Colin Merrey's Book Reviews Nov Dec 2015
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 04:17
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Hello, and welcome to the Spring 2015 edition of our wonderful Magazine.  As always, I have done a fair amount of reading over the last few weeks and the results of this can be seen below!  So without further ado, I’ll continue by reminding you of my favourite booksellers - don’t forget that if you should have any problems finding a good new- or second hand bookseller, you can try any/all of the following –

 

For new books, you can’t go wrong with Corona Books shop at Warwick Shopping Centre – ask for Mark – he is extremely helpful with any book queries and orders you may need assistance with.

Also, Stefen’s Books in Shafto Lane in Perth City. Stefen is very helpful and a good supporter of the Irish Scene

Dymocks at Whitford City – ask for Tracey (and other locations throughout the State and Metropolitan Area)

In the realm of Second Hand booksellers (who are very useful in getting hold of hard to get or back catalogue books – you know, the ones that may be out of print from time to time) I generally go to Pulp Fiction – who have stores (again) at Whitford City and at Floreat Forum Shopping Centre – the proprietor is John who is a good supporter of our magazine.

Elizabeth’s Bookshop chain, which has shops in Fremantle, and Perth City (Hay Street) to name but a few branches.

Guildford Book Exchange on the front in old Guildford

When I get South of the River I make a point of visiting the New Edition bookshop in Moat Street Fremantle (for new books ) and Bill Campbell in High Street Fremantle for second hand books – Bill is very helpful in locating hard to find books that are now out of print.

Please remember too to let the various stores know who pointed you in their direction.  The feedback is great for them and it shows me that you are actually taking the time to read what I have prepared for your enjoyment with each issue.  Then my work will not have been in vain!

If all else fails, there is the Internet (for those of you who are computer literate and have access to a computer, Ipad, etc).

You will appreciate that I don’t relate any of the books’ contents in these review notes as I feel that it would spoil your own voyages of discovery into the stories as they unfold

EDDIE – MICHAEL BODEY

Hachette Paperback $32.99

Love him or hate him, Eddie McGuire is a respected Australian TV and Radio presenter and sporting personality.  I happen to like him and thoroughly enjoy his daily quiz show on Channel 9.  I was also very interested in finding about this much maligned man who is a one-eyed Collingwood supporter and current club president of that AFL Club.

This is his story – and a fascinating well told one too.  Enjoyed reading about this media mega personality and for those amongst you who are like minded, I commend this one to you for your further edification.

Some of you are not his fans would also benefit from giving this one a read – it will explain much to you about this complex man.

 

MAGGIE SMITH : A BIOGRAPHY – MICHAEL COVENEY

Hachette Paperback $32.99

Maggie Smith is one of my favourite actresses and I was delighted to see that Mr Coveney had put pen to paper to bring us her life story.  I enjoyed this lovely book about the star of “Downton Abbey” (a favourite show of mine) and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” series of movies to name but two of her recent gems.  If you too are fascinated by her and would like to learn more about her career and where to catch up with her earlier body of work then this will satisfy your innermost desires in that regard.  Loved it – great lady – fascinating life.

 

WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL – ELAINE CREMIN

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A few weeks ago, the Irish Scene had an email from Elaine asking us to take a look at this, her first novel, and tell you all about it on her behalf.

I have now had a chance to read it and I must say I enjoyed it.  It tells the story of Alyson who has had enough of her dead end job and her life in general in Cork – and suddenly an opportunity arises for her to leave it all behind her when a job opportunity opens up for her in her firms New York office.  It all seems perfect for her – a little too perfect it would seem – is the grass always greener on the far side of the mountain???  You’ll have to read this one to find out how she gets on in her new life in the Big Apple.

If you would like a copy for a good read and/or add to your libraries then you can contact Elaine on her email – I have set out her contact above – and she can point you in the right direction to get one.  Hope you love it too.

