Sunday, 28 August 2011

Corduroy Mansions (Corduroy Mansions series, Book 1) by Alexander McCall Smith


Corduroy Mansions:  "And here's this lovely building, your Corduroy Mansions.  Crumpled - if a building can be crumpled.  Utterly friendly and human.  A building that says, 'Come in, love.'  That's what it says: it calls us 'love', like a tea lady.  A building that one would like to sit down and have tea with.  That sort of building."


Hardcover flap:  Originally published on the website Telegraph.co.uk, Corduroy Mansions won an enthusiastic readership during its 100-episode run and subsequently published in book form back in 2009.

'Corduroy Mansions' is the affectionate nickname given to a genteelly crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico.  This is the home patch of - amongst others - a lovelorn literary agent, possibly the first ever nasty Liberal Democrat MP and Freddie de la Hay, an urbane, simpatico terrier trained to be vegetarian and respectful of feline rights.

Elsewhere, the eccentric Terence Moongrove is on a voyage of self-discovery which has taken him to Cheltenham to experiment with sacred dance and where he develops a liking for fast cars.

Loafers, wine merchants, vitamin evangelists and the occasional analyst pass each other on the stairs of this delightful des res.  With his trademark wit, charm and lightness of touch, Alexander McCall Smith introduces a colourful cast of characters, full of the life, laughter and humanity so beloved in his writing.

Video watching:  The esteemed author introduces the quirky characters and talks about the attraction of the setting in Corduroy Mansions:





More information can be found here and here.

My take:  Yet another amazing series by McCall Smith!  Has the hallmark of the author - philosophical and funny at the same time.  Love them.  Highly recommended.

Rating:  5/5

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Dubai Wives by Zvezdana Rashkovich


As I head toward my "twilight years" and as authors from other exotic countries come to light in this easily-accessible-by-the-stroke-of-a-finger age, I want to explore and read more books from other countries instead of having a tunnel-vision view on reading.

I have only ever been to Dubai once, on a transit from the Far East back to England, so technically I have never actually set foot on Dubai soil and was only an "in-betweener".  My love of travelling will one day find me there but for now, I am content to let my mind travel for me.

I hope you will enjoy this novel in terms of its eclectic mix of cultures, peoples, lifestyle and oh so lavish setting.  It is a good tale of eight different women finding themselves in different situations at different stages in their lives, some of their own making and some fated.

For me, this book can be classified as a downtime book because it does not tax my brain whatsoever and I would use it as a buffer in between my crime fiction reads.  I can imagine it as a running television soap though, because the lives of the women are certainly filled with enough drama and secrets to create another ubiquitous reality television show, made up of a multi-ethnic cast in an opulent diamond-dripping society.

My two favourite characters are Pamira (Persian) and Jane (English).  Happy reading.

Paperback blurb:  Dubai Wives weaves a complex multicultural tale of unraveling secrets and diverse, flawed characters.  The lives of eight women collide in this opulent, culturally vibrant city on a journey of sisterhood, friendship, love, betrayal and the heartbreaking choices of its residents.

We see Jewel, a beautiful but frustrated wife to her powerful Emirati husband, and Tara, a devout Muslim with a passionate secret, and Liliana, a tragic dancer in the seedy clubs of Dubai.

A stirring tale encompassing tradition, identity, and faith, Dubai Wives takes the reader into the hidden world behind the walls of lavish mansions and into the back alleys of Dubai, from the hills of Morocco to the gloomy English countryside, from the slums of India to the glittering lights of the Burj Al Arab.  It paints a portrait of a world where no one is who they seem to be...and where everything is possible.

About the author:  Zvezdana Rashkovich was born in Croatia.  She grew up in the Sudan.  A global nomad from the age of seven, the author has lived in Croatia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, USA, Qatar, and Dubai, resulting in a cross cultural journey that has lasted most of her life.  A fluent speaker of Arabic the author has worked as a legal and medical interpreter for refugees in the USA while writing and bringing up her four children.

