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robtwinem

runner

I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Currently reading

This is going to hurt
Adam Kay
Progress: 50/256 pages
Normal People
Sally Rooney
Progress: 99 %
Professional Reader 50 Book Reviews 80% Reviews Published

One of Ireland's finest

A ladder to the sky - John Boyne

A colourful, lusty comical look into the life of one Maurice Swift, who is both flamboyant and arrogant, in his attempt to become a world famous novelist. The only problem is that Swift had zero talent as an author and resorts to plagiarism to achieve his aims. As a narcissist he has no consideration or indeed cares about the needs and welfare of others and is quite happy to to sacrifice his closest friends to achieve his misguided aims and ambitions. Lovely lyrical writing by one of Ireland's finest authors and I enjoyed immensely. 

Nice idea but......

The Chain - Adrian McKinty

Nice idea but lost my attention very quickly. A phone call is received and the caller instructs you to kidnap a victim. If you do not follow his instructions then your child, who is being held captive, will be executed. The chain is a very mediocre read with a central theme that is much too repetitive and shallow to be taken seriously as a crime novel.

A truly great author

Pet Sematary - Stephen King

Having recently viewed the new 2019 movie Pet Sematary I was eager to have a reread of the Stephen King classic. Strange to say that the author is probably viewed more of a horror writer, but I beg to disagree. His characters are very  troubled and the people that he writes about are human just like you and me, and the issues debated are concerns that we all hold. In Pet Sematary Dr Louis Creed has moved his family from the heavily polluted streets of Chicago to rural Maine.When a tragedy strikes the Creed family, Louis must take decisions and actions that lead the reader to question.... What is life all about? If we had the opportunity and the know how would we resurrect those who died prematurely? In short if you could be God would you try to undo the past? A brilliant novel of loss and family values by a true master of the written word

A shaggy dog story

Lost Dog - Kate Spicer

Kate wants to change her daily routine of casual drink and drug use whilst writing the odd article for numerous lifestyle magazines. She lives with her partner Charlie in a fashionable part of London (but not so fashionable flat) and their relationship could be best described as tolerable. Into her life comes Wolfy a cross lurcher with shaggy dog features loveable and needy, the perfect companion for Kate to turn all her affections "what an unequalled joy it was to love and be loved with no conditions, even by a dumb animal" One day whilst leaving Wolfy in the watchful hands of her brother, Wolfy it would appear, decides he has no further need for his affectionate yet annoying(my opinion) owner and does a runner. The remainder of this "shaggy dog story involves Kate's 9 day search for her loveable pooch and the will she or wont she find him dilemma that ensues. There are some good characters introduced along the way most notable being the midnight runner (likes to train at night when the streets are empty) and Anna Twinney (the founder of reach out to horses...and it would also appear dogs) who for a price will make some "out of this world" contact with the missing pooch the hope being that Wolfy can be found. The excitement builds, the emotions are running high as the reader and Kate stumble from false sighting to false sighting...will she ever find him? You will need to read the story to find out. A pleasant enjoyable read with some tidy life observations...."Love isn't just neurotransmitters, is it? It's not just dependency. It is our route to something beautiful, mysterious and transcendent. Without it, life is a hollow set of functions and, frankly, pointless"....Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

A brilliant debut

The Whisper Man - Alex North

First book by Alex North and what a brilliant psychological thriller it has proved to be. The body of a child Neil Spencer is discovered his death bearing an uncanny resemblance to the murder of five children some years ago...but that is impossible as the killer Frank Carter is imprisoned. DI Pete Willis is the policeman in charge but he is haunted by his past failures and his daily struggle with alcoholism...."So drink then. You're worthless . Just do it. The urge was stronger than ever, but he could survive this. After all ,he had resisted the voice in the past"... There is not only a great story line but add to this a touch of the supernatural and characters that jump off the page then we have all the ingredients for a super exciting thriller. Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly recommended.

