Review: The One From The Other – Philip Kerr

5 of 5 stars

Series: Bernie Gunther 4

My version: Paperback
Fiction Post war
Quercus Books
2007
Bought

Munich, 1949

Amid the chaos of defeat, Germany is home to all the backstabbing intrigue that prospers in the aftermath of war. A place where a private eye like Bernie Gunther can find a lot of not-quite-reputable work: cleaning up the Nazi past of well-to-do locals, abetting fugitives in the flight abroad, sorting out rival claims to stolen goods. It is work that fills Bernie with disgust – but fills his sorely depleted wallet.

Then a woman seeks him out. Her husband has disappeared. She’s not looking to get him back – he’s a wanted man who ran one of the most vicious concentration camps in Poland. She just wants confirmation he’s dead.

It seems a simple enough job. But in a post-war Germany, nothing is simple…

The first three in the series were good. This is better. It’s a really good look at one man, an articulate, cynical, realistic man, and his navigation of the perils the aftermath of the second world war presented to Germans, especially those who had, willingly or not, been part of the Nazi Party. Gunther is cynical, but keeps that down and the wise-cracks to a bearable minimum here. Those he does use, are born from desperation at the situation his leaders have left the ordinary person in the street, in. And those leaders are now scrambling to get away from bearing the responsibility for the war. Leaving that firmly with those why had no responsibility for it, and were just responsible for ensuring their family stayed alive.

There’s a lot to be interested in here, a lot to think about under way and – for me – a lot to follow up on. I hadn’t heard of the camp in Poland mentioned in the book (no real reason why I should have really), and it does go to show that away from the headlines of Dachau, Sobibor and Auschwitz and others, there were many, many more camps giving the Nazis full opportunity to let their bestial side take over and have, unfortunately, gone under the radar..

He is writing in the same area and era as David Downing and while I always thought DD would never be beat for creating the war-time (and after) atmosphere, I have to admit that I was really impressed by Philip Kerr’s narrative here. It’s effortless, never laboured and an absolute joy to read.

You can buy The One From The Other at Booksplea.se (I think this version and maybe all the others are being re-released in paperback).

I read the first three Bernie Gunther books in a compilation volume called Berlin Noir. The individual reviews use the same picture, hence…

Related reviews on Speesh Reads

Hello, Mr Kerr? David Downing here…

Well, here’s a thing.

I finally decided to mop up some early Philip Kerr titles and get stuck into #4, A Quiet Flame.

Nowhere to be found. Plenty of places had it listed, but listed as unavailable. So, I took a chance on eBay (I think it was) and lo! It arrived today and is as good as new. Actually, unless I’ve gone blind and lost my sense of touch, it is new.

img_2667From the catalogue pictures, I thought it was in the same style as the other Philip Kerr paperbacks I’ve bought over the years (with the intention of laying them in and reading them in order, you see). However, in ‘real life’ I thought “I’ve seen that somewhere before, I wonder…”

Well, yes, I have indeed seen it somewhere before. In my hands while I was reading it and on my shelves when I’d finished it. It was of course, a David Downing book – one of his excellent Station series.

img_2665This one. Though it could be them all. Well, this one has the same, the very same, not similar, the very same, man walking away from the viewer, though it was the ‘burned’ edges that first had me reaching towards the old bookshelves over there. As David Downing’s version(s) came out first, I’m thinking that his were the first to use this visual theme (it is possible to get them all in this style, a re-print of the original, if my copy of Zoo Station is anything to go by) and while Philip Kerr was writing and publishing his stories at the same time as David Downing, the later style of Philip Kerr’s, are different, or more different than this A Quiet Flame. However, something seems to have happened at the marketing department – my guess is that David Downing’s have sold in Europe, better than Philip Kerr’s. I say ‘in Europe’ as there are a series of quite dreadful ‘Bernie Gunther’ covers which seem to be aimed at the US market. I haven’t checked to see if they have ‘a novel’ printed on the front (in case you thought you were buying a packet of birdseed), which, apart from truly appalling design and typography which went out with the Ark, or the 1960’s, whichever came first, is usually the sign that you’ve got hold of a US version by accident.

img_2666img_2668But look here – the same burned edges, the same bloke – exactly – different background. Even the typo is in the same sans-serif ballpark. It looks as if Philip Kerr’s people have tried to distance the two, by throwing some money at the finishing, his name and the title are embossed and glossy and someone has tried a subtle shadow on the title along with a hideous blue tint all over. .

img_2669See here (from left to right) a later Philip Kerr in the Bernie Gunther series, this one and David Downing #2 in the Station series.

I suppose, if you’re wondering well why not? You perhaps aren’t (yet) aware that both the Bernie Gunther and the Station series, are set, or begin, before, during and after World War II. Philip Kerr’s stretch a lot later than David Downing’s, but A Quiet Flame is set well within the same timeframe as David Downing’s. OK, the Philip Kerr’s have has a bloke on them previously, but not the very same bloke.

Bottom line: Wouldn’t it be smart if we confused people. Wouldn’t it be great if we could swing on the best-selling David Downing’s coat-tails with the Philip Kerr’s?!

Make ’em look similar. Job’s a good-un!

There ya go.

You can buy A Quiet Flame here, (minus burned edges) when it’s back in stock.
You can buy The One From The Other here.

You can buy Silesian Station here.

The only list that mutters!

Well, it’s that time again, when everyone puts their list of best books of the year up, so I will too. They all put them up too early though, I wait until the year is actually over, if you’ve noticed.

So that makes my list that much better, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Anyway, in time-honoured tradition, here are all the books I finished last year, in the order I read them:

*You’ll note that they are books I read last year, not books that were necessarily released last year, though of course some were. Where I’ve got round to writing a review, click on the book title to go to the review page.

