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Club Of Angels
Club Of Angels
Prix : EUR 7,83

4.0 étoiles sur 5 A warning tale for foodies, 8 mars 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Club Of Angels (Format Kindle)
Compact novella about a group of 10 once promising Brazilian men and their dining club. For more than 20 years they have met in their homes once per month to indulge in food and drink. After the death of founder Ramos, who memorably declared a dozen years earlier that the club had at that moment reached its zenith, not every member is keen to continue… A stranger named Lucídio offers to prepare the opening dinner of season 22 in the apartment of narrator Daniël. Wonderful appetizers, a phenomenal main course (club member Abel’s favorite) and a tongue melting desert. There is just one potion left of the main dish. Anyone for seconds? Of course Abel is the first to raise his hand…
By next morning Abel is dead.
And this repeats itself every month in Daniël’s strangely decorated apartment. Whoever consumes the left-over portion of his favorite dish, dies soon after.
Daniël’s account provides detailed accounts of the club members and their intricate histories, likes and dislikes. His best portrayal is of himself, accident-prone, fat, 3 times married, cannot keep his mouth shut, wearing woolen socks and sandals and creator of a fictional pair of lesbian Siamese twins. Remarkable man, Daniël. Plenty of quotations (?) from Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” and biblical lore because in Catholic Brazil the club is committing the deadly sin of gluttony.
Full of ideas and surprises and recommended reading for foodies, students of Shakespeare and canonic law and fans attending the football World Cup in Brazil, esp. if your team plays in Porto Alegre.


Goodbye, Mickey Mouse
Goodbye, Mickey Mouse
par Len Deighton
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 9,25

4.0 étoiles sur 5 They 're overfed, overpaid, over-sexed and over here, 17 février 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Goodbye, Mickey Mouse (Broché)
Len Deighton, Goodbye Mickey Mouse
Title, “They ‘re overfed, overpaid, over-sexed and over here”
This was said in the UK about US Army bombing and fighting units stationed there prior to the allied invasion of Normandy on 22 June 1944. Len Deighton (LD) depicts Great Britain as a nation stolid in its self defense, prepared to suffer years of missile attacks, rationing, blackouts, and many casualties of its own RAF airmen, to secure victory over Germany.
This is a companion volume to “Bomber”, a very scary exposé of the aerial campaign to paralyze Germany’s industrial capacity and communications. This book focuses on the fighter pilots protecting the hundreds of bombers, flying zigzag patterns above and below them, looking for and attacking German fighting planes. LD created a very clever structure for the mass of written and oral data he collected in the UK and US over a six-year period: he headed each chapter with the name of a character to move the story onward. These characters become the lifeblood of the story, allowing LD to insert lots and lots of observations about real-life warfare.
Mickey Mouse in the nickname of Mickey Morse, the top US fighter pilot at a base near Cambridge. But the real focus is Capt. Jamie Farebrother, a new arrival at the start of the book, who makes a deep impact with his first test flight. It is moved on by characters of all ranks between corporal and one-star general and a few digressions to crucial British inputs. It contains hair-raising air battles, two dramatic love affairs, lots of rule breaking- and enforcement on and off base.
LD has always been more Transatlantic than John Le Carré. This is his most passionate effort to capture more US readers. In his acknowledgements he states that taking part in a 1975 trip by US veteran flyers prompted him to dive into their fighting past. It is also a perfect book for ‘enhanced reading’, using Google and YouTube on your nearby Pad or laptop, to see pictures of the planes and hear the music of the parties…


The Closers (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition)
The Closers (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition)
Prix : EUR 4,99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Harry Bosch tackles old murder cases, 8 février 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Closers (A Harry Bosch Novel) (English Edition) (Format Kindle)
Michael Connelly’s books are police procedurals and should be required reading at police academies. They are about how cops should think and work with the means they have. But they also show how or why a nasty canteen culture, external temptations, plain stupidity and indifference, or poor reasoning, tunnel vision and personal ambition too often yield poor to mediocre results. Which in turn leads to innumerable unsolved murder cases.
Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch (HB) had retired three years before after 25 years service and began a career as a private eye (“The Narrows”) when he is suddenly asked back by his former employer, the Los Angeles PD. A lot has changed there following a number of painful scandals. A new Chief of Police, imported from New York, has been appointed. A new elite unit has been established with the sole task, and with the aid of the latest DNA-, ballistic- and computer techniques, to solve old murder cases before the deadline for persecution expires. The new Chief refuses to refer to them as ‘cold cases’. HB shares his opinion and begins to believe he is entering a more wholesome working environment than the one he left 3 years ago, esp. when he is rejoined with his old partner Kizmin Riders (KR).
But the appointment of the pensioned and soloist HB with his unconventional working style and methods to such a nice position inevitably also causes disappointment on the LAPD work floor... HB’s first morning back at the office teaches him once more, just like 30 years before as a “tunnel rat” during the Vietnam war, that he is not a little cog or wheel within an organization, but that he has to fight his own wars. The first file HB and KR are given on the morning of the first day of Harry’s miraculous return to the LAPD concerns the murder of a 16-year old girl in 1988.
Enough said, this should be sufficient information for aficionados of crime novels to want to read this excellent book. Michael Connelly is quite simply the best in this genre.