 

THE ENCHANTED ISLAND – ELLIE O’NEILL

Simon and Shuster Paperback $29.99

This is Ellie’s second book, her first being “Reluctantly Charmed” which I told uou about in a previous issue.  This time, Maeve O’Brien’s boss sends her to a dreary old island to finalise some paperwork and she couldn’t be happier.  But does the happiness last, you ask me?  And what about the unusual new people she meets up with?

Well you’ll just have to read this charming ;little story to find out.  Equally as good as her first (which was the fourth best selling book in Australia last year) and definitely one for (primarily) the ladies amongst our readers.  Loved it and enjoyed it.

A GAME FOR ALL THE FAMILY – SOPHIE HANNAH

Hachette Paperback $29.99

Sophie Hannah is one of the undisputed queens of British psychological crime and this, her latest, is sure to cement her in that position.  A taut suspenseful tale of Justine, who thought she knew who she was – until the anonymous phone call that she may not know herself as well as she thought she did!

She escapes London and moves to Devon with her daughter, Ellen, who becomes disturbed when a friend from school is expelled.  This is strange – because there is no record of the friend either at the school or having been expelled from it.  Just what is going on – you’ll need to follow all of the twists and turns of the plot of this fast paced page turner.  I loved it and didn’t see the end coming until almost the dying moments of the story.  Buy it – read it – most of all enjoy!!!

 

BLACK OPS – STEPHEN LEATHER

Hachette Paperback $39.99

I have been looking forward to reading this one since I knew it was coming out – it is the latest in the Spider Dan Shepherd yarns – and it’s a cracker of a story.  This time Spider is caught between a rock and a hard place when, in the middle of an undercover operation, he is tasked by the head of MI6 with bringing down his controller, Charlie Button, for using the Government’s assets to achieve a personal vendetta against the men who killed her husband.  Phew!!!!  Brilliant story – full of twists and turns – you never seem to know who is friend or foe most of the time.  Loved it – roll on the next in the series – can’t wait.

 

MR HOLMES – MITCH CULLIN

Allen and Unwin Paperback $19.99

Mitch is a new author to me and I looked forward to reading his tale of an ageing Sherlock Holmes immensely as I am a big fan of the Conan Doyle books about the World’s Greatest Detective.  This time, Holmes, now retired from crime solving and keeping bees in Sussex, and his long time partner in crime, John Watson, having given up with advancing years, is confronted with the solving of a cold case that he had failed to clear up at the first attempt.  Now with aid of his housekeeper’s young son he tackles it again and in doing so is able to answer some of his own questions about himself and his own life that he didn’t know he was asking!

Great story – great premise – very talented and readable writer.  Loved it altogether. I understand it has also been made into a film starring Sit Ian McKellen as Holmes – I must look out for that one too.

 

THR SONG COLLECTOR – NATASHA SOLOMONS

Hachette Paperback $29.99

As a musician of long standing, I wanted to read this one as soon as I heard about it.  And I wasn’t disappointed at all.  Set in and around 1946, it is the story of a celebrated composer who becomes embroiled in the life of his four year old grandson who has proved tpo be a child prodigy on the piano.  Mix in passion, , roots, ancient songs and nostalgia for “the old ways” and you have a captivating tale that should leave you spellbound – as it did me.  I loved it – know you will too – just the thing for a quiet read over Christmas this year.

 

THE ENDS OF THE EARTH – ROBERT GODDARD

Random House Paperback $32.99

This brilliant book is the final chapter in “The Ends of the Earth” trilogy by Mr Goddard, who is one of my all time favourite authors.

The final episode starts with news that Max Maxted, our hero, is dead!  Who will now carry on the fight to discover who killed Max’s father?  His colleagues set out to do just that and encounter many unexpected perils along the way.  This is how I like my vintage spy thrillers – never quite knowing who is an enemy and who a friend – and will it all come out ok in the end.  Well, will it?  Yes of course but it is all about the journey – not just the destination – that matters (just as in life itself).  Great tale – great storyteller.  Buy it and read and love it as much as I did.  I know you will – won’t you?

