Book of the Week, crime, new releases, Thriller

Book of the Week: Sparkle Shot

I feel like I’m getting repetitive here, because this BotW is another Fahrenheit Press pick.  Seriously, my Fahrenheit subscription has been one of my best book-based purchases this year.  It was a total bargain (and I got in early so it really was a bargain!) and I’ve discovered older series I was too young for (or not in the right crowd for) first time around and new authors doing interesting things and who I’m hoping I can say that I was there at the beginning for.

And Sparkle Shot falls in the latter camp.  It’s Lina Chern’s first book and it’s short but it packs a lot in.  The subtitle is “A wannabe cowboy, a handsome cop and the search for a perfect breakfast cocktail” but that doesn’t really do it justice.  It is a perfect fit for the Fahrenheit family – Mara fits in somewhere between Sam Jones from Black Rubber Dress and Eva Destruction from Barista’s Guide to Espionage, in that she’s sassy, smart and runs with an interesting crowd which sees her getting tangled up with things she’d rather not be.  In this case, her roommate, a stripper who dances under the name of Karma misses a breakfast date with her and then phones in a panic – she’s witnessed a murder and needs Mara to help stop her being the next victim.

Sparkle Shot races along at 100 miles an hour, with boys with guns, girls with guns, wannabe mafia dons, cops and peril.  It’s probably technically novella length at 95 pages, but doesn’t suffer from any of my common complaints about novellas.  There’s not a hint of underdeveloped story or things feeling too rushed.  There’s plenty of plot, there’s backstory, character development and proper tension and proper danger – not just the sort of thing that is a misunderstanding or could be fixed with a simple conversation.  It does feel like it could stand a sequel or two – hopefully longer than this because it was over too fast – but even if it’s not more from Mara and her friends, I’m still looking forward to seeing what Lina Chern writes next.

You can buy Sparkle Shot on Kindle or in paperback from Amazon, or you could treat yourself to some Bad Santa Bucks from Fahrenheit themselves and buy a few of their books – the discount gets bigger the more bucks you buy – and given that I’ve already mentioned two Fahrenheit books that have been BotWs and I’ve also recommended Death of a Nobody and Murder Quadrille (this is why I think I’m getting repetitive with my love of Fahrenheit, but honestly, so many good books) that’s five there – even if you only buy the first Sam Jones book and not the series…  And if you’re still not sure, both Sparkle Shot and Barista’s Guide to Espionage would be good books to read if you’ve read Stephanie Plum or any of the other Janet Evanovich thriller series and are looking for where to go next.  And on that encouragement to buy books I’ll go away before I buy more myself.

Happy Reading!

Adventure, Book of the Week, reviews, Thriller

Book of the Week: The Barista’s Guide to Espionage

You may have noticed that a week on the beach means that I’ve read a lot of books and whilst I have been bingeing a little on Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series (and Margery Allingham to a lesser extent) my favourite book last week was Dave Sinclair’s The Barista’s Guide to Espionage.

I’ve said elsewhere that this book is what would happen if Stephanie Plum had James Bond’s baby – and according to the publisher that was what the author was going for, so big success there.

And to be honest, what more could you want.  Eva Destruction’s mistake – and this isn’t a spoiler because it’s in the blurb on Goodreads – is that her ex-boyfriend is a billionaire super villain who is trying to take over the world. So far Harry’s masterplan appears to be working – but there’s a dashing spy trying to thwart his plan – and if he can get Eva into bed at the same time as bringing Harry down so much the better.  This all unfolds slightly out of order, just to keep you in even more suspense as Eva tries to work out which side is the right side to be one – after all Harry did buy her a castle of her very own…

Cover of The Baristas Guide to Espionage
How can you not love a book with a cover like this?!

This is so, so, so much fun.  I mean, Eva blazes through this book, living up to her name with the trail of wreckage in her wake.  And Harry the Billionaire is really well done – he has enough moments of being really human that you can see why Eva struggles to side against him at time – he’s not like a Bond villain were you know the only reason he’s attracted his female hangers-on is because he’s rich*.  This unravels like an action  movie – with set pieces scattered across the world and bluffs and double bluffs galore.  I can’t wait for the sequel – and hopefully the movie.