She currently resides in Dubai and is working on her second novel entitled Daughter of the Nile set in Sudan.  Dubai Wives, published in January 2011 by AuthorHouse, is her first novel.

More on her official website and on Twitter.

Rating:  2/5

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Cold Justice (Detective Ella Marconi, Book 3) by Katherine Howell



Paperback blurb:  The older the case, the colder the trail.

On an early morning walk, a young girl finds the body of her classmate, Tim Pieters, hidden amongst the bushes.  The killer isn't found.

Almost two decades later, political pressure sees the case reopened and Detective Ella Marconi inherits the job.  Ella attacks the case with vigour, determined to shake off the memories of her last disastrous investigation.  But she knows it is an almost impossible task - after all this time the murderer could be long gone.  And Tim's mother, once so eager for the case to be taken seriously by police, is refusing to talk.

Georgie Riley, the girl who found Tim's body, is now a paramedic.  When Ella receives an anonymous call insisting that Georgie has information about the Pieters case, she decides to dig deeper.

As long-buried secrets finally come to light, can Ella track down the killer before more people are hurt?

My brief take:  In her acknowledgments, Howell said that this book came at a difficult time in her life.  Did it make her write better?  I think it certainly did for there is no doubt that her writing has improved in this instalment as it reads so much more fluidly and solidly.  She is a writer who writes about what she knows and has done very well in portraying the high stress toll which comes with a paramedic's job.

Basically, there are two alternating characters in her book, one a paramedic and one a detective, both female, where the paramedic is a different person in each book but the detective remains the same person.  All minor characters revolve around these two main characters.

I thought the plot is one of the most cleverly plotted out, spanning some twenty years, from childhood till adulthood when justice is finally meted out to the perpetrator.

Bought this book from Abbey's Bookshop while on holiday in Sydney in December 2010.  It is the first paramedic-detective series I have put on my favourite book series list.  I am not surprised that Cold Justice made the Australian bestseller list in 2010 because it is well-deserved.  Book four of the Detective Ella Marconi series, Violent Exposure (2010), is now available but sadly not in the UK yet in hardback or paperback copies.  However, it is available in e-book format at Waterstones priced at £14.11. 

More information and reviews of Cold Justice can be found on the author's website.

I like this review.

An interview with Katherine Howell by Edwina Shaw.

Rating:  4/5

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Darkest Hour (Detective Ella Marconi, Book 2) by Katherine Howell



Paperback blurb:  Paramedic Lauren Yates stumbles into a world of trouble the night she discovers a dead man in an inner city alley - the killer still lurks nearby.  When the murderer threatens to make her life hell if she tells the police, she believes him - he's Thomas Werner, her sister's ex and father to Lauren's niece ... and not a man to mess with.

But when a stabbing victim tells her with his dying breath that Werner attacked him too, she finds herself with blood on her hands and Detective Ella Marconi on her back.

Ella knows Lauren is the perfect witness, but when Lauren tries to change her statement, Ella realises that Lauren is hiding something.  The harder she digs into the paramedic's past, the more Lauren resists, and the worse the threat from Werner becomes.

Will Ella's investigation put her career on the line?  Can Lauren keep her family safe?  Or will they all - Ella included - pay the ultimate price?

About the author:  Katherine Howell is a former ambulance officer.  Frantic (2007), her first novel, introduced Detective Ella Marconi and has been published in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Russia.  Katherine lives in the New South Wales Hunter Valley and is now working on her fifth Detective Ella Marconi novel called Silent Fear available in Australia from February 2012.  Do visit her website on www.katherinehowell.com for or like her on Facebook for more up-to-date information.

Rating:  4/5

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Diary Of A Provincial Lady by E M Delafield



Backcover blurb:  The Provincial Lady has a nice house, a nice husband (usually asleep behind The Times) and nice children.  In fact, maintaining Niceness is the Provincial Lady's goal in life - her raison d'etre.  She never raises her voice, rarely ventures outside Devon (why would she?), only occasionally allows herself to become vexed by the ongoing servant problem, and would be truly appalled by the confessional mode of the late twentieth century.

