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The Most Dangerous Game
The Most Dangerous Game
par Gavin Lyall
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 14,78

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Spy novel about Finland in 1944 and 1962, 24 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Most Dangerous Game (Broché)
Gavin Lyall’s (1932-2003) second spy thriller first appeared in 1963. Apart from prices and currencies, it has not aged at all. Bill Cary (BC;39) is a hard-drinking Brit flying clients around Finnish Lapland in a ramshackle Beaver, an amphibious airplane that can land on water and solid ground. He is under contract by a mining company to survey certain areas for nickel deposits. Otherwise, he flies hunters and tourists to where they want to go. BC reckons he survived WW II as an SIS pilot mainly because he was sacked over an incident in Finland. Eighteen years later history catches up with him in a big way.
At the end of the flying season he meets with an assortment of new people, American, Swiss and a Brit. The Brit worries BC more than the others. Soon, two other water planes crash, killing two persons in one of the accidents. BC knew the owner-pilot. And the passenger too, he was his own mechanic Mikko. Soon after, another corpse, a Finnish gangster, discovered by BC himself. Leaving one water plane intact and its pilot-owner under scrutiny from local police and Finnish intelligence… I leave other details and what follows for readers to unearth and enjoy.
This novel includes the post-1917 quest for the Volkov treasure, criminals counterfeiting gold sovereigns, an extended case of insanity, an illegal crossing the Iron Curtain, even a bit of romance. Also, impeccable background and atmosphere and a truly hair-raising night flight. Written in only 223 pages. Finally, “The Guardian” gave Gavin Lyall a glowing obituary in 2003, expressing regret that all of his early spy novels had gone out of print. But they have recently been reprinted again! Bravo.


The Dinner Club
The Dinner Club
par Saskia Noort
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 13,45

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Mostly written for women, 21 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Dinner Club (Broché)
Did negative reviews (and ‘helpful’ ratings for them) come from men or women? Genre books should be judged according to the authors’ objectives and readers’ expectations. And whether they convince or fail, plot- or style wise.
SN’s narrator is Karen, who moved from Amsterdam with husband and two children to a nice house in a village. Her isolation in new surroundings is eased by working from home as a graphical editor, then by befriending one, then three more women, some also working, all mothers married to high-achieving businessmen. The five women form a dinner club and Karen begins a joyful social life. Their men happily mix friendship with business and accept help from their richest friend, Simon…
Then disaster strikes. A house fire kills one of the men. His wife and children narrowly escape. How did it start? Soon after, Karen’s best friend lands on the pavement of an Amsterdam hotel. Did she jump or was she pushed? The events cause many tears and emotions, even among the men. Soon, further events cause a rift in the dinner club, which readers should discover themselves…
SN and Karen unleash a tsunami of feelings, tears and erotic passion, and also doubts about the other male and female club members, pushing this crime mystery fast forward. Their cauldron of feelings is what many woman readers are most interested in and why the book became a bestseller in NL. The plot is not chronological or perfect: some chapters are flashbacks, adding pace and new insights. Only a few characters come truly alive. The club’s many children and village life are background only. SN does not shun clichés either. The outcome is far from perfect, but I enjoyed reading this book.
Men interested in dinner clubs should read Brazilian author Luis Ferdinando Verissimo’s “Club of Angels”. Not two, but many more deaths…


A Darkness More Than Night (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition)
A Darkness More Than Night (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition)
Prix : EUR 3,99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant, 18 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : A Darkness More Than Night (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition) (Format Kindle)
The title refers to the inspiration behind the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (d. 1516) and the eyes of his namesake, a detective at the LAPD better known as just Harry Bosch. But his eyes are black and penetrating too. In Vietnam, he was a tunnel rat in subterranean Vietcong networks. When this book starts (Michael Connelly’s 7th about him), Bosch has served the LAPD for 26 years and he is not an undisputed hero among colleagues. And can a policeman who solved so many murders ever relax? After all, some of the culprits will be released one day...
In this book Bosch’s wife has left him, but he hopes she will return. He is also a key police investigator and witness at a murder trial, but soon finds himself a suspect in the same case, then of more unsolved murders. How this ends is not for me to explain.
Think MC is the top writer of police procedurals, along with Ian Rankin is the UK. Their books are carefully and believably plotted about the ambitions and rivalries in the snake pits of large police forces, where true crime fighters are becoming rare. Both writers have one hero and dozens of secondary characters who appear in their books, sometimes after many years. Both heroes, Harry Bosch in LA and John Rebus in Edinburgh, Scotland are fearless crime fighters, driven by more than just ambition. They want justice for victims and their families. Nothing less and no matter how long ago a murder occurred.
In this thriller, MC made Harry Bosch a murder suspect because he wanted to picture him from another perspective. The way MC stacks up a burden of proof against him and uses the historical Hieronymus Bosch is breathtakingly clever. The title and darkness is all over the book, incl. musical titles. Highlight in a brilliant series.