This was another book which came to me via my Fahrenheit Press subscription – which has already given me previous BotW’s Murder Quadrille, Black Rubber Dress and Death of a Nobody as well as a bunch of other excellent books which have been in the running.  Fahrenheit Press are starting to bring out physical copies of their books, but as yet, the only place you can get this is on Kindle but it’s definitely worth £2.95 of your hard-earned money.

Happy reading!

 

*Except May Day.  I think she likes Zorin because he’s mad and lets her be violent (and he’s rich, and younger than most Bond villains).

Authors I love, Chick lit, cozy crime, crime, Fantasy, Series I love

Pick Me Up Books

It’s a funny old time at the moment isn’t it?  There’s so much news about – and lots of it is depressing for various reasons, that working in news for my day (and this week night) job* is getting a bit tough.  I’ve retreated into the world of Happy Endings.  Dystopian fiction is firmly off the menu, as is anything that might end on death, destruction or a down note.  This means I’ve been revisiting some old favourites again as well as reading loads of romance and cozy crime.  You’ll get some posts soon on the best of the new stuff – but I thought I’d also share some of my favourite old friends and Not New books.

Angela Thirkell

Angela Thirkell books from Virago
Aren’t they gorgeous? And there are more coming later in the year too.

Witty interwar comedies, mostly of manners, set in Barsetshire.  They’re a bit Mapp and Lucia (but with more sympathetic characters) and they remind me of the Diary of a Provincial Lady as well.  If you like the world of Golden Age crime, but don’t want the murders, then come take a look for a bit of wry social satire.  Virago are re-releasing them at the moment – and they’re gorgeous – but you should also be able to get them from a good second hand shop too.  You may remember I had Northbridge Rectory as a BotW a few weeks back, but as well as that one, if you liked Provincial Lady… start at the beginning of the series with High Rising, but if you loved boarding school stories, start with Summer Half and if you liked Downton, start with Pomfret Towers.

Charlaine Harris

 

Charlaine Harris books
The Charlaine Harris shelf, several series, mostly matching but with a few size issues!

Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly, Lily Bard, Aurora Teagarden (a new book coming soon!) or Midnight, Texas, it doesn’t matter.  Yes they all have a body count, and you might lose a character you like from time to time.  But as escapist reading they’re pretty much all you could want.  Soapy melodrama with vampires (sometimes), small towns and kick-ass women (although Rue can be a bit wet at times).  Perfect for binge reading to take your mind off the real world.  After all there aren’t any vampires, werewolves or witches in the real world.

The Cazalet Chronicles

I had four matching copies. Then the fifth book arrived. And I got the hardback.

Retreat into the world of Home Place, the Brig and the Duchy, their children and grandchildren.  You meet them in 1937 and you can follow them through the Second World War and beyond across five books – until the grandchildren are grown up with families of their own.  There are so many characters and so many different stories that you can read 400 pages without out noticing.  Everyone has a favourite or two – mine are Rupert (from the children) and Polly and Clary (from the grandchildren).  I think my mum’s copies are so well thumbed that they fall open to my favourite sections about each of them – especially in Casting Off.  Glom on them on the beach if you’re on holiday, as I resist the temptation to rebuy a new matching set – you can get all 5 books for £6.99 from the Book People as I write this.

Vicky Bliss and Amelia Peabody

My kindle go-to at times like these is Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss and Amelia Peabody serieses.  I tried to pick one, but I couldn’t.  I mentioned both in passing in my Nightshift books post back in this blog’s early days and Amelia got a shout out in my Summer Reading post two years ago, but I was shocked I hadn’t given either a post of their own.  Amelia is a female Egyptologist in the late nineteenth century.  Vicky is an art historian in sort-of fairly recent times.  Both end up in thrilling adventures.  Amelia picks up a crew of regular side-kicks along the way including, but not limited to a husband, a son, a faithful site foreman and an arch-nemesis and Vicky just keeps running into this gentleman thief-con artist type.  Both remind me in some ways of a female Indiana Jones, but funnier.

