The Lady from Zagreb – Phillip Kerr

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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 firmly placed in the prior to WWII   then 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 is 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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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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A Pet Peeve About Books

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I read a lot Nordic fiction which is translated into English. That isn’t an issue but the names of the books peeves me. There are often several english names for the one title. At least two versions of the book one for the UK and another for the states. Names which do not have any connection at all sometimes the original name is lost. This also makes it confusing when looking for books in a series.

The most recent book I have read is a case in point. The original Danish “Flaskepost fra P” roughly translates A Message in a Bottle from P. The version I read is called Redemption and in the US Conspiracy of Faith. All a bit confusing when trying to track down the next in the series. On the surface it appears that there are twice as many books in the series than is actually the case.

Any way that puts my pet peeve on books to rest, for the time being.

Redemption (Department Q, #3) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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Redemption (Department Q, #3)Redemption by Jussi Adler-Olsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my third Department Q novel and so far the best in the series. I am trying to read them in order. I am really enjoying the series by Jussi Adler-Olsen.The title in Danish that loosely translates as a note in a bottle from P, which sets the scene for the story. This is another cold case story that is not on the files at Department Q. A convoluted and at time disconnected story involving groups that are separate from mainstream society and therefore isolated.
There is the usual antagonism between Carl Mørck and his right hand man Assad. Then there is the ongoing tensions with Rose the admin person and a replacement called Yrsa. There are all the usual antagonisms with the upper echelons with Mørck and Assad.
The case itself involves a man who has more layers and alibis than can be imagined. His dual life is extraordinary as are his methods, which he employs. It is difficult to write about the story without straying into the plot.  Victims picked to inflict the most terrible pain on their parents.Suffice it to say fans of the Nordic style will be pleased.

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Reading on Cruise

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I have had something of a read- a-thon on my recent cruise holiday. Managing  to read six novels in nine days this is a personal best. Three books from my tablet and three from the ship’s library.

The books in the ship’s library were all good and volumes that I would not have searched out.  Nothing like making  do with what you have. Two were from English TV shows or rather the TV shows are based on the books. A DCI Banks novel the 21st in  the series a great yarn and an easy read. The other was an Inspector Thorne mystery Time of Death which was intriguing. The last of the books was Called Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty. This is a s far as In=know not a TV series. A great yarn set against the backdrop of the ‘Troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Two different authors made up the last three books. Prequels to the Inspector Erlendur series by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason. I have really enjoyed the series and the two prequel volumes Reykjavik Nights and  Into Oblivion were up to the mark. Rounding out my reading was the The Keeper of Lost Causes by Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen the first in new series for me and another great read.  Next in the series is The Absent One which I have already made a start on..

Well that’s holiday reading !