The Norway Room
The Norway Room
Prix : EUR 3,91

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Stunning, 17 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Norway Room (Format Kindle)
Only 3 narrators in this brilliantly-plotted and -written debut novel. Who are they? The first is streetwise Ashley (13), a truant, shoplifter, gambler, smoker, coke sniffer and lock picker, a skill he learned from his burglar-father. He fondly remembers his dead grandma, but hates his mother who walked out on him and his useless dad when he was six. He has been into care and in foster families, hates school and still cries when frightened. When his dad goes to prison, Ashley has a problem, where to stay? Who will have him? A modern-day Odyssey begins…
Shuko was spotted in China as a linguistic talent at the age of 9. He has bad memories about the Cultural Revolution and is happy to serve his Dragon master in Birmingham. His account is written in beautiful English. But a tiny oversight can ruin years of faultless devotion. When this happens, which is inevitable, can he rebound decisively and discreetly?
Finally, there is ex-copper Carrow whose new career ended dramatically in Amsterdam. After burying his mother in Jamaica, he realised Birmingham is his only home. He becomes a bouncer in Brummie’s busiest nightclub, “The Norway Room”, aware of the thin line not to be crossed, but tempted nonetheless…
Totally engrossing, marvelous debut novel situated in 2007 Birmingham, rumored to have the friendliest people in the UK and the hardest dialect to imitate. It is also a post-industrial graveyard full of abandoned factories and high-rises full of people who do not live healthily. The ‘Pooch’ and the ’Mendy’ are nicknames for tower blocks named after the composers Puccini and Mendelssohn. A ‘Mendy’ is also an empty flat from someone in prison, used as squats, safe houses, cannabis plantations, etc.
“The Norway Room” is about a criminal turf war and the UK’s multicultural underclass. It has many great characters and dialogue. Attentive readers will spot feisty Ashley’s mum. Highly recommended.


A Foreign Country
A Foreign Country
Prix : EUR 5,20

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Disingeneous choice of enemy, 14 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : A Foreign Country (Format Kindle)
Are the rave reviews from British newspapers on the back cover justified and is Charles Cumming (CC, 41) the new Len Deighton or John Le Carré? This spy novel is his sixth and my first acquaintance with his writing. It is well-paced with 80 chapters in less than 400 pages and situated in the UK, France, Tunisia and (briefly) Egypt, all after the start of the Arab Spring. Its locations are credibly described. The book excels in matters of contemporary spy tradecraft, which is both scary and reassuring.
The plot is little short of ludicrous. There may be rivalry, suspicion, even mutual loathing between the intelligence services of France and Great Britain, but this plot is over the top. Surely, GB has made some inroads in France’s traditional sphere of influence in Africa, notably in Rwanda. But CC took a gamble on the outcome of the Arab Spring, which he may now regret because his triumphant ending now looks ridiculous.
What about characterisation? Antihero Thomas Kell’s childless marriage was on the rocks even before he was dismissed from MI 6 eight months before being recalled again as a consultant. To do what? To find out why the next, not yet-confirmed C of MI 6, a woman, has gone off the radar while in France. CC is not (yet) a formidable author able to put a character stamp on someone with a single damning remark, sentence or paragraph.
Finally, why such a vague book title? Then a rarity, a mistake in the opening sentence. Surely, the call to dawn prayers in Tunis is earlier than 7:00 am? Otherwise, writing about expats is ok, calling them ex-patriots (p. 8 ) is a howler. Hope CC digs deeper politically and strategically, becomes more cunning and less descriptive, focusing on more dangerous and destructive targets than France.


