Thursday, 20 July 2017

A Game of Ghosts (The Charlie Parker Thriller Series) by John Connolly


Hardback:  It is deep winter.

The darkness is unending.

The private detective named Jaycob Eklund has vanished, and Charlie Parker is dispatched to track him down.  Parker's employer, Edgar Ross, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has his own reasons for wanting Eklund found.

Eklund is no ordinary investigator. He is obsessively tracking a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to reports of hauntings.  Now Parker will be drawn into Eklund's world, a realm in which the monstrous Mother rules a crumbling criminal empire, in which men strike bargains with angels, and in which the innocent and guilty alike are pawns in a game of ghosts.

A Game of Ghosts (2017) is the fifteenth and latest book in the formidable and fine Charlie Parker thriller series.

About the author:  John Connolly was born in Dublin in 1968.  His debut, Every Dead Thing (1999), swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers, and all his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers.

Books To Die For, which he edited with Declan Burke, was the winner of the 2013 Anthony, Agatha and Macavity Awards for Best Non-fiction.  He was the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award, and the first Irish writer to be awarded the Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America.  He keeps a website and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @jconnollybooks.

Rating:  5/5

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Right Book


Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister by Rosa Prince


Hardback:  Twenty days after Britain's dramatic vote to leave the European Union, with the government still reeling from the political aftershock, a new Prime Minister captured Downing Street. Few were more surprised by this unexpected turn of events than Theresa May herself.

David Cameron's sudden resignation unleashed a leadership contest like no other - and saw the showier rivals for his crown fall one by one with dizzying speed.

So how did the daughter of an Oxfordshire vicar rise to the top job with such ease?

In this fascinating biography, Rosa Prince explores the self-styled unflashy politician whose commitment to public service was instilled in her from childhood.

More than a decade after she warned stunned Conservatives of their 'nasty' image, May has become the champion of Middle England and, for the time being, united her riven party.

Theresa May:  The Enigmatic Prime Minister (2017) maps the rise of Britain's second female premier, a woman who had to fight against the odds to become an MP, who remained overlooked and undervalued during much of her time in Parliament, yet who went on to become a formidable Home Secretary and, now, the leader of her country as it faces its greatest challenge since the Second World War.

About the author:  Rosa Prince is the author of Theresa May:  The Enigmatic Prime Minister (Biteback, 2017), Comrade Corbyn: A Very Unlikely Coup:  How Jeremy Corbyn Stormed to the Labour Leadership (Biteback, 2016), and Standing Down:  Interviews with Retiring MPs (Biteback, 2015).

Born and raised in London, Rosa began her career in journalism at the Daily Mirror in 1997, where she covered major news stories at home and abroad before joining the parliamentary lobby in 2004. In 2007, she crossed the floor to the Daily Telegraph, where she became assistant political editor.

Part of the team that broke the 2010 expenses scandal, she also spent three years in New York as the Telegraph’s US correspondent.  She is now a freelance journalist and writer.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Thirst (Harry Hole Series) by Jo Nesbø


Hardback:  Harry Hole is back after four years of anticipation!

There is a new killer on the streets.  A woman is found murdered after an internet date.  The marks left on her body show the police that they are dealing with a particularly vicious killer.  Under pressure from the media to find the murderer, the force know there is only one man for the job.

But Harry Hole is reluctant to return to the place that almost took everything from him.  Until he starts to suspect a connection between this killing and his one failed case.

When another victim is found, Harry realises he will need to put everything on the line if he is to finally catch the one who got away.

The Thirst (2017) is the latest and eleventh book in the gripping and first-class Harry Hole series.

It is translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith.

About the author:  Jo Nesbø played football for Norway's premier league team Molde, but his dream of playing professionally for Spurs was dashed when he tore ligaments in his knee at the age of eighteen.  After three years' military service he attended business school and formed the band Di derre ('Them There').  Their second album topped the charts in Norway, but he continued working as a financial analyst, crunching numbers during the day and gigging at night.  When commissioned to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first Harry Hole thriller, The Bat (2012).  He is one of the world's leading crime writers, regularly topping the UK bestseller charts.

His novels are published in 50 languages and in 2017 Harry Hole will make his first appearance on the silver screen in a film adaptation of The Snowman starring Michael Fassbender.

