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

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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ann Cleeves - Harbour Street

review written by Sue Majors and read out live on the bookshow 9th April 2015
In Newcastle, Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter are on the busy Metro when the train is stopped due to heavy snow. All the passengers are told to disembark, but one cannot.....a seventy year old lady remains in the carriage , stabbed to death.
Searching for a lead his boss, DI Vera Stanhope heads to the dead woman's home, a quiet seaside town in Northumberland.
This is a well-thought out and easy to follow police investigation....the sixth in the Vera Stanhope series....and it leads the reader along different layers and clues, with the odd red herring thrown in., to a satisfactory conclusion.  Ann Cleeves draws her characters well, particularly that of Vera....they come to life between the lines.
This is a good read. The whole series brings  beautiful Northumberland to life and with a murder thrown it it ticks the box for me.

Vera Brittain - Testament of Youth

review written by Sue Majors and read out live on the bookshow 9th April 2015

In 1914 Vera Brittain was twenty one , the daughter of a privileged home and an undergraduate at Somerville College Oxford. When war broke out she suspended her studies and enrolled as a volunteer nurse working with casualties in England, France and Malta.
The next four years were to cause her to witness the horrors of war  as she learned quickly to nurse men who were badly wounded , and to experience significant prejudice from the professional nurses back home. She also lost her brother and fiance who were fighting in France.

This is a powerful memoir and it is in the most part enthralling. It is beautifully written...her vocabulary is extensive...but I found the latter part of the book where she begins to develop her interest in politics after the war to be long-winded and hence not as fascinating . She obviously used her extensive diaries and letters to recount her story , and for me it tells honestly of a courageous young woman who dealt with heartache and strife with eternal optimism.

It is a worthwhile read, and one that I recommend to anyone who likes autobiographies and anyone who is interested in  WW1.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Ian Hamilton - Deadly Touch of the Tigress

What drew me to this book was the blurb on the back which said " For anyone missing Lisbeth Salandeer, meet the very brilliant Ava Lee".  As I do miss LS I thought I'd give it a go.
Ava Lee is a forensic accountant, living in Canada.  Her job entails recovering stolen money but trying to use a more diplomatic solution that brute force.  She works for 'Uncle' who lives in HongKong and is not her real uncle but someone who the desperate and wealthy turn to to recover their money.
Ava's assignment in this book is to chase $5million for a family friend of Uncle.  Thistrail leads her to HongKong, Bangkok,Guyana and the BVI.  Guyana is a place where not many tourist dare to tread and the person she is after seems to run most of this island or at least have those that do in his pay packet.

It was a good story and Ava Lee is an interesting, intelligent, character.  Definitely not the next LS though nor the book anywhere near the standard of Steig Larsson.  It made a change from some private detectives (although having just read cuckoos Calling I much prefer Cormoran Strike) and while I don't mind setting the scene there was maybee too much use of brand names (Brooks Brothers shirt, Channel purse, Cartier watch, Moleskin, notebook).  But it kept me reading until the end.

David Baldacci - The Collectors

Book review written by Brian Lowen and read live on the bookshow 2nd April 2015 

A typical thriller from DB, this time set in the world of libraries and rare books.
 The shy division head of the Library of Congress in Washington DC is making his early morning patrol of the vaults in the Library when he is suddenly mysteriously killed. No motive can be found and the cause of death cannot be ascertained.

Caleb Shaw is head of the rare books section of the library and he is stunned at the unexpected death. He is a member of the Camel Club, a hotchpotch group of four characters, each with individual skills who meet regularly to discuss current problems.
They decide to try and find out why and how he was killed

Meanwhile a top class con artiste is intent on planning a con on the owner of a casino in Atlantic City because he had her Mother killed. She also has a group of confederates involved in her complicated plot.

The two groups eventually come together and are involved in the tracking down of a notorious spy ring in the seat of power in Congress.

The plot is extremely complicated and I lost my way several times as there are so many characters in the story but one can eventually pull it all together.

DB is a good writer of this type of thriller, and it is a good story, even though rather tongue in cheek. I have read some of his other books and this is as good as the rest.


Alex Scarrow - A Thousand Suns

Book review written by Brian Lowen and read live on the bookshow 2nd April 2015
Not your normal type of war story this, but one with a twist that leaves you wondering whether it did actually happen.

