The Dry, Jane Harper

This book had won a range of prizes by the time I got to reading it: Australia Indie Book and Indie Debut of the Year 2017; Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year; CWA Gold Dagger. It even became the Radio 2 Book Club Choice. I think I read somewhere that film rights have been…

The Heart’s Invisible Furies, John Boyne

  Some books you can knock out a review in a moment or two after reading them. Others take time to digest and consider and reflect on. And this beautiful, heart-aching, visceral, funny, tragic novel is one of the latter. But as yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia Intersexism and Transphobia  – should…

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

We all know that old bloke on the corner who glowers at us, the one with a face like a bulldog sucking lemons, the one who barks at us for dropping litter or parking in the wrong place. The one who we suspect goes around the house grumbling about the radiators being on. Hell, I fear…

Eleanor Oliphant Is Perfectly Fine, Gail Honeyman

Mental health is a difficult topic to write about. A dangerous topic. It would be very easy for it to trivialise – or even worse, to glamourise – mental illness or trauma.  And there were times here where is was a little concerned that the novel may be going down that route – the love…

The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch

 It’s a funny thing about series. What is original and unique can become familiar and even – dare I say it? – stale as a series goes on. They become perhaps over-thought or overworked like a piece of dough that’s had the life kneaded out of it. I wonder whether that’s what has happened with…

Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz

Detective fiction is a funny thing. The moment of most conflict and drama generally takes place outside the narrative, often before detective has been called in. The narrative arc is pretty formulaic: scenes are inspected, witnesses interviewed, discrepancies explored. And the conclusion is pretty predicable: the culprit is identified and society made safe from him…

Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood

Once again, a deliciously striking cover for Margaret Atwood’s most recent novel, and the most recent entry into the Hogarth Shakespeare Project… and the first in the project that I’ve read. Now, I have a confession to make before going much further: I’ve never really got Margaret Atwood. I’ve wanted to; I’ve tried to. I…

Nutshell, Ian McEwan

Some books need more of an exercise in imagination than others. A bigger suspension of disbelief. An unborn narrator, for example, is one such. And not just unborn in a metaphorical sense but literally foetal. The narrator of McEwan’s most recent book – recently serialised on Radio 4 – is a third-trimester Hamlet, set in modern London, recounting…

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

You know when you hope you got a book series wrong? Other people are telling you it’s great but you just don’t get it? You end up offering excuses for the writer: maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind; maybe  I was too tired; maybe I read it too quickly. Sometimes, it is…

The Vows Of Silence, Susan Hill

Susan Hill is, without doubt, a fantastic writer. The Woman In Black is an exquisitely crafted horror; Strange Meeting is exceptional. so I am persevering with these detective novels hoping for … well something. But I’ve not found it yet. I really don’t know what it is that’s missing but something is. The plots are decent enough: this…

Etymologicon and The Elements of Eloquence, Mark Forsyth

These are not worth separate blog posts: same basic book written in the same basic style about the same basic themes.  Which sounds terribly dismissive but shouldn’t: as a self-confessed language geek who’s alert to the absurdity and beauty of our mongrel mother tongue, these books were a delightful treat.and a little like talking to…

The Vegetarian, Han Kang

This is a very difficult book to review, to consider, to – for wont of a better analogy – digest. It is also a book which I think will haunt and follow me. And, Heaven forfend, make me think. What an appalling concept! The plot, such as it is, is devastatingly simple: Kim Yeong-hye is…