book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Linwood Barclay – Too close to Home

If you like a crime read which is easy to read with a touch of black humour then Linwood Barclay is as good as any (similar to Harlan Coben).  I HAVE READ THIS AUTHOR BEFORE (No Time for Goodbye & A Tap on the Window) and thought they were good thrillers.
As I was going away so I wanted a book that I could read up until I went (meaning not too lengthy and easy to read).  I don’t like taking library books away with me, prefer to buy in charity shops & leave them for others to read afterwards.
This book ticked all the boxes.  It was a crime thriller, not with the same intensity as Simon Kernick, but a good read with some predictable moments. 
Set in the American Town of Promise Falls Jim cutter is a gardener (what else with a name like that!).  He used to be the chauffer for the local Mayor until he punched the mayor on the nose.  He and his son Derek now run a landscaping/gardening business.  They are good friends with their neighbours the Langleys until that is one night they are killed in their home.  What Jim doesn’t know is that his son was hiding in their basement at the time of the murders.  There was no sign of a burglary, it seemed pre-meditated.
Derek is convicted of the murders until another murder takes place whilst Derek is in custody and the weapon is the same as that used to

kill the Langleys.  Why were the Langleys targeted  Were the Langleys the real target or did they get the wrong house?  ?  Is it all linked to some other older murders?  You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Alex Scarrow - The Candle Man

Review written by Brian Lowen and read live on the bookshow 11th June 2015
An excellent thriller set in Victorian times and around three major names – Prince Albert, Jack the Ripper and Titanic.

The prologue is on Titanic in 1912 as it is sinking after hitting the iceberg and a stranger is telling a young lady an extraordinary story.

We then go back to 1888 to start the story.  Prince Albert has been indiscreet and had an affair with a young street girl which has produced a baby.  The local Masonic Lodge has been asked by Prince Albert to sort things out to stop a scandal which could cause a revolution in the country.  They hire in a hit man from America to eliminate all the persons who could cause trouble and so the murders of young prostitutes start, provoking the legend of Jack the Ripper.

The descriptions of life in the slums of Victorian London are vivid with few pulled punches and we learn of the inner struggle of the hitman with his normal self and his alter ego with its killer instinct caused by seeing his family butchered by Indians in the far west of America.

An excellent story with several threads merging together and with strong characters.  This is a real page turning thriller.

Damien Lewis - Churchill’s Secret Warriors

Review written by Brian Lowen and read live on the bookshow 11th June 2015

This is the true story of a secret band of raiders that Churchill established to go behind enemy lines to seek out the enemy to harass, capture and demoralise as many of them as possible.

It was the forerunner of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Special Boat Squadron (SBS)
And the SAS. There are two statues in the SAS headquarters at Hereford – one of David Stirling who founded the force, and the other is of Anders Lassen, a Dane who escaped from his occupied country and led all the exploits detailed in this book. It was thought that Ian Fleming based his character of James Bond partly on Anders Lassen.

The book details many of their exploits in the Channel Isles and the Mediterranean Sea. This swarthy, unkempt and bearded band of warriors fought a tenacious war through the Greek islands, harassing the German and Italian forces.

Anders Lassen befriended many of the locals wherever he was fighting to help his small band, but was utterly distraught when reprisals were taken by the Germans against the local residents following one of his operations, but they never let him down by giving information to the enemy.

The story starts with the operation of a Q ship, The Maid Honour, a converted trawler, heavily armed under false superstructure

working in the Channel Islands, then moves to the Greek Islands, finishing with his capturing the second city of Greece, Salonika, bluffing the retreating Germans that he was the advance party of a huge British force and then working with them to finally clear Italy of all German forces.

 It was during this time that he was fatally wounded, having previously survived many hair-raising near misses during all the previous operations where he seemed to lead a charmed life.

A great book if you like a rollicking good war story.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Nigel Farndale – The Road Between Us

Review written by showhost June 2015.