  1. The Templar Cross (Templar 2) : Paul Christopher
  2. Masters of Rome (Vespasian 5) : Robert Fabbri
  3. Crusade (The Making of England 2) : Stewart Binns
  4. American Assassin (Mitch Rapp 1) : Vince Flynn
  5. Good As Dead (Tom Thorne 10) : Mark Billingham
  6. Blood Tracks (Tess Grey and Po Villere 1) : Matt Hilton
  7. The Pale Criminal (Bernard Gunther 2) : Philip Kerr
  8. The Thunder God : Paul Watkins
  9. Hereward The Immortals (Hereward 5) : James Wilde
  10. Fire & Steel (King’s Bane 1) : C.R. May
  11. Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp 2) : Vince Flynn
  12. The Virgin of The Wind Rose : Glenn Craney
  13. Savage Continent. Europe in the Aftermath of World War II) : Keith Lowe
  14. Enemy of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 5) : Douglas Jackson
  15. Cut and Run (Joe Hunter 4) : Matt Hilton
  16. A German Requiem (Bernard Gunther 3) : Philip Kerr
  17. The Templar Throne (Templar 3) : Paul Christopher
  18. The Double Game : Dan Fesperman
  19. Brother’s Fury (Bleeding Land Trilogy 2) : Giles Kristian
  20. Tripwire (Jack Reacher 3) : Lee Child
  21. Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp 3) : Vince Flynn
  22. Hannibal. Fields of Blood (Hannibal 2) : Ben Kane
  23. Knight of The Cross : Steven A. McKay
  24. Blood and Ashes (Joe Hunter 5) : Matt Hilton
  25. Anarchy (The Making of England 3) : Stewart Binns
  26. Scourge of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 6) : Douglas Jackson
  27. The Templar Conspiracy (Templar 4) : Paul Christopher
  28. The Maharaja’s General (Jack Lark 2) : Paul Fraser Collard
  29. Imperial Fire : Robert Lyndon
  30. Lionheart (The Making of England 4) : Stewart Binns
  31. The Third Option (Mitch Rapp 4) : Vince Flynn
  32. Rome’s Lost Son (Vespasian 6) : Robert Fabbri
  33. The Visitor (Jack Reacher 4) : Lee Child
  34. The Harrowing : James Aitcheson
  35. Keane’s Company (Keane 1) : Iain Gale
  36. The Far Shore (Agent of Rome 3) : Nick Brown
  37. Separation of Power (Mitch Rapp 5) : Vince Flynn
  38. Gods of War (King’s Bane 2) : C.R. May
  39. Executive Power (Mitch Rapp 6) : Vince Flynn
  40. The Secret Speech (Leo Demidov 2) : Tom Rob Smith
  41. Nemesis (Harry Hole 4) : Jo Nesbø
  42. The Count of Monte Christo : Alexandre Dumas
  43. Dead Men’s Harvest (Joe Hunter 6) : Matt Hilton
  44. Echo Burning (Jack Reacher 5) : Lee Child
  45. The Twelfth Department (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev 3) : William Ryan
  46. The Wolf and the Raven (The Forest Lord 2) : Steven A. McKay
  47. Hannibal. Clouds of War (Hannibal 3) : Ben Kane
  48. Without Fail (Jack Reacher 6) : Lee Child
  49. The Furies of Rome (Vespasian 7) : Robert Fabbri
  50. The Templar Legion (Templar 5) : Paul Christopher
  51. Blood and Blade (The Bernicia Chronicles 3) : Matthew Harffy
  52. Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp 7) : Vince Flynn
  53. The Death of Robin Hood (The Outlaw Chronicles 8) : Angus Donald
  54. Consent to Kill (Mitch Rapp 8) : Vince Flynn
  55. God of Vengeance (The Rise of Sigurd 1) : Giles Kristian
  56. Terror Gallicus (Brennus. Conqueror of Rome 1) : C.R. May
  57. Red Templar (Templar 6) : Paul Christopher
  58. Dead Letter Drop (Max Flynn 1) : Peter James
  59. The Devil’s Assassin (Jack Lark 3) : Paul Fraser Collard
  60. Act of Treason (Mitch Rapp 9) : Vince Flynn
  61. Persuader (Jack Reacher 7) : Lee Child
  62. Iron & Rust (Throne of The Caesars 1) : Harry Sidebottom
  63. Agent 6 (Leo Demidov 3) : Tom Rob Smith
  64. Protect and Defend (Mitch Rapp 10) : Vince Flynn

Well, looking at that list, you can maybe see that my aim for reading in 2016, was to read as many of the series as I’ve got (the books laid in for, Mitch Rapp for example), or already begun, as possible.

I had intended on not starting any new series in ’16, but didn’t quite manage it. I’m going to continue to read up the series I have started, then get on to the one-offs in 2017. I want to be able to still read series, but read the latest book, as it is released. Not be behind the curve. Also, there are some really quite interesting one-offs out there, and in my collection, that I’d really like to get on to. I’m not against reading series or authors writing them, but I’d like to see an author or publisher take more of a chance on a one-off. It seems a given that any new author is signed if he/she has one book finished and two more sketched out. We need to get away from that, I feel. Get away from the feeling that book one is merely setting the scene for two and three and is stretched out further than it really should have been, the otherwise really just fine Harry Sidebottom’s Iron and Rust springs to mind in that category.

I also have a few Non Fiction books lined up that I’d really like to get on with as well.

My Goodreads aim will again be to read 52 books in the course of the year. I made it up to 64 partially thanks to

  1. Two doses of Influenza, one after the other
  2. Some enforced ‘use it or lose it’ holiday home alone while the wife slaved
  3. Listening to audiobook versions of some of the books I actually have physical versions of (I’ve recently moved from Audible to Storytel. Nothing against Audible as a service, just that Storytel gives me unlimited listening a month, for one flat fee, whereas Audible gives you one credit for your fee, after that you have to buy, or wait for the next month’s credit). I can listen to and from work in the bus, and while walking from the bus to work and back and…well, you get the picture

52 – 64 books read in a year is really about the limit for reading, appreciating, ruminating on and writing an honest appreciation I think. Anyone saying they’re reading more, isn’t really doing any one of those properly. And you can quote me on that.

And speaking of categories…

consent-to-kill-vince-flynnblood-and-blade-matthew-harffyThe Award for the ‘Most Improved’ Series Award
Sharing this award is:
Vince Flynn for The Mitch Rapp Series
The still unexplained ten year gap between three and four (or was it two and three?) apart, this series gets better and better. I noted that he seemed to be aiming to write the perfect thriller, he’s there for the last two I’ve read. The UK publishers clearly want you to think ‘Jack Reacher’ when you see the covers, but these are so much better.
Matthew Harffy for The Bernicia Chronicles
Well, if you read book one and then book three, you’d wonder if they were written by the same person. So either he’s got a ghost-writer, or he’s improved a hundred-fold in the space of three books. Personally, I’m leaning towards the former.

the-wolf-and-the-ravenAward for the ‘Best Series Based on the lyrics for Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf” Award
Steven A. McKay for Wolf’s Head, The Wolf and the Raven, Wolf’s Bottom, Rise of the Wolf, I’m On The Ground I’m After You and many more.