About the translator:  Neil Smith gained a degree in Scandinavian studies at UCL and is the acclaimed translator of many crime novels in both Norwegian and Swedish.

Rating:  5/5

The EU Movement


Rising Frustration @ Brexit


Friday, 30 June 2017

Thatcher's Trial: Six Months That Defined A Leader by Kwasi Kwarteng


Paperback:  Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister in 1979, the first woman to hold the position, and the first woman in the Western world to lead a nation.

Within two years she was beset by troubles, and it seemed her historic government would be short-lived.  In 1981 unemployment had risen to levels not seen since the 1930s and public finances foundered in their worst state since 1945.

The 'no hope' budget delivered by Chancellor Geoffrey Howe in March marked the beginning of a six-month period which witnessed pressures in Northern Ireland, hunger strikes, urban riots and unprecedented unrest within the Conservative Party.

By the Cabinet reshuffle of 14 September, in which mutinous grandees were removed, Thatcher had firmly reasserted her authority.  This extraordinary six-month period would come to define the Conservative Party's most successful and divisive modern figure:  to her detractors a harsh, uncaring and dogmatic leader who made the country a more unequal, materialistic and brutal place;  to her supporters, the saviour of a Britain which was becoming an ungovernable socialist state.

The 1983 general election would prove a triumph.

Kwasi Kwarteng here captures this shopkeeper's daughter's unique leadership qualities - from her pulpit style and New Testament imagery to her emphasis on personal moral responsibility - in some of the most adverse conditions facing any statesman in modern peacetime to offer a compelling study of arguably the most significant six months in British post-war history.

Thatcher's Trial was first published in 2015 and Kwasi Kwarteng's third book.

About the author:  Kwasi Kwarteng was born in London to Ghanaian parents.  He has a PhD in History from Cambridge University and is the Member of Parliament for Spelthorne in Surrey.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed Ghosts of Empire and War and Gold.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Passion for Peace: Reflections on War and Nonviolence by Thomas Merton


Paperback:  Violence, war, and terrorism fill our televisions, newspapers, and websites unceasingly every single day.

To meet the great need for nonviolent wisdom and peace in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi, Crossroad presents this new and reedited version - with an introduction by William H Sharman - of Thomas Merton’s Passion for Peace (2006).

The book, never before available in an attractive trade edition, presents Merton’s most important insights into themes such as the nature of violence, nuclear proliferation, fear as the root of war, nonviolence resistance, Vietnam and Auschwitz, the nature of violence, armed conflict, terrorism, the individual in the state and the Christian responsibility for active, nonviolent engagement in the world.

Passion for Peace is classified under Religion/Spirituality/Current Events.

About the writer:  Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century.  A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the American state of Kentucky, Merton was an acclaimed Catholic spiritual writer, poet, author and social activist.

Merton wrote over 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the ongoing subject of many biographies.  Merton was also a proponent of inter-religious dialogue, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D T Suzuki.

His life and career were suddenly cut short at age 53, when he was electrocuted stepping out of his bath.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader (Politics) by Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre


Paperback:  What makes a man put politics and ambition before family?

Ed Miliband is perhaps the least understood political leader of modern times.  This book reveals where he has come from and where he is going.  It charts his unique upbringing, against the backdrop of tragedy and with a prominent Marxist thinker for a father.  But Ed s story cannot be fully understood outside the context of his struggle to emerge from the shadow of his elder brother, David. Ed followed David to the same college at Oxford, into Parliament and into the Cabinet before, at the eleventh hour, snatching away David s dream of the leadership.

This new and fully updated edition follows Ed through the highs of leading the charge against Rupert Murdoch and News International to the lows of plummeting poll ratings, poor press and that infamous 'Blackbusters' tweet.  Yet in the wake of Osborne's 'omnishambles' budget and Labour's impressive gains in May 2012's local elections, political commentators have started to ask, with increasing volume, if we could indeed see Prime Minister Ed Miliband.

As the 2015 General Election approaches, Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre ask the important questions.

Is Ed up to the job?

Can he be trusted on the economy?

And will he manage to bury the hatchet with David and bring his brother back to the Labour front bench?

Ed:  The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader was first published in 2011 and constitutes the essential Westminster handbook to the youngest Labour leader in the party's history.  It is a well- and scrupulously-researched look at Ed Miliband and the conditions in which he got elected to the toughest job in British politics.  It tells in penetrating yet sympathetic detail the growing bitterness and sense of betrayal, leading up to a final breakdown of relations.