Service of All the Dead
Service of All the Dead
par Colin Dexter
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,11

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Bleak, poor read, 10 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Service of All the Dead (Broché)
It is a cliché to say the book is always better than the film or TV-series it inspired. But not in this case. I must be cautious, however, because this is the first CD book (from 1979) I read about Inspector Morse and it even won the prestigious Silver Dagger award.
Enjoyed watching the quintessentially English TV-series about murders in Oxford, often at one its many colleges and investigated by Inspector Morse and his assistant Lewis. They move about in Morse’s red Jaguar and in hallowed halls and studies questioning academic suspects. Breaks are used to drink inspirational pints of draft ale. Morse is single with an eye for feminine beauty, Lewis is married with children. More than the crimes, the atmosphere of brilliant privilege and ancient surroundings made the series (and its sequel, ‘Lewis’, and now its prequel ‘Endeavour’ about Morse’s early years as crime fighter) so successful abroad.
Found this book also very English, but not in an interesting way. At times it reads like a primer on the Anglican faith and church, its rituals, office holders, dress and traditions. A church in Oxford is the epicenter of a series of murders and disappearances, perhaps a suicide as well. As a police procedural, it is not good. There is little sign of note-taking, report-writing, serious forensics. Rather, Colin Dexter taxes the reader with plenty of conjecture, arguments and red herrings. Also, it is hard to bond with anyone, except perhaps with the calculating wheelchair-bound mother of the woman who has taken Morse’s fancy , Ruth, who recently lost her virginity at the tender age of 42. A Victorian touch?
Finally, the dialogues are bland and the book lacks irony or humor. It makes a dated, almost Victorian impression and I gave up 70 pages from the finish. But not before scanning the final page. Yes, Victorian is the word. Or Barbara Cartland? Will seek out a crime novel CD situated amongst professors to see if any more of his books are so badly composed, giving readers the idea they are wasting their time.


Chattering: Stories
Chattering: Stories
par Louise Stern
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,55

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Against the deaf community's isolation, 4 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Chattering: Stories (Broché)
Who knows men or women who were born deaf, and who knows how they perceive themselves and the outside world of hearing people? This reader pleads no to either question. Long ago his soccer club hosted a tournament for deaf teams. Two referees per match using flags instead of whistles. Afterwards the smoke-filled clubhouse was packed with busily gesticulating people, but oddly silent except for occasional yelps and strange sounds. Unforgettable.
How do the deaf born talk/communicate with each other and with hearers?
Louise Stern (LS) explains in 12 often realistic short stories how they see and cope with the hearing world. Deaf people talk rapidly and elegantly, face to face using sign language. Some of the stories show the importance of early detection of deafness to enable alternative ways of language leaning and for LS language is a key concept. Deaf people have long been considered retards. The story ‘The Wild Man’ is about a person who never acquires language and is reduced to a feral, isolated life. Late diagnosis, as with the 13-year old boy in another story, will restrict him from acquiring sufficient language for his future.
Talking or communicating with hearers is altogether more challenging. One has to improvise with simple signing, notebook and pencil, lip-reading (which not all deaf people master) and intuition, often in combination. It leads to plenty of insecurity and ambiguous emotions, well described by the author, as well as to individuals and small groups pushing their own boundaries by hitchhiking in Latin America, wild partying or acting as a deaf “Godfather”, combining shady business with fake activism as in ‘King Eddie’.
Louise Stern’s deepest feelings are best described in the story ‘Roadrunner’. She herself is a fourth generation deaf artist and writer constantly innovating herself and seeking new challenges. This reader found lots of things he did not know in her collection of stories and is grateful for her unique perspective on life and the deaf community. Highly recommended.


Deal Breaker: The First Myron Bolitar Novel
Deal Breaker: The First Myron Bolitar Novel
par Harlan Coben
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 6,38

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Kick-off of a series, 1 novembre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Deal Breaker: The First Myron Bolitar Novel (Poche)
Book One of the series of thrillers with Myron Bolitar (MB, 31), ex basketball star, ex-FBI agent, graduate of Harvard Law School, now managing promising and established professional sportspersons. He still lives with his parents. The second hero is his aristocratic school friend and business partner Win, who runs a financial empire two floors above Myron’s premises, a reader of books in Korean and expert in the peninsula’s martial arts. Win (also 31) always has time for Myron. After all, the mafia has the capacity to influence the outcomes of many games and matches and Win protects his best friend’s back whether called for or not, sometimes with deadly force and untraceable…
Does this not make Myron a mafia-type sports manager too? Myron’s secretary Esperanza used to be a famous free style wrestler, his ex-girlfriend Jessica a successful author. Her family is hit by multiple tragedies: her kid sister Kathy vanished some 18 months ago. Much later, her father, a pathologist is knifed to death with a single strike to the heart. She turns to her old flame Myron for help. What follows is an eventful rollercoaster with a surprise ending.
What stands out (or not)? From a reader’s point of view HC’s very inclusive style with Myron bombarding every page with his musings and jokes. When Myron is under duress, he addresses his foes rather flippantly. The book has a nice atmosphere. Plot wise, I doubt if Harlan Coben plans his books carefully in advance. The first 200-odd pages run smoothly (I also read the next volume), what follows is a Houdini act, finding a way out.