And on top of all that, there’s Georgette Heyer, Janet Evanovich, Peter Wimsey and a few of my recent BotW picks that would serve the same purpose and cheer you up too – check out Little Shop of Lonely Hearts, The Rogue Not Taken, Sunset in Central Park and Fangirl.  Also, if in doubt, read Georgette Heyer – start with Venetia or Regency Buck. Coming soon: Summer Holiday reading recommendations…

*In case you missed it I’m a journalist in real life.

 

Book of the Week, books, historical, Thriller

Book of the Week: Beneath a Silent Moon

Difficult choice in the BotW stakes this week, but both options had a historical feel to them.  It was between the second of Tracy Grant’s Charles and Mélanie Fraser books and the first in Jodi Taylor’s time travelling adventure books.  And as you might be able to tell from the title, it was the Grant that won – in part because I really liked the first book in the series but I happened to read it in the same week as The Glittering Art of Falling Apart and it lost out in the BotW stakes that week.  So this – perhaps more than ever – comes with a warning about reading the series in order.  On that subject, more later.  First, the plot:

Charles and Mélanie Fraser are not your average society couple.  The Napoleonic Wars are over, but danger still lurks in the streets of London.  There’s something rotten in the Ton and the source of the answers may well be closer to them than they could possibly realise.  Assassination, espionage, and secrets in Charles’ family all add up to a fast paced, twisty and complex spy adventure.

With the end of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, I’ve been on the hunt for something to fill the Nineteenth Century set spy novel shape in my reading life.  And although Grant’s series actually started before Willig’s, I’ve discovered them the other way around.  I can’t remember how I first came across them – but it’ll probably have been an if-you-like-this-try-that from either Amazon or Goodreads (and probably based on purchasing Pink Carnations or Deanna Raybourn) and for that I am grateful!

These aren’t timeslip novels, but they do jump backwards and forwards in Charles and Mélanie’s lives – sometimes within the book, but definitely within the series –  this was the second book to be published,  but is set before the first.  And on top of that, the chronological order list on Goodreads gives it as book seven!*  But given the events of book one – about which I don’t want to say too much – I suspect reading them in order may have the most impact and will give it the most layers and nuance.

Charles and Mélanie have a complex relationship – founded in necessity, complicated by love and built on secrets.  Charles’ family is just as bad.  Possibly worse.  Add that to a murder and conspiracy and all in all it makes for a gripping page-turner of a book, with more secret compartments than James Bond’s suitcase and some incredibly devious twists and turns.  It’s not for the faint-hearted/weak of stomach in places, but it’s worth a bit of queasiness for a historical mystery this good.

I’ve already bought the next one (which is only available on Kindle) and may have put an order in for an actual copy of Book 4.  Now prices are variable on these – I’m not sure they’re all published over here (the UK), so the later titles are imports and more expensive.  But for the most part the Kindle prices are more reasonable.  The first book is Secrets of a Lady (originally Daughter of the Game) and is under £3.50 on Kindle at time of writing but nearly £10 in paperback from Amazon (although they do have second-hand copies for less).  Beneath a Silent Moon is under £3 on Kindle and only available second-hand via Amazon.  It gets even more complicated later on, but as I said, do start at the beginning…

*And to complicate things further, mid series the lead characters’ names change to Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch.  Not that I’ve got there yet, but my head is already aching!

Book of the Week, books, historical, Thriller

Book of the Week: The Hourglass Factory

So, a difficult choice for BotW this week – I finished the latest Laurie Graham last week and really enjoyed it – but I also read Lucy Ribchester’s Hourglass Factory and enjoyed that too.  So in the end, I’ve picked The Hourglass Factory for BotW and decided to do an Authors I Love post on Laurie G instead, which’ll be coming up in a few weeks. So more for you to read. Bonus.

The Hourglass Factory
Some of my best photos are taken on the train. No idea why.

In The Hourglass Factory, tom-boy reporter Frankie George is trying to make waves in Fleet Street, but all she’s getting are the women’s interest stories an the gossip columns.  When she gets assigned to write a profile of trapeze-artist-turned-suffragette Ebony Diamond she gets short shrift.  But then Ebony disappears and Frankie finds herself drawn into a world of corsets, circuses, tricks and suffragettes.  Where has Ebony gone?  What is going on with the suffragettes? And will anyone listen to Frankie if she finds out?

