Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Martyr by Rory Clements

Rory Clements' first novel, Martyr, is an intriguing crime thriller set in Elizabethan England. John Shakespeare is one of Francis Walsingham's Intelligencers, charged with tracking down Catholics and protecting Sir Francis Drake as England approaches war with Spain. In this novel Shakespeare investigates the mysterious death of one of the Queen's relatives and this drags him into the murky underworld of London and pits him against another of the Queen's powerful agents.

I have been a fan of detective novels since reading Sherlock Holmes as a teenager but have grown slightly tired of the standard crime novel recently so this mystery with an Elizabethan twist was a nice change. In this period there are no need for arrest warrants, information can be extracted through torture and threats while suspects can go missing without trace in the squalid prison system. The reader will find no subtle and scientific inquiry methods here, just rudimentary investigative skills, brutality and corruption; a wonderful change from jaded cops and high-tech forensic experts.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: Siege by Jack Hight

Siege is author, Jack Hight's, first novel, a fictional dramatization of the real-life siege and consequent fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. In this novel historical characters are portrayed in the years preceding the battle of Constantinople and ultimately in the battle for the city itself as well as the aftermath.

This book tells this historical tale from several years before the events of the battle and the author builds the political intrigue in a manner full of suspense. The opening chapters of the book also introduce a set of characters that the reader can believe in, as well as care about, on both the Christian and Islamic factions that are a part of these events. Even though the events preceding the battle perhaps occupy a little too much of this book, this part of the novel is well-written and the reader becomes engrossed in the small events that shape the lives of the main protagonists.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel

In Beatrice and Virgil author, Yann Martel, introduces the reader to a writer who has become famous for a novel that is about animals but finds producing his follow-up book too much of a challenge for him, particularly as his plans are for a novel that takes an original perspective on the holocaust. After rejection from his publisher Henry decides to move his family to another city for a fresh start and it is there that, as unlikely as it may seem, he meets another writer who is struggling to write his own allegorical representation of the holocaust using animals in the form of a play.

I am a great fan of Yann Martel's most famous book, The Life of Pi, so with that in mind I was looking forward to enjoying another piece of masterful storytelling from this author, particularly given the original and unlikely premise; unfortunately I read Beatrice and Virgil instead.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Tooth & Nail by Ian Rankin

Tooth and Nail is one in the series of novels by Ian Rankin featuring the character Inspector Rebus. Scottish detective Rebus is summoned to New Scotland Yard, in London, to help catch a serial killer, named by the media "The Wolfman". At first Rebus struggles with the investigation and this is not helped by the frosty reception he is given by his new colleagues but when he makes a couple of allies he gets on the trail of the killer and rather than wait to react to the crimes he attempts to provoke the killer into providing some clues.

This book, refreshingly, does not fall into the many cliches that are often found in serial killer novels. The reader will find themselves eager to learn about the main characters as they are developed in the early part of the story whilst at the same time the fundamentals of the investigation are outlined. The investigation proceeds as more killings occur and some help from an unexpected source adds the mystery and finally the twist that readers come to expect from a detective/thriller novel.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Review: The First Casualty by Ben Elton

Ben Elton is best known for his comedy and humorous novels but in The First Casualty the author delivers a murder mystery set amidst the worst fighting of the First World War. Detective Kingsley goes to prison for refusing to fight in a war he considers unjust but finds himself in the trenches anyway, investigating the murder of poet and hero Viscount Abercrombie who had been suffering from shell-shock. The murder investigation proceeds slowly whilst the many distressing situations of the war are dramatized.

One of the strengths of this book is that it contains Ben Elton's typically anti-establishment attitude in the way he portrays the way that World War I is conducted and the politics of Britain at the time; this is hardly surprising considering the way that this period of time is widely regarded in modern times. In fact The First Casualty seems largely to be a vehicle for portraying the hardships of the time, touching on subjects such as the treatment of conscientious objectors, suffragettes, police brutality and the working classes, whilst taking a very long time to actually tell a story.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Books to be Reviewed: Mogadishu Diaries - Bloodlines by Eddie Clay III

Thanks to Eddie Clay III for sending me a copy of his book Mogadishu Diaries - Bloodlines for reviewing. This is a fictional account of a US soldier's time in Somalia, in the run up to the famous events of "Black Hawk Down", based on real events and experiences.

"Ten months before Blackhawk Down, US Marines launched its first major offensive against Mogadishu's militias. Top US military strategists for Operation Restore Hope recognized the critical importance of identifying Somali clan leaders responsible for the country’s instability and violence. It became apparent that one man needed to be captured in order to help establish order. This warlord eluded the most elite US Special Forces teams in our military for almost a year during Operation Restore Hope/Continued Hope. There are many theories that explain how Mohamed Farrah Aidid won the cat and mouse game. This is my account…"

A review will appear on this website soon. For those who wish to purchase it now it is available for Kindle here - Mogadishu Diaries - Bloodlines, Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review: You're A Bad Man Mr Gum by Andy Stanton

You're a Bad Man Mr Gum is the first outing for Andy Stanton's disgusting character that children will love to hate. Mr Gum is a filthy loner who picks his nose and lives in a horrible house - loathed and feared by children. In this story Mr Gum is forced to keep his garden spotless by a fairy and the plot revolves around his poisoning of a lovely dog, Jake, to prevent him from spoiling his garden. However, Polly comes to the rescue with some magic chocolate and some wonderful friends.

Young children who are discovering their reading skills will enjoy this book as it is full of baddies and goodies that they will get totally involved with. Some parents may deem this book too disgusting for young children, but in reality this is just the sort of naughty fun that kids love and parents should revel at being able to join in when reading this book with their youngsters.