A celebration of the great British spirit

Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain - George Mahood

Two young men one goal travel from Lands end to john o groats relying on the kindness of others and as an added incentive start the challenge in nothing but your union jack boxer shorts! The ground rules were simple all food, all transport all clothes must be "blagged" no money must be taken or spent..this was self sufficiency in the extreme....could it be done or was the whole idea just plain bonkers...Free Country is a super little book and the reader is privileged to travel with the boys and be part of the expedition. To me the story is not only about the endurance and spirit of two men but a celebration of the generosity of the British people. If you add to this some wonderful characters that they met along the way this is a story that will leave you with  a smile on your face. Highly Recommended 

A cracking little thriller

November Road - Lou Berney

It is not often that I read a book by a new author and think...wow! that was a thrilling ride.November Road by Lou Berney simply crackles along with strong characters, clear precise prose,and a really enjoyable story. Frank Guidry "former fixer extraordinaire for the Marcello organization is a hunted man. His employers are uncomfortable that he knows a little too much about the perpetrators behind the assassination of JF Kennedy in Dallas and need to terminate his employment on a permanent basis. As a separate story we learn that a beautiful young housewife Charlotte has escaped the clutches of her controlling drunken husband Dooley and is on route to the west coast with her two daughters Rosemary and Joan. As luck (or possibly not) would have it she crosses path with Guidry and this newly combined family attempt to stay ahead of those who would do them harm.

 

As an avid reader and reviewer I often try to anticipate the direction a story is heading and how the adventure will conclude. I was pleasantly surprised with the ending of November Road as the author presents an unexpected conclusion to a cracking little crime thriller. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy of November Road in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly recommended.

Well written but wordy

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure a young blind girl lives with her father in the suburbs of Paris. Her father has created a miniature model of the city and by memorizing the detail she is able to navigate in real time. Meanwhile Werner a skilled radio operator and member of the Hitler youth spends his day identifying and  neutralizing Resistance threats when heard over the airways. So we have a story told in alternate voices through the eyes of two young people. It is an obvious assumption to make that the lives of Werner and Marie will interact at some time in the near future. Threaded throughout the action is the mystery of a precious stone known as the "Sea of Flames"...that is legend has it that bad luck will befall the lives of those who own it.

There is little doubt that "The light we cannot see" is a beautifully written book taking place at a harrowing, disturbing and changing period in world history. However the descriptive wordy narrative begins to irritate after a relatively short time and although the novel may appeal to many I found it rather ponderous.

Cold atmospheric scandi noir

The Island (Hidden Iceland #2) - Ragnar Jónasson

The Island" falls into a category of books loosely referred to as Scandinavian noir. Set in Iceland the volcanic landscape and frozen polar conditions adds an eerie silent and unpredictable element to the events as they unfold...."What the scenery lacked in drama it made up for in its all encompassing tranquility, its sense of space and emptiness. The only accents of colour in the treeless landscape were provided by patches of bilberry and crowberry plants and the calm blue waters of the fjord below....."

 

Some 10 years ago a young girl was murdered in Ellidaey, a small island located south of Iceland. A culprit is identified, apprehended and the case is seemingly closed. Moving forward to the present and four young friends are holidaying on the same desolate location. Before the vacation concludes one of the four lies dead at the bottom of a steep cliff and murder is suspected. Is there a connection between the two brutal acts? Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is assigned the case. Hindered by the interference of a previous superior Lydur and struggling with her own personal tragedies she must use all her skills to navigate both the past and the present incidents in an attempt to identify the killer/s The character of Hulda Hermannsdóttir is a tough and resilient antihero. Living alone in this isolated barren part of the world she demands the structure and discipline that comes with her job as a police inspector. She presents a picture of a loner, there to be pitied by a sympathetic reader and for the most part this is successful

 

Underneath the main crime investigation a secondary mystery unfolds. Hulda is trying to trace the whereabouts of her real father. She knows he was an American GI and on impulse travels to the US only to be faced with disappointment. Ragnar Jonasson uses this opportunity to tease the reader and in the closing pages an unexpected detail is revealed adding a delightful ending that is sure to be explored in future books. The stark and bare landscape is used to great affect by the author to add tension and unpredictability to his writing. Hulda Hermannsdóttir is a sad highly intelligent police officer performing her daily workload to the best of her undoubted ability. I felt however that the story itself was somewhat unoriginal (four friends camping, one is killed, who is the murderer amongst them) yet having said that The Island was a fine example of Scandi noir. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy of The Island in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Reading progress update: I've read 500 out of 544 pages.