This has been sitting on my shelf for aaaaaages (what’s new) and I kept meaning to read it.  Then I saw it recommended by another blogger (Agi’s onmybookshelf) as one of her books of the year of 2015 – alongside several other books that I had read and liked and it gave me the push that I needed.

I really enjoyed this.  I haven’t studied the women’s suffrage movement in Britain in much depth – apart from as part of my history GCSE – so I knew the basics, but I don’t think you’d have too much trouble if you knew even less.  Lucy Ribchester paints a vivid picture of 1912.  Post-Edwardian London springs to life – all dark corners, imminent peril, seedy clubs, variety acts, cuthroats, suffragettes and jails.  Some passages were tough going – early 20th century jails were not nice places to get stuck in – but it was totally worth it.  This is quite a long read (500 pages) but it is pacy, exciting and thrilling – you don’t notice the pages going by.  So good.  And another cautionary tale about letting books sit on the shelf.

Get your copy from Amazon, Waterstones or Foyles, from Audible, or on Kindleebook or Kobo.  You’re welcome.  And thank you Agi for giving me the kick to read it.

books, Gift suggestions

Buy Him a Book for Christmas: Gift Ideas

I am the person who gives everybody they possibly can a book for Christmas.  My immediate family all get a book AND a “normal” Christmas present.  I buy young relatives books as often as I can. I even gift myself a Christmas book.  So I thought that I would give you suggestions for presents –  on top of  a post about Christmas-themed books.  This is the first of four post which I hope cover all eventualities.  Most of the links are to Amazon – because quite a few of the books mentioned across the various posts are in their 3 for £10 promotion, thus saving you money to use to buy yourself books on other things.

Non Fiction

Men can be tricky to buy for – or at least I find them hard.  I often end up buying biographies of sportsmen.  The Boy in my life is a massive petrol head – he devoured motorbike Guy Martin’s Autobiography this last weekend, which had been sitting on the shelf since last Christmas and is out now in paperback.  He’s said he’d quite like Martin’s hardback, When You Dead, You Dead.  Also on his Christmas list this year is ex-F1 driver turned World Endurance Champion Mark Webber’s book Aussie Grit.  The annual Jeremy Clarkson book will have been a fixture on many people’s Christmas lists for years, but if you fancy a change, The Boy really wants And On That Bombshell – a behind the scenes look at Top Gear, written by Top Gear’s script editor Richard Porter, who I’ve been following on Twitter for years without knowing what his day job was!

Guy Martin autobiography
I have had *such* headaches taking the photos for these posts. I could cry. Honestly I could.

Away from the motorsports books he’s a big Bill Bryson fan – so The Road to Little Dribbling may also turn up in his stocking.  One of his favourite books this year has already featured here as a Book of the Week – but A Year of Living Danishly is so good that I think it deserves another mention – particularly as Hygge starts in January and moving to a new country is often one of those things that gets mentioned in New Year’s Resolutions.

Trumbo by Bruce Cook
Check out my attempts at artistic arrangements of the books. This was the best I could manage.

On the history front, I haven’t read Trumbo (yet) but it’s just been turned into a film and the McCarthy era is fascinating – particularly in the movie industry.  I’ve also had quite a good hit-rate with Ben MacIntyre – my dad loved Operation Mincemeat, and Agent Zigzag and Double Cross have also gone down well with him and several other men of various ages that I buy for.  His latest is A Spy Among Friends, about Kim Philby, which I haven’t read – but which may well end up in someone’s stocking this year.

Fiction

My Boy has got hooked (like me) on Janet Evanovich this year, so I’ve been on the lookout for pacey and fun thrillers for him.  It’s tricky as it very often ends up with me buying books for me!  I’m going to try and turn him onto the Fox and O’Hare series next – The Heist is the first one, The Scam is the latest.  They’re basically Ocean’s 11 or White Collar but as a book.  She’s an FBI agent, he’s a fraudster – but they have to work together to catch con-men.

On the straight-up thriller front, The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen is a twisty thriller – you can check out my review for Novelicious here, equally The Devil You Know is dark, creepy and tense, although I wasn’t keen on the ending (again reviewed on Novelicious)  Crime-wise, Ben Aaranovich is one of my new obsessions (I’m trying hard to ration myself and read slowly) Rivers of London is the first, Foxglove Summer the latest.