There are two parallel stories and two generations throughout the book.
The story begins in London, 1939, just before outbreak of the war.  Charles, an RAF pilot and artist, is with his lover Anselm, a German artist working in London, in a hotel room in Piccadilly. A maid enters and finds them in the nude in a compromised position.  She alerts the authorities and they are both arrested.  Charles is stripped of his commission for 'conduct unbecoming', and Anselm is sent home to Germany where he is considered a degenerate by the SS so is convicted of 'degenerate behaviour' and sentenced to re-education in a concentration camp.  Charles vows to find him.

The story then moves to 2012.  Edward has been a hostage in Afghanistan for 11 years.  He has been kept in a cave.  When the ransom is finally paid and he returns home it is to a deceased wife and his only child hannah, now grown up but looks a replica of her mother.  Edward keeps calling his daughter Freya, his wifes name.  Edward has trouble adjusting to his new life, with eyesight, memory and hearing impaired.

The story moves back and forwards from Charles and Anselm, to Edward and Hannah.  Charles gets his chance to find Anselm when he is commissioned to be a war artist at the D-Day landings.
Edward begins to puzzle over why was his ransom finally paid and by whom?  And tries to control the slowly wakening emotions for his daughter.

It was a well written book and once I got back into the story I became engrossed in it but you need a good length of reading time.  I found dipping in and out over short bursts a little distracting.  I skipped over some of the more descriptive prose (as the story progressed) when it was about present day.  What stopped me from saying it was a brilliant book I couldn’t quite decide. But having read other reviews I think it was the lack of character build for the female characters and sometimes confusing dialogue or meaning of the dialogue from Hannah.  I much preferred the story around Charles and Anselm not that the subject matter was enjoyable, far from it, it was disturbing and real.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Lynda Renham - The Dogs Bollocks

review written by Ro Bennett and read live on bookshow 4th June 2015
The Dog’s Bollocks by Lynda Renham - the book was previously named ‘The Valentine Present and other Diabolical Liberties’
On arriving home after a friend’s posh wedding, Harriet finds her life irrevocably changed as she discovers her flat ransacked and her boyfriend - smarmy loser, Julian is missing. 

Having given up on her dream to nurse in underprivileged areas abroad in order to support Julian in his new venture as a restauranteur, Harriet had to work in a launderette whilst trying to keep up with her studies to make ends meet.

At her friend’s wedding Harriet meets the very rich and pompous Hamilton Lancaster who is desperate to inherit his grandmothers shares but has to show himself to be responsible and settling down in a stable relationship in order to do so. However he is running out of time as his grandmother only has six months to live.... The chance meeting with Harriet at their mutual friend’s wedding leads to her receiving a very interesting proposition and while she feels uncomfortable with it, it could solve her increasingly mounting financial problems.

So, accepting this offer which she can no longer afford to refuse, Harriet, against her better judgement becomes Hamilton’s fiancée with dire consequences. And what she had not bargained on was meeting Doctor Brice Edmunds. 

This was an hilarious, laugh out loud feel good read which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Harriet’s character is brilliant and the other characters are well-drawn. An entertaining, well written story with many intricacies, a witty and relaxed style and a page turner - a real tonic! I will certainly read more of her books when I need cheering up.

Lynda Renham is famous for her romantic comedy novels. She has been called A Comedian in a Book, Chicklit Royalty and A Comic Genius. Her writing style has been likened to Sophie Kinsella.  Lynda is a prolific writer, blogger and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

Lynda lives in Oxfordshire with her second husband and cat.

Dr David Dosa - Making the Rounds with Oscar

review written by Ro Bennett and read live on bookshow 4th June 2015

Oscar the cat was born in 2005. He was adopted as a kitten from an animal shelter and grew up in the third-floor end-stage dementia unit at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. 

When the care home was originally being built there was a stray cat on the site who refused to move. The staff eventually adopted him as a therapy pet and called him Henry after the benefactor Henry J.Steere who had initiated the building of the facility. When Henry died, Oscar was one of six cats adopted as part of the home’s pet friendly policy.