About the authors:  Mehdi Raza Hasan is a British political journalist, broadcaster and author.  From Shia Muslim and British Indian background, Hasan is the co-author of a biography of Ed Miliband and the political editor of the UK version of The Huffington Post.  He is the presenter of the Al Jazeera English shows:  The Café, Head to Head and UpFront.  In 2015, Hasan moved to Washington DC to work full-time for Al Jazeera on UpFront.  He is active on Facebook (@MrMehdiHasan).

James Macintyre is a former Politics Editor at Prospect and a staff writer at Christian Today.  Previously he was a reporter at The Independent and New Statesman and producer of BBC's Question Time and LWT's Jonathan Dimbledy programme.  He frequently appears on news and radio programmes.

The Problem With Fake News


That We May Record Our Emptiness


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

From The Martian Chronicles (1950)


21 June


Welcome, Summer!


Watch Her Disappear (DI Zigic and DS Ferreira Series) by Eva Dolan


Hardback:  YOU CAN RUN FROM YOUR PAST.

BUT YOU CAN'T RUN FROM MURDER.

The body is found by the river, near a spot popular with runners.

With a serial rapist at work in the area, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are initially confused when the Hate Crimes Unit is summoned to the scene.  Until they discover that the victim, Corinne Sawyer, was born Colin Sawyer.

Police records reveal there have been violent attacks on trans women in the local area.  Was Corinne a victim of mistaken identity?  Or has the person who has been targeting trans women stepped up their campaign of violence?

With tensions running high, and the force coming under national scrutiny, this is a complex case and any mistake made could be fatal.

Watch Her Disappear (2017) is the latest and fourth instalment in the top and well-written DI Zigic and DS Ferreira series set in Peterborough, England.

About the author:  Eva Dolan is an Essex-based copywriter and intermittently successful poker player.  Shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, the first novels in her series starring two detectives from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, Long Way Home (2014) and Tell No Tales (2015), were published to widespread critical acclaim.

Tell No Tales was shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and the third into the series.  After You Die (2016) was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger.

Rating:  5/5

Friday, 16 June 2017

After You Die (The DI Zigic and DS Ferreira Series) by Eva Dolan


Paperback:  A mother murdered.  A daughter left for dead.

Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

The previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing.  Now she is dead - stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs.

DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer.

Was she negligent in not taking Dawn's accusations more seriously?

Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she's up to the front line, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects.

Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter and bring their killer to justice?

After You Die (2016) is the third book in the "elegantly crafted, humane and thought-provoking" crime series set in Peterborough, England.  It has been longlisted for the CWA Golden Dagger Awards 2016 in the Best Book category.

About the author:  Eva Dolan is the alter ego of an Essex based copywriter and intermittently successful poker player.  She blogs, she writes, she talks about herself in the third person and feels vaguely uncomfortable about it.  Shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, Long Way Home is her debut novel and the start of a major new crime series.

Rating:  5/5

Monday, 12 June 2017

Tell No Tales (The DI Zigic and DS Ferreira Series) by Eva Dolan


Paperback:  The car that ploughs into the bus stop early one morning leaves a trail of death and destruction behind it.

DS Ferreira and DI Zigic are called in from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit to handle the hit-and-run, but with another major case on their hands, one with disturbing Neo-Nazi overtones, they are relieved when there seems to be an obvious suspect.

But the case is not that simple and with tensions erupting in the town leading to more violence, the media are soon hounding them for answers.

Ferreira believes that local politician Richard Shotton, head of a recently established right-wing party, must be involved somehow.

Journalists have been quick to acclaim Shotton, with his Brazilian wife and RAF career, as a serious contender for a major political career, despite his extremist views, but is his party a cover for something far more dangerous?

About the author:  Eva Dolan is the alter ego of an Essex based copywriter and intermittently successful poker player.  She blogs, she writes, she talks about herself in the third person and feels vaguely uncomfortable about it.  Shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, Long Way Home is her debut novel and the start of a major new crime series.

Tell No Tales (2015) is the second book in the exciting DI Zigic and DS Ferreira series set in Peterborough, England.

Rating:  5/5