Foxglove Summer
Try not to look at the dents in the hardback spines, I know once you’ve noticed it’s hard to stop,but…

I’ve already mentioned The British Library Crime Classics series in the BotW post on Silent Night, but it bears repeating that there some really good titles in this attractive looking series which would make good gifts for an Agatha Christie fan looking for Golden Age Crime.  And as the series is bring stuff back into print that’s been out of circulation for a long time, there’s much less risk that they’ll have read them already! On top of the ones I’ve already mentioned, try The Z Murders and Murder Underground.  Speaking of Golden Age crime, Sophie Hannah’s Poirot continuation The Monogram Murders might also be worth a look.

Murder Underground
Try and focus on the retro stylings of the book, and the shine of the table – which I polished specially

This is breaking my own rule about not mentioning stuff I’ve read for Novelicious before the review goes up there, but I’ve just finished reading TV historian Neil Oliver’s first novel Master of Shadows, and without preempting my review there too much, it is basically the novel version of one of those historical epic movies.  Set in the fifteenth century. it follows a young man as he flees Scotland, becomes a mercenary and ends up entangled in the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire.  It was too gruesome for me, but if you have a Game of Thrones fan in your life, this could be a great choice for them.

Master of Shadows
The pile of book effect is wearing thin? I know. And this has foil on the cover so its a photo nightmare

My Boy has also expressed an interest in Timur Vermes’ Look Who’s Back, which has been sitting in my Library book bag for ages.  In case you’ve missed it, this was a massive best seller in Germany – and tells the story of what happened when Adolf Hitler wakes up in 2011 Berlin.  It’s already been made into a movie in Germany and Radio 4 have dramatised it over here.  It’s meant to be laugh-out loud funny, but disturbing.

And finally, I’m not big on scary, but The Boy has film director David Cronenberg’s debut novel on his to-read pile.  I don’t like recommending books that I haven’t read (or that people around me haven’t read) but Consumed has a good review average on both Amazon and Goodreads and pull quotes from Stephen King and JJ Abrams, so strikes me as a fairly good punt in a genre I’m really not very fluent in.

Consumed by David Cronenberg
Still, at least I had enough books for this post to make a stack. Just wait til tomorrow…

Miscellaneous

If you want to give bookish gifts that aren’t actually books, then may I point you in the direction of American company Out of Print.  They do the most gorgeous clothes with book covers printed on them and for each purchase they donate a book to a community in need.  I’ve gifted their t-shirts to several men at various points – including The Boy, who loves them and stares wistfully at their website every time he sees me looking at it, but tells me he has enough clothes.  The tees are soft, the print isn’t crunchy (if you know what I mean) and they wash well and hold their shape.  If you’re in the UK I think we’ve already missed the cheap shipping international deadline, although they say you can upgrade, but TruffleShuffle stock a few styles, as do Amazon.

So there you are, hopefully I’ve recommended something for most tastes or situations – or at least provided a jumping off point.  Coming next:  Books for Her.

Authors I love, Book of the Week, fiction, Series I love, Thriller

Book of the Week: Plum Spooky

This week’s BotW post has been really tricky.  If I picked my absolute favourite book from last week – can I then still include it in my holiday reads post (which is why I was reading it in the first place)?  If I don’t pick my favourite, all my other options are going to be repeating previous favourite authors.  If I do pick my favourite it’s a repeat as well.  Tricky.  So people, this week’s book of the week is Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich.  Yes.  I know.  But There Were Reasons.

Plum Spooky
I do love a foil cover – but they’re really tricky to photograph

Plum Spooky is the fourth (and last as it stands) in the Between-the-Numbers Stephanie Plum books – which means it’s a bit like a normal Stephanie Plum but with a supernatural twist.  They’re also the books where you meet Diesel – who goes on to get a series of his own (the second of which was my Evanovich Gateway Book back in April – see previous BotW post).  Plum Spooky is the longest (a proper novel rather than a novella) and best of these fill-ins – it has the balance right between NormalSteph and SupernaturalStuff – and is a good read in it’s own right – not just because you like the other Plum books.