Dar Al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Sahara Slave Trade
Dar Al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Sahara Slave Trade
par Dennis D. Cordell
Edition : Relié

5.0 étoiles sur 5 For specialists, diplomats and humanitarians, 8 février 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Dar Al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Sahara Slave Trade (Relié)
A recent book review in The Economist held that publicity-wise, the term “Heart of Darkness” should go to the Central African Republic (CAR) instead of the Congo. Yes. This reader knows of few serious studies about CAR in English other than this great book. The CAR attracted, briefly, worldwide attention in 1977 when its then president Bokassa (r. 1966-79) crowned himself emperor. Today, the CAR is news because of an ongoing, cruel and bloody conflict between its Muslims and Christians. Is this the full explanation? The full extent of the carnage may never be known. What explains the current mayhem and religious hatred?

(1) Memories of a long tradition of slavery across much of the African Sahel, particularly in Sudan and Chad, have poisoned relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and internal north-south relations to the present day: Chad has miraculously remained one nation. But Sudan split in July 2011 into two disaster-prone, separate entities. In the CAR Muslims and non-Muslims appear to have co-existed peacefully from colonial times onwards and continued doing so since independence. For generations resident Muslim Sudanese merchants and traders bought and sold products in the CAR and worked in other capacities, often as citizens.
(2) What upset this peaceful co-existence is due, again, to dynamics and events north in Sudan and Chad. Heavily armed, highly mobile, foreign, mostly Arab forces called “Seleka” recently invaded the CAR, grabbed control of its capital and installed a puppet head of state and cabinet. After months of chaos and lawlessness with impunity, CAR’s first Muslim president was forced by a conference of regional leaders gathered in Ndjaména, to step down. The CAR is currently the scene of revenge killings of Muslims. The victimization sadly appears to be indiscriminate, with long-established uninvolved Muslims often suffering the fate intended for the “Seleka” invaders who, retreating will not shun violence either.

Dennis Cordell has written an exemplary history of the forces that controlled the territory called CAR before France colonized it in the late 19th century. He focused on the northern Sultanate of Dar al-Kuti and analyzed how it financed itself by trading in slaves, ivory and other goods obtained from further South, with political entities further North in today’s Chad and Sudan. The book also covers matters of security, diplomacy and taxation. His tightly argued book has 162 pp. of text in small print and another 119 pp. in annexes and footnotes underpinning what he unearthed through interviews in CAR, with archival records in the CAR, Chad, France and the UK. This is a brilliant history of a small 19th century Sultanate which has deeply impacted on Muslim-Christian relations in one of the least known countries in Africa. It is indispensible for anyone interested in understanding and explaining this sad nation's.plight.
Professor Cordell has shed light on this blighted country’s dark past but did not live to see the worst of the ongoing mayhem. He passed away on 16 October 2013.


Funeral in Berlin
Funeral in Berlin
par Len Deighton
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,54

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Quirky, prescient and deep spy story, 30 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Funeral in Berlin (Broché)
This is Len Deighton's second of four spy novels with a nameless hero from Burnley, Lancashire, who in the film versions is called Harry Palmer (HP). It was published 50 years ago, has 51 brief chapters and was last reprinted in 2011. It takes place between 5 October and 10 November 1963. [JFK was killed 12 days later.] The Berlin Wall had been built a little over two years before. There are Berlin-related newspaper headlines on the first and last pages of the book. The Six Day War was some 3 ' years off, but some early stirrings appear in this book...
Tense times in Europe and busy days for its guilds of spies. HP's travails take him to France, East & West Berlin and Czechoslovakia. He meets with people with an often active WW II past: old and new spies and double agents, a Treblinka survivor, a former German general, etc., some of whom will return in other HP adventures. The tone is set from page 1 with HP, working for the civilian spy agency WOOC(P), visiting the eccentric Home Office official Hallam in his cramped living quarters.