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

This is tough going however nearly finished :)

Good old fashioned horror

Childgrave - Ken Greenhall

Jonathan Brewster , a photographer, lives with his 4 year old daughter Joanne in New York. At a musical event in the city he meets and becomes besotted with Sara Coleridge, a harpist. Ghostly spectral images  begin to appear in a number of his photographs and added to this Joanne's new invisible friends and her obsession with a place called childgray. When Jonathan researches the word childgray he realizes what is daughter was meaning to say was Childgrave which reveals itself as a small community/village north of New York. He becomes convinced that he must visit Childgrave especially when he is informed that Sara Coleridge also resides there. An invitation is sent from the good citizens and Jonathan heads north for a new life..

 

This is a good old fashioned horror story that culminates in the unveiling of a community that time has forgotten. A community with its own laws and rituals, a community that an outsider should fear. But Jonathan is a man deeply in love unaware of the  dangers that he and his precious daughter will soon be subjected to. A beautiful story bristling with the supernatural containing some very intriguing characters none more memorable than Delbert Rudd Childgraves chief of police. Many thanks to the good people of Valancourt books( an independent small press specializing in the rediscovery of rare and out of print books including horror and gothic fiction), for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly recommended.

A sound read

The Outsider - Stephen King

Yet another solid read from master storyteller Stephen King. The body of a young boy Frank Peterson is discovered badly mutilated and all evidence points to local football coach Terry Maitland. What starts off as a simple crime story turns into something much more sinister when an evil presence is uncovered and the skills of Detective Ralph Anderson are soundly tested. There are many familiar King themes here; the supernatural, living in small town America, and the ability of friends to come together and face danger with a united and determined front. This will probably not be remembered by me as my favourite Stephen King book (that is simply because he has set himself very high standards with such noteworthy reads as The Green Mile, The Shining, 11.22.63...to name three) but it is still very enjoyable and a treat for all his worldwide readers.

Sorry mate...........

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

Two years ago I read the debut novel The Dry by Jane Harper and I thought it was fresh, intelligent with the great rugged Australian outback forming a beautiful backdrop. Force of Nature was the second book featuring Federal Police agent Aaron Falk and although not quite as outstanding as The Dry it was still an excellent read. So with some excitement the good people of Little Brown via netgalley sent me a gratis copy of The Lost Man in exchange for an honest review and I began to read..........Do you remember in the early 80's the adventure of the Ewing family in the long running series Dallas which in reality was an American soap series analyzing the never ending feuds of a wealthy oil dynasty. The Lost Man reminds me so much of this series a family torn apart by its past having to cope with sudden unexpected death. The body of Cameron is discovered one morning by his brothers Nathan and Bud under the relenting sun and brutal Australian outback...unfortunately that's about as good as this story gets. We spend the best part of nearly 400 pages listening to tedious family squabbles as old hatreds and secrets come to the surface. This was a monotonous piece of storytelling with little or no excitement that rambled forever until the final pages when Cameron's murderer is revealed. A story that was monotonous in the extreme with its constant use of the word "mate" (yes I know it is Australia  but there is such a thing as overkill) a story that I found contained little merit and a story that I most certainly would not recommend. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 576 pages.

The Outsider - Stephen King

It's only when I return to King that I realize how wonderful he is...he's as fresh in his writing from Carrie to the present. An amazing author who makes his stories so exciting and his characters so real..

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

What a let down this book is proving to be...I loved The Dry but The Lost Man reads like a soap opera :(

Short, sharp, brilliant!

The Collini Case - Ferdinand von Schirach

Fabrizio Collini enters a hotel room in downtown Munich and commits a foul act namely the brutal murder of well known and respected industrialist Hans Meyer. Why should an elderly man with no previous record of assault select at random a victim and deal with in the most horrendous way. Young, newly qualified, attorney Caspar Leinen is assigned the case and he must attempt the impossible defend a man who seemingly has no defence as he happily admits to implementing the murder. This is a short read instantly grabbing the reader's attention with crisp, precise prose and a most unexpected yet perfectly executed conclusion. To say much more would spoil the delights that wait the intuitive reader as we try to unravel the legislation pertaining to a seemingly random crime. Highly recommended