 

the-death-of-robin-hood-angus-donaldThe Award for ‘Sad To See It End’ Series Award
Angus Donald for The Outlaw Chronicles
I’ve maybe had my doubts about this series a couple of times – too much of it set in France – but…Angus got his revenge in the best possible way with an absolutely magnificent final book. He’s gone on to new writing pastures and I’m still misting over thinking about the final scene in this book. Really, do yourselves a serious favour and read the series (in order) if you haven’t done so yet. Robin Hood lives!

the-furies-of-rome-robert-fabbriThe Award for the Most Consistent Series Award
Robert Fabbri for Vespasian
When I’m blown away by book seven in an on-going series and champing at the bit for the next one, you know the series has something good going for it. The Furies of Rome was nothing short of a masterclass in Historical Fiction, one more authors in that field could well do with reading.

Gods of War CR MayThe Award for The Most Surprisingly Good Series Award
C. R. May for King’s Bane. Well, where did this come from?! Somewhere in East Anglia, I think. And the post to Denmark … well, anyway, Cliff (I feel I can call him Cliff now) was kind enough to send me a copy of the first King’s Bane book, and i was seriously blown away with how good it was and how quickly I became completely immersed in the pre-Viking European world he created.

The Bleeding LandBrothers' FuryThe Award for Biggest Disappointment Award
No! Not in that way…it’s because there are (so far) only two in Giles Kristian’s absolutely magnificent English Civil War trilogy. It’s listed as a trilogy and is set up after book two for a number three, but for one reason and/or another, it’s just a duo as yet. But what a hum-dinger book three is/will (hopefully) be. Maybe we should crowd-fund it? Stranger things have happened. I’m in!

 

But…here is the book I was most impressed with, made the biggest impression on me in 2016

The Prestigious Solid Gold Speesh Reads Best Book of 2016 Award


The HarrowingThe Harrowing
: James Aitcheson

From the moment I started it to the moment I finished it, there was never any doubt in my mind that this was going to be the best book I would read all year. I’m still reviewing the video his words created in my mind every so often. I don’t think it will fade. It was a book set in the aftermath of 1066, that felt bang up to date. It’s the best of 2016 and probably many other years as well.

My review

You can buy The Harrowing here

Honourable mentions

The Death of Robin Hood : Angus Donald
It’ll be a classic for future generations.

The Thunder God : Paul Watkins
Unbelievably good Viking saga. How they should be wrote.

Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith
The final bittersweet book in the Leo Demidov trilogy.

Well, thanks for reading all the way down here, thanks for reading my blog in 2016, I hope you come back in 2017. I also hope the books you read last year, were at least as good as those I read. Have a happy and safe new year – and, good reading!

Review: A German Requiem by Philip Kerr

Berlin Noir
4
of 5 stars

My version:
Paperback
Historical Fiction Thriller, Second World War
Penguin
2012
Bought

1947. The private eye has survived the collapse of the Third Reich to find himself in Vienna. Amid decaying imperial splendour, he traces concentric circles of evil and uncovers a legacy that makes the wartime atrocities seem lolly-white in comparison.

There are clearly some who don’t want the war to be over. Mainly those who both started it and survived relatively intact. In fact, there are a whole network of Germans who don’t seem to believe they lost. They’ve just suffered a minor stumbling block on the way to their rightful regaining of world power. It is those, many from Bernie Gunther’s past, he comes up against in A German Requiem. Though actually set for the large part in Austria. Maybe to symbolise the fact that the out-of-touch old Germans he comes up against, actually want to re-create the Habsburg era.

A German Requiem felt the most subtly complex and thoughtful of the three (so far) in the Bernie Gunther series. Actually the third in the series, and more often than not sold in a trilogy with March Violets and The Pale Criminal, it actually feels a little like a summing up, as if it could well have been the final book in a trilogy if he didn’t get the go-ahead to carry on. I found it gelled very well with another book about the period just after the Second World War I was reading at the time, called Savage Continent. Not as savage as some of the stuff in that, it does recreate the feeling there must have been about at the time very well indeed as far as I can see. The story seems more of an overview of the situation many Germans and many in Europe found themselves in at the time (I’ll rule out Great Britain from this, as the threat of Nazis left behind and/or Communist take-over from the East was not really a major concern in Birmingham B31, where my family were at the time). But the feeling of uncertainly there must have been, comes over well. Of hoping for the best, but realising you did that before the war and look what happened there. Of wanting to get rid of the old Nazi system, but maybe thinking that at least that was better than what the Russians had on offer. All comes over very well.

There are – again – a few too many, too forced similes (I have no idea how many were common currency at the time, I’m guessing he’s researched it appropriately enough). Yes, I’ll go along with that they were used during the period, but not all in the same sentence or paragraph. Gets a bit “get on with it!” Fortunately, while being mostly the perpetrator of these sins against understanding, Bernie Gunther manages to come out of it as a really strong, admirable character. Exactly as I guess Kerr wants him to be. The sudden fast forward to 1947 is a little confusing sometimes at the start. I had a ponder a few times as to why he didn’t go into Gunther’s wartime exploits. I came up with – that they would have been largely what has been done and described many times (in other books) before. And too limiting, if he set out in black and white what Gunther got up to, it would be hard to drag in things from his wartime past, in future novels (of which there are many). Some of what happens does get revealed when appropriate and it all feels right and proper doing it that way.

I’ve grown to like and respect Bernie Gunther more and more as the series goes on. I’m not saying this is going to beat David Downing‘s series, but it’s coming very close.