Some reviewers on Amazon argue whether the HP novels are Deighton's best or not. My view is that the later spy books are more even, slower, with more plausible plots and less fun. His early preoccupation with WW II, science and technology gave way to epic searches for traitors and moles (cf. the three Bernard Samson trilogies plus its historical intermezzo "Winter"). The charm of his early books is that they are fast-paced, iconoclastic, with plausible and wildly improbable parts and uneven re quality of dialogue.

Re this book, one cannot deny that some of the characters and atmosphere are brilliantly drawn. It was prophetic in letting a character long for a color TV with remote control, or HP's weird boss Dawlish pondering about how normalizing the legal status of gays would ease his job. [Such reforms followed from 1967 onward, too late for hapless, blackmailed Hallam]. It is, at times, very funny too: brands LD hates like Nescafé and Omo are trashed time and again. My best evidence for fun is for readers to list the song titles KGB Col. Stok mentions and the ones played in the Dispatch Section on Charlotte Street. Next, go to Google, then YouTube and enjoy! When finished laughing, google "The Len Deighton Dossier", a blog, for more background about the man and his books...


Letters from London
Letters from London
par Julian Barnes
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 11,56

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A treasure trove of brilliant writing, 24 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Letters from London (Broché)
This book covers the five years (1990-5) Julian Barnes (JB) was London correspondent of "The New Yorker". An impossibly erudite and brilliant writer famed for creating highly readable books, Barnes was initially baffled (and remained intrigued) by what happened after submitting his articles. They were first dissected by the paper's notorious fact-checking staff, requiring him to provide additional sources or other forms of corroboration about the tiniest issues. Having finished that, it was time for what JB calls the style police, to suggest textual improvements... This reader finds the Introduction describing these processes one of the highlights of this wonderful and rich collection, which often deals (in-)directly with political issues. All the fact checking makes it also a must for historians.
Few readers will relish all 15 article with equal fervor. This reader skipped an analysis of the English Christmas pantomime, but greatly enjoyed re-reading JB's now more than 20 years' old musings about Britain's scandal-ridden politics and royalty, the latter subject also a matter of great interest to US readers. The opening of the Channel tunnel gave Francophile JB a golden opportunity to compare how both nations have viewed each other over time. There is a gripping behind-the-scenes account of the chess world title match between incumbent Gary Kasparov and Britain's hapless challenger Nigel Short. Other noteworthy items include an assessment of the first five years of Salman Rushdie's life since Ayatollah Khomeiny's fatwa and a lively account of Tony Blair's first months in office and how he managed to gain that position.
My favorite is his piece about the once venerable bank and insurer Lloyd's and how many of its thousands, then tens of thousands of "Names" (risk underwriters) came to grief. Brilliantly written, sensing already in 1993 more than a whiff of the irresponsibility of the financial sector that exploded in 2008, it is a real page turner.
"Letters from London" suffers the fate of other books published before say, 1996. It is under-reviewed on the internet and probably no longer in print. Shame! This gem of a book is probably yours for a pittance, secondhand. Go for it and enjoy the combined excellence of Julian Barnes and "The New Yorker".


Standing in Another Man's Grave
Standing in Another Man's Grave
par Ian Rankin
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 8,99

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Rebus roams through Northern Scotland, 23 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Standing in Another Man's Grave (Broché)
If there is a link between John Rebus and the heroes of Haruki Murakami's novels, it is the music they choose to suit their moods. Listening to Murakami's chosen tracks via YouTube gives a nice extra to his books. Ian Rankin names albums Rebus cherishes, rarely a particular song/track. This novel has been dedicated to Scottish singer/songwriter Jackie Leven (1950-2012) who also provided its title. YouTube has many hours of his music. Recommended listening.
In this 19th police procedural starring Rebus, Rankin has cast him once again as a wayward investigator. Now a pensioner, Rebus works as a civilian in the cold cases section of his former employer, but he is keen to return to active duty now that the retirement age is raised. But who wants him back? Not many of his mostly younger colleagues, who work happily according to strict protocols. Not the Internal Affairs Department aka The Complaints whose files on Rebus' misdemeanors fill an entire shelf. And neither do Edinburgh's mobsters...
A girl disappears on the road from Edinburgh to Inverness. Thanks to the persistent mother of a girl who disappeared in 1999, Rebus thinks there may be links to three, then 5 other cases, all concentrated along the same highway north. He shields his investigation from his despised 35-years old superior and works the case chiefly with his former lady friend and colleague Siobhan Clarke and a uniformed cop from Inverness. Plenty of attention is paid to modern aids like CCTV, smart phones and social media.
Multi-layered story line with many unexpected twists and turns and a highly unusual finish, which will not satisfy every reader, but which does foreshadow new adventures. This installment has an unusually gloomy atmosphere with plenty of references to mortality and death and with Rebus' respectfully saluting every malt whisky distillery he passes during his quest through the Scottish Highlands.