About the author:  Novelist, journalist and short story writer of French descent, E M Delafield (1890-1943) adopted this pseudonym to avoid confusion with her mother, Mrs Henry de la Pasture, the author of numerous, popular novels.

In 1917 her first novel, Zella Sees Herself, was published and she wrote three more novels before marrying Major Arthur Paul Dashwood OBE in 1919.  When Lady Rhondda asked her to contribute a serial for the feminist journal Time and Tide, the result was A Diary of a Provincial Lady (first published in 1933), which made its author one of the best-loved writers of the 1930s.

The Provincial Lady Goes Further was published in 1932 and the next year her American lecture was serialised in Punch and formed The Provincial Lady in America (1934).  The Provincial Lady in Wartime appeared in 1940.

E M Delafield was herself a provincial lady, whose writing combined wit and elegance with a deep interest in the lives of her class, an interest reflected in her role as magistrate and pillar of the WI.

At the age of fifty-three she died at home in Cullompton, Devon.

Here is a good piece about the author, E M Delafield, by The Independent three years ago.

My take:  I love it!  Delightfully humorous, frighteningly honest, charming, a breath of fresh air and very British indeed.  Even though it was written in the 1930s, I do not feel a sense of a leaping progress from then till now of how women think and feel about a lot of things going in and around their lives.  Fundamentally, we still think and feel the same way going on to 2012!

Written in diary form - not particularly my taste in reading a book - from 7 November of one year to 23 October of the next, it is so witty and clever it detracts me from thinking that it is.  Although there is no plot to speak of, but the provincial lady's dry and caustic account of her domestic and social life in rural England is engrossing enough to make you think that one event is connected to the next and so on and so forth, and also, the other/same characters keep popping up now and then to gel the so-called plot together.

As E M Delafield wrote in 1935, "All that I have tried to do is to observe faithfully, and record accurately, the things that have come within my limited range.  The fault that I have most tried to avoid is sentimentality."

Hand on heart, one thing that truly stands out is it is continuously funny.  A wholly womanised book so don't know whether it will appeal to men much, if at all.  Highly recommended.  Do read it.

Rating:  4/5

Monday, 22 August 2011

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym



Paperback blurb:  Mildred Lathbury is one of those excellent women who are often taken for granted.  She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations or even the great moments of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sale, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'.

Her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, seem to be facing a marital crisis.  One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially as Mildred has a soft spot for dashing young Rockingham Napier.

About the author:  Barbara Pym (1913-1980) was born in Oswestry, Shropshire.  She was educated at Huyton College, Liverpool, and St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she gained an Honours Degree in English Language and Literature.  During the war she served in the WRNS in Britain and Naples.

From 1958-1974 she worked as an editorial secretary at the International African Institute.  Her first nove, Some Tame Gazelle, was published in 1950, and was followed by Excellent Women (1952), Jane and Prudence (1953), Less than Angels (1955), A Glass of Blessings (1958) and No Fond Return of Love (1961).

During the sixties and early seventies her writing suffered a partial eclipse and, discouraged, she concentrated on her work for the International African Institute, from which she retired in 1974 to live in Oxfordshire.

A renaissance in her fortunes came in 1977, when both Philip Larkin and Lord David Cecil chose her as one of the most underrated novelists of the century.  With astonishing speed, she emerged, after sixteen years of obscurity, to almost instant fame and recognition.  Quartet in Autumn was published in 1977 and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Barbara Pym died in January 1980.

More information on the English novelist can be found at The Barbara Pym Society website.

My take:  The back of the blurb also says that "this is Barbara Pym's world at its funniest and most touching" which I do not disagree with as Excellent Women stands as one of the most endearingly amusing English novels of the twentieth century.  Why and how?  As Alexander McCall Smith wrote in the introduction of the book in 2008, Excellent Women "delights in tiny little things...transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary."

