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

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

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. 

Synopsis:
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.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Polly Williams - Husband Missing

review written by Babs Simpson & read live on the bookshow 12th March 2015.
Ginas husband, Rex, is a free spirit.  He has a well paid job in London but still loves doing outdoors things - climbing, walking, windsurfing - and although they haven't been married long Gina is happy for him to go off for occasional weekends.  They met, fell in love and married within 6 months and are ecstatically happy with each other.
So, Rex leaves for a short break to go windsurfing in the south of #Spain with his brother Jake and some friends.  Then Rex disappears completely.  He's an expert windsurfer, the weather was good and the sea conditions well within his capabilities.
Gina flies out to Tarifa but it seems hopeless.  There is no sign of him, no clues at all.  But she knows he is alive and in her mind talks to him constantly.  She falls ill with a tummy bug and flies back to London where she discovers she is pregnant.
Everyone, her parents, sister, brother in law and friends - are very supportive and Gina eventually gives birth to a beautiful daughter.  There is still no news of Rex and Gina gradually sinks into mental turmoil.
This is a very good story with sympathetic characters.  There are far more twists and turns to the plot than I have outlined and I really enjoyed it. FAR better than Gone Girl

Robert Galbraith - The Silkworm

review written by Babs Simpson & read live on the bookshow 12th March 2015.
In case you didn't know, Robert Galbraith is actually J K Rowling who wanted to write something completely different after the end of Harry Potter.  Her first attempt 'The Casual Vacancy' received mixed reviews (tv version was ghastly) so she turned to crime fiction under this pseudonym, with the Cuckoos Calling.  This is her second book to feature the PI Cormoran Strike and it is excellent.
It is set in London in the world of publishing and authors and starts when Strike, a former soldier who lost a leg in Afghanistan, is hire by Leonora, wife of novelist Owen Quine, to find him.  He has been missing for a few days and Leonora needs him home.  They have a grown up daughter with special needs requiring a lot of time and attention.
Cormoran soon discovers that Owen Quine had just completed a new novel - an allegory full of thinly disguised characters from the world of publishing that, if released to the public domain, would be a huge embarassment to many people.
Then Strike finds Quines body.  He has been murdered and mutiliated in a most horrible, sickening and sadistic way that he later finds out is copied from Quines own book.
The police are convinced that Quine's wife is the killer  but Strike is not and eventually, with the help of his keen assistant Robin, and others, the real killer is uncovered.
JK Rowling is brilliant.  She writes with complete authority.  Her characters live and almost leap off the page, the story is exciting, the description of London in a cold snowy winter stirred so many memories for me and CS is somone I can't wait to meet again.
This is a terrific, exciting, involving and brilliant read.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Robert Galbraith - Silkworm

Review by showhost March 2015.
This is the second book by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) with that likeable hero Cormoran Strike and his still temp secretary Robin.  We were first introduced to Cormoran in the previous book 'Cuckoos Calling' which I really enjoyed. 
Cormoran Strike, private detective, ex-soldier (Special Investigation Branch), ex-Afgahanistan war veteran amputee, finds himself with another intriguing case to solve.
After the solving of the Lula Landry case, and all the subsequent press coverage, Strike finds work has picked up albeit only errant husband or wifes wanting proof of adultery, it pays his wages and those of his temporary secretary Robin.  But the arrival of Leonora Quine is about to change all that.
Her errant author husband has been missing for a few weeks and she would like Strike to find him.  She didn't want to go to the police because the last time her husband went missing for a week and she got the police, she was chastised by her husband for resorting to such stupid measures when he only went into writers retreat.  But this was longer than a week and she and her handicapped daughter, Orlando, needed him at home.
Strike feels sorry for the harried, no-nonsense Leonora and takes the case even though at the moment, she hasn't got the money to pay him.  His enquiries lead him to the body of her husband Owen Quine, who has been murdered in gruesome circumstances.  In fact he has been murdered in a way described in his, as yet unpublished, last novel Bombyx Mori (Latin for silkworm).  The novel is a strange mix of fantasy in which some of the people in his close circle of fellow writers and publishers are described in weird and none flattering ways often hinting at some sordid secret they have.
This puts all of the people mentioned in the manuscript and those who read it prior to his death, under suspicion.  The police however, come to the conclusion that the deceased authors wife, Leonora, is the killer. She then asks Strike to stay on and find her husbands killer.  Strike doesn't believe that she is the killer and so agrees, once again putting him against the London Met which doesn't go down well after the last case in which he showed them up to be inept.
This is another enjoyable read in a 'who dunnit' style of crime novel.  Yes there is bad language and the murder scene is described in a gruesome way but this just makes the novel more realistic.  And the short description of the murder scene is the only bit of macabre narrative.
You don't have to read The Cuckoos Calling first as there is enough mention to that book to give the reader an idea as to what happened previously.  But I am glad I did read it first as I like to start at the beginning and get the feel for the progression of the characters.  Also it would be a shame to have not read such a good detective story.
Looking forward to the third in the series and also the BBC adaptation.  I wonder who Strike will be.....


