Friday, 27 August 2010

Over Summer ...........

It is a great method of finding authors I would not otherwise choose or even come across. Summer visitors bring their holiday reading and then leave it behind for me to read. Thanks to Nick and Pippa for the following enjoyment.
  • Captured by Neil Cross.       
  • Where is it going? So you read on! Gets worse.

  • Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel          
  • Why doesn't Brodeck get a proper job? you ask. Creepy.

  • Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth             
  • He's from Durham, bound to be good. An archaelogist is fulfilling his dream of directing an excavation in Mesopotamia. The characters in the story feel that war is near (1914), and you just know that Somerville the archaeologist is going to have to cut it fine or lose. 
I have been in Mesopotamia before in this blog with Georgina Howell's inspiring hagiography of Gertrude Bell.
  • One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson              
  • Phew! She can tell tales.

  • The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam            
  • What a writer! Afghanistan from inside. Mericans, Moslems, Russians and a Brit. Full marks.

  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goodrick            
  • Rural Wisconsin. Heavy stuff. I cried in the end. A bit.

  • The Sidmouth Letters by Jane Gardam                 
  • Short stories. Beautiful to read.
And finally when everyone had gone home I found this: My Trade by Andrew Marr. (A Short History of British Journalism). I opened it without much enthusiasm, and find now that I must have started near the middle. I went back to the beginning to finish an enjoyable read about the craft of television interviewing and of newspaper reporting. Plus a short guide to good writing, a hilarious interview for his first job, and much more.
Summer reading with the 6 bears ......last year.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith 2007 Pan Macmillan

The punishment taken by Arkady Renko, Police Investigator is beyond reason. He walks into situations that Chandler's Marlowe didn't even get near. Arkady is the same policeman met in Gorky Park, an earlier book by this author made into a film. (Review and details at

It is a great read. You feel the chaos and the cool of the New Russia. A 'blitz' is a televised chess competition played at a rapid pace producing a winner in an hour. A 'dig' takes place on a site where it was thought that a battle with the German army took place but the weapons and skeletons uncovered tell another story.

You meet vivid characters in different roles, for example, an estate agent turns out to be also a surgeon. This really is worth a read. 10 out of 10 despite the unreasonable battering taken by policeman Renko. Unlike Chandler the writer does not do one-liners. They wouldn't fit.
And then there's Stalin's Ghost ....seen at a Metro Station in Moscow.