Saturday, 5 July 2014

June reading ... King, Ellory, Chaouki, Miller, Finder

I'm slipping up - only read 5 books this month. My excuse? The World Cup. Great, innit.

Anywho, here's what I read last month ...

Mr Mercedes – Stephen King

I just love me some Stephen King and yet again the man kept me enthralled while I was inside the pages of his mind. Here, he switches genre and we have a crime novel with a hugely engaging cast of (among others) a retired cop and his misfit friends.

Societal misfits are a strong part of the book and by having such character types at either side of the good versus evil divide, King provides a fascinating counterpoint.

And extra kudos to a man who has had such an extraordinarily successful and long career that he can reference his own work within the pages of a new novel. Yup. Loved it.

Carnival of Shadows by R J Ellory

The blurb goes  … It’s Kansas, 1959. A travelling carnival appears overnight in the small town of Seneca Falls, intriguing the townsfolk with acts of inexplicable magic and illusion. But when a man's body is discovered beneath the carousel, with no clue as to his identity, FBI Special Agent Michael Travis is sent to investigate.

And the scene is set for a book that tickles the intellect as well as your emotions. Again, a fascinating mix of oddball characters with a strong sense of time and place that Ellory combines with themes of trust, belief and the common man versus governmental forces to wonderful effect. 

The Star of Algiers by Aziz Chouaki

Moussa Massy dreams of being a star. A Kabyle singer in 1990s Algiers, Massy engages his audiences with a fusion of Arab and African melodies with American pop music. At 36, he desperately wants to marry his long-term fiancée and escape from the tiny apartment he shares with thirteen other members of his family.

He's signed by one of the hottest nightclubs in town and his dreams appear to be coming true. But this is short-lived: when the fundamentalist Islamic group FIS is elected to power, the city is enflamed with corruption and violence. As he fights to save his dreams in a society steeped in fanaticism, Massy’s passion for music turns to rage.

In animated, clipped prose, The Star of Algiers portrays the difficult truths of a country in persistent turmoil and vividly shows the aptitude for despair and loathing of those who have nothing left to lose. 

Powerful and thought-provoking, particularly when given that this book was published 12 years ago, and when daily news bulletins remind us that little has changed – and we see the rise and rise of fundamentalism.

Suspicion – Joseph Finder

Danny's teenage daughter Abby is the light of his life. Her mother died last year, and he is desperate to keep everything as normal as possible. But the situation is bad. Danny can't afford the private school Abby adores, and he can't bear to tell his daughter he has failed her.

By a stroke of luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter's best friend and one of the richest men in Boston. But when Danny accepts a loan from him, the authorities turn up at his door. Now he has a choice. Face prison, or become part of a sting operation to bring down his new best friend – and one of the most dangerous men in the country.

A rollercoaster (excuse the cliché) wrapped up in the form of a book – this is a great ride – an ordinary guy in an impossible situation which has you constantly asking – what would I do? Perfect holiday reading

The Falcon Throne – Karen Miller (release date 9 September ’14)

I do love me some epic fantasy and as a long-time fan of Karen Miller I was keen to see what she would be up to next and boy has she come up with another cracker.

Want warring families, loveable, but flawed heroes and villains you will love to hate? Enjoy a plot with more twists and turns than a Tour De France stage? (Sorry. It’s on the TV as I write this.) Form an orderly queue here.
My only quibble is that there was some skimming, but this was a proof and hopefully will be tightened up before publication. Nonetheless, that didn’t distract from what was  essentially great fun and a cracking read.

That's what I read this month - what have you been reading? 

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