The story starts in modern times when a trawler tangles its net on a sea bed obstruction off the coast of New England, that turns out to be an old B17 bomber from the second world war. The Flying Fortress is well preserved laying on the sea bed but it contains a horrifying secret that freelance photographer, Chris Roland discovers when he dives on the wreck in search of a good story from which he hopes to make a lot of money.

But his discovery causes ripples in high places and he finds himself in danger of his life.

We then switch back to the war years to discover how this bomber found its way to the shores of America. We learn that this mission, in the dying days of the war, was personally authorised by Hitler in a last gasp bid to persuade America to surrender to Germany and then join with them to destroy the Russians and the threat of Communism.

There are some good scenes in the White House as President Truman and his cabinet struggle with the dilemma of whether to believe the threat from Hitler. 

A great story, very well told with good, believable characters. It contains all the characteristics of a good war story with plenty of action and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

MC Beaton - Death of a Gossip (audio)

Review written and read by Ro Bennett live on bookshow 26th March 2015
I have been listening to audio books via the library service. There were two apps suggested by the library so I downloaded two - Borrowbox and One Click Digital so that I can listen on my Macbook laptop but also on iPad or iPhone.

I downloaded both because they have different selections of books which gives the reader more choice. Even so, there isn’t a huge selection. I have found the One Click very easy to use, easy to return and renew and it has a larger choice than Borrowbox. The only problem I have found with Borrowbox is that most of the books I am interested in are on a waiting list.  Also you can’t return them when you have finished listening, you have to wait until the actual return date. You can renew them. 

When society widow and gossip columnist Lady Jane Winters joins the local fishing class she wastes no time in ruffling feathers - or should that be fins? - of those around her. Among the victims of her sharp tongue is Lochdubh constable Hamish Macbeth, yet not even Hamish thinks someone would seriously want to silence Lady Jane's shrill voice permanently - until her strangled body is fished out of the river. Now with the help of the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, Hamish must steer a course through the choppy waters of the tattler's life to find a murderer. But with a school of suspects who aren't willing to talk, and the dead woman telling no tales, Hamish may well be in over his head for he knows that secrets are dangerous, knowledge is power, and killers when cornered usually do strike again.

Death of a Gossip is the first in the series featuring Hamish Macbeth - not surprisingly Scottish and set in the fictional highland village of Lochdubh in Scotland. This book was very short and was a bit like eating a meringue - sweet enough but not much substance. It was very gentle and easy but rather shallow and insipid. Same old, same old, arrogant, cynical, sneering detective from Glasgow versus laid back, Dixon of Dock Green type village copper who actually solves the crime. Very à la  Agatha Christie - there is a mix of people thrown together, each of whom has a motive for murder. Usual cliché of silly irritating girl who keeps mooning over richer older man and imagines marrying him after their first night together. He of course is just using her and as is expected, dumps her in favour of someone who can better further his nefarious ambitions.  Then of course there’s a Colonel, bristling and military… So it’s pretty dated. 

Having said that I enjoyed it  but it didn’t grip me and I wouldn’t bother with any more of the series.  I’m glad I didn’t buy it although it was pleasant to listen to as I pottered around the house and garden. But that just about describes it - an agreeable background distraction as you go about your chores.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Greg Hurwitz - You're next

review by showhost March 2015
This is the first time I have read this author but I was looking for a thriller and the blurb seemed to tick that box.
It had good reviews from Tess gerritsen, Harlan coben, Lee child and for once I agree.
Mike is an overprotective, loving family guy, who is just about to sign a very lucrative deal for a development of green houses just outside of los Angeles.
Mike was abandoned by his father at aged four.  He was dumped in the middle of nowhere and never saw his parents again. He was raised by a foster home.  He didn't know his surname or the name of his street so he could never be traced, which is why he kept a baby monitor on for his eight year old daughter Katherine.
But when Mike is approached at the development celebration by a man who claims to know him and about his parents, he finds himself and his own family in mortal danger. He doesn't know why they want to kill him and his wife and daughter but these people are trained killers and their bosses have access to police departments.
It is a gripping read and the reason for the manhunt was not what I expected. The characters were believable and it would make a good action film.