Tuesday, September 9, 2014

COWARD AT THE BRIDGE - James Delingpole




Volume two of the adventures of Lieutenant Dick Coward.  This time he is parachuted into "The Bridge Too Far" because he has to win a V.C to ensure he inherits the family pile and wins the girl.

Historically accurate regarding Operation Market Garden it is also very funny and  well worth the effort of reading.

Delingpole makes no apology regarding the similarity in style and method of story telling to the "Flashman" series of George McDonald Fraser.  Its a style that works, educates a bit and entertains a lot.

Delingpole upsets a lot on the left of the political spectrum with his columns and non-fiction but he can write very well and you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't read him just because of your political views.


THE BATTLE FOR SPAIN - Antony Beevor





If it wasn't for the death and tragedy the Spanish Civil War was a over long Monty Python sketch.
It was farcical with the splinter groups, all with their own agenda's.

There were groups that were genuine and weren't taking instructions from foreign government but this was rare, just amazing.

This is a very good over view if a tad dry with the facts just hammering you.

What does astound that Franco held power until 1975;,the entire world interferes in each others business but Franco was allowed to carry on for 36 years.

Not a light read but if you need a bit of education or lot of education on the Spanish Civil Way like myself, this is a good place to start.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE CAIRO AFFAIR - Olen Steinhauer



Over long and although you have to suspend belief lots for this type of book, having a recently widowed wife of a murdered American diplomat step into the world of espionage in the Middle East is too much.

The link below from the Sunday Book Review is exactly how I felt about this effort.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/books/review/the-cairo-affair-by-olen-steinhauer.html?_r=0



Sunday, August 17, 2014

ARTHUR AND GEORGE - Julian Barnes



This is based on the true story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji.

Edalji is a small town solicitor who is wrongly convicted of a series of crimes involving animal mutilation and is sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.

Doyle takes up the case which results in the conviction being quashed but not until Edalji has served 3 years.

Reading this you can understand why the Holmes stories portray the constabulary as dolts.  I had to wonder how many people went to he gallows because of the ignorance and prejudices of those involved in the convicting process, scary indeed.

The novel contains a large amount of biographical detail regarding Doyle; his up bringing, his marriages which is very interesting, he is a very interesting man.

Barnes knows how to write a crime story as he has written several as 'Dan Kavanagh' featuring Duffy his gay private investigator which are great fun.

I enjoyed this and its well worth the time.

GAUDY NIGHT - Dorothy L. Sayers



A Peter Wimsey mystery when he's very rarely in the book.  This features his love interest, Harriet Vane mostly, attempting to deal with a series of malicious letters and damage at her old Oxford College.

The mystery is solid, not shattering but it does give scope to Sayers feminist writing and she continually makes good points regarding how women were treated and perceived in the 20's and 30's especially if they had a 'brain'.

Perhaps overly long for its subject matter but Sayers is good all the time, sometimes outstanding.


MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE - Alan Furst



Cristian Ferrer a Spanish lawyer based in Paris is drawn in to assisting the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War in a Europe on the brink of WWII.

He becomes involved in the procurement of weapons, dealing with arms dealers across the Continent.

There are incidents of random violence but this is not a 'spy novel' but a historical novel with spies.  Like all of Furst's books the history is compelling.  After a life time of reading I am still shocked and amazed at what people endured during this time.

The Spanish Civil War is something I know nothing about so this has been a catalyst in getting me started doing some reading on it.

Highly recommended.


THE NEW YORK TRILOGY - Paul Auster



This is three stories loosely tied together, all set out as a detective tales but they are not detective tales.  This took me a bit of reading before I figured it out.

The three stories are about the art of writing, they are all concerned with observation , obsession and dedication to a task.

I very nearly stopped half way through the first story but the writing has a cadence to it that was very relaxing, it just wandered along.  I assume those that really know call this experimental writing  stream of consciousness stuff.

I'm struggling to describe what it is but I enjoyed it in the end even if I haven't fully understood it all.