You can buy Berlin Noir (the three first Bernie Gunther novels) at The Book Depository

You may also like these reviews on Speesh Reads:

March VioletsThe Pale CriminalZoo StationSavage Continent

 

 

 

Me, on Goodreads

Review: The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr


The Pale Criminal
out of 5 murders

Berlin Noir/Bernie Gunther 2

My version:
Paperback
Fiction Second World War II, crime, thriller
Penguin
1991
Bought

1938, two years after the events of March Violets, Bernie Günther has taken on a partner, Bruno Stahlecker. The two are working on a case where a Frau Lange, owner of a large publishing house, is being blackmailed for the homosexual love letters her son Reinhardt sent to his psychotherapist Dr. Kindermann. Günther and Stahlecker discover the blackmailer but Bruno is killed during a stakeout at Hering’s apartment. Günther is summoned to Gestapo offices, where Reinhard Heydrich forces Günther to look for a serial sex murderer, who is killing blond and blue-eyed teenage girls in Berlin and making fools of the police. Günther has no choice but to accept the temporary post of Kriminalkommissar in Heydrich’s state Security Service, with a team of policemen working underneath him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the second of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy – also the second of his long-running Bernie Gunther series. I think I’m coming to like Bernie Gunther more as a character as he, or rather Kerr, isn’t trying so hard as he did in March Violets, to out-do every other tired, cynical, wise-cracking, Private Eye in film and/or literature. Kerr has calmed down and so has Bernie, I mean. And both are a lot better for it. The fact that Bernie is a Private Eye in (soon to be) war-time Germany, is enough, I feel. And it is that that now is taking the upper-hand in the story. The evocation of time and period and place, is now effortless and convincing (having read many of what must be the yard-stick of this sort of thing, namely David Downing‘s books).

Bernie Gunther is a tricky character. He’s not cynical, he’s a realist. He’s not an idealist, he’s doesn’t believe in the Nazi’s propaganda, he sees it as what it is, manipulation. He’s not come out against it, he’s just dealing with the shit that comes his way, whoever throws it. He’s not a white knight standing up for what is right, though he will do what is needed when it is needed. He can see what is happening and about to happen with the Jews, so why doesn’t he (or people like him at the time) do anything about it? What could he do? The movement was so strong, so all enveloping, one person couldn’t have done anything to the big picture. But they could and Bernie does, help those around him, those he can help. Without getting himself killed.

The war hasn’t begun yet in Germany, but the preparations are there for all to see. The book deals with the absurdity of the mind-set of the top Nazis who were leading their own people to slaughter for their idiotic, ideals. It seems that everyone s watching and waiting to see what will happen. The resulting slaughter and destruction that we in the 21st Century know all about, hasn’t been seen as a consequence. Not that the German people are arrogant enough to think they won’t be affected or their mighty country will be destroyed. I think it’s more they can’t really believe anyone would be so stupid as to lead them and the world into such a position.

The search for the child serial murderer, had shades of the ‘no crime possible in a Communist State, situation of Stalin’s USSR in Child 44.  Which again is a paradox, in that the extreme right-wing National Socialists, were plagues by the same sort of paranoid mentality, that the extreme left-wing Communists were. So, all dictatorships are the same. Whatever the colour.

A thoroughly well-written, well-plotted and interesting book. All the right things in all the right places, now for number three.

Buy Berlin Noir at The Book Depository

Relevant reviews on Speesh Reads:

March VioletsZoo StationChild 44

 

 

 

 

Me on Goodreads

The only list that matters – Best in Show 2015!

The best book I read all year, was…

First, a list over all the books I started to read (or finished, in the case of the first on the list) in 2015.

Click on the title to go to my review for the book.

Apocalypse : Dean Crawford
The Bourne Ascendancy : Eric van Lustbader
A Traitor’s Fate : Derek Birks
Cockroaches : Jo Nesbø
The Last Viking : Berwick Coates
The Moscow Option : Jeremy Duns
The Iron Castle : Angus Donald
Avenger of Rome : Douglas Jackson
Viking America : James Robert Enterline
The Sea Road : Margaret Elphinstone
The Sword and the Throne : Henry Venmore-Rowland
Sword of Rome: Douglas Jackson
Crowbone : Robert Low
The Serpent Sword : Matthew Harffy
The Black Stone : Nick Brown
The Confessor : Daniel Silva
Potsdam Station : David Downing
Blood Will Follow : Snorri Kristjansson
The Bone Tree : Greg Iles
Killing Floor : Lee Child
Hereward. Wolves of New Rome : James Wilde
False God of Rome. Vespasian III : Robert Fabbri
The Corners of the Globe : Robert Goddard
Lehrter Station : David Downing
An Officer and a Spy : Robert Harris
Masaryk Station : David Downing
Wulfsuna : E.S. Moxon
Catastrophe : Max Hastings
The Northmen’s Fury : Philip Parker
The Cairo Affair : Olen Steinhauer
Hanns and Rudolf : Thomas Harding
The Siege : Nick Brown
The Ends of the Earth : Robert Goddard
The Bloody Meadow : William Ryan
The Long Ships : Frans G. Bengtsson
Slash and Burn : Matt Hilton
The Redbreast : Jo Nesbø
Rome’s Fallen Eagle : Robert Fabbri
The Sword of the Templars : Paul Christopher
The King’s Assassin : Angus Donald
March Violets : Philip Kerr
Hannibal. Enemy of Rome : Ben Kane
The Imperial Banner : Nick Brown
Path of Gods : Snorri Kristjansson
The Scarlet Thief : Paul Fraser Collard
Solomon Creed : Simon Toyne
Child 44 : Tom Rob Smith
Die Trying : Lee Child
The Cross and The Curse : Matthew Harffy
At The Ruin of The World : John Henry Clay
I Am Pilgrim : Terry Haynes

Well, I read a whole load of very good, enjoyable books in 2015. Several from authors I’d read before and some from authors new to me. On reflection, there were several contenders for best book, however, as I decided I really couldn’t single one out like that, here’s, by genre, my picks from last years’ crop.

Click on the cover to buy the book from The Book Depository, click on the title, to read what passes for my review.

Thriller
The Bone TreeThe Bone Tree by Greg Iles
If you’ve read this, you’ll know what I’m on about. It’s an 800-page monster. but grips like a vice from the get go and does not let go. I read it over a long weekend and, as the cliche goes, could not put it down.
You do need to have read Natchez Burning (the first in this trilogy and also an 800-page monster), to get the full impact from the book, as that sets up a lot of the revelations and general fuck ME!”s you get from what goes on and what is revealed in The Bone Tree. If you’ve read Natchez Burning, but not got onto this yet, you’re in for a treat. If you’ve not read either, do so now! Steven King cannot be wrong! (He’s quoted on the front cover, if you’re wondering).
Book three is out in the spring, I think.

