Archive for book review

Bryant and May – The Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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The latest instalment of the series featuring the elderly detectives Bryant and May and their colleagues in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU). The wild chambers in the title refers to the various parks in London, which feature heavily in the book as Christopher Fowler continues to give potted histories and oddball facts about London and its peoples through the ages. Indeed Arthur Bryant has vivid hallucinations following some lifesaving treatment and meets various characters in these who help him solve the case, including a cameo by a young Queen Elizabeth II.

The PCU are tasked with catching a possible serial killer who makes their kills in the parks of London. In the background the PCU’s arch enemy Leslie Faraday plots to close the PCU down and all the PCU characters are back including Bryant’s suave partner John May, along with constables Colin and Meera with their ongoing ‘will they, wont’ they’ become an item. There is an added character this time as an exchange German policewoman, Steffi Vesta, joins the team hoping to pick up some good policing tips!

Christopher Fowler cleverly uses the characters in his books to make comments on the current social and cultural landscapes in London, a city he loves and that comes across in his writing. If you have never read a Bryant & May novel you are missing out and this is a good a place to start as any. They are a winning mix of ‘cosy crime’ with a supernatural edge and a good dose of humour.

Book review: Overkill The Untold Story of Motörhead by Joel McIver

Posted in Books, Get Ready To Rock!, Netgalley, rock n roll with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Omnibus Press [Publication date 21.08.17]

The original book was published in 2011, however since Lemmy’s death back in December 2015 the book has been re-issued as an enhanced eBook. Basically it adds a newly written chapter covering Motorhead from 2011 to date, plus you can click on links within the book to Spotify playlists of Motorhead classics and band’s influenced by them. A pretty neat idea, although if reading off a Kindle you’d need Wi-Fi access for Spotify.

The book gives a potted history of Motorhead, covering all their albums – although once you hit the mid-90’s onwards not much is said about the recording process, an album’s reception etc. Joel McIver is a big fan of the band and draws on three of his interviews with main man Lemmy for much of the text, along with fellow writer’s interviews with Lemmy and past and former bandmates including Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee and Eddie Clarke. There is some repetition of themes, particularly Lemmy’s collection of Nazi war memorabilia and his lifelong hate of heroin. The band’s history is only touched upon briefly in many parts and you do want to read more at some stages, although the band’s interviews give a good idea of what they thought about a particular album and the various record labels the band has been on. Like many 70’s bands Motorhead were royally screwed by record labels in their early days and suffered from endless rehashed live and compilation albums  that often detracted from the band’s newer albums and songs.

For a concise overview of Motorhead this book does the job and do make sure you read Lemmy’s ‘White Line Fever’ as well.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , , , on September 28, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Viking [Published 02.11.17]

Short story collections never seem to sell really well, unless there is a big name author and this will hopefully be the case here as William Boyd collects together some entertaining short stories and a novella as the collection’s centre piece.

Turning first to the novella and the character who gives this collection its name, Bethany Mellmoth is a 24 year old who we follow on a year of her life as she tries various ways to find her career path and the relationships she has along the way. I actually preferred the short stories to this longer piece as I struggled to feel any empathy for her.

Of the other stories the last one is an excellent page turning thriller where the main character calls upon his past roles in a series of failed thriller films to help him in an unusual encounter. The film industry does weave its way into a few of the other stories, showing the less glamorous side of the industry.

William Boyd has a great knack of switching genres, be it how relationships thrive and fail, takes on modern life, ‘must read’ thriller – that is the beauty of this collection in that you never know what to expect next.

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Harper Collins [Pub Date 20 Apr 2017]

This is a stand alone novel, although it takes place in Oldcastle and locations used in the Ash series of novels.

The book revolves around DC Callum MacGregor, who is part of the Misfit Mob, drawn up of members of the force who have various misdemeanors to their name or are recovering from serious illness, or in one case terminal illness. The Misfit mob get the cases no-one else wants and the action starts when the team are assigned to see where an ancient mummy was stolen from after turning up at the Oldcastle tip. But then Callum uncovers links between the ancient corpse and three missing young men, which leads him and his fellow Misfit Mob into investigating a serial killer.

It is a long read at over 600 pages, however Stuart MacBride’s trademark black humour and ability to relay the less glamorous sides of policing keep the reader engrossed. I have to say DC Callum is one unlucky fella, as despite his often best intentions it often turns bad for him. His childhood links into the case the team are investigating and there are plenty of twists and turns you’d expect in a good crime novel.

Stuart MacBride excels at having you laugh one minute, then shudder as he describes how the serial killer treats his victims. Never read a duff book by this author and ‘A Dark So Deadly’ will please both longstanding fans and anyone who has yet to try this enjoyable crime writer.

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

Queen Unseen by Peter Hince

Posted in Books, Queen with tags , , , , , , , on August 1, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Peter Hince, or ‘Ratty’ as his road name was, was roadie to Queen’s Freddie Mercury and John Deacon from the mid-70’s until Queen stopped touring in 1986. Hince is now a photographer, something he became interested in whilst on the road with Queen. His photos are used in the book and show various member of Queen usually at leisure in between shows or recording.

Peter Hince is very honest about being a roadie, so there is a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, plus as he states at the start of the book those after a history of the band would not find it in his book. Instead you get his memories of life on the road, including a lot about the US and fascinating insights into his daily life working with Queen, in particular Freddie Mercury and John Deacon.

You get a little more insight into Freddie Mercury’s character, in particular his wicked sense of humour and the sense of loneliness he seemed to have as he always wanted to be with people. John Deacon we know was the quiet one in Queen and it seems that was true on the road with Freddie and Roger Taylor being the party animals of the band!

The book does jump around time wise and his down to earth writing style may offend the more delicate reader, however if like me you are a big Queen fan this is one of the better books about the band out there. Well worth a read.

Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin

Posted in Authors, Books, crime writers with tags , , , , , , on July 31, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Published by Orion

You just don’t want a Rebus novel to end as you get so engrossed in the characters. Interesting how Rebus is still getting involved in cases despite being retired – he has an uncanny knack of being in the thick of the action. This one involves Rebus’s nemesis Big Ger McCafferty, although both have a grudging respect for each other.

It involves another cold case, the unsolved 40 year old murder of Marie Turquand who was murdered in the Caledonian Hotel. It involves rock ‘n’ roll stars, music, gangsters and Rebus’s unnerving skill at being in the think of the action despite being retired and off the force.

Easily one of the best Rebus books, really enjoyable and Ian Rankin shows you can write great crime novels without the need for OTT violence favoured by some crime writers.

Pier Review by Jon Bounds & Danny Smith

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Published 2016 by Summersdale

ISBN 1849538115 (ISBN13: 9781849538114)

An interesting idea, two friends from landlocked Birmingham plan to visit most of the piers in England and Wales (Scotland was left out as too far to drive in the fortnight they allowed themselves to complete their journey). They enlisted a man called Midge as their driver – he doesn’t say much in the book but is key as without him they’d be stuck!

The book gives a potted history of each pier they visit, although those after an in depth social history of piers and the seaside would best look elsewhere. Instead it is an amusing, drink fuelled journey around the seaside and they certainly didn’t like Blackpool much. They both have an accessible writing style and they reveal a little about their character and influences in life throughout the book.

It’s another 3 1/2 rated book for me. You will enjoy reading it once but doubt I’d read it again.