Colin Merrey Book Reviews March April 2016
Written by Colin merrey
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 00:00
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Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the On-Line Irish Scene Magazine.  I have done a lot of reading and the results of this you can see from my scribblings below!
Without further ado, I’ll remind you of my favourite booksellers - don’t forget that if you should have 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 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
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 – which has stores at Whitford City and at Floreat Forum Shopping Centre.  The proprietors are John and Mary who are good supporters of our magazine.
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.

 

MIDNIGHT SUN – JO NESBO
Random House Paperback $29.99
Although Jo is a prolific writer with a very impressive back catalogue, this is the first of his books that I have read to date.  I must admit that this tale of revenge love/lust and murder set in Norway, part of the land of the Midnight Sun, is really enthralling.
Jon has fled to a small isolated mountain town to avoid being killed for failing to do his “job” of murdering a man who has cheated his boss.  Full of fascinating characters, this story is very involved and extremely fast paced.  Loved it – and will certainly seek out the rest of his oeuvre.

PLAYING WITH FIRE – TESS GERRITSEN

Bantam Press Paperback $32.99
I just love Tess’ books – they are all without exception enjoyable, extremely quirky and hard to pick the way the stories will end.  This one is no exception!  Here, Julia has a loving husband and a loving, infant daughter – then something happens and she is left believing that her small daughter is trying to kill her.  Of course – nobody believes her – and things very quickly – and somewhat terrifyingly are brought to a head.  A most intriguing tale and a brilliant twist in the tail of the tale (pun intended).  Loved it

THE LADY IN THE VAN – ALAN BENNETT
Faber Hardback $29.99
This is a true story and tells of how an elderly homeless lady “camps” in Alan Bennett’s garden for “a few weeks”, with his permission. The few weeks turns into 15 years!  Great tale and a fascinating way of telling it – Alan Bennett has a great way with words and the beauty of this book is in the telling of the tale.  There has also been a recent film starring Maggie Smith as the Lady, which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed. I am sure you’ll enjoy this quirky little book as much as I did.

HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN – JAMES LEE BURKE
Orion Paperback $18.99
Like all of Mr Burke’s novels, this is a great wealth of early 20th century US history – this time featuring Hackberry Holland, retired Texas Ranger.  Here, he is involved with three women – all having different degrees of danger for him – and featuring a perceived quest for the Holy Grail.  Mix in the search for his estranged wife and son and you have a great story that I really could not put down.
I really must commend it to you and again thank DJ Peter Newman for introducing me to this wonderful writer.

THE CROSSING – MICHAEL CONNOLLY
Allen and Unwin Paperback $32.99
At last – a new one from Michael Connolly – and one that features my two favourite characters of his – Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch.  And a real cracker it is too.  This time, Bosch has retired from the Force and is asked by Mickey, his half brother, to assist him as an investigator on a defence case that involves his former police colleagues.
Harry is happy to go along – as long as he does not compromise his former associates.  Then it all goes wrong.  Lots of plot twists and turns and red herrings – typical Connelly – until we reach a splendidly crafted conclusion.  Great stuff!!!!

CROSS JUSTICE – JAMES PATTERSON
Random House Paperback $32.99
James Patterson is back with Alex Cross – my favourite character of his.  James does a lot of writing with others but this time it is all his own work, so to speak.
Cross is drawn back to his home town to assist his cousin who is accused of a heinous crime that he didn’t commit.  No-one believes him – and Cross is really up against all of the prejudice of a small town in his attempts to save his cousin.
Again lots of plot twists and a superbly crafted story line.  Loved it!!!

HOW GOOD IS YOUR GRAMMAR – JOHN SUTHERLAND
Allen and Unwin Hardback $24.99
This I found to be a lovely little book – an essential one for those pedants amongst us who like everything that they do with the English language to be couched properly in the correct grammatical format.
By its own admission it is “a rollercoaster ride through the mysteries and magic of the World’s greatest language”.  And that is in indeed – I enjoyed it and found it a great tool to sharpen up my personal English usage.

AMERICAN BLOOD – BEN SANDERS
Allen and Unwin Paperback $29.99
This is a great first novel from an exciting new author – in the style of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, this is a no holds barred action adventure story set in New Mexico – our hero, Marshall Grade, is in witness protection and is sought by the drug lords and the mob against whom he is to testify.
And then he comes up against the hit man known as the Dallas Man!  You can imagine how the story goes – all works out well in the end but it is a gloriously action packed adventure.  If you enjoy Jack Reacher, then you’ll love this one.

I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS – ROISIN MEANEY
Hachette Paperback $29.99
Roisin hails from Listowel, Co Kerry but now lives in Limerick.  This, her latest novel is her first to be set in Australia and features Tilly who, three days before Christmas, sets out to the small island of Roone on the West coast of Ireland.  She will be joining her family – who don’t know she exists – and are not expecting her, either.
This is a feel good story full of magic, sparkle and new beginnings and one that I quite enjoyed.  If you are into this style of book and writing then I commend it to you.  Hope you like it, too.

THAT EMPTY FEELING – PETER CORRIS
Allen and Unwin Paperback $29.99
I thoroughly enjoy the Cliff Hardy novels that Peter Corris has written so well over the years.  This is the latest in the series and starts with Hardy reading an obituary in the newspaper of an old adversary.  He launches into the task of telling his daughter all about how, when and where he had met the deceased and all of the trouble and intrigue that this had all brought about.
A great style of writing and a book that I truly enjoyed.  I really can’t wait for the next book in the series – hope it’s soon.