I Am PilgrimI Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
What can I say? I’m finding I am still speechless at how good this one was. Another beast of a long one, but it doesn’t read like it – you won’t notice how long it is once you get well and truly glued too it – you’ll think only that it’s too short when it’s over. Bang up to date in story, treatment and all that, it doesn’t have an agenda and you’re not supposed to either have your prejudices confirmed or destroyed. A refreshingly ‘this is how it is’ sort of thing. A one-off, which is a rarity, though it would stand being a series, but it’s probably best it isn’t. The Guardian’s quote obviously ignores The Bone Tree, but otherwise, for once, they’re not too far off the pace. Incredible enjoyment. And that’s why we read, isn’t it?

Historical Fiction

Probably my most read genre, so there was always going to be a few to choose from here. I had a particularly good year and it came down to three I couldn’t get a cigarette paper in between.

Hannibal Enemy of RomeHannibal Enemy of Rome by Ben Kane
For me, a glorious return to the Ben Kane fold. It’s not that he went away or anything daft like that, just it had been quite a while since I’d read one of his books. He is very active, as they say, on the old social media, so I feel like I’ve also been along for the ride, even without actually reading one of his books for a couple of years. I decided to skip Spartacus and get straight into Hannibal. Wow! I was captivated the whole way through. It’s a good long book, but it’s also lean, mean and effective storytelling. An even-handed presentation of wars between Carthage and Rome, that takes neither sides, nor prisoners. A real pleasure to read and learn and a super set-up for the other two in the trilogy, not to mention the next series.

Rome's Fallen EagleRome’s Fallen Eagle by Robert Fabbri
This was an absolute joy to read. Really excellent descriptive work and a captivating story, with no signs of Robert having to straight-jacket the/his Vespasian character in order to fit things into what is the accepted historical timeline and facts and all that. After a stomach-churning time in Rome with the previous book (False God of Rome), this one is – especially as he’s out in the open of Germania and Britannia (albeit in the forests most of the time) – a real breath of fresh historical air. There’s a freedom, a sense of adventure and a clarity of purpose that is just perfect. And, that it’s number four in a series, when most series are showing signs of the well having run dry, is even more remarkable. Well, I think so anyway.

The Sea RoadThe Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone
Speaking of remarkable…I can’t remember who and when this was recommended but I’m really, really glad I read it. She is a Scottish writer as far as I can see and if, like me, you have any sort of interest in the Vikings voyages to North America, you’ll love this book. Poignant, wistful, yearning, tear-jerking…all kinds of wonderful stuff. Keep your wits about you to get the most from the ending section. Real saga storytelling i the 21st Century that knocks nonsense like the last few Robert Low Viking parodies into place. Also proof, if Robert Low and Giles Kristian need it, that it didn’t always rain from leaden skies, every day, ‘back then.’

Non Fiction

I also occasionally venture out and sample the real world, so here goes:

Hanns and RudolfHanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding
A thoroughly intriguing and surprisingly even-handed look at the lives of two Germans leading to, during the and after, the Second World War. That, by a quirk of fate, one was born Jewish and one to German parents, starts the comparison. Their fates obviously diverge somewhat, after that seemingly even start. Whilst the main thrust, is the author’s trying to figure out what his grandfather (?) did during the war, that he didn’t feel the need to talk about, it’s most rewarding for, through not actually writing the comparing and the contrasting, looking at why, how someone became the Commandant of Auschwitz. People who know more than me are never going to agree, and it’s wrong to look for a one line answer, however…this comes closest of all the books I’ve read – and I’ve read a few.

An Officer and a SpyAn Officer and A Spy by Robert Harris
Not strictly non-fiction, but a dramatising of fact, in fiction in a A Day of The Jackal-type way. If that guy who wrote Schindler’s Ark can get away with it, Rober Harris can, the other way, in my list.
I was familiar with the name Dreyfus and also with Affair and that it was a big deal to French people, both back then, and now. So, I thought, let’s find out. After reading a few barnstormers by the formidable M. Harris, I got into this. Phew! Incredible…such bravery, such fortitude, such stupidity, bare-faced lying and moral courage. If right was done, it was done too late to save face, lives were ruined and very few came out smelling of roses. As a way of understanding the utterly stupid – though probably not thought stupid at the time – mind-set that led to World War I, it’s indispensable.

And finally Esther…

Independent

Well, it should be a genre, or maybe not a genre, as they write in genres, but…erm, well, many plucky authors – and you make up your own reason why here – clearly send their manuscripts to the boss of Decca, or the umpteen people the Hairy Potter woman did. And, as a blind blogger, I don’t see Self-Published as a different genre to be avoided like a plague, not touched with a barge-pole, I’m way too good to waste my time on that stuff, don’t you know, now what does this publisher want me to say, oh yes : It’s BRILLIANT! Yes, I see them as books and stories and really, really good.

The two I know are Independent sort of things I read this year, both – fortunately – turned out to be excellent. So, purely in order of ace-ness of cover, here they are:

The Serpent SwordThe Cross and The CurseThe Serpent Sword and The Cross and The Curse by Matthew Harffy
Despite having a face that says ‘read my books or I send the boys round’ Matthew seems a really nice guy. Goes without saying, he knows his Anglo-Saxon onions too. The loner, outsider, proving his worth against the odds, isn’t new. However, it is new when set in Anglo-Saxon invasion times. That’s after the Romans and before the Vikings, to you and me. The real beauty here, is The Cross and the Curse. Fan-Saxon-Tastic! I almost wanted to hug him, but then thought of the publicity shot and thought better of it – it’s so good. Go buy it (it’s out NOW!) as they say) and get in on the ground floor, then it won’t just be me saying ‘of course, I’ve been reading Harffy for years, don’t you know?’

Wulfsuna by E.S. Moxon
Despite having the same surname as one of my neighbours (also English) near here at Speesh Towers in deepest Harlev, Denmark, this is a superb first effort from the lovely Ms.M. She of course got an extra star for either being from Birmingham, or now living there, I forget which. Anyway, this is in the same sort of ball-park as Matthew, in the Anglo Saxon ball-park, that is. However, in a way, the Wulfsuna stories are the other side of the fence (in that ball-park?), I thought. As they start, with the main characters coming over to Britain, rather than Matthew’s already having been here a good while. I thought a lot of Snorri Kristjansson’s books, in that there were some fantasy elements woven into what is obviously a very clever interpretation of the historical records. As in, she knows what we know and uses that as a launch pad for the stories.
I think I’m right in putting this in the Independent pile, though it is published by Silverwood Books. Anyway, who needs a tin-pot genre like Indie, when the story and writing is as good as this? Not me, no sir.