He went on to say that Excellent Women does not say much about the great issues of the time, whether political or social, but what stands out is that "motley cluster of small concerns that makes up our day-to-day lives.  This is what gives her novels their permanent appeal."

McCall Smith exhorts Barbara Pym's reputation which has been steadily enhanced after her death in 1980 and an indication of this is the fact that she has become an adjective.  What does that mean?  According to McCall Smith, to say that a moment is 'very Barbara Pym' is to say that "it is a moment of self-observed, poignant acceptance of the modesty of one's circumstances and peripheral position."

"A Barbara Pym moment also occurs when one realises that for those whom one is observing, one will never be an object of love."

Or this passage from the book will perhaps explain it better.  It is a lunch conversation between Mildred Lathbury and her male companion:

"Esther Clovis is certainly a very capable person," he said doubtfully.  "An excellent woman altogether."
"You could consider marrying an excellent woman?"  I asked in amazement.  "But they are not for marrying."
"You're surely not suggesting that they are for the other things?"  he said, smiling.
That had certainly not occurred to me and I was annoyed to find myself embarrassed.
"They are for being unmarried,"  I said,  "and by that I mean a positive rather than a negative state."
"Poor things, aren't they allowed to have the normal feelings, then?"
"Oh, yes, but nothing can be done about them."

I do not think authors write stories like Pym's anymore.  The world portrayed in Excellent Women is far removed from the world as we know it today.  However, human aspirations, dreams and hopes, then as now, remain unchanged.  It has been written that the world portrayed in Excellent Women is "a world of shortages and genteel drabness...the characters have all known better days in one way or another: they come from a vicarage background but are now in shared accommodation; they appreciate better fare than the tinned food they eke out...  The plot itself is not without interest, but it is the narrator's comments on her world and on the scraps of pleasure it allows her that are so utterly engaging..."

McCall Smith puts forward a good question when he asked, "Is this a world that the contemporary reader can recognise?"

He went on to write that "one does not laugh out loud while reading Barbara Pym; that would be too much.  One smiles.  One smiles and puts down the book to enjoy the smile.  Then one picks it up again and a few minutes later an unexpected observation on human foibles makes one smile again."  I daresay I cannot put it much better than that!

He finishes with a heart-felt sentiment:  "If Excellent Women is a mark of a great novel that it should help us to feel for others, that it should touch our human capacity for sympathy in an important way, then Excellent Women, a novel that on one level is about very little, is a great novel about a great deal."

Yes, Excellent Women is about ordinariness, placid, conformist ordinariness.  I hope you will pick this book up to read as I would describe my read as 1) invigoratingly fresh and 2) unrealistically real.  Sadly, nobody writes like this anymore.  Pym is a literary treasure.  Highly recommended.

Rating:  4/5

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Dreams Of Joy by Lisa See


All the interviews are carried out very recently, specifically in the past couple of months.  Lisa See tells us what her new book, the second in the Pearl and May series published in May 2011 and sequel to Shanghai Girls (2009), is about.  There are some interesting tidbits.  Watch:



There is a lot of viewing time on the following videos (in two parts) but I think they are actually worth watching.  I am intrigued by what Lisa See says about the cultures and history of China:





Another set of videos of Dreams Of Joy in two parts.  They are worth watching:





My take:  This is a very powerful and heart-wrenching novel that will affect you days after you have finished reading it - mark my words.  Beautifully written and intricately researched with a lot of interesting details about life in China specifically revolving around family life, its hapless society and Chinese women during Mao's reign of terror in the late 1950s.  The grim horrors of the Great Leap Forward are utterly haunting and I can never get past the sheer shock every time I read about them.  Apart from it being a book that gives room for some serious thoughts, this is in itself an educational book about a memorable time in the history of communist China and in the history of mankind and what better way to learn history than from the pen of a gifted writer I say!

Is there a lesson to be learned from the story?  I guess numerous but the one that comes foremost to mind is:  No matter what life throws at us, good or bad, and especially the bad, never ever accept defeat.  Be strong and fight for what you believe in courageously.

