Monthly Archives: September 2010

Memento Mori – Muriel Spark

I have to confess to never having read anything previously by Muriel Spark, not having seen even the film version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, probably her most famous novel. I picked this up in Hatchard’s recently, and am … Continue reading

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ALA Banned Books Week

This week the American Library Association is celebrating Banned Books Week. While the most frequently challenged books on the lists for each year are for books for or marketed at children or young adults, there are a fair number of … Continue reading

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The Voyage of the ‘Beagle’ – Charles Darwin

(Vintage edition with On the Origin of Species) The Voyage of the ‘Beagle’ is the publication which made Charles Darwin’s name as a naturalist: he accompanied HMS Beagle, whose captain and crew had the remit to undertake a detailed survey … Continue reading

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The Clock Strikes Twelve – Patricia Wentworth

(A ‘Miss Silver’ mystery) It is late December, 1941, and the Paradine family are gathered as usual to celebrate the New Year: James, his sister Grace, her adopted daughter Phyllida; James’ step-son Frank Ambrose, his sister Brenda, wife Irene and … Continue reading

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McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime – Misha Glenny

Glenny is known as a journalist and foreign correspondent, particularly for eastern Europe, and has previously written about the Balkans and the fall of Yugoslavia. McMafia is a fascinating study of the way organised crime has spread throughout the world, … Continue reading

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The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy

This was Tom Clancy’s first published novel, set during the Cold War amid high tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union, and the first of many books to feature Jack Ryan. The book begins in Russia, with the departure … Continue reading

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Discussion – books by Dornford Yates

I’ve often tried to reason out why I enjoy Dornford Yates’s books so much, since there are things about them which I really don’t approve (Germanophobia, anti-Semitism, appalling attitudes towards the working classes, and so on) – “the school of … Continue reading

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Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett

This, the twenty-third Discworld novel, has Pratchett having fun with the vampire novel, though particularly with Stoker’s Dracula rather than any modern updates. There are three main plot strands: the preparations for the christening of the baby daughter of King … Continue reading

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Wolves Eat Dogs – Martin Cruz Smith

In this fifth novel (published in 2004) featuring Russian investigator Arkady Renko (following Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square and Havana Bay), Cruz Smith returns Renko to Moscow, where he is investigating the mysterious death of Pasha Ivanov in a … Continue reading

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie

If you don’t know about the central conceit of this detective novel, which features Hercule Poirot, then don’t read this review, because there will be spoilers. The novel is told by Dr James Sheppard, who lives in a small village, … Continue reading

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