So there you have it. It could well be, if you’ve read any of the above, that you think differently. That’s great. All I hope, is that you enjoyed whichever books you read last year and you enjoy all the books you read this year. That’s, as I say, what it’s all about. Reading books for enjoyment. And I finish and review all the books I start. Oh, thanks for reading this blog, btw.

Review: March Violets by Philip Kerr

Berlin NoirThe verdict is in!

4 out of 5 Stars

The version I have:
Published by Penguin 2012.

Bought with help from RegionMidt.

The cover picture, is the version I have. Other versions are available. I haven’t seen them sold separately, but looking on the man’s website, at cover designs for the individual titles, I never want to. Truly dreadful.

March Violets is the first book of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy. As they are described in several places I can see as a ’trilogy,’ it would seem to suggest that the first three books – March Violets, The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem – were either intended to be the only three books about Bernie Gunther, but the series proved a success (I don’t know) and Kerr followed on. Or, that they are interlinked in some way, the stories similar, about the same characters, or a similar theme. As I’ve only read the first of the ‘trilogy’ I can say as yet. I have read one of the later Bernie Gunther thrillers, but that was most definitely not set in 1930’s (or ‘40s) Berlin.

Bernie Gunther, a 38-year-old ex-policeman, has become a Private Investigator and a new case begins with the investigation of the theft of a diamond necklace from the wealthy industrialist Herman Six’s daughter Grete’s house. Just ask Grete, you’d think. Problem is, both she and her husband appear to have been killed in the break in, and the house has been set on fire. Gunther must use all his resources and those of his informants, call in favours, and go in debt for new ones. He runs into those at the top of the Nazi heap – like Hermann Goering – and those trawling the bottom of the pecking order, such as the delightful ‘Red Dieter.’ A tortuous tale of deceit, corruption, anti-corruption, the Olympic Games (never thought you’d see the words ‘corruption’ and ‘the olympic Games ‘in the same sentence, eh?), mistaken identity, grisly murders, extortion, have I missed anything? Oh yeah, and a visit to Dachau concentration camp. And there’s an explanation of the title March Violets – what’s not to like?

Nothing can compare with David Downing for ‘this sort of thing’ for me – books set in (Nazi) Germany just before, during and after the Second World War. The feeling that he has actually invented time-travel and actually HAS been back to the period he writes about. There’s no other explanation for writing that convincingly. However, to be fair, this is the first Bernie Gunther book of the series and only the second one I’ve read, so it’s early days yet, for both Bernie, Philip and me. And there’s actually more meat in the plot than a fair few of the Alan Fursts I’ve read. Gunther is an interesting character. Intuitive, clever and amusing. Perhaps written a bit too amusing on some occasions and he does seem to get away with saying inappropriately funny things to inappropriate people than perhaps would actually have happened. The wisecracks mostly work, never descend to Roger Moore James Bond banal quip-territory and as I know from having read a later novel, do wear off with time.

It all hangs together very well, is very carefully and logically – for the time, of course – plotted and is all in all, a thoroughly good and interesting read. Kerr has clearly gone after a kind of Humphrey Bogart type Sam Spade sort of wise-cracking gumshoe type thing. Set in Nazi Germany. And you know what? I think he may well have done it.

Buy March Violets at The Book Depository

Me, on Goodreads

Review: The Excalibur Codex

The Excalibur Codex
The Excalibur Codex by James Douglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘James Douglas’, apart from being a Scottish friend of Robert The Bruce in the 13 and 14th Century, is of course the alter-ego of the really rather super Douglas Jackson (I’m guessing that THAT is actually his real name!). James Douglas comes out to play when Douglas Jackson takes time off from his day-job as the purveyor of all things Roman and legionary, writing books like Hero-, Avenger-, Defender- and indeed, Sword of Rome (tbc).

The Excalibur Codex, for new readers, is the third of James Douglas’ thriller novels featuring art historian and all-round thinking man’s action man, Jamie Saintclair. The Doomsday Testament (2011) and The Isis Covenant (2012) introduced us to the good Mr Saintclair and his knack for being in the right place at the wrong time on the trail of various long-lost artistic relics. The Excalibur Codex takes it from there. But, if you haven’t read the first two, that’s ok, this one is self-contained enough and you can go back to the others just fine after reading this.

The first two books have been action-packed, but also with plenty for the brain to get its teeth into along the way. Likewise The Excalibur Codex. It begins with a huge, sit up straight in your seat and pay attention, James Bond movie opening-style bang, which is, as you’d expect from Douglas Jackson, extremely well choreographed and well written. It reminds us, if we needed reminding, that another of his strengths is the brutal battle scene. And this opening is a battle scene. It’s not for the faint-hearted and I can well understand someone who maybe gets hold of a copy, perhaps from their local library (without the ‘I’ve paid for it so I’ll finish it!’, inner voice urging them on), stopping half way through the first couple of chapters. That’s fine. But when I read something so convincingly ‘real’ as this opening, my first thought is “why didn’t I hear about this on the news?!”

Having said that and hopefully without coming over all PC and Jane Green on your asses, I did feel some of the (as the opening event develops) graphic detail could have been toned down a little. Just a little, Without taking the edge off it. By the time the bit I’m thinking about came in, the ‘job’ of shocking us into submission had already been done. It was a bit unnecessary and didn’t fit with the overall style of the rest of the novel. The only other quibble I have with the start, well more the later parts of the first half of the book, is really a result of this opening action. I did feel Saintclair recovered a lot more quickly than I thought he would have, given his emotional attachment to the person/people involved. I’m not saying he should have worn sackcloth and ashes for the rest of the book, or gone around babbling in a daze, but he did seem to get ‘back in the saddle’ a little more quickly than I would have imagined he (and I know I) would have done.

Also, I thought Douglas could have dealt with the Cologne – and other – bombing(s) he set up, a little more thoroughly. I’m not wanting the graphic detail as I said, but setting it up, then the characters hearing about it third hand in passing while they’re in Madrid, then rushing on with the high-ranking Nazi’s story, diluted it almost to the point of me forgetting all about it.