You can read this as a stand-alone of course but you would better understand the story as a cohesive whole if you read Shanghai Girls first.  I highly recommend all of See's books and look forward to more.

For information on the author, her other books, events, her new movie, keeping in touch with her, etc, do access the author's official website here.

You can read The Washington Post's book review of Dreams of Joy here.

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder



Hardcover blurb:  When private investigator Nick Heller moves back to Boston to set up his own agency, he soon gets an urgent case even closer to home than expected.

Alexandra Marcus - teenage daughter of hedge fund titan Marshall Marcus - has been kidnapped.  But it's no ordinary kidnapping - and it's not even clear what they want.  She's been abducted by professionals and buried alive in an underground casket.  A video camera is streaming her desperate pleas live over the internet.  With only a limited supply of food and water, her time is quickly running out.

Nick, a close friend of the family, is more determined than ever to catch the perpetrators.  But when Marshall is arrested for fraud, Nick uncovers some powerful enemies and a conspiracy that reaches up to the very highest levels of government.  Faced with opponents well-protected by wealth and position, Nick must play a dangerous game if he hopes to flush out those responsible before Alexa is buried for good...

What does it feel like to be buried alive?  Joseph Finder tells us:



Finder's chilling new trailer:



One more video on Finder's latest thriller:



My take:  I have been reading book series back-to-back for the past year and a half and the way it is, I am not slowing down yet.  I think reading book series is de rigeur for all booklovers in this time and age as well as for writers who seem to be publishing more and more book series down the road because they sell and are popular with readers.

Buried Secrets (published in June 2011) is no exception.  If you had read Vanished, the first Nick Heller novel, you would not want to miss Buried Secrets, the second Nick Heller novel as well as Finder's tenth novel, for Nick Heller is a man who literally beats the odds.  Finder's novels have been widely praised for their authentic detail, which he gathers from his extensive contacts, both in the intelligence community and in executive suites around the world.

This is an excellent and solid modern thriller series.  Buried alive is also known as premature burial or vivisepulture and is one of the most terrifying of all terrifying things anyone could ever imagine.  Buried Secrets is one of those books with short chapters which make it very easy to read and a riveting page-turner.  Enjoy the story, you won't be disappointed.

There are more excellent reviews on the author's official website if reviews are anything to go by.

Rating:  5/5

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Dead Man's Grip by Peter James


Peter James introduces his latest and seventh book in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, Dead Man's Grip, here in his own words or you can read the book blurb below:

Carly Chase is traumatized ten days after being in a traffic accident which kills a teenage student from Brighton University.  Then she receives news that turns her entire world into a living nightmare.

The drivers of the other two vehicles involved have been found tortured and murdered.  Now Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Sussex police force issues a stark and urgent warning to Carly: she could be next.

The student had deadly connections; connections that stretch across the Atlantic.  Someone has sworn revenge and won't rest until the final person involved in that fatal accident is dead.

The police advise Carly that her only option is to go into hiding and change her identity.  The terrified woman disagrees - she knows these people have ways of hunting you down anywhere.  If the police are unable to stop them, she has to find a way to do it herself.  But already the killer is one step ahead of her, watching, waiting and ready...

This is another unmissable and truly exciting story by the international best-selling crime thriller author/film producer and also one of my favourite crime fiction series set in Sussex, the historic county of South East England.  Peter James has recently been nominated for a Barry Award for Dead Man's Grip.  Do not fail to excavate the author's website for further information, past books and updates.

Happy reading.

Rating:  5/5

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey



Book blurb:  A woman is shot as she waits for her train to work.  An hour later, a second woman is gunned down as she rides an elevated train through the Loop.  Two hours after that, a church becomes the target of a chemical weapons attack.  The city of Chicago is under siege.

Michael Kelly is initially drawn into the case by the killers themselves, then tasked by Chicago's mayor and the FBI to hunt down the bad guys and, all things being equal, put a bullet in them.  Kelly, of course, has other ideas.

