A small (and imperfectly formed) October round up!

Ha! This will probably be the worst round up I have ever posted as life has seen me flying by the seat of my pants this month. I have been juggling some home stuff with exciting new responsibilities at work, and grappling once again with the peculiarities of my misbehaving laptop (adds to Christmas wishlist), so although I have been reading steadily, the reviewing aspect has rather gone out of the window. I did have a series of disappointing reads so, in a rather ham-fisted attempt to catch up with myself and let the world know that I haven’t disappeared entirely, here is a quick round up of some of the books I’ve been reading- the good, and the meh…

Officially on the blog this month, I managed the grand total of two reviews…hangs head in shame…

John Le Carre- The Little Drummer Girl

Quentin Bates- Cold Breath

So moving swiftly on I also read the four below, plus the start of a few others that fell quickly by the wayside…

  

Although widely reviewed and praised already, C. J. Tudor- The Chalk Man, was as brilliant as everyone has proclaimed so far. With its split timeline, shades of Stephen King, and one of the best endings I have read for some time, this was a real almost in one sitting job. I loved the authenticity of the character’s voices as youngsters, and Tudor’s building of suspense and tension was just nerve shredding. An absolute dream for booksellers across the land to recommend, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Soon, it will be announced why I’m reading so much Scandinavian crime in a compressed time, but until that point, here is a trinity of Nordic thrillers. I thought Ane Riel- Resin was superb, again with an authentic child’s voice, in a claustrophobic tale of the lengths one man will go to in order to protect his family. With its fairytale quality, this was creepy and macabre in equal measure, and with its encroaching forest setting, the landscape used seemed to perfectly mirror the dark tale that unfolds. Unfortunately, Karin Fossum- The Whisperer, proved a little disappointing, although the build up in the beginning recounting the lonely life, and subsequent arrest of the whispering woman of the title for a slowly revealed crime, promised much. I did enjoy the head-to-head interrogation by Fossum regular, Inspector Konrad Sejer of the seemingly mouse-like suspect, Ragna Riegel, but it was all a little too ponderous and drawn out- about 100 pages too drawn out. Shame. Susanne Jansson- The Forbidden Place was not without its charms, particularly in the very atmospheric use of the remote Swedish wetlands, and the rather likeable main character of the young female biologist returning to her childhood community and caught up in a crime mystery with supernatural overtones. Again though, I found myself drifting off as those little annoying clichés rose to the surface, but luckily the setting, and back story of bodies discovered in peat bogs through the ages appealed to my more ghoulish fascination…

But fear not, Raven followers, I have just read three brilliant, once of which I posted a review for today Margaret Millar- Vanish In An Instant and two more that I will hopefully get my bottom into gear and post soon- one of which has catapulted straight into my top three of the year. Yes indeed.

Have a lovely month of reading everyone, and if you are starting your Christmas shopping, just remember that books (bought from proper bookshops) make the best gift.

Yes they do.

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour- John Le Carre- The Little Drummer Girl

Charlie in an unhappy English actress in her twenties, longing for commitment: but to what and to whom? While holidaying on the Greek island of Mykonos, she is seduced by a handsome and mysterious embattled Israeli intelligence officer, on a mission to stop the bombing of Jews in Europe. Forced to play her most challenging role, Charlie is plunged into an elaborate plot set to entrap the elusive Palestinian terrorist behind the attacks, and soon proves herself to be a double agent of the highest order…

And so to the last stop on the John Le Carre blog tour, and with the upcoming six part BBC screen adaptation, what better book to conclude this celebratory tour with than The Little Drummer Girl . The release of the book into a Penguin Modern Classic marks the completion of a nine-year project by Penguin to publish twenty-one of Le Carre’s novels, thus making him the most published author in this iconic series, acknowledging him as a writer not only for today, but for all time. As Helen Conford, Publisher Director at Penguin Books says, ” John Le Carre is one of the most important writers of our generation. For twenty-one of his novels to be published as Penguin Modern Classics is an acknowledgement not only of his immense literary achievement and the timeless quality of his work, but a well-deserved recognition of his significance as a writer who holds a mirror up to society, and encourages us to question the world around us.” The October transmission of the screen adaptation is brought to us by the award winning producers of The Night Manager, and stars Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh.

The Little Drummer Girl is a page-turning story of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of the Middle East conflict, and I found it significantly different in tone and composition to the George Smiley series, and his other spy novels generally, which I am more familiar with. I think its no exaggeration to say that Charlie goes on an emotionally and physically draining journey during the course of this book, quickly maturing from an outspoken, incredibly dislikeable, and shockingly naïve young woman as she becomes a tool of the sinister Israeli Secret Service in their plot to entrap a Palestinian terrorist- a plot full of bluff and double-bluff The book is incredibly dense and labyrinthian, and attention must be paid, as some characters have different identities, and as a reader you are always second guessing their intentions and motivations in this unceasingly complex plot. With Le Carre’s always impeccable detail to plot structure, characterisation, location, and social and political mores of this particular point in history, the book manages to balance a sense of menace and claustrophobia with a convoluted love story that ties into the themes of loss and betrayal, with an immensely powerful denouement. A complicated. but ultimately satisfying read, that any admirer of John Le Carre will savour…

*****I have a copy of The Little Drummer Girl to giveaway to one lucky entrant in the prize draw. Simply leave your details in the contact form below (your details will not be displayed) by midnight on Friday 12th October to enter. UK only.***** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED*** 

Congratulations to the winner Andrea Hedgcock

The Raven will be in contact soon for your mailing address! 

You can buy the complete range of John Le Carre Penguin Modern Classics here 

Catch up with any John Le Carre posts you’ve missed at these excellent sites: