Monday, June 30, 2014

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - John Le Carre.



This is the third or fourth time I've read this and it remains as fresh as the first time; even knowing who the 'mole' in MI6 is takes nothing away from this superb spy story.

George Smiley master spy, has been put out to pasture after new boys come in and take over the "Circus' due to a covert operation going sour in Czechoslovakia. This operation had been run by 'Control", Smileys boss and friend, who believed there was a Soviet spy in the upper echelons of British Intelligence.

Due to lingering doubts Smiley is brought in by the Government in an unofficial covert capacity to uncover the 'mole'.  No James Bond heroics here, our hero is a tubby wee nearsighted man with the worlds most unfaithful wife but he is exceptionally clever. Smiley is one of fictions best characters.

Solving this mystery sounds simple but how its done is fascinating and I rate this as Le Carre's best; ahead of the 'Spy Who Came In From The Cold' solely because there is a bit more humanity in this one.

Anyway, read , put it away for a few years and then re-read and then repeat.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TRUE CONFESSIONS - John Gregory Dunne



How I've missed this book for the last 37 years is beyond me.  This will be one of my books of the year. Set in L.A. in the 1940's post WWII  a woman is found cut in two and drained of blood.

One of the investigating officers is Detective Thomas Spellacy , who has a brother Monsignor Desmond Spellacy.  Their lives cross during the investigation due to business and personal involvement  with the Irish Catholic business men, criminals and both who are their friends and enemies.

This is the best written example I've seen of Irish Catholic families,( we are the same everywhere) and having spent half my life in the police I have rarely seen the black humour and infighting set out so well.

The interaction between the two brothers and their demons is so compelling that the solving of the murder is something that happens but its not whats drove me as a reader.

This is a very good novel and deserves to be to read as such not just a murder mystery which is a genre that the snobs tend to ignore.  Fantastic and I was sorry it finished.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

VERY GOOD JEEVES - P G Wodehouse




A collection of Jeeves and Bertie stories from 1930 and one of the best.

All funny with brilliant use of the English language, outstanding entertainment.

If you don't like Bertie we can never be friends.

FER-DE-LANCE - Rex Stout



The very first Nero Wolfe along with his legman Archie Baldwin.   Wolfe, the Orchid growing genius Sherlock Holmes type who never leaves the house and Baldwin the Phillip Marlowe type who does all the hard work.

I got introduced to Stout way back in  high school by a teacher who let me read in class rather than be disruptive and its one of the best things that St Patricks High School Timaru did for me.

These stories are timeless, the characters never change, this one written in 1935 will be no different in the way the characters are than one written in 1975.  There are 46 stories in the series and they are all gems.

EVIL AND THE MASK - Fuminori Nakamura



"When Fumihiro Kuki is eleven years old, his elderly, enigmatic father calls him into his study for a meeting. "I created you to be a cancer on the world," his father tells him. It is a tradition in their wealthy family: a patriarch, when reaching the end of his life, will beget one last child to cause misery in a world that cannot be controlled or saved. From this point on, Fumihiro will be specially educated to learn to create as much destruction and unhappiness in the world around him as a single person can."

With an introduction like that I thought I was in for something startling but instead got a tale of obsession that moved rather slowly and then faded away to nothing.  It was very strange, its got some good descriptive writing but as a thriller it was a disappointment. Weird.

THE HIGHBINDERS - Ross Thomas



Philip St. Ives is a go between, he recovers property for people; generally when these people don't want officialdom involved.

In this tale he goes to London to recover a sword worth several million pounds.

Its a typical Thomas story, double cross on double cross, with great humour and characters that most authors would die for to be able to create.  That is why Ross Thomas is the master.

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE - Agatha Christie



The worlds best selling mystery story. Over 100 million copies sold, a staggering total for one book.  Its been filmed three or four times and made into a play but this book has the original and best ending.

Its not a Poirot or Marple but one of her best.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE - Ian Fleming



A lazy Sunday read, not taxing but enjoyable.  Its a major shame that the movie did not use this story instead of the one they did. Its not literature but who cares,  Bond beating the killer of his wife.

I do shed a tear when I think back that my grandmother had the 1st editions of these stories and they probably went to the dump.!!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

ANYTHING GOES - Theodore Dalrymple



A series of essays by retired prison doctor Anthony Daniels covering the gamut of modern society. It is obvious why the "its always someone else's fault" brigade dislike him.  He has worked at the bottom of the pile in the UK and Africa and refuses to bow to the Lefts idea that only big government can right the ills of the world.

He writes very well being the only contributor that Charles Moore hired while Editor at The Spectator from unsolicited articles.

Very funny writing and very true, money well spent.