Sunday, January 26, 2014


This is a very good spy story, set in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States.  It was written in 1973 and is set in 1963 when President Kennedy is assassinated.

Paul Christopher, a CIA agent with cover as a journalist has reason to believe he knows who is behind the Kennedy killing and is set loose to prove it to the US Administration.

What Christopher uncovers is as good a theory, if you believe that Oswald was not alone, as I've seen anywhere and makes a lot more sense than most that are filling up the Internet.

The author,Charles McCarry is a retired CIA agent and my assumption is there is a lot of reality in the books procedural passages, this is very good not 'Smiley" but very good.  The rest of the series awaits.

WILD TALES - Graham Nash

From starting The Hollies with Alan Clarke to moving to the States and hooking up with David Crosby this is a first hand account of a rock life.

There are lots of details and its all very honest, Nash takes the blame where he has erred in personal and business relationships and apportions it to others where he thinks they are at fault. Lots of women and drugs, huge amounts, vast quantities of both it is rock and roll so its to be expected.

Its written in the first person with the dictated and typed feel, which isn't a bad thing , my only complaint is that there are several portions of the book where a journalist may have gone a bit deeper and given the readership more detail.  For me the influence unions had on life in the UK in the 1950's was one area I would have liked some more written, but it covers 70 years of a life so I suppose something had to give.

The forming of CSN  and eventually Y and then not Y is pivotal to his life and has had a bearing on everything since.  The song creation process is explained, explained in a ridiculously simple fashion which makes it seem ridiculously easy which of course it is not.

Tales of performing at Woodstock, Crosby's crack addiction, falling outs and falling in's with Stills and Young, its all here but when the dust settles these people are artists and to perform is why they exist.

Toward the end there are interesting things like the forming of Nash Editions, a company using ink jet printers to produce photographic works, it was pioneering work and still operates 25 years later with the original printer used  in the Smithsonian Institute.

A very good rock autobiography showing that nothing comes easy and you only have true success with hard work.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MANNEQUIN - J.Robert Janes

There is a serial killer loose in Paris in 1943. Our heroes are a French detective and a German detective who is in the Gestapo.  These two are tasked to investigate civilian crimes which of course end up involving the occupiers and things become very political.

So its a run of the mill serial killer story and to be honest could be set anywhere and at anytime.  The killings are grotesque and frequent with the two trying to locate the latest victim who is a friend of the Frenchman.

A couple of problems I had with this book are, firstly, the French detective working with the Gestapo, even though its on civilian crimes he is heading for the guillotine come the Germans getting the boot because he is a collaborator. I have no idea how the author will deal with this little problem come the end of the series.

My second problem is this, the book is set in France - one French Policeman ,one German Policeman, now  being a reader of average intelligence I can assume that the majority of the dialogue involving persons in the book will be in french.  It can also be safely assumed that the German will speaking german when speaking to his colleagues.  With that established and the fact that this book is in English, why has the author inserted a "merde" and " Gott im Himmel" every couple of pages, seriously, its like something from "Hogans Hero's" and really annoying.

So, a gruesome murder mystery thats adequate with a couple of really annoying traits that have put me off reading anymore of the series. 

"Gott im Himmel" it just got too tedious.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


This is brilliant until the last two pages where I found I had no idea what had happened.

Jack Holderness nicknamed Wilderness is a burglar recruited by MI6 to follow his profession for them.

He is posted to post World War II Berlin where he becomes a major black marketeer while carrying on his intelligence duties.

This is a great historical novel with the author explaining what is actual history and what is fabricated for the sake of the novel.  Lawton does this as a postscript at the completion of the book.

The story is exciting with spies from Russia, the USA and the UK all involved in the tense post war atmosphere. 

And then you get to the end of the book and it ends and I had no idea what had happened, absolutely none. 

It is truly bizarre, it ends and well it ends.  Hopefully this will carry onto a series and I get some explanation as to the ending of this.  It is not a "Troy" novel although characters from that series do appear.

This is a typical Lawton, well researched, interesting characters but the ending, very strange, it honestly felt to me that someone type setting has made a horrendous mistake or deliberately had some fun.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

CROME YELLOW - Aldous Huxley''

The English country house weekend is given the treatment here.  This is a satire of this event, the basis for many hundreds of novels.  All the characters are some what exaggerated as to be expected of a satire but the mix allows the author to express his ideas and views on everything.

We have unrequited love, the 'cad', the women who are- beautiful, strange, beguiling and weird.  The master of the house is delightfully eccentric and the house "Crome" has a story itself.

This is Huxley's first book but the ideas for 'Brave New World' are already being thought through and discussed here.

This is a short read but Huxley gives you much to think about .


An American spy with no name is a sleeper agent in China.  After meeting a Chinese woman he is activated by his masters to attempt to turn a group of Chinese agents.\

Our man survives many attempts on his life and for a new agent is very resourceful solving problems his agency has struggled with for years.

This story starts well enough but looses its way totally at the end.  The ending is all wrapped up in about two short chapters.  It felt like that the author has painted himself into a corner and needed to wrap up the story to move on.

This book feels like a screen play, a" Bourne Identity" type story. A film would be able to wrap this ending much better than the written word.

According to some of his readership this is one of McCarry's lesser works so I'll give some others a try.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

JACK OF SPIES - David Downing

This is obviously the start of a new series for Downing.  Its set just prior to the outbreak of The Great War. Jack McColl is a part time spy for the UK Government travelling about the globe as a luxury car salesman with a gift for languages.

It is very Buchanish, apart from the amount of love making that our hero indulges in, its not explicit but Hannay never done it this way.

We travel from China to the USA to Mexico to the UK to Ireland in this adventure.  We have German spies and Irish Republicans trying to do for our hero. The only thing that stops this from being a great romp is it is about 80 pages too long.  The editor needed to slash and burn many pages of musings by McColl..  This would not have detracted from the story one iota but would have kept the pace up which lags at several points.

As stated its the start of a new series which will be worth following for the many tales of daring do that await.