Stolen Prey
Stolen Prey
par John Sandford
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 7,68

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Davenport chasing electronic thieves, 16 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Stolen Prey (Broché)
Three years ago Lucas Davenport did not own a cell phone. In this book he feels naked without it. In this police procedural he faces three separate acts of crime, the theft of a bronze statue, himself being robbed, and the killing of a family of four. Killing is an understatement by a long measure, because only Mexican drug cartels use the horrific methods employed. The first two crimes receive only marginal attention in this novel, with LD's rural investigator Virgil Flowers making some breakthroughs that help solve the robbery. But the third crime soon morphs into a much wider investigation involving money laundering, computer theft and more deadly violence, keeping several US and Mexican law enforcement agencies busy.
What happened? A Mexican crime cartel has for years secretly used US banks and companies to launder drugs money. When suddenly 22m dollar disappears, the cartel suspects one company owner, with terrible results, see above. Whilst the DEA focuses on the money laundering and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on the killings, Lucas concentrates of the theft. The teams keep each other informed, but this also proves risky. In the course of the novel readers will get to know all the good as well as the bad guys (and gals). One of the compromised bankers provides on p. 181 some key input regarding computer theft and whitewashing: Funds can be shuttled around the world indefinitely, but to be of any use they have to surface one day, either through shell companies or in some other form like fine art, diamonds, precious metals...
This book a race against the clock for the thieves to convert their electronic dollars into gold coins and stay ahead of the law and the Mexicans... This reader is not convinced such a heist is really possible, but Sandford has done his best to make it seem plausible. Nice finish with maybe a sequel in future.


Six Years
Six Years
par Harlan Coben
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 6,23

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Thriller about a vanished loved one, 16 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Six Years (Poche)
Jacob (`Jake") Sanders' love of his life Natalie suddenly breaks off their passionate love affair after only three months. Soon after she marries an old flame. Jake is invited to the wedding party where Natalie makes Jake swear to leave her and her new husband alone, in peace, by whatever means and forever. Jake keeps his word until he sees, six years later on the website of the university that employs him, an obituary, death notice. Not of Natalie, but of the man she favored above him.
Great start for a thriller that begins in a relaxed mode, but gradually becomes scary, life-threatening for Jake, and which remains rather incomprehensible to him, adding tension. It also offers welcome insights into how smaller US universities finance themselves, the impact of Facebook and why Jake has not joined but knows how to worm his way in.
Lots of reading pleasure and thrills, told in brief, well-written chapters during which Harlan Coben communicates constantly with his readers through his hero Jake. Powerful way to propel a story.


The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific
The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific
par Paul Theroux
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 26,47

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Bad food and boring Sundays, 15 janvier 2014
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific (Broché)
Paul Theroux is one of the greatest travel writers of the past few decades and also a prolific novelist. In 1990 he embarked on a new adventure, visiting coastal regions in New Zealand and Australia by kayak in preparation for the real deal, kayaking among the countless islands and islets of Melanesia and Polynesia. Why? His marriage is on the rocks, he thinks he has cancer, he wants to get away from London's literary scene. In the end, his voyage lasts some eighteen months and ends in Hawaii, where he has lived since. Early on his doctor assures him the stain on his arm is benign. His divorce became official in 1993.
How does an author cope during such a lengthy and physically exhausting adventure? And how do today's readers appreciate a book from 1992? This 600+ pp. tome is quite informative about PT himself, a fanatical non-smoker and fish eating vegetarian. Right from the start he is moody and opinionated about e.g. Australians, missionaries, Japanese and French. His anti-Japanese sentiment reflects the feelings of islanders who suffered during the WW II, caught in between the Japanese and US war machines. But PT's antipathy also fits perfectly with a brief period of US envy and paranoia in the early 1990s over Japan's rapid global economic ascent, best exemplified by the movie "Rising Sun"(1993), with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.
His railings against all things French are based on France's 160+ nuclear tests carried out in the region. Missionaries and colonial rule have had a deep impact on island cultures now largely (but not entirely) free of warfare and cannibalism. Since PT's voyage there have been violent episodes in New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Fiji. The islands are by and large very Christian and Sundays are very boring days.
Theroux tried to assess on all the 51 islands to what extent its inhabitants are still in contact with the Pacific Ocean. Because the ancient forebears of the people he talked to were perhaps the earliest and best navigators and seafarers ever: wherever he lands, he asks and observes to see if this seagoing tradition is still intact... For island hopping backpackers this is a nice, amusing companion to a real tour guide.


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