Codex, by Lev Grossman [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Whitley Bay: Chivers, 2011.
Edward Wozny, a banker on two weeks' holiday between his old job in New York and a promotion in London, is asked by a very valuable client to catalogue a library of old books. Edward is (happily) as bemused by this obvious plot-device as the reader, but becomes fascinated by the books, and by a young woman he meets at another library he visits for information. He is also intrigued by the owners of the collection who are extremely rich eccentrics living in the UK. At the same time, he's introduced to an addictive multi-user computer game by a geek friend... The plot sounds unlikely (and I mightn't have carried on with this one if it hadn't been a Jeff Harding-narrated audiobook) but it's actually surprisingly gripping. And while it has Dan Brown elements, it's much better, and more humourously, written.
Injustice for all, by J A Jance. New York: Avon Books, 1986.
Still not sure about these J P Beaumont mysteries even after the second one. I'm sort of bemused by the fact that the man's still undeterred by the fact that three women he's been in close proximity with so far have ended up dead shortly afterwards... and slightly unconvinced by a woman trying to write the part of a hard man, particularly when it comes to sex scenes. But the plots rattle along with some quite surprising elements, and there's a lot of self-deprecating humour and some nice relationships... The next one's not available at the library, so gives me an excuse for a hiatus...
War crimes: underworld Britain in the Second World War, by M J Trow. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Military, 2008.
Trow writes non-fiction as engagingly as he does fiction; here, he examines the nature of crime in Britain during the war years, with chapters on the fifth column, crime in the blackout, the black market, GIs, the changes to childhood, the police and the judiciary. As you'd expect from the author of Let him have it, Chris: the murder of Derek Bentley, he is particularly interested in the sort of climate children growing up in cities in the war years experienced. Some of the statistics make fascinating reading, and there's a great mixture of individual cases and overall trends.
Rain gods, by James Lee Burke [audiobook]. Read by Tom Stechschulte. Bath: Clipper, 2009.
Can't remember who recommended this but it was very good, and the reader was excellent. A sheriff who is also a former POW in Korea digs up nine dead bodies behind a Texan church, after a tip-off. The women are from the Far East, and have been machine-gunned. Sheriff Holland has the case taken away by the federal authorities, but is determined to find out what happened on his patch. Very gripping, with lots of Southern detail.
On writing: a memoir of the craft, by Stephen King. London: Hodder, 2000.
After about the fifth author I admire mentioned the excellence of this book, I decided to see what they were on about; and indeed they were right. Part memoir, part textbook, this is a brilliant description of, and instruction manual for, the writing process. King is absolutely direct and very funny, entirely without pretension when talking about his craft (not art). I think anyone reading this book might come out a better creative writer, but equally may well leave a better reader. I need to find some of King's fiction now - preferably one which is more suspenseful rather than direct horror.