy tale I found the book stimulating and vastly different from standard spy thriller fare with its parallel exploration of political self-determination and de-centralisation of power.

Further books in the series are planned and I for one will be keen to follow how Grobe and the “new” East Germany fares further into the 1990s.

This book is currently free (as of Jan 2016) on Smashreads, link here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…

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