Head hunting

26 05 2012

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

Roger Brown has it all. He’s the country’s most successful headhunter. He has a beautiful wife and a magnificent house. And to maintain this lifestyle, he’s also a highly accomplished art thief. At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position with one of Roger’s high-profile clients, he is also in possession of ‘The Calydonian Boar Hunt’ by Rubens, one of the most sought-after paintings in the world.Roger sees his chance to be rich beyond his wildest dreams and starts planning his boldest heist yet. But soon, he runs into trouble – and this time money is the least of his worries…

I have yet to see the movie (which has had some excellent reviews) but have to say the book is pretty good. It’s not quite in the league of Nesbo’s Harry Hole series but a pacy and entertaining yarn nevertheless with some surprising twists and turns.





Hanging around

19 05 2012

The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris

Glasgow, 1946: The last time Douglas Brodie came home it was 1942 and he was a dashing young warrior in a kilt. Now, the war is over but victory’s wine has soured and Brodie’s back in Scotland to try and save childhood friend Hugh Donovan from the gallows. Everyone thought Donovan was dead, shot down in the war. Perhaps it would have been kinder if he had been killed. The man who returned was unrecognizable: mutilated, horribly burned. Donovan keeps his own company, only venturing out for heroin to deaden the pain of his wounds. When a local boy is found raped and murdered, there is only one suspect…

Donovan claims he’s innocent but a mountain of evidence says otherwise. Despite the hideousness of the crime, ex-policeman Brodie feels compelled to try and help his one-time friend. Working with Donovan’s advocate Samantha Campbell, Brodie trawls both the mean streets of the Gorbals and the green hills of western Scotland in their search for the truth. What they find is an unholy alliance of church, police and Glasgow’s deadliest razor gang, happy to slaughter to protect their dark secrets. As time runs out for the condemned man, and the tally of murdered innocents rises, Brodie reverts to his wartime role as a trained killer. It’s them or him.

This was one of those books always recommended by Amazon and I got so fed up I ended up buying it. Actually it is rather good despite the rather unattractive title and the cover pic (which no doubt has been used on other books too as Private Eye has probably pointed out). The post-war atmosophere is pretty convincing and the plot moves along at a fair lick. Worth a go.





More Murakaminess

12 05 2012

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

This hypnotically addictive novel is a work of startling originality and, as the title suggests, a mind-bending ode to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. (The number 9 in Japanese is pronounced like the letter ‘Q’).The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo.Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a stand-still, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?Both Aomame and Tengo notice that the world has grown strange; both realise that they are indispensable to each other. While their stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, the two come closer and closer to intertwining.

I do like Murakami. Well, most of the time. These 1Q84 books are typical of him and combine customary strangeness of plot and intriguing characters. It’s all quite compelling and not a little odd. Looking forward to reading Book 3.





More Aberystwyth nonsense

5 05 2012

Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce

According to the Guardian “Combines Monty Python absurdity with tenderness for the twisted world of noir… Priceless.”

To the girls who came to make it big in the town’s ‘What the Butler Saw’ movie industry, Aberystwyth was the town of broken dreams. To Dean Morgan who taught at the Faculty of Undertaking, it was just a place to get course materials. But both worlds collide when the Dean checks into the notorious bed and breakfast ghetto and mistakenly receives a suitcase intended for a ruthless druid assassin. Soon he is running for his life, lost in a dark labyrinth of druid speakeasies and toffee apple dens, where every spinning wheel tells the story of a broken heart, and where the Dean’s own heart is hopelessly in thrall to a porn star known as Judy Juice.

Quite entertaining, lots of gags and some really good comic moments. Good fun and all with a distinctive Welsh angle.








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