As he gets nearer to the truth, Kelly's instincts lead him to a retired cop, a shady train company, and an unnerving link to his own past.

Meanwhile, Kelly's girlfriend, Rachel Swenson, becomes a pawn in a much larger game - as a weapon that could kill millions ticks away quietly in the very belly of the city...

The Third Rail (published in hardcover on April 2010) is stylish, sophisticated, edge-of-your-seat suspense from a new modern master.

The trailer as you have not seen it before:



If you enjoyed this one, the next and latest book in the Irish cop turned Chicago PI Michael Kelly series, We All Fall Down (12 July 2011), is available now to devour.  This is an outstanding series by a talented and savvy writer who just knows how to spin a good yarn and stir up the water.  Michael Harvey has just bagged himself a new fan!  I look forward to more...

Check out www.michaelharveybooks.com for more updates.

Rating:  6/5

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Fifth Floor by Michael Harvey


Blurb:  Kelly is hired by an ex-flame to tail her abusive husband.  But what looks like a bread-and-butter domestic dispute turns out to be more than he bargained for.  The tail leads him to an old house on Chicago's North Side.  Here he finds a body and what appears to be the answer to one of Chicago's most enduring mysteries: who started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and why.

As he explores further he is drawn into a web of corruption and intrigue that reaches right to the top.  An unknown enemy is out to frame Kelly for murder and rewrite history in the process - including the past he didn't even know he had.

Soon Kelly will find himself in the last place he wants to be - City Hall's fifth floor, where the Mayor is feeling the heat and looking to silence any investigations.

The trailer:



My take:  The second book in the PI Michael Kelly series, The Fifth Floor, was published in 2008.  Can be read as a stand-alone but not a bad idea to read the first book, The Chicago Way before the second.  A terrific noir read edged by humour and grit.  Also a very humane book showing how the vagaries of life can sometimes catch up to the best of us, like the weather and the seasons.  I love it to absolute bits!

Rating:  6/5

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey


Just when I think I have already found the best debut to read before the year comes to a close, another one pops up and another and another and I am now right chuffed.  I reckon the book fairy is looking down on me like a precious child and I have a good feeling that by Christmas, there will be a few more gems of a book for me to discover.  This is the life, aah, but for now, please allow me the liberty to swoon on Michael Harvey.

Book blurb:  The Chicago Way rips the classic crime novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett from their 30s origins and slams them like a brass fit into the teeth of modern-day Chicago.

Ex-cop turned Private Investigator Michael Kelly is hired by his former police boss, John Gibbons, to investigate a brutal rape and battery, an eight year old crime which was never solved because Gibbons was ordered to forget it.  The following day Gibbons is shot dead.

Kelly's quest to find his friend's killer and to bring the perpetrator of the rape to justice forces him to confront the Mob, corrupt policemen and a serial rapist awaiting execution on Death Row.

Brief biography on the author:  Michael Harvey is a writer, journalist and documentary producer, as well as the co-creator of documentary televisions series Cold Case Files on the cable channel A&E Network.  He has received national and international awards for his work, including an Academy Award nomination.  He earned a law degree from Duke University, a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in classical languages from Holy Cross College.  He lives in Chicago.

This radio interview on npr with the author examines the author's reasoning behind his writing interests.

The Chicago Way was released in hardcover on 21 August 2007 in the USA and is the first in a series starring a tough-talking Irish cop turned private investigator Michael Kelly.

There are three things that grabbed my attention when I embarked on this read and they are 1) it only took the first page to pull me in and 2) the writing was slick, smooth, like that, and 3) I like the Chicago setting.

This writer can write, period.  The Chicago Way puts hardboiled crime fiction on a high pedestal and I very much urge anyone to pick this book up and read it.  When a book is good, it is good.  Reviews are unnecessary, just read it and remember the name Michael Harvey.

You can navigate your way round the author's official website here to find out more about him and his works.  Happy reading.