 

CLOSE YOUR EYES – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

Hachette Paperback $29.99

This is the next instalment in the Joe O’Loughlin series – you may recall I told you about the previous one where Joe, a clinical psychologist who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, is trying to retire from the criminal profiling that he is so good at.  The along comes another profiler who tells the world that he is Joe’s protégé and who has set out to upstage him at every turn.

Then someone close to a case starts to release sensitive information to the press with disastrous consequences.  Joe is recalled to assist, albeit grudgingly because of some serious dramas in his personal life.  A mother and daughter have been murdered – and this appears to be the tip of the iceberg.  That is all I’m prepared to tell you at this stage – but this is one all lovers of great crime stories should read.

I always enjoy Michael’s books and this is no exception – it has one of the most edge of the seat endings of any he has written to date – and I must admit it left me stunned – loved it.  You really must read this one if you read no others this year.

 

LONDON RAIN – NICOLA UPSON

Allen and Unwin Paperback $29.99

This is the most recent in Nicola’s fictional series featuring real life detective author Josephine Tey.  You may recall I told you about another a while ago where Ms Tey was in a story featuring also legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock (Fear in the Sunlight).  This time Ms Tey gets involved with the murder of a BBC broadcaster who is murdered while covering the coronation of Kin George VI.  Very intricate and involved storyline that early on in the piece you have it all worked out – you think – but have you indeed???  Read on and enjoy.

 

PRIVATE: SYDNEY – JAMES PATTERSON + KATHRYN FOX

Random House Paperback $32.99

I am really enjoying the “Private” series of novels from this prolific author – they are set in the major cities/countries of the world.  This time, the sights are set on Sydney, Australia and revolve around a businessman who goes missing – but when they try to locate him via the www, he doesn’t appear to exist.  Then a woman is found brutally murdered and a young baby goes missing.  Are the cases linked?  Maybe so, maybe not.  But the path to the final conclusion is twisted and extremely tortuous in true Patterson style.  Loved it and I know that any of you who like his books as much as I do will love it too.

 

WICKED CHARMS – JANET EVANOVICH AND PHOEF SUTTON

Hachette Paperback $29.99

This is the latest in the Lizzy and Diesel series of books (the first I have read, incidentally) and is I believe aimed at the young adult market.  It is full of humour and drama, which are intermingled beautifully, and tells the tale of the tracking down of a hidden pirate’s treasure in a small town in USA.  It also encompasses the search for the Stone of Avarice – which would appear to be the key to calling up the demon god of Avarice.

Strange but very amusing story and what I would refer to as a “light hearted romp”.  Great fun and well suited to its target market.

 

DEVIL’S BRIDGE – LINDA FAIRSTEIN

Hachette Paperback $29.99

I love Linda’s books – especially the Alexandra Cooper series, of which this is the latest.  This time, Alex Cooper, who is an Assistant DA in Manhattan, New York, is kidnapped and the team are tasked with finding her (once they realise that she has indeed been kidnapped) while trying to solve a nasty serial killer case.  Great tale – well written and well told, too.  Superb book – loved it.

 

DEVOTED IN DEATH – JD ROBB

Hachette Paperback $29.99

As you probably already know, JD Robb is the pseudonym of prolific author, Nora Roberts, and her “In Death” series is set in the New York of the near future.  This time a self appointed Romeo and Juliet of crime, who set out on a murderous crime spree a while back, get to New York to continue their random torture/murders.

Lt Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are stretched to their limits to find this prolific pair of killers – but as you al know it’s not the destination of a story that counts – it’s the journey – and what a journey!  Great bit of storytelling from a master storyteller.  Buy it and enjoy it.