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ken Follett - Night Over Water

Review written by Brian Lowen & read live on the bookshow on Thurs 12th March 2015.


There are very few books that I have read twice but this is one of them.
I first read it several years ago, so I picked it up when I saw it in the Charity Shop and the story was fresh again.

Most of the story is set aboard a luxury flying boat, one of Boeing B-314 Clippers operated by Pan American Airways. These were large aircraft, the most luxurious ever built with seats for only about 20 people who were flown across the Atlantic to America in complete luxury. As the journey took over 24 hours the passengers spent a night on the aircraft with the seats converting into bunks as on a sleeper train.

War has just broken out in Europe in 1939 and most of the passengers are fleeing England but for different reasons. There is a fascist English Lord and his family who have to flee from possible internment, a German scientist escaping from the Nazis, a murderer under FBI escort, a young wife fleeing a domineering husband and an unscrupulous thief.

We hear each one’s story and then KF weaves them together in a grand story. You are never sure how it will end as Follett keeps you guessing right to the end. Each character is beautifully drawn so that you feel you are on the aircraft with them. 

I cannot give many details of the story as it is so complicated with all the various characters, but it is easily followed. The characters are fictional of course, but the plane actually existed and flew this route, although only for a limited time.

Even though the book is 640 pages long, you will be disappointed when you get to the end.

Another grand saga from Follett and thoroughly recommended.




Sebastian Faulks - Birdsong




 Review written by Brian Lowen & read live on the bookshow on Thurs 12th March 2015.

A real saga of a story that stretches from the early nineteen hundreds up to the nineteen seventies.

The story circulates around Stephen Wraysford throughout the book and involves his experiences before the First World War, during the war and afterwards.

It starts in 1910 when Stephen is sent by the firm he works for in England to study the way dying and the weaving of cloth are carried out in France. He speaks fluent French so is able to understand the processes. He stays with the owner of a factory in Amiens – the Azaire family where he realises that Madame Isabelle Azaire is not happy in her marriage. He sets out to seduce her, they fall in love and run away together and live in the south of France.

After a few months, Isabelle falls pregnant but strangely, is afraid to tell Stephen and instead runs away to live with her sister Jeunne. Stephen is desolate that she has run away but does not try and find her.

The story then moves on into the middle of WW1 and Stephen is an Officer in the British army at the front in the thick of the battle. The descriptions in this part of the book are very lurid and you get

a good sense of what it must have been like existing in the trenches.
The middle section of the book deals with the fighting in the war and is not for the faint hearted. The descriptions are very detailed and you wonder how this futile war dragged on for so long. There are many experiences involving the miners – not soldiers in the army but miners called up to dig many tunnels from the British lines, under no man’s land and under the German lines where they would set off explosives. The problem was that the Germans were also digging tunnels the other way and could be heard by each other.

The barrages set up by the heavy guns lasted for hours and one can understand how so many suffered from shell shock, but this was no excuse in those days as they were shot by firing squads.

You really do get a tremendous feeling reading this book of the futile waste of human life during this war.

The final part of this book moves on to 1978 in England where Elizabeth is researching her Grandfather’s war experiences. She knows that he was called Stephen Wraysford but she wants to find out what sort of man he was.

A long, detailed story of lust, love and hope that really stirs one’s feelings. Do not read this unless you can harden your heart to all the emotional suffering in this book.