The SMB Book thread

jacko100

Striker
The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indridason

This is the second of the author's Reykjavik Wartime Mystery series, focussing on the detective work of Icelandic CID officer Flovent and Canadian/Icelandic defence forces agent Thorson. A salesman is found shot, seemingly executed, in a Reykjavik flat, only it turns out not to be the man, also a salesman, who lives there. Investigations focus on two lines - the German family of the man who lived there and the dead man's ex=girlfriend. It's pretty compelling but I'm not yet as engaged with the two detective characters as I was with Erlendur, the central character in many of his previous books. Nonetheless, very good crime fiction and I'm gaining more and more knowledge of Iceland's role in the war. 7.5/10
ooh must check these out, really like the Erlendur books
 
Can I ask how you know/met old Top Cat Boyle?
Met him in California years ago, have kept in touch since. Most authors are an enormous disappointment in real life (most of what's interesting about them goes into the work, and there isn't always a lot left over), but TC/Tom is an exception. Fascinating person with genuine charisma.

Stallion Gate by Martin Cruz Smith. 5/10.

Historical crime thriller set in the build up to Los Alamos first WW2 nuke test from the author of the excellent Arkady Renko series (Gorky Park). Written sometime in the 80s.
The hero this time out is a Pueblo Indian chief who’s also a US Sgt and ex number 8 ranked world heavyweight and jazz pianist and a good friend of Robert Oppenheimer prior to WW2 who as the tale begins is in an army jail for shagging a capts wife. He’s sprung to go back to his old haunt, los alamos would you believe to bodyguard Dr Robert and almost immediately shags another capts wife...........absolute nonsense.
Crap lowest common denominator crime fiction dressed up with a sprinkling of Native American mysticism. Avoid.
I read Gorky Park in my teens - it inspired me to make two trips to the USSR. Then read Stallion Gate, which was a massive disappointment. As have been the couple of other books I've read in the Arkady Renko series. IIRC, he also wrote a historical novel set in Wigan.
 



Mythos, Stephen Fry - 7/10

Yea, that Stephen Fry. Pretty entertaining read and if, like me, you never covered much of the Classics at school, then this is a pretty good introduction to the great Greek myths. He re-tells the stories in a pretty Stephen Fry way which makes it rather enjoyable, if obviously not very scholarly. Personally I would have left out some of the lesser stories that still made the cut, because you do get rather overwhelmed by the names and characters and their relationships. I also think a contents page would have been useful.

In this book he only covers the early ages where the stories centre around the Titans and the Gods, so you never get to the likes of Jason and the Argonauts or Achilles, so I hope he does a follow-up book.
 

Lexingtongue

Striker
Met him in California years ago, have kept in touch since. Most authors are an enormous disappointment in real life (most of what's interesting about them goes into the work, and there isn't always a lot left over), but TC/Tom is an exception. Fascinating person with genuine charisma.



I read Gorky Park in my teens - it inspired me to make two trips to the USSR. Then read Stallion Gate, which was a massive disappointment. As have been the couple of other books I've read in the Arkady Renko series. IIRC, he also wrote a historical novel set in Wigan.
It's called Rose.
 
Cari Mora by Thomas Harris 2/10
Since Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, Harris has lost the plot - literally. The magical formula was having a malicious, imprisoned serial killer getting involved in a current serial killer investigation. When Hannibal Lecter started roaming free, the plots lost focus. I was hoping that this first book in decades without Lecter would get Harris back on track. But no, it just meanders aimlessly with the odd gruesome scene thrown in. The only thing going for it is that it's short.

 

jacko100

Striker
Cari Mora by Thomas Harris 2/10
Since Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, Harris has lost the plot - literally. The magical formula was having a malicious, imprisoned serial killer getting involved in a current serial killer investigation. When Hannibal Lecter started roaming free, the plots lost focus. I was hoping that this first book in decades without Lecter would get Harris back on track. But no, it just meanders aimlessly with the odd gruesome scene thrown in. The only thing going for it is that it's short.

cheers for saving me the effort! Had been wondering if he would be able to find some form again. Obviously not.
 

Stray Cat

Striker
I have just finished the most brilliant book......The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. It’s an autobiography about an innocent black man being found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in Birmingham Alabama . He then went on to spend 30 years on death row before finally having the charges against him dropped and being released in 2015.
He was found guilty because he was black and they didn’t care that he had an alibi or the gun he supposedly used was his mothers and hadn’t been fired in 30 years.

I heard him talking about it on the radio and he was so inspirational I had to go and read the book.

The human spirit really can be amazing.
 
Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere by Jan Morris 10/10
The best travel book I've ever read - and I've read plenty. I've never been to Trieste, though I've seen it while driving to the coast of Slovenia. It's now high on my list of places to visit. The book contrasts the history of the city with the span of a human life. Thought-provoking and poignant. All the more so when Morris interweaves her own visits spanning a lifetime in which she started out as a man (visiting Trieste as a soldier immediately after WWII) and later had a sex change.



This excellent BBC documentary was broadcast to coincide with the book's publication in 2001.

 
I have just finished the most brilliant book......The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. It’s an autobiography about an innocent black man being found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in Birmingham Alabama . He then went on to spend 30 years on death row before finally having the charges against him dropped and being released in 2015.
He was found guilty because he was black and they didn’t care that he had an alibi or the gun he supposedly used was his mothers and hadn’t been fired in 30 years.

I heard him talking about it on the radio and he was so inspirational I had to go and read the book.

The human spirit really can be amazing.
I remember him on the radio. I'll get that.
 
Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre 7/10

I'm a big fan of Brookmyre and his writing style has evolved over the years, losing the humour I originally enjoyed, and he's become more of an out and out crime writer.
Fallen Angel has many echoes of the Maddie McCann case, small child goes missing in Portugal whilst parents partying with friends, conspiracy theories spring up around the case etc. The McCann's are referenced a few times to differentiate from this case, I assume to keep the lawyers from the door, but I'm not usually a fan of books loosely based on real events.
Each chapter focuses on a different character, usually from the Temple family, although young nanny, Amanda, is the only one written in the first person. Set in 2018 but some chapters flashing back to 2002 when Naimh went missing.
The story unfolds skilfully and the characters are engaging. Brookmyre keeps you guessing throughout, giving everybody a 'motive' but he doesn't fall into the trap of throwing in huge twists throughout, more a case of planting seeds of doubt about everyone.
If you enjoyed 'I Want You Gone', this is for you. It felt similar in a lot of ways.
Enjoyable and I raced through it but I also felt it lacked a little bit of something. As always I'm probably being a little harsh as I have such high expectations of Brookmyre. Good but not great.
 
Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre 7/10

I'm a big fan of Brookmyre and his writing style has evolved over the years, losing the humour I originally enjoyed, and he's become more of an out and out crime writer.
Fallen Angel has many echoes of the Maddie McCann case, small child goes missing in Portugal whilst parents partying with friends, conspiracy theories spring up around the case etc. The McCann's are referenced a few times to differentiate from this case, I assume to keep the lawyers from the door, but I'm not usually a fan of books loosely based on real events.
Each chapter focuses on a different character, usually from the Temple family, although young nanny, Amanda, is the only one written in the first person. Set in 2018 but some chapters flashing back to 2002 when Naimh went missing.
The story unfolds skilfully and the characters are engaging. Brookmyre keeps you guessing throughout, giving everybody a 'motive' but he doesn't fall into the trap of throwing in huge twists throughout, more a case of planting seeds of doubt about everyone.
If you enjoyed 'I Want You Gone', this is for you. It felt similar in a lot of ways.
Enjoyable and I raced through it but I also felt it lacked a little bit of something. As always I'm probably being a little harsh as I have such high expectations of Brookmyre. Good but not great.
I really enjoyed 'Want You Gone' and I'm yet to read this. I read the synopsis for 'Fallen Angel' noted the similarities to the McCann case and the read the synopsis to my daughter (fuck off you dirty perverts) who exclaimed that Brookmyre had written a book about Maddie McCann.
 
I really enjoyed 'Want You Gone' and I'm yet to read this. I read the synopsis for 'Fallen Angel' noted the similarities to the McCann case and the read the synopsis to my daughter (fuck off you dirty perverts) who exclaimed that Brookmyre had written a book about Maddie McCann.
It's different enough from her case but the similarities do sidetrack you a little. I wouldn't let it put you off. I think it was marginally better than 'Want You Gone'.
 
It's different enough from her case but the similarities do sidetrack you a little. I wouldn't let it put you off. I think it was marginally better than 'Want You Gone'.
I'll definitely read it but I'm not paying top wack for it. I'm hoping that there may be an airport edition when I go on holiday in a couple of weeks.
 

Lexingtongue

Striker
Reet, I want some easy reading after finishing Purity by Franzen. I've been told that Harlan Coben does some simple, twisty novels (read one which was decent a few years back despite my sneering attitude going in to it) so can anyone recommend a few of his to try? Having a real hard time finding things I want to read these days...
 
Reet, I want some easy reading after finishing Purity by Franzen. I've been told that Harlan Coben does some simple, twisty novels (read one which was decent a few years back despite my sneering attitude going in to it) so can anyone recommend a few of his to try? Having a real hard time finding things I want to read these days...
I wouldn't bother reading Coben. The one that I've read was shit. Try the first of the Laidlaw Trilogy by William McIlvanney but don't bother with the rest and 'The Quaker' by his son Liam. Both set in a similar time period and reading the former you can see that McIlvanney elder was an influence upon Ian Rankin. Both are very good and I'm not quite finished the latter.
 

Lexingtongue

Striker
I wouldn't bother reading Coben. The one that I've read was shit. Try the first of the Laidlaw Trilogy by William McIlvanney but don't bother with the rest and 'The Quaker' by his son Liam. Both set in a similar time period and reading the former you can see that McIlvanney elder was an influence upon Ian Rankin. Both are very good and I'm not quite finished the latter.
Stephen King seems to love Coben, like. Even has an important role in The Outsider. :lol:
 

Pants

Winger
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 7.8925/10

Slightly posher version of the best episode of Jeremy Kyle ever. Everyone has each others first names as surnames, they're all related but still shagging each other and most of them are proper radged. The exception being the gyppo scouser orphan Heathcliff, who has his own first name as his surname, isn't related to anyone, though does manage to wave it about a bit and is the most radged out of all of them.

2nd half flags a bit when it revolves around Linton, who is too frail to get proper radged or shag his cousin, but plenty of passion to make up for it in the rest of the book.
 
I got it on the kindle but it still wasn't cheap. Was going to buy Don Winslow's latest but the kindle version is more expensive than the paperback. It was more than a tenner.
I'm wa`iting for the cost to drop. Tend to buy kindle books when they go down to 5 to 7 quid. Currently reading the book he's co-written with his wife, under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry, The Way of ALl Flesh. Medical detective type thing set in early Victorian Edinburgh (1847, I think). Halfway through, seems pretty good. Suspect it could be the start of a series. Will review here when I finish reading it.
 

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