In Plum Spooky, Steph’s FTA has got messed up with the guy that Diesel is trying to find – and it all gets a little bit scary/weird in the Barrens – an area which reminds me a lot of the were-panther area in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Series.  Spooky is very good at balancing the supernatural element of the story with the normal bounty hunter storylines from the regular series.  Having Diesel around does mean less Ranger and Morelli action – but as these are meant to be slightly outside the mains series you couldn’t really have any action that impacts those relationships without causing ructions.

This is great fun – but probably best enjoyed with a bit of existing knowledge of the series – or if you know you like this sort of book. You should be able to get it from all the usual places – and probably your second-hand book store too.

This week I’ve planned my reading better.  And that Summer Reading post is nearly ready, I promise. Just a few more books to read…

Book Club, Book of the Week, reviews

Book of the Week: The Sudden Departure of the Frasers

This week’s BotW is Louise Candlish’s The Sudden Departure of the Frasers – which was my Curtis Brown Book Group book for April, but which didn’t get finished until last week because that was when the discussion was.

Book
This has such a striking cover I know I would have looked at it in the shop, I’m not sure if I would have bought it without the Book Club

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers tells the story of Christy and Joe Davenport, who have just bought the house of their dreams in a leafy London area they never expected to be able to afford.  The previous owners, the Frasers, renovated the house and then abruptly disappeared.  As the Davenports settle in to their new home, Christy becomes obsessed with why the Frasers left and particularly what happened to Amber – beautiful, popular, charming and the centre of the social whirl – and why the atmosphere on the street is so tense.

This is another book that I probably wouldn’t have picked out for myself – but ended up really enjoying* – in fact, I read the vast majority of it across the course of one afternoon and evening because I got sucked in and then I Needed To Know.  It’s one of those books where you can’t put it down because your brain is frantically trying to work out what has gone on and you just need to read one more page/chapter/section because then you might be able to figure it out.

One of the reasons this book worked so well for me is that the setting and the characters seem utterly believeable.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had the fantasy that one day the dream home that you’ve always wanted will pop up on the market miraculously in your price range despite being worth oh-so-much more usually.  And then obviously the old adage about “if it looks too good to be true, maybe it is” springs into your mind.  Now scenarios like this usually lend themselves to horror or ghost stories (definitely not my thing) but this is neither.  It’s a gripping little thriller, which will mess with your head but not leave you with nightmares about blood and gore and ghosts.**

Now I am breaking one of my own rules in writing about this now – because The Sudden Departure of the Frasers doesn’t come out until the 21st.  But after a long deliberation I’ve put it up as this week’s BotW – because a) it was really good, b) if I didn’t BotW would probably be another Janet Evanovich (the obsession continues) and c) it will be a really, really good beach read, so preorder it for your holiday and you’ve one less thing to worry about!

You can pre-order The Sudden Departure of the Frasers from all the usual outlets – here is a selection of links – Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and Kindle – and I suspect that when it does come out it may pop up in your local supermarket as it’s being published by Penguin.

* Which illustrates why I have such a massive to-read pile.  I like so many different books. And if I had bought myself this, it would probably have sat of the shelf for years because of the backlog because it’s not obviously a book that I’d like.  Then you’d get another of my patented posts saying that I loved it and I can’t believe how long it sat on the shelf and why didn’t I read it sooner.  I know.  I’m a nightmare.

** I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that there isn’t any blood or gore or ghosts.  It’s not that sort of book.  But you know what I mean.

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: One For The Money

I know, I know.  I’m repeating an author again, but Janet Evanovich’s One For The Money was my highest rated book that I read last week – and it seemed churlish not to give it book of the week.  Trouble is, as I said a week or so back, I think Evanovich may be my new obsession, so there’s no guarantee that one of her books won’t crop up here again in the near future.  Here’s hoping that the to-read pile also contains lots of other really good books so that I can get some variety going on…

image
My retro looking Penguin edition of One For The Money

 

So, One For The Money is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series – which has now run to twenty-one novels – with a twenty-second due out this year.  As a side point, I love discovering a series like this when it’s been going a while – it means you have lots of time with the characters and lots of things to discover, before you reach the point where you have to wait a year for the next book to come out so you can get your fix.

