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The Lady from Zagreb (Bernard Gunther, #10)The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 10th Bernie Gunther novel from Phillip Kerr. Bernie Gunther is a former Berlin detective who gets sidelined during the Nazi regime in Germany. He is a man who more often than not treads his own path usually comes at personal cost. What makes the Phillip Kerr novels so interesting is the blend of fact and fiction. Bernie Gunther is woven in and around real events from the Nazi era. The earlier novels were set firmly in the pre-war and during the war. However, the hero Bernie Gunther has slowly aged across the series. The evolution of the series now has Bernie Gunther living in a post WWII world where he inevitably encounters people from his past.
In this volume Bernie’s mind is cast back in time whilst in the cinema watching a famous actress. In an imaginative plot Joseph Goebbels features as a tormentor of Bernie. The atrocities that were committed in what us modern Croatia by the notorious Ustaše militia. Throughout this there is time for a wartime romance which is the subject of his reflection. Buried in all of this is a detective novel all very satisfying.
I am an unashamed fan of Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels. The is one more that I am aware of and possibly another in the pipeline.

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An Hour Before Daylight

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An Hour Before Daylight: Memoirs of a Rural BoyhoodAn Hour Before Daylight: Memoirs of a Rural Boyhood by Jimmy Carter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This memoir was written Jimmy Carter the former US President. It focuses on his childhood in Plains Georgia up until the time he left to go to college. I’m not one for reading biographies but found the book in library on a cruise ship. It written in a very readable style and presents a series of anecdotes from in and around the farm where he was raised. It is a story of growing up in the great depression. Although Carter does acknowledge that they did not do too badly.

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Jack of Spies by David Downing

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Jack of Spies (Jack McColl, #1)Jack of Spies by David Downing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to confess to being a David Downing fan I have read all the ‘Station’ novels and enjoyed the attention to historical detail. In some ways Jack of Spies featuring Jack McColl as our hero follows the ‘Station’ series. Set amongst the turmoil and political machinations that in train prior to World War One.
Our hero Jack McColl is working semi officially for British intelligence. The story touches on British – German relations prior to WW1 and has hour hero cruising across the Pacific from China to the US. He is ostensibly a car salesman selling an expensive English vehicle and shipping the demonstration vehicle from town to town. This allows him movement and a comfortable life.

There is an intriguing link to Irish nationalism and unionism in the US. His love interest also cuts across his world of espionage and Irish independence. A life complicated by love.

I enjoyed this read and found the blend of historical fact and fiction engaging and realistic.
When I was reading this I was hoping that there would be more and I am pleased to have discovered there are in fact 2 more books already published.

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The Lydden Bell

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Our first night in England the owner of our B&B suggested this pub up the road. The Lydden Bell is a delightful country pub in the Kent countryside. We had just arrived from Adelaide via Doha with about 26 of travel time. My heart’s desire was an English pub meal.

Local beer cod and chips what more could you ask for. Lovely whitebait for entree. The only disappointment was an Eton Mess for dessert which really was a tasteless mess. Three pints of local ale i forgot the name  A lovely sunny evening then it was a quick cab ride to our accommodation Crabble Hill Guest House and then off to bed.

 

Travelling Again

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We are travelling again this time it’s 5 weeks in Europe. Starting with a 2 week cruise leaving from Dover in England. There are quite a few ports of call Dublin and then Oban in Scotland. The ship then sets sail for Iceland. We are landing in four ports Sigurdsfjordur, Akuyeri, Grundursfjordur and Reykjavik. The final two ports are Belfast and Liverpool before we return to Dover.

Stage two is four days in the U.K. a drive down to Looe and then up to London. We then head to Lisbon to start a 10 day river cruise through Porto and into Spain to the city of Salamanca.

A quick flight to London and then off to Malta for 5 days. The last hurrah is back to London and a flight home via Doha.

Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army

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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary ArmyBlackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

This is Jeremy Schahill’s probe in Blackwater and organisation that is it seems an army for hire. I’m sure that those that support this kind of endeavour will think this is a biased account of their activities. Apparently, Blackwater declined to put their side of the story. The author has relied of official documents and former employees some of whom are disgruntled.  

That aside the book has an impressive list of references for each chapter so I can only assume that Scahill has done his research  Continue reading “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army”

The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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The Marco Effect (Department Q #5)The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed The Marco Effect great holiday reading. I have been reading the department Q novels in sequence. This is the 5th in the series and is a well-crafted with the addition of the usual convoluted plot. The Marco effect begins in Africa with a sudden death and before we know it there are senior Danish bureaucrats sweating at their desks.
The focus then switches to beggars on the streets of the Danish capital Copenhagen. What is described is a sophisticated gang of beggars controlled by ruthless family members.
Eventually our hero Carl Mørck comes into the picture. His team which consist Assad and Rose are a quirky bunch. The troubles of the team relate back to the previous volume but are explained enough if you haven’t read any previous instalments of Department Q. Mørck continues to battle with his superiors.
All in all another satisfying instalment of Department Q. Perhaps it would be better if I could read The Marco Effect in its native Danish.

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SWAG Elmore Leonard

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SwagSwag by Elmore Leonard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick and easy read a great caper. Two men meet one with a foolproof idea to get rich quick the other brought along with the promises of riches. They live by a set of predetermined rules which are meant to make them smarter than other criminals.

The lifestyle that they quickly become accustomed to is what becomes their undoing. Really easy to read and fast paced perfect holiday reading A short sharp review.

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The Purity of Vengeance (Department Q, #4)

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The Purity of Vengeance (Department Q, #4)The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Purity of Vengeance is the fourth in Juri Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series. Like its predecessors darkness abounds . As with other novels the plot is twisted and has its origins as you would expect with a cold case team. This time touching on the rise of minor parties with extreme views and steeped in eugenics. I have come to quite enjoy this series and I am pleased that there are more to come. I have already started the next in the series.
Carl Mörck and his motley crew are in the thick of it again. Carl fighting accusations from his past fending off his ex-wife and the confused state of is his domestic arrangements. Then there is Assad his mysterious assistant who despite no apparent police training has skills and connections. However he does dodge anything to do with his personal life. Last but not least there is the bombastic Rose who rounds out the team. Her personality is always a test for Carl.
The Purity of Vengeance really does draw on the cruelty of the past. A time when the state was only too happy for troubled young women to be dealt with behind the walls of institutions or as in this case the walls are a stretch of water. I would Imagine that most “western” countries did similar things to those of low intelligence , mentally ill or with behavioral disturbance. The vulnerability of these young women is very well portrayed in Purity of Vengeance.
The unravelling of one woman’s life is amazing and a fantastic read five stars from me. I can’t give the plot away you’ll just have to read it yourself. There are films based on these novels but I have held off watching them until I’m way ahead with the novels.

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