Sunday, June 30, 2013


Gay Talese or Tom Wolfe- Tom Wolfe or Gay Talese. I find it very hard to seperate these two as the greatest 'documentary' writers that I have read.

This is a collection of articles written over many years by the author. All the stories are relevant and have not aged.

My favourite is Ali in Cuba just because I'm a fan of the boxer, but you can dip into any of these writings and be amazed. Wonderful writing.

BLACKOUT - John Lawton

This is the first of John Lawtons 'Inspector Troy' stories.  I have read the series backwards so unforunately I knew what happened to several of the characters in this story but it is a good stand alone mystery and is stronger than several of the later novels.

A dismembered body is found on a bomb site in 1944 London.  Troy traces this to several other killings involving communists living in the city.

The security services and the US Army all become involved as do several women who all play a part in Troys' life in later episodes.   A good story and a good character.


This is a great title for this book and it sums it up perfectly.

A rather 'silly' women is murdered. The murderer is a common crook. What makes this so enjoyable is the writing. Ms Busby has done a marvellous job with her characters. Her scene setting is brilliant especially as this is set shortly after the end of the Second World War.

The characters are all pathetic in their little worlds but they suit the novels tone perfectly.

A common killing involving common people but the writing is anything but common.

Unfortunately Ms Busby died prior to her completing this novel and the last two chapters were completed from her notes.

This doesn't detract from the book at all, it just means there will be no more offerings from her which is a great shame.

SEMPER COOL - Barry Fixler

Barry Fixler was a Marine in Vietnam.  He fought, he had friends maimed and killed but he survived and got on with his life.

He writes this memoir of the war as a positive experince, something he has recieved criticim for, but for this individual it was something he did, was proud to do and would do it again.

He writes well of the combat situation and of life in the camps.  He was at of Khe Sanh and that was hellish, but again he writes of it as one of lifes experiences, he was fortunate to survive and he just caarried on.

Mr Fixler is one of lifes optimists and writes a good little book, which he has done for charity. Recommended.


This is number nine in the 'Bernie Gunther' series.

Bernie is sent to Russia to uncover a massacre that has been committed by the Russians. Goebbels wants him to prove this for propaganda purposes. Along the way he gets involved with a murderer. The two stories run in tandem throughout the novel.

This is one of the best of the series and it kept me guessing to the last few pages.

High quality crime writing in an fact filled historical setting. Money well spent.

BAD MONKEY - Carl Hiaasen

This started off at as a rollicking yarn, plenty of humour and some interesting people and I thought that Hiaasen was back to his best.

Sadly it faded away, too many side stories with characters that are largely irrelevant to a series of murders that revolve around the finding of a severed arm at sea.

Solving these murders is a demoted detective who is rather unsympathetic - Hiaasen tries to make him quirky but he is really a waster who somehow gets the girl.

If there is something else on the shelf read that first.

GAME WITHOUT RULES - Michael Gilbert

This is the another selection of short stories featuring the elderly British Spies of Section E.

They are as ruthless in this volume as in " Mr Calder and Mr Behrens", ridding the world of bad people one at a time.

Michael Gilbert has a wonderful sense of subtle humour and this comes through even as an enemy is about to be executed.

A crying shame that there are no more of these stories.


This is a remarkable work and should be compulsory for any person even thinking of standing for a public office. The slaughter and suffering that was unleashed on the planet becuase of the vanity of humans was staggering.

Hastings writes clearly and accurately and the entire work is a pleasure to read.

Any review could list pages of facts that are so tragic that they would leave you numb for months. Personally I found the slaughter that Russia suffered the most informative. Obviously the facts regarding the punishment they took have never been highlighted due to the political differences after the war.

I attended a talk by Sir Max regarding this work at the Auckland Writers Festival earlier this year. He speaks as lucidly as he writes and if you were to get the opportunity to hear him take it.