Friday, August 06, 2010

2010 books, #51-55

Trouble, by Jesse Kellerman. London: Sphere, 2008.

When medical student Jonah Stem goes to the rescue of a young woman who is being stabbed and causes the death of her assailant, he thinks his worst problem is avoiding a murder charge; until the victim, Eve Gones, visits him and they begin a sexual relationship. Gradually Jonah realises that Eve is not what she seems, and the depth of the trouble he's now in. This is a genuinely terrifying read at times, tightly plotted and unputdownable; and very different from the excellent books written by both Kellerman's parents.

The girl who kicked the hornets' nest, by Stieg Larsson [audiobook]. Read by Saul Reichlin. Rearsby, Leics.: Clipper, 2009.

A brilliant finish to an excellent trilogy; these books really do deserve the hype they've had over the last couple of years. The characters of Salander and Blomqvist (spelling? Having listened to all of them on audio, I'm a bit shaky on how everything's spelled) continue to be absolutely consistent and it's the audio equivalent of a page-turner - the 21 cassettes only took about 5 days and I was carrying a cassette player around with me throughout!

A blow to the heart, by Marcel Theroux. London: Faber and Faber, 2006.

I found this remaindered recently, which presumably implies it didn't sell very well; which is a shame because it's a cracking book, despite having a huge amount of boxing content, which would normally put me off. 32-year old Daisy's husband is murdered by a stranger in the street and a young man convicted; three years later she meets the killer again after his release and finds herself haunted by a need for revenge. Parts of this book are quite shocking because Daisy transgresses so many of the norms of acceptable behaviour, but she never completely loses her humanity or capacity for empathy. The supporting characters are interesting (and in one case genuinely frightening) and well-written and it's a real page-turner. The other reason I picked this up was because I was an exact contemporary of Marcel's at college, and I'd read one of his other books, A stranger in the earth, a few years ago and enjoyed it.

The arms maker of Berlin, by Dan Fesperman [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Oxford: Isis, 2009.

I suspect that if this hadn't been read by Jeff Harding, I mightn't have carried on with it - it's pretty slow to get going, and I'm not really that much of a fan of spy thrillers. I think I'll probably crib some of the blurb from the box...

At 1am in a deserted Pennsylvania library, Nat Turnbull's cell phone rings. His former mentor Professor Gordon Wolfe has been arrested by the FBI for stealing top secret archive documents dating back to the Second World War.
Coerced by the FBI into examining the archives for them, Nat finds intriguing references both to Wolfe's curious activities in an Allied intelligence office in Switzerland during the war and to a mysterious student resistance group in Berlin known as the White Rose.
Following Wolfe's cryptic clues to Europe, Nat uncovers a wartime story of love and betrayal which is reaching out from the past to destroy the present. Now Nat is in a desperate race to unlock the truth before those who will kill to stop the secret getting out.

Despite this exciting summary, it does lag at several points and there are a couple of apparent holes in the plot; but it was an interesting enough listen during the Tour de Fleece.

Death, destruction and a packet of peanuts: a rollicking pub crawl through four years of the English Civil War, by Chris Pascoe. London: Portico, 2009.

Another remaindered one... One man's year-long quest to visit the battlefields of the English Civil War, and also all the nearby major battlefield pubs. Accompanied by his friend-cum-worst-enemy, the perpetually inebriated or hung-over Pete, call-centre employee Chris visits the Civil War sites chronologically, frequently disappointed by the lack of signage, monuments and real ales. Half John-O'Farrell-style history, half Tony-Hawks-style insane-challenge narrative; extremely funny and I know a lot more about the Civil War having read it... Pascoe is obviously a total Civil War nerd of long-standing, but able to laugh at himself for his own obsession.

1 comment:

stash haus said...

Liz, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate these book/book on tape reviews that you post periodically. They have led me to books I would never pick up or have not heard of before reading your review.

I completely agree with you on the Stieg Larsson books. I bought the first one while over there - stayed up nights WAY too late - then bought the other 2 before coming back home. Now I'm mailing them to friends as the 3rd book is not out in paperback in the US yet.