MAKE ME – LEE CHILD

Random House Paperback $32.99

As if I needed to tell you, this is the new and eagerly awaited Jack Reacher novel – and it was well worth the wait.  This time, Reacher gets off a train in a small US town called Mother’s Rest – intrigued by the town’s name and how it arose.  But as he tries to find out (which turns into a running question and answer setup throughout the story, he gets involved with ex-FBI officers who are now private investigators and missing children and a foray into the deep web – a hard to find extension of the WWW.  Phew – won’t tell you any more except to say that I think this is the best one yet from Mr Child.  Loved it

SPLINTER THE SILENCE – VAL McDERMID

Hachette Paperback $29.99

I always look forward to a new Tony Hill/Carol Jordan story and again this has been well worth the wait.  You may recall the are the featured characters in Val’s superb “Wire in the Blood” series of books that also spawned the killer TV series of the same name that featured Robson Green as Tony Hill and Hermione Norris as DI Jordan.

This time Jordan is tasked with establishing an MIT branch that has a roving remit to sort out obscure cases that involve serial murders and violent rape cases, amongst others.  They start off their remit with what Tony Hill believes would be a good quasi investigation – because there doesn’t appear to be an actual case yet – but then there is.  It becomes one of the most testing and intricate cases of their joint careers – Loved it – great story and well told by Val, who is undoubtedly one of the undisputed monarchs of British crime writing.

MARTIN GRIVER UNEARTHED – ODHRAN O’NRIEN

Heritageperth.com.au

This is a companion book to one I told you about a while ago which outlined the life of Patrick Clune, a former archbishop of Perth.  This is the story of Martin Griver. A young man who after working in the fields of Catalonia studied to be a priest.  He was soon ordained and came to the Swan River Colony in 1849 as a missionary.

This is a most inspiring story and one which I urge all amongst you to read if like me you share an interest in the history of our great State of Western Australia.

POST MORTEM – KATE LONDON

Allen and Unwin Paperback $24.99

Kate London is a former serving detective on the murder squad in London and this is her first novel.  And a cracker it is too – part police procedural and part gripping story involving race relations problems and police corruption to name but two of this great story’s plotlines.  Loved it from its gripping start to its agonising but inevitable conclusion.  I won’t tell you any of the story at this stage but will let you buy this one and work it out for yourselves – it’s a brilliant read and “an explosive” debut novel.

TRIGGER MORTIS – ANTHONY HOROWITZ

Hachette Paperback $29.99

One of my favourite authors is Anthony Horowitz.  One of my favourite characters of all time is Ian Fleming’s immortal James Bond.  This wonderful book brings them together with a story that is set in 1957 – between Goldfinger and Thunderball – and is, thankfully, devoid of all the gadgets that the Bond movies have been so full of over recent years.

This time, Bond is reunited with Pussy Galore (ex Goldfinger) and SMERSH, his arch-enemy organisation from so many Bond stories.  M hears of a plot to assassinate England’s leading racing car drivers and Bond is put in to a race to prevent this from happening.  Thos leads into a race to prevent SMERSH and its Russian masters from gaining control of the Space Race, which the USA is currently leading.  The leading antagonist to Bond is an unlikely Korean entrepreneur by the name of Jason Sin.

Phew!!!! What a combination and what a brilliant storyline.  Loved it and will keep it in my library with all of the other Bond books.  I can’t recommend this one too highly – this is as close to a Fleming novel that you are likely to get – and is based on (and actually includes part of) a short story that was started by the great man himself.  Hope you enjoy it, too.

CODE OF CONDUCT – BRAD THOR

Simon and Schuster Paperback $29.99

Although this is not Brad’s first book, it’s the first of his I’ve read.  Set in the world of espionage in the USA and encompassing the CIA and a megalomaniac who wants to emulate Adolf Hitler by creating a master race by eradicating all undesirables in the World and thus save it from starving as it becomes over populated.

Phew!!  Very fast paced and very readable – a real page-turner.  Loved the central character, Scot Harvath.  Enjoy – I know I did.