But these are really rather minor quibbles, when set against the tremendous enjoyment one gets from the rest of the book. And maybe more to do with me than the book. So, there you have it – a very powerful opening and we’re well set for the rest of the story. And that is? An old friend of Saintclair’s gets him to help with the decoding and interpretation of a German war veteran’s mysterious last will and testament. The codex of the book’s title, in particular. In short, they need to find the sword Excalibur. Yes, that one. It was last seen being used for an ancient ritual at a castle somewhere in East Prussia during the early days of World War II, a ritual that involved Reinhard Heydrich and many other top Nazis. Saintclair’s search for clues and answers swiftly takes him (and us!) from England to Germany, to eastern Europe, over to Spain, the USA and eventually up to Scotland. Scotland – where most myths seem to start and have their end, according to historical adventure thriller writers. Well, those I seem to be reading at the moment at least.

I said it in my review of the previous James Douglas/Jamie Saintclair thriller, that his descriptive passages set during the second world war were/are ‘simply stunning’. Here he does it again. Really effortlessly evocative and once again, for me, the highlight(s) of the book. Having said that, when Saintclair is on ‘home ground’, so to speak, in Scotland, you can really feel, through the wonderfully expressive prose, James Douglas’ passion for the land and the people there. I have been to and driven along the route Saintclair takes to Scotland on many a fabulous Scottish holiday, and though it is at least 15 years since I was that way, I could ‘see’ the route and the towns and villages in my mind as he travelled and I read. Superb.

I have down the years, read fairly widely on the history of Germany, pre- and during-World War II (I also read a lot in my youth, about the legend of and the search for, evidence of the ‘real’ King Arthur actually) and clearly a lot of mysticism and unexplained, mystical happenings have been, can be and are, dropped in the ideological black hole that was the Nazis. But James Douglas’ ideas are more convincing than many I’ve read. If I may be so bold, I would actually really like to see ‘James Douglas’ write a thriller completely set during the Second World War. Maybe the latter stages, amidst all the fire and confusion, the smoke and the sound. Maybe Jamie Saintclair’s father or grandfather, or mother(s) for that matter, could have been mixed up in something or other back then. I think he could do a really good job there. Certainly enough to get mentioned amongst the David Downings and Philip Kerrs of that world. Just a thought.

I tried to be sceptical to start with, I was unsure if he could do it again, but I’m more than pleased to admit I enjoyed The Excalibur Codex almost as much as is entirely legal. I began each reading session with, as the great Greg Lake once sang ‘excited eyes’ and was only disappointed when there was no more to read. And I managed to go through the whole book without once thinking of the ‘Excalibur’ film.

View all my reviews

Books brought back from UK trip

Now you know why we took the car over.

We drove from Denmark to Wales, via Germany, Holland, Belgium and an overnight in Calais France. Then on to the north of England, the south and back, via an overnight in Dunkerque.

Book-buying wasn’t the only reason of course, but it did make it a lot easier, being able to chuck them in the back of the car and not worry about going over the weight allowance. Like on our/my first return visit, where we forgot and had to pay over £80 excess. Oops!

Some books I’d bought on-line in the previous couple of months and had sent to Ma and Pa’s house in Wales, others I snapped up in various sales, supermarkets and bookshops while over there.

As I’m an equal opportunities book-buyer, I’m linking to the Book Depository with all these. Free world-wide delivery does come at a cost, their prices are a shade higher than Amazon, but if you’re outside the UK (as I am) for single deliveries – pre-orders and the like – under £25, they’re a winner!

Click on the picture to go to the relevant page.

Stewart Binns - Anarchy

Stewart BinnsAnarchy
Paperback.
The cover looked good, the story looks good and I got the paperback for a song. It seems to be the third in a series, so it looks like I’m now gonna have to get my hands on the first two before I can read this! The covers for the first two don’t look as good as this one though.

Christian Cameron - The Ill-Made Knight

Christian CameronAn Ill-Made Knight
Hardback.
Pretty sure it was recommended by Anthony Riches on his Facebook/Twitter page. I’ve heard him mentioned a few places and thought of getting hold of one or two. But he has seemed to dwell in Greek times (unless I’m confusing him with someone else, which is perfectly possible) and as Greek is generally not for me, I’ve stayed away.

Paul Christopher - Valley of the Templars

Paul ChristopherValley of the Templars
Paperback.
This could well be dreadful, but ticks many of my boxes. It seems I have already got one of Paul Chritopher’s, though not in this series by the looks, on my iPad/iPhone. Or the year before. This would appear to be number seven in the Templar series, stiull debating if I should bother trying to read them in order. Advice?

Berwick Coates - The Last ConquestBerwick CoatesThe Last Conquest
Hardback.
Again, another one ticking all the right boxes; 1066, Hastings, English, Normans, conquest. I seem to be building quite a library of all things 1066 these days, what with Marc Morris, Angus Donald, James Aitcheson, James Wilde, et al. No chance of me having a go and writing a book though.

Charles Cumming - A Foreign CountryCharles Cumming – A Foreign Country
Paperback.
It was on special offer on Amazon. I know I thought his last one was poor, but you can’t argue with The Trinity Six – and £1.95 or whatever it was. The good news for now is that this one doesn’t seem to be in the Alec Milius series, so we might be ok.

Dan Fesperman - The Small Boat of Great SorrowsDan FespermanThe Small Boat of Great Sorrows
Hardback.
I’ve bought second-hand books at the Porthcawl R.N.L.I. charity shop before. This time, I took them a whole load, around 25 in all (mostly ‘Star Trek Voyager’ books) and found this little beauty. He wrote The Arms Maker of Berlin, which I thoroughly enjoyed a while back. First edition, hardback and £1.85, sweet.

Alan Furst - Mission to ParisAlan FurstMission to Paris
Paperback.
I’m finding you generally can’t go wrong with an Alan Furst or two. You too? Though I do need to get control over what I’ve got and read when I’m out in a bookshop. Not that living here in Denmark, that’s gonna happen too frequently, I guess.

Robert Goddard - Ways of the WorldRobert GoddardThe Ways of the World
Hardback.
I don’t know the author, but this is set precisely where I like ’em, between World War 1 & 2 (though a little closer to the first than the second), I’d had this one in my Amazon Wish List for a while, so the chance to get a signed, hardback, first edition at Toppings in Ely proved a little too much…

Douglas Jackson - Avenger of RomeDouglas JacksonAvenger of Rome
Paperback.
I’m mopping up the back catalogue (this is #3) before ordering the new one (out soon) in hardback. Not crazy about them changing the typeface from what they used for the first two. I could half-understand if they changed from 3 to 4, but not this soon and while the series is still on its first run. I’ll have to take DJ to task for that!

