Archive for the Books Category

Book review: JOE COUNTRY by Mick Herron

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

John Murray [Publication date 20.06.19]

‘We’re spies,’ said Lamb. ‘All kinds of outlandish shit goes on.’

Like the ringing of a dead man’s phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral…

In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.

And with winter taking its grip Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.

This time, they’re heading into joe country.

And they’re not all coming home.

The sixth book in the Jackson Lamb series and Mick Herron keeps the high quality of his plotting and writing going. This time the majority of the team become involved in unfolding events in snow covered Pembrokeshire and the action comes thick and fast. I do like the author’s knack of stopping action on a cliff-hanger before switching to another part of the plot, which again often ends in a cliffhanging moment. Although Slough House is for the secret service outcasts where they are meant to be given menial tasks, they often seem to find a way into a hot piece of political action.

If you are a fan already then this will already be on your reading list, and new readers would be best advised to read the series in order just because you get references to characters/events earlier in the series. Either way, ‘Joe Country’ proves that Mick Herron is top of the spy thriller tree.

Book review – The Body In The Library by Simon Brett

Posted in Books, Netgalley, review with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Black Thorn [Publication date 16.06.19]

In the sleepy, English village of Fethering, an author event at the local library ends in murder and it’s up to amateur sleuths Carole and Jude to solve the case.

Fethering has everything a sleepy coastal town should: snug English pubs, cosy cottages, a little local library – and the occasional murder

A bestselling author with a soaring ego and wandering hands has come to town, but he won’t be leaving. Jude is the prime suspect; she was, after all, the last person to slap Burton St Clair alive. If she is to prove her innocence she will have to dust off her detective skills, recruit her prim and proper friend (and partner-in-sleuthing) Carole, and together they must find the real culprit.

Simon Brett I first came across in my teens via the Mystery & Thriller Guild, one of the many book clubs run by Book Club Associates (anyone remember them?!). I enjoyed the Charles Paris mysteries, a series of books (in striking yellow covers) based on an actor and how he always seemed to be involved in theatrical based murders.

Fast forward a fair few years and Simon Brett is still writing witty and enjoyable crime novels. ‘The Body In The Library’ is the first of the Jude and Carole amateur sleuth books I have read (this is number 18, as Simon Brett is a tad prolific!). It is a gentle send up of the Golden Age of Crime writers and books, what publishers now refer to as ‘cosy crime’. However, Simon Brett cunningly adds in plenty of plot twists and a whole host of possible murderers. He also finds time to promote the cause of libraries (although the victim is bumped off outside a library, perhaps not the greatest advert for them) and gives insight of an author’s life, both from a successful one and at the other end, the self-published author who is bitter about any other writers success.

An enjoyable read. Perfect escapism into an updated Golden Age of Crime writing.

Book review – Half A World Away by Mike Gayle

Posted in Books on May 30, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake
Hodder & Stoughton [Publication date 13.06.19]

Kerry Hayes is a single mum, living on a tough south London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never hope to afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot ever forget her past.

Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a child, Noah always looks forward, never back.

Without giving too much away Kerry and Noah go through a rollercoaster few months covered in the story. Mike Gayle’s characters resonate with the reader, for instance Noah’s retinance to express his feelings is a common trait in many men! Which in turn leads to consequences in his relationships.

Mike Gayle is in an author who can have you chuckling away one minute, then feeling a tear or two in your eyes. His characters connect with the reader and the story of Kerry and Noah is an uplifting one.

Book review – Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

Posted in Books, review with tags , , , , on May 21, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Little, Brown [Publication date 02.05.19]

Description

She says she’s an ordinary mother.
He knows a liar when he sees one.

Sarah thinks of herself as a normal single mum. It’s what she wants others to think of her. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.

Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating a woman’s suicide, convinced she was driven to do it by a man who preys on vulnerable women.

A man who is about to change Sarah’s life.

This the sixteenth book to feature detective Tom Thorne and some authors of a long running series like this may see the series start to run out of ideas, not so for Mark Billingham. In ‘Their Little Secret’ Billingham gives the reader a roller coaster ride of a psychological thriller.

Like his previous book Billingham taps into a topical headline, that of people being conned out of money by very deceptive con artists. In this book it is Conrad, who makes a living out of deceiving others. Running parallel to his character is Sarah, who is quite possibly one of the most disturbing characters Billingham has created in his books. Needless to say Thorne and Tanner have their work cut out with these two.

One of his best books to date, a classic page turner.

Book review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Posted in Authors, Books, crime writers with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Michael Joseph [Publication date 27.06.19]

The blurb…

Everything changed the night Flora disappeared.

Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.

Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather.

But now Heather is accused of an awful crime.

And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:

What really happened the night Flora disappeared?

This is the second book by Claire Douglas that I have read and she is now on my ‘must read’ authors list. The story is told from various characters’ viewpoints and the story also switches from present day to the past, however it is not too difficult for the reader to keep up with it all!

I particularly like the reporter Jess’s character as she faces some tough choices when reporting on the case as she is personally and emotionally involved.

If you enjoyed TV dramas such as ‘Broadchurch’ I would heartily recommend this book as each of the main characters have a skeleton or two in their closets and these impact on the story as the book progresses.

Highly recommended.

Book review – Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe

Posted in Books, review with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Penguin Books [Publication date 28.03.19]

The blurb –

‘When people in the village heard I was about to start working in the city they tried to unsettle me with tales of woe. The sun, blotted out by the tall buildings, couldn’t shine and the rain was poisoned by the toxic fumes that poured from the sock factories. My skin would be covered in pimples from the hell of it all’

So begins a young woman’s journey to adulthood. Lizzie Vogel leaves her alcoholic, novel-writing mother and heads for Leicester to work for a racist, barely competent dentist obsessed with joining the freemasons.

The verdict –

After reading a fair few crime novels and the odd non-fiction title, it is always nice to read a bit of everyday life fiction. Nina Sibbe has an easy going writing style, with the main character Lizzie, one may readers of a certain age many identify with, or at least the time she was growing up in, namely the 80’s.

There is plenty of dental work description, often quite graphic for those who don’t like going to the dentist! The plot is a coming of age as Lizzie really sees what a messed up world adult life is and her mother is one of the better characters, as she continues her quest to have a book published by her favourite publisher Faber & Faber.

An easy going read, with some genuinely funny moments and perfect for a bit of escapist fiction.

Book review – Cold As The Grave by James Oswald

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

The ninth book in the Inspector McLean series and you don’t have to read them in order, although like any long running crime series the author will refer back to events in the past covered in previous books.

The opening sees the discovery of a mummified body hidden in the dark corner of a basement room, a room which seems to have been left untouched for decades. The plot unfolds from here to include a mysterious circus, human trafficking, a 60’s rock star and a djinn.

James Oswald is similar to John Connolly in that both add in supernatural elements to their books and they work well, also like Stephen King’s excellent Mercedes man trilogy.

Although used a lot in book reviews, ‘Cold As The Grave’ is a proper page turner as you want to keep on reading to see what happens next, such are the twists and turns in the plot. Highly recommended and James Oswald joins my select list of ‘must read’ crime writers.