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Plan B: A Nick Heller Story by Joseph Finder


It is hard to stay away from my Kindle.  I decided to read another story on my electronic book today.  This one is a very short story and ends in a rather abrupt manner - you will have to read it to find out.  I am not sure whether the story was meant to carry on elsewhere or whether the author meant to take a jibe at the story.  Anyway, if you decide to read it, do enjoy it by all means.

This story was published on 12 June 2011 and is available as a free download on Kindle.  You can also read it free on the author's official website - how cool is that?

Here is the blurb:


Plan B finds private spy Nick Heller in Barcelona, Spain on a rescue mission.

The target:  a walled compound with state-of-the-art-security.

The object:  a teenage girl, held against her will.

The plan:  get in and rescue the girl and then get out without tripping an alarm or alerting the army of guards.

But even the best designed plans can go wrong.  Which is why Nick Heller always has a Plan B.

Rating:  2/5

Monday, 8 August 2011

Falling Star by Diana Dempsey


This is another Kindle read which is free via Amazon.

Published on 30 April 2011, debut author Diana Dempsey soars with Falling Star, a powerful, moving, riveting tale of greed and betrayal, love and self-discovery.  The page-turner for every woman who's ever had better days.

Natalie Daniels' husband just dumped her.  Her boss is scheming to replace her.  And she's falling in love with her sexy Australian TV news agent - who's about to propose to somebody else.  What's a woman to do?  Dig deep and show what she's made of - which just might land her both the job and the man of her dreams.

Falling Star was nominated for a RITA award for "Best First Book" by the membership of the Romance Writers Association.

My take:  For a Kindle freebie, this story is not too soppy and you get to look behind the scenes at the ruthless world of network news.  Dempsey is good at portraying strong and ambitious women and it was surprisingly pleasant to read considering that this is not something I would pick up voluntarily.  I think this book can be classified as the perfect summer read.

Falling Star is the first book in the Celestial Trilogy series.  The others are Catch The Moon and Too Close To The Sun.  All are available on Kindle now.

For more information on the author and her other books, do visit her official website.

Rating:  3/5

Thursday, 4 August 2011

London Calling (Inspector Carlyle 1) by James Craig



Book blurb:  Can you win an election and cover up murder at the same time?

When Inspector John Carlyle finds a body in a luxury London hotel room he begins a journey through the murky world of the British ruling classes which leads all the way to the top.

In the middle of a General Election, a murderer is stalking the man poised to be the next Prime Minister.

With power almost in his grasp, Edgar Carlton will not stand idly by while his birthright is threatened.

Operating in a world where right and wrong don't exist and the pursuit of power is everything, Carlyle has to find the killer before Carlton takes the law into his own hands.

Here is the book trailer:



I read Craig's debut novel (out August 2011) on my Kindle while on holiday in the Far East.

The Kindle edition only costs £1 (includes VAT), a right bargain!  If you do not own a Kindle, the paperback is already available to buy in all bookshops or online in the UK.

For a debut, this one tops the list and shows a lot of promise.  Mark my words, you will like this London copper.  It is decently written, enjoyable, engaging, humorous and comes very highly recommended by yours truly.

If you are already wondering about the next one, Never Apologise, Never Explain is due in January 2012 and the third, Buckingham Palace Blues, is available in January 2013, if not sooner.

For more information, do visit the author's website or you can follow his tweets on Twitter.

Rating:  4/5

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish (a free short story) by Stephen Leather


This is a locked room mystery where a body was found on a bed in a 5-star hotel room in Singapore.  There is a wound on the body but no weapon.  There is no way in and out other than through a door into a corridor that is constantly monitored by CCTV.  

As Inspector Zhang said in the story, "The key to solving this mystery lies in understanding that it is not who goes into the room that is important.  It is who does not go in."

A short and perfect buffer story for any crime enthusiasts in the style of John Dickson Carr or Soji Shimada.  This e-story was published on 16 June 2011.  The author has three other Inspector Zhang locked room mysteries under his belt.  More information can be obtained from his website www.stephenleather.com

Rating:  3/5