Doctor Doctor

25 06 2016

Dr Frigo by Eric Ambler




Dr. Ernesto Castillo has shunned politics and shut himself off from the world since his father, a Central American leader, was assassinated years ago. The doctor is content to live quietly on a small island, keeping busy with his practice and his mistress . . . but now his late father’s political party comes calling. Its rising leader, Manuel Villegas, hopes to put Dr. Castillo to work as his physician and as a rallying figure for the elder Castillo’s supporters.


A really well-written and suspenseful thriller. Reminiscent of several Graham Greene works in terms of setting and plot but none the worse for that. Overall, rather entertaining and well worth a read.




There’s a catch

18 06 2016

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller



Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy – it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions then he is caught in Catch-22: if he flies he is crazy, and doesn’t have to; but if he doesn’t want to he must be sane and has to. That’s some catch…

Decided to go for this on 55th anniversary having avoided the previous 40 such dates (actually did try a few times before and then gave up). Glad I did although it didn’t feel like quite the masterpiece it is sometimes presented as. Pretty entertaining as well as being sharp and funny and rather dark in places.



Total nightmare

11 06 2016

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

An inspiration for George Orwell s 1984 and a precursor to the work of Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem, We is a classic of dystopian science fiction ripe for rediscovery. Written in 1921 by the Russian revolutionary Yevgeny Zamyatin, this story of the thirtieth century is set in the One State, a society where all live for the collective good and individual freedom does not exist. The novel takes the form of the diary of state mathematician D-503, who, to his shock, experiences the most disruptive emotion imaginable: love for another human being. At once satirical and sobering and now available in a powerful new modern translation We speaks to all who have suffered under repression of their personal and artistic freedom.
An impressive dystopian science fiction novel in which D-503 discovers he is more than just a number and begins to rebel against the wholly-controlling regime as he falls for a beautiful dissident.  Written in the 1920s it prefigures both 1984 and Brave New World and offers an intelligent critique of totalitarianism resulting in a ban in the Soviet Union. A really interesting read.

Frog marching

4 06 2016

Boiling a Frog by Christopher Brookmyre



Jack Parlabane, the investigative journalist who is not averse to breaking the law for the sake of a good story, has finally been caught on the petard of his own self-confidence and is experiencing accommodation courtesy of Her Majesty. The fledgling Scottish parliament is in catatonic shock after experiencing its first dose of Westminster sleaze. The Catholic Church of Scotland is taking full advantage of the politicians’ discomfort and is riding high in the polls as the voice of morality. Behind the scenes the truth is obscured by the machinations of the spin doctors and in prison, aware he’s missing out on a great story, Parlabane discovers that contacts and a pretty way with words are no defence against people he has helped to put away. Part political satire, part cliff-hanging thriller this is high calibre entertainment.

Sharp, funny and entertaining. Political shenanigans, poking at religion and a pretty fast-moving plot.  All good stuff.


3 star

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