2018: A Year in Books

So here it is. New Year’s Eve and, being a dad to a five year old and generally quite antisocial, I am at home with family, a glass of chilled champagne and, currently, Pointless on the television. Living the high life! But I’d have it no other way. The little one is upstairs reading Emma…

Washington Black, Esi Edugyan

Oh well, having set down my best intentions earlier, to review Washington Black before finishing Sally Rooney’s Normal People, and to complete the 30 Day Book Challenge by Christmas, I have failed on all accounts and now have Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls to review as well! But, I have had a lovely Chrsitmas…

The Sentence is Death, Anthony Horowitz

Why do we read detective stories? It is a strange genre.  Every piece of advice is that tension and conflict are the driver of a narrative and, with this genre, unlike the thriller genre, the most significant conflict – the one which traditionally culminates in murder, as it does with this one – occurs significantly…

Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Rivers of London series as a fresh urban fantasy – and all the freedoms and inventiveness which comes with that – merged with the familiar structures and language of a police procedural. In the previous book, The Hanging Tree, Aaronovitch finally reveals the identity of The Faceless Man, the antagonist…

The Mystery of Three Quarters, Sophie Hannah

Hercule Poirot. Arrogant and dandy and moustache firmly in place. An extended cast of somewhat two-dimensional characters. A convoluted and contrived plot – very contrived in this instance. Very contrived. Let’s face is, when the plot of a novel revolves around the construction of a battenburg cake, that novel is – for fear of being…

Weekly Reading Round-Up: 28th September

A new start to the school year, and a new stage of life as my little one heads into school – real school, Reception Year, for the first time. I had no idea how tough that would be for her – or for me. And, one week, she was poorly on top of everything else;…

Snap, Belinda Bauer

It’s that time of year again, the Man Booker Longlist has been released and I do try to keep.up to date with them – as I do with the Costa and Women’s Prize lists. Sometimes they can be a bit hit-and-miss, sometimes a little pretentious, but generally a good addition to my TBR list and…

Home Fires, Kamila Shamsie

With two stories in the news today – Safir Boular, at 18, being the youngest girl to be convicted of terrorism offences; and Alia Ghanem speaking of her son. Osama bin Laden – about terrorism and the legal system and family, the importance and relevance of a book like Home Fire is painfully apparent. The…

Faithful Place, Tana French

Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is a delight, but has sometimes only vague connections to the eponymous Murder Squad. In The Woods, the first novel, centred on it; but the follow-up The Likeness, centred on Cassie Madox from the first book who is now in Domestic Violence rather than murder and being supervised by…

The Betrayal of Trust and A Question of Identity, Susan Hill

Ahhhh Lafferton. Possibly even more dangerous than Midsomer or a dinner party with Jessica Fletcher and Jane Marple! The serial killer centre of England. I’ve lost track of the numbers of serial killers in the Simon Serrailler series: they’ve targetted women for medical reasons, abducted young children; they’ve targetted weddings and, now, the elderly in…