Anyhow, I digress.  When we meet Stephanie Plum she has lost her job as a lingerie buyer for a very third-rate company.  Her flat is emptying of possessions as she hocks them to make rent, and a repo man is following her trying to take her car back. Her mum sends her over to her cousin Vinnie – who needs a secretary for his bail bond company, but Stephanie ends up blackmailing him into letting her take on a case to try to make some quick cash.  Trouble is the man she’s trying to bring in is her high school crush come hate figure.  And he’s a cop on the run from some very dangerous people…

I laughed out loud on the train reading this – several times – drawing a level of scrutiny from my fellow passengers that I try to avoid.  It’s a bit out of my comfort zone in terms of my usual type of crime novels (you’ll have noticed by now that I tend towards the cozy and the Golden Age end of the spectrum) but it’s so funny that it didn’t bother me that the violence and suspense level was a step up from what I usually read.*

Stephanie is a little bit too dependent on getting herself helped out of trouble that she’s walked herself into for my liking, but I’m putting that down to the fact that she’s walked into bounty hunting with no clue what she’s doing and without the requisite skills – which is naive and foolhardy almost beyond belief, but I went with it because the book swings along at such a pace that you only really think about that once it’s over – because you’re laughing and turning pages too fast to notice!

I put an order in for book two within 24 hours of finishing book 1 (it’s been dispatched!)and I’m hoping that as Steph wises up, she doesn’t lose the humour and fin that I’ve enjoyed so much in this first book.  Cross your fingers for me!

You should be able to buy your copy of One for the Money from the usual suspects –  Amazon, Waterstones and Foyles – although I haven’t been able to find it on Kindle or Kobo.

* And it’s not much worse, really, than some of the crime-y thriller-y sections that you get in some of Charlaine Harris’s novels.

fiction, new releases, reviews, Thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review: A Delicate Truth by John le Carré

Disclosure: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway – not that that influences what I write…

So, as you may have noticed from the previous posts, I’m not a big thriller reader.  Detective or mystery stories, yes, lots of them and preferably set in any period not now (I’m not a CSI girl).  I have read some John le Carré before – because before watching the film of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, I wanted to have read the book – to see if it was going to be too violent for me to cope with (for my post about the contradictions of my job and my aversion to violence in films see this post on my other blog).  I enjoyed it so much that I not only watched the film and most of the Alec Guiness TV adaptation, but also read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – which is also really good.  I’ve been keeping my eyes out for more of his Smiley series at the library – but hadn’t read any of his newer books* – hence my entry into the Goodreads giveaway (despite the enormous size of the to-read pile) and I was really pleased when I won a copy.

A Delicate Truth
Paperback copy of A Delicate Truth by John le Carré

I’m always very careful not to give away plot spoilers in my synopsis, and it’s quite hard with A Delicate Truth to say much about the plot without saying too much, so I’ve taken my cue for this from the Goodreads synopsis.  The story centres around a top, top secret counter-terror operation in Gibraltar – what happened, how it was set up and whether it was the success that it was meant to have been.

The intertwining plots are carefully and meticulously constructed – I never thought that I knew what was coming next and at the end I still had questions (in a good way) and wanted to know more.  The characters are believable – in some cases horribly so – and you really can imagine that these events could possibly have happened – although you hope fervently that they haven’t.

Le Carré still has the knack for describing the workings of government in a way that feels real, and in addition, in this book he turns his focus on the world of private defence contractors.  I’ve read a lot of news articles about this new aspect of the military world and I can’t claim to know first hand what any of them are really like, but it’s clear that the author isn’t keen, shall we say, on this latest development.  And if anything near of the shenanigans that go on in this book have gone on in real life (and I devoutly hope they haven’t) then he’s got reason.

This is an exciting and page-turning book – which I gobbled up in a day’s commute and an evening’s reading. I would recommend it to anyone who has read his earlier works or people who like a thriller at the cinema and want a book for their summer holiday.  I’m not surprised this has done so well – I’ll certainly be passing it on to the thriller readers in my family (my dad and The Boy).

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré can be found on Kindle or as a proper book all over the place (although my link is Foyles, for reasons previously explained) and you can also see more reviews on Goodreads.

* I nearly put “contemporary books” but then I remembered that the Smiley books were written at the time that they were set in, it’s just me that’s reading them now!