Well, as promised, I have not forgotten you and let's review a book or two which is, after all, what this blog is all about even if I do go off on tangents about drives to London and nappy changing.
Have read a few thrillers/detective stories recently some of which were pretty poor so will not write about them, but some have been really good and enjoyable. So here goes.
Headline Books have been sending me quite a few books over the last few months and I have to be honest, they are nearly all by authors I have never heard of, but after the stunning debut novel The American Devil by Oliver Stark a month or two ago, reviewed here, I am now checking even more closely those that are sent to me by this publishing house.
First up, Moscow Sting by Alex Dryden. A former British spy, Finn, is assassinated by the Russians and his widow, a former KGB Colonel, Anna, disappears with their child. MI6, CIA and the KGB are all desperate to find her as she is the only person who knows the identity of a mole in the KGB. She goes into hiding in the depths of rural France but her cover is blown when Logan Halloran, ex-CIA agent turned trader of secrets, wines and dines a French contact who lets slip that an important defector is under their protection. He tracks her down, photographs her and then sends these photos to all three agencies, touting for the highest bidder. Anna and her child are now in danger and have to flee but where will they go?
This is all exciting stuff, cat and mouse, double and treble agents, you don't know who you can trust and it is a real page turner. Another narrative thread running through the story is the gunning down by a highly trained sniper of various Russian billionaires with Kremlin connections. How does this tie in with the search for Anna?
Read through at a sitting and thoroughly enjoyed, I felt it ended rather suddenly but then checked the inside of the book, which I had not done before, and realised that there was a pre-story about Finn and Anna which came before and this is obviously a series, hence the open end. I can recommend this as a tight, intriguing and exciting thriller and I am certainly looking forward to the next one. Headline Books please note....
The second title from Headline is the rather oddly named The Day of the Jack Russell by Bateman. Yes, just Bateman, the author does not appear to have a first name...
The hero of this story, if he can be so identified as he is anything but heroic, is Mystery Man. Yep, no name either. He runs a bookshop specialising in mystery novels but he has a sideline of fighting crime as a private eye. An airline mogul comes into his shop (as this is set in Ireland the thought that it might be modelled on the head of Ryan aAir crossed my mind), who is furious that vandals are spraying rude graffiti over his advertising billboards (can't be the head of Ryan Air, he is such a cheapskate he never pays for advertising boards though if he did I am sure that many of his disgruntled passengers would quite happily vandalise them) and he hires Mystery Man to track them down.
With the help of his shop assistant Jeff, who works for him on a part time basis as his real job of saving political prisoners for Amnesty International doesn't pay very well, and his pregnant girlfriend Alison they track down the two graffiti artists. As they had put themselves on You Tube and were obviously not very bright, this presents no problems but then they are found murdered and the case takes on a much more serious aspect.
If I tell you that a stuffed Jack Russell which may or may not be hiding a secret and MI6 are involved in this total farrago of nonsense, you will get a feel for this book. It is very funny and events get hopelessly tangled and, once again as in Moscow Sting, though much more lightheartedly, we have double and treble agents involved and nobody quite knows what is going on, or what they are doing. In fact, when I had finshed The day of the Jack Russell I was not sure I really knew either...
So far so good, witty, engaging and well written and I enjoyed it very much. My only caveat and I have to mention this, is that Batemen seems a tad too pleased with himself. I have the feeling he writes each line, reads it and is overcome with his own wit and I think he has to be careful not to be too much of a smart arse, to be frank. He is teetering on the brink at the moment though I hasten to add that this is only my opinion and others may, and probably do, disagree.
But, both really enjoyable reads and I liked them.
OK that has caught up on a couple. Two by EF Benson and the latest Camilla Lackberg to review in the next few days. And another from Headline arrived yesterday so will be taking alook at that as well.