The 41-bed unit treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease  and other illnesses, most of whom are in the end stage of life and are generally unaware of their surroundings.

Oscar came to public attention in July 2007 when he was featured in an article by David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to Dr Dosa, Oscar appears able to predict the impending death of terminally ill patients. After about six months, the staff noticed that Oscar, just like the doctors and nurses, would make his own rounds. But he never spent much time with the residents —until they are in their last hours. Then, as if this were his job, Oscar curls up on the bed, and begins his vigil.

Dr. Dosa was aware that cats and a few other animals lived on the premises, and had seen many of them, including Oscar. However, he did not officially meet Oscar until Mary Miranda introduced them one day. Mary Miranda is the day shift nurse in the third floor Safe Haven Advanced Care unit, She brought Dr. Dosa to the bedside of Mrs. Davis, a woman about 80 who had been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer about three months earlier.  Although Oscar was sleeping quietly on the bed next to Mrs. Davis, he saw nothing unusual.

Even after Mary told him that Oscar had accompanied a few other patients lately who had died in his presence, Dr. Dosa was skeptical and even more so after Oscar scratched him for trying to pick him up. When Mary called him later that afternoon to tell him Mrs. Davis had died with Oscar beside her shortly after he had left, it made him wonder. Sometime later, Mary called again to tell him that Ellen Sanders, another patient had died and Oscar was there, even though the ward personnel had no reason to expect her imminent passing. 
One of the first cases involved a patient who had a blood clot in her leg that was ice cold at the time. Oscar wrapped his body around her leg and stayed until the woman died.  In another instance, the doctor had made a diagnosis of impending death based on the patient's condition, while Oscar simply walked away, causing the doctor to believe that Oscar's streak (12 at the time) had ended. However, it would be discovered later that the doctor's prognosis was 10 hours too early: Oscar later visited the patient, who died two hours after.

As of January 2010, Oscar had accurately predicted approximately 50 patients' deaths. Oscar's accuracy led the staff to institute a new and unusual protocol: once he is discovered sleeping beside a patient, staff will call family members to notify them of the patient's (expected) impending death.

Most of the time the patient's family has no problem with Oscar being present at the time of death. On those occasions when he is removed from the room at the family's request, he is known to pace back and forth in front of the door and meow in protest. When present, Oscar will stay by the patient until they die, then after death will quietly leave the room.

In consulting with families when Oscar has been present, it has been a universal theme that he has been a source of companionship to the patients and has proved a great comfort to the family at this difficult time. 

The book takes us through the thought processes of the doctor and his initial cynicism about Oscar's importance and the feelings of relatives of the deceased about Oscar's visits.

In 2010 it was announced that the story was going to be made into a film but I can’t find any more about that. There is a 5 minute clip from Fox News,  The Rhode Show on You Tube. 

Dr David Dosa is a geriatrician in Rhode Island and an assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr Dosa has published in scientific peer-reviewed literature in the areas of nursing home quality improvement, delirium and end of life care. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Val Wood - The Harbour Girl

review written by Maggie Perkovic and reviewed live on the bookshow on 28th May 2015

This is another page turner by Val Wood. Historically factual she tells
of Jeannie's life in Scarborough 1880 as her mother who is a Widow
works as one of the womwn mending nets for the fishermen who ply
the dangerous waters and the difficult problems that occur when the waters are
so dangerous that many boats are lost, and to make a living is well nigh impossible.
As Jeannie grows up she realises hat Ethan a young fisherman who works hard
and suffers a tragedy when very young, is the man for her, but encountering a
handsome and silver tongued stranger from Hull she falls for his charms and
has to face reality that she has made a big mistake when he shows himself
in his true colours. Determinedf to mke her marriage a success she sets to
and makes a life despite all the problems that ensue.
Well written and well researched. Recommended.
Maggie Perkovic.