The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
par Daoud Hari
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 24,24

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Superb account about the start of the Darfur crisis, 25 octobre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (Broché)
Occasionally shocking, but riveting and highly readable personal account of the scandal called Darfur by Daoud, member of the Zaghawa, an ethnic group straddling the border between Sudan and Chad. It is (mostly) a chronological account of what happened to them and himself between 2003 and late 2005. Daoud, working from Chad, quickly establishes himself as a resourceful and reliable translator for newsmen and human rights researchers in Chad’s refugee camps or for forays into Darfur. His sixth trip, with a reporter from "National Geographic" is the beginning of the end of Daoud ever working in Chad or Sudan again.
Daoud has an engaging, inclusive writing style, sometimes laconic, sometimes invoking his faith or the international community , to undo or correct the gross injustice and unspeakable cruelties. He also turns briefly to his readers in many chapters with rhetorical questions or explanations. And the way he describes his Zaghawa people, its five sultanates is quite engaging. In the rest of Darfur and Chad they are seen as smarter than good for them, better planners, risk spreaders, networkers and businessmen. Readers will soon notice his mentioning his many cousins and nieces in London, Cairo, Ndjamena, etc.: the Zaghawa diaspora. Will they remain united when attacked from the air and being ethnically cleansed on the ground by Sudan’s military and Darfur' s Arab Janjaweed killers and looters?
This reader has spent some 18 very pleasant months in Darfur when it was peaceful and bustling with trade, ethnic diversity and optimism. That world is gone, most probably and regrettably, forever.
Daoud soon became an object of interest to Chad’s internal security as well as Sudan’s and miraculously survived arrest in Sudan, was extricated from there to Chad, then to the US, where he wrote this account. His book has several messages. First, deal quickly with acts of genocide as in Rwanda or Darfur in courts, lest the practice spreads. Secondly, he predicts that given the Sudan government’s policy of clearing oil- or gold-rich areas of its people, it will continue the emptying rural Darfur by fuelling conflict among traditional pastoral Arab tribes in Darfur. Seven years later, Daoud’s seem to come true: plenty of strife about tribal borders and lots of illegal gold mining of which 90% is smuggled abroad…
This review is only a pale endorsement for the great testimony Daoud Hari has written about his struggle for justice on behalf of the victims of the scandal called Darfur


The Flood
The Flood
par Ian Rankin
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,62

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Must-read debut for all fans, 22 octobre 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Flood (Broché)
This edition of the first published novel of the later creator of Edinburgh police inspector John Rebus, is introduced by Rankin himself bemusedly, but highly interestingly, which surely adds value to the tale he now describes as a young man’s book. It is situated in 1969 and 1985 in a small coal mining town in Scotland’s Fife county endowed with plenty of mutual support in good times and bad. But also with stifling social control, gossip, superstition and exclusion of persons considered intolerably different (gypsies) or called witches. [Rankin ranks Fife as one of three counties with strong historical records of witch hunting and –burning].
Mary is 10 when some bigger lads push her into the drainage channel of the local mine’s coal washing plant, and almost drowns. Overnight her hair turns from black to silver white. Soon after, one of the lads is killed in a freak mining accident. From then on, Mary is shunned and considered a witch. She becomes pregnant at age 15 and has a son, Sandy, black-haired, bright in school, even making friends in the town where the mine has closed down, future prospects are dim and many people are bitter. The town assumes Mary’s older brother Tom, who left for Canada early in 1970, is the father. The plot thickens when Sandy (15) falls in love with gypsy girl Rian…
Readers and reading clubs (there is an Annex with discussion points) are on their own now. But not without some final comments. It is a family history, sometimes quite harsh on the “culture of poverty” of miners and the unemployed. A bleak intimation of Rankin’s later work, with its youth gangs, drunken Saturdays, poor health and dysfunctional families and individuals and his love of Scotland. Also, with so many allusions to Scripture, it is easily Ian Rankin’s most spiritual, “religious” novel.


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