THE MELODY LINGERS ON – MARY HIGGINS CLARK

Simon and Schuster Paperback $32.99

Another cracker from Ms Higgins Clark this time a story of an investment banker whose boat is found capsized and he is missing presumed dead.  But is he??  The story is very fast paced and involves the FBI, the “deceased’s” family and his former lover and USD 5 billion in funds.  The inevitable love story evolves between various participants – to name them would spoil the story for you.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and know you will too.

THE SANTANGELOS – JACKIE COLLINS

Simon and Schuster Paperback $32.99

I love Jackie Collins’ books – they are so fast paced and action packed – sure, the plots story lines are racy and full of violence, drug use, crime and murder.  But they are set chiefly in Sin City (Las Vegas to the uninitiated) and apparently that seems to be the all the go there.  That said, I enjoyed this continuation of the story of Lucky Santangelo (from the plotlines, you could assume that her name is not necessarily appropriate to her life at all) and it picks up where her father is shot down by a professional hit man.  Who did it and why?  Mix it her troubled family and friends and their escapades and Jackie has yet another sure-fire hit on your hands.  This is a goodie – hope you all enjoy it.  You will if you are a fan of her work and/or stories set in the glitzy world of Las Vegas.

Sadly, as you will see from my “Not Fade Away” column this month, Jackie Collins passed away on September 19th 2015.  I don’t know whether or not there are any more novels from her in the pipeline (I hear that she ahs an as yet unpublished autobiography in the works) but, if not, then this is a fine tribute to her writing as a swansong.  I shall miss her stories and their characters.  She was certainly one in a class of her own.  Requiescat in Pace.

THE SOLOMON CURSE – CLIVE CUSSLER and RUSSELL BLAKE

Penguin Paperback $32.99

Like so many other writers, Clive Cussler has taken to writing in conjunction with other authors in order to get all of his messages/storages lines through to his readership.

This is the latest in the Fargo series and is a cracker of a good story.  Set in the Solomon Islands, the story revolves around political unrest amongst the Islanders coupled with a treasure hunt for the secrets of a lost island nation and its sunken gold, temples and palaces with a World War Two series of experiments in biochemical warfare.

Phew!!!!  Great fast paced and action packed adventure – just as we have come to expect from Clive Cussler.  Loved it.

BROKEN PROMISE– LINWOOD BARCLAY

Hachette Paperback $29.99

These last two books are from two of my all time favourite authors.  Linwood Barclay’s work I have enjoyed for many years – and this is a brilliant tale.  The broken promise can either relate to the town in which it is set, Promise Falls, or something else entirely.

I was completely captured by this multi themed story set in rural outback USA and its damaged characters – in particular David Harwood and Detective Duckworth.  I can’t even try to outline which way the different story lines intersect – there are so many of them.  And the ending – out of the blue completely – not what I was expecting at all.  Can’t wait for the next in this gripping series.

TENNISON – LINDA LAPLANTE

Simon and Schuster Paperback $32.99

And finally – one I have been waiting for for a long time – in fact ever since I heard it mooted by Ms La Plante back in 2014.  You will all no doubt be familiar with the Prime Suspect series of books and the TV series of the same name starring the wonderful Helen Mirren as Inspector Jane Tennison.  Well, this is where it all began for Jane in the East End of London in 1973.  This is the world of the Kray twins – and at 22 years old, this is Jane’s first exposure to crime, murder, and the like.  Can’t/won’t say any more – I’ll let you suss out the story for yourselves.  I know like me you won’t be able to wait to get your hands on this wonderful gem of crime writing.  Enjoy!

Well that’s it for books this issue.  I hope you will take my recommendations into consideration when selecting your reading matter for your Christmas, Spring and Summer reading delights and indeed for the future and give them a good go.  I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year and happy reading, and hope to see you all in the next issue.  I must say that I hope you enjoy my recommendations as much as I have enjoyed reading them on both your and my own behalf.  See you next time!