Ben Kane - Hannibal Fields of BloodBen KaneHannibal Fields of Blood
Hardback.
Amazon were doing it at a reduced price. I think it must be that Ben’s first editions are generally priced a little higher than the ‘competition’. Personally, I think the cover picture is a little contrived (you know what I’m on about?), I’d have linked it a bit more to the first one – but other people like it, so there you go.

untitledPhilip KerrPrague Fatale
Paperback.
I don’t know if I should read the rest in order. Maybe so. In which case, I’ll have to get the compilation of the first three Bernie Gunther books before starting on any other Philip Kerr’s. A ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’, if I remember rightly. And yes you’re right, the UK covers are much better than the US.

Robert Low - CrowboneRobert LowCrowbone
Hardback.
I found a signed, dated, first line(ed) hardback copy in excellent condition on Abe Books for a miserly £10.00. What’s not to like?
This is the 5th in the Oathsworn series. It’s close, but I think RL just shades it over Giles Kristian‘s Raven series for me.

Jack Ludlow - The Sword of RevengeJack LudlowThe Sword of Revenge
Paperback.
You really can’t argue with £1.00 in a WH Smith‘s sale. Wish we had them here. I had a feeling I’d read the first in this (‘Pillars of Rome’, ‘Republic’?) series (as it now seems to be) by him, and indeed upon my return to Denmark, I find I have!

Eric Van Lustbader - The Bourne DominionEric van LustbaderThe Bourne Dominion
Eric Van Lustbader - The Bourne ImperativeEric van LustbaderThe Bourne Imperative
Both paperback.
Love Eric von Lustbader’s continuation of Bourne. Better get these (and others) bought and read before they change the cover design. I’m reading them from the 4th onwards, there doesn’t seem to be a need to read them in order, they’re pretty much self-contained.

Stuart Neville - RatlinesStuart NevilleRatlines
Hardback.
This was yet another one from my Amazon Wish List (I really can’t read fast enough). I found it on my ‘purchasing trip’ (the one after the initial ‘reconnaissance’ trip) to Topping & Co. in Ely. Signed, first edition, hardback. The paperback cover really does look dreadful compared to this.

Harry Sidebottom - Warrior of Rome The Amber RoadHarry SidebottomWarrior of Rome. The Amber Road
As I’d got the last one in hardback and this was claiming ‘£4.00 off.’ I’d bought the previous one as hardback (yet to read it though), so thought I might as well go ‘hard’ from now on with HS. He’s doing a signing in Ely soon, am sorely tempted to get a signed one as well, as long as I can keep it from the wife’s prying eyes…

Henry Venmore Rowland The Last CaesarHenry Venmore-RowlandThe Last Caesar
Henry Venmore Rowland The Sword and the ThroneHenry Venmore-RowlandThe Sword and The Throne
Both hardback.
He seems to be a coming name in Roman circles. These are the first two in his series (?). It’s a crowded field just now, so he’s gonna have to be good to make a (bigger) name for himself.

51nOWkC794L._SL500_AA300_James WildeHereward End of Days
Hardback.
No brainer. Been so looking forward to getting some eyes slapped on this. There’s a distinct possibility of a signed version coming soon as well…

Top Five Books of the year – so far

According to my blog (you’re looking at it) and Goodreads, I seem have read 21 books so far this year.

I though that, as we’re more or less half way through the year now, I’d see about a list of the five books I’ve read and enjoyed the most. I couldn’t get it down to three.

I generally read Historical Fiction, of many different periods, spiced up with Spy stories, stuff about WWII and, well, anything else that takes my fancy. I’ll generally though, sidestep any book written about feelings or with ‘this is an important novel, I urge you to read it’, or thereabouts, on the front.

So here, purely in alphabetical order only, they are. They are books I’ve read in 2013, not necessarily published this year. Click on the picture to go to the Amazon page for that title.

If you agree – or differ – you’re very welcome to say so.

Dark City BlueDark City Blue : Luke Preston
Dark, as the title says. And brutal and brutally honest. A Police drama like few others, shot through (literally) with bullets, with humour, of the dark sort and even with hope. And the good news is, as Herger the Joyous says in The Thirteenth Warrior; “It’s alright, little brother…there are more!
Luke Preston on Twitter

Dead Spy Running Dead Spy Running : Jon Stock
Whenever I read in the future, some reviewer (like me maybe) saying ‘I couldn’t put it down, I’ll think of this book. I couldn’t put it down, literally. I could not take my eyes off it for a second. If I did, I was left staring into space thinking “that didn’t just happen, did it? He didn’t just do that did he?”
Jon Stock on Twitter

Hero of RomeHero of Rome : Douglas Jackson
This was something of a surprise, though I don’t really know why it should have been. A delightfully written, fully rounded and full-blooded take on the early Roman invasions and campaigns in England. Again, good news is that it’s just the start of a series featuring the main man Gaius Valerius Verrens.
Douglas Jackson on Twitter

The Coming of the Third ReichThe Coming of the Third Reich : Richard J. Evans
As, for some reason known only to certain higher powers, I am fascinated with the periods before, during and just after the  World War II, this was a remarkable find for me. Exhaustive and rewarding in it’s clarity, its detail and it’s thoroughness. This is the first of three and is surely the go-to book on the origins of the Nazi Party in Germany.
Richard J. Evans is obviously far to clever to be on Twitter.

The Road To RomeThe Road to Rome: Ben Kane
Quite possibly my most enjoyable read of the year so far. Really cannot fully express how much I enjoyed the final chapter in the Forgotten Legion Trilogy. Everything comes from the first two novels comes together in Caesar’s Rome, in a finale full of battles, beatings and backstabbing. I’m also putting my money on it only being a trilogy, so far…
Ben Kane on Twitter

The other books I have read this year are:

A Loyal Spy: Somon Conway
Blood Work: Michael Connelly
Conflict of Empires: Sam Barone
Dirty Little Secret: Jon Stock
Free Agent: Jeremy Duns
If The Dead Rise Not: Philip Kerr
Shieldwall: Justin Hill
The Caspian Gates: Harry Sidebottom
The Dying Light: Henry Porter
The Hunt for Red October: Tom Clancy
The Istanbul Variations: Olen Steinhauer
The Red Coffin: Sam Eastland
The Tenth Chamber: Glenn Cooper
The Thieves of Heaven: Richard Doetsch
XPD: Len Deighton
Zoo Station: David Downing