THE LITTLE RED CHAIRS – EDNA O’BRIEN
Allen and Unwin Paperback $29.99
Ever since I saw the movie of her book “The Girl with Green Eyes” (adapted by Edna from her book “The Lonely Girl”) starring the wonderful Rita Tushingham, I have eagerly awaited subsequent novels and movies that she has written.  I particularly enjoyed her autobiography that I read a while back.
This one comes along ten years after her last book and tells the story of a war criminal from the Balkans who masquerades as a faith healer when he settles in a small village on the west coast of Ireland.  This, then, is a tale of love, the artifice of evil and “the terrible necessity of accountability in our shattered, damaged world”.  Full of larger than life characters, this is a strong and well constructed story and one that I commend to all like minded lovers of Ms O’Brien’s work.  Buy it and enjoy it.

RAIN DOGS – ADRIAN McKINTY
Allen and Unwin Paperback $29.99
Adrian has been one of my favourite authors for a long time.  My regular readers will remember I had the pleasure of talking to him on your behalf a year or so ago.  He is a charming and unassuming man who hails from Carrickfergus and now resides in Melbourne. Now read on…….
This is the latest in the Sean Duffy series which is set in the Carrickfergus and Belfast of the mid 1980’s.  Sean is a Catholic who is an Inspector in the largely Protestant RUC (Royal Irish Constabulary).  This time he is pitted against the powers that be who are trying to protect the hierarchy of Great Britain who are responsible for the abuse of minors in the reform school system in Northern Ireland.  Mix in a dead journalist, the church, corrupt Politicians, a “locked room” style murder at Carrickfergus Castle and a sideswipe at the late Mr Jimmy Saville and you have a rollicking good story
I loved it – Adrian has never let me down and I look forward to the next chapter in this wonderful series.  Keep up the good work, my friend.

COFFIN ROAD – PETER MAY
Hachette Paperback $29.99
Imagine you were to wake up – on a beach – not knowing who you are or where you have been.  Your life and existence is a complete mystery to you!  Well. That is how this brilliantly fast paved story starts and carries on at breakneck speed to the devastating confusion.  On the way you find a Marie Celeste style mystery set on a deserted island in the Outer Hebrides (off the coast of Scotland) and a very tangled, twisted story.  Loved it and know you will too.

YOU AND ME ALWAYS – JILL MANSELL
Hachette Paperback $29.99
This is the latest from the prolific pen of Miss Mansell and a good one it is too.  Aimed at the ladies amongst our readers. It is a warn funny and unputdownable little story which begins on the morning of Lily’s 25th birthday.  Her day begins as she reads the last letter written to her by her mother (who died when Lily was 8 years old) and continues with her meeting Eddie Tessler – who is fleeing from fame………
A very convoluted yet hilarious romp if ever I read one. Read on and enjoy it – you won’t regret it I know!

THE NARROW BED – SOPHIE HANNAH
Hachette Paperback $29.99
I told you about Sophie’s last book in a previous issue – the wonderful “A Game for All the Family” and I was delighted to get this one through my letter box recently.
This one (another gripping page turner) is the story of stand up comedian Kim Tribbeck who receives a small white book during a performance.  Little does she know that a small white book is the calling card of a man they call Billy Dead Mates – who has killed four people – in pairs – and Kim is afraid she is to become the 5th victim when she reads about the others and the white books.  She can’t be, she thinks, because she has no close friends – stranger and stranger – curiouser and curiouser.
Phew!!  Great read – real edge of the seat drama – brilliant addition to the catalogue of novels by the wonderful Sophie Hannah.  Read and enjoy.
And the lucky last for my meagre contributions to the Irish Scene is the latest from the pen of my all time favourite crime writer – John Sandford!

GATHERING PREY – JOHN SANDFORD
Simon and Schuster Paperback $29.99
At last – a new Lucas Davenport tale – number 25 in the series that I have been reading since the brilliant “Rules of Prey” that I discovered back in the early 1990’s.
Lucas is chief of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension of the Twin Cities area of Minnesota in the USA.   Letty, his adopted daughter, has befriended a woman who is part of a wandering group that they call the Travellers.  The woman believes that someone is killing off her Traveller friends – so Letty asks Lucas to help.
This he does with devastating results (for the criminals) and giving us a really hair-raising thrilling tale in the process.  It is not always what the good guys achieve – it’s more about how they achieve it.  That is – it is as much about the journey as yhr destination.  Loved this one with all its twists and turns and red herrings.  Hope you do too.

Well that is it for my reviews this time and indeed for all subsequent issues.  With the Magazine’s publishers relegating my reviews to the Irish Scene website for reasons best known to themselves (a move that I’m not altogether happy with), I believe it’s time for me to call it a day and go back to reading for pleasure rather than reading to a deadline and for the benefit of others, like your good selves.

With that in mind, I have decided to discontinue my relationship with the Irish Scene and will now bid you all leave.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my little offerings over the years and hope you have many more happy hours of reading in the future.  Thanks to you all and to the publishers who have supported me in my endeavours May your gods go with you.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 March 2016 13:20 )