White smoke time

22 04 2017

Conclave by Robert Harris

 

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The Pope is dead.

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.

Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

It’s perhaps a surprising topic for a thriller but works extremely well. The insider accounts Harris has managed to source really do ensure this has a really credible setting.

Overall, it’s another cracking effort from an author who has a number of outstanding novels to his name. And there is a really very good twist at the end.

four stars





Russia yesterday

13 01 2017

Archangel by Robert Harris

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A number one bestseller from the award-winning master of the literary and historical thriller genre: Robert Harris. A gripping, thrilling explosion into Russia’s mysterious history…

When historian Fluke Kelso learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin he is determined to track it down, whatever the consequences. From the violent political intrigue and decadence of modern Moscow he heads north – to the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, and a terrifying encounter with Russia’s unburied past.

 

Can’t go wrong with a Robert Harris – a terrific, fast-paced thriller with an academic at the centre of things uncovering hidden Russian history. Highly entertaining and thoroughly gripping, this really is a great yarn.

stars-4-0._V5268001_





Is that a code?

31 12 2016

Enigma by Robert Harris

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A gripping World War II mystery novel with a cryptographic twist, Enigma‘s hero is Tom Jericho, a brilliant British mathematician working as a member of the team struggling to crack the Nazi Enigma code. Jericho’s own struggles include nerve-wracking mental labour, the mysterious disappearance of a former girlfriend, the suspicions of his coworkers within the paranoid high-security project, and the certainty that someone close to him, perhaps the missing girl, is a Nazi spy. The plot is pure fiction but the historical background, Alan Turing’s famous wartime computing project that cracked the German U-boat communications code, is real and accurately portrayed. Enigma is convincingly plotted, forcefully written, and filled with well-drawn characters; in short, it’s everything a good techno-mystery should be.

Not quite sure about the “techno-mystery” categorisation but it is a classic Robert Harris tale with plenty of historical detail around what is now a well-known operation. Perhaps not Harris’s best but still a gripping yarn.

stars-3-5





Ghostly writing

22 10 2016

The Ghost by Robert Harris

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A body washes up on the deserted coastline of America’s most exclusive holiday retreat. But it’s no open-and-shut case of suicide. The death of Robert McAra is just the first piece of the jigsaw in an extraordinary plot that will shake the very foundations of international security.

For McAra was a man who knew too much. As ghostwriter to one of the most controversial men on the planet – Britain’s former prime minister, holed up in a remote ocean-front house to finish his memoirs – he stumbled across secrets which cost him his life.

When a new ghostwriter is sent out to rescue the project it could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Or the start of a deadly assignment propelled by deception and intrigue – from which there will be no escape…

It’s a great premise for a novel and the stories on offer to a ghostwriter to a former Prime Minister provide lots of opportunities for political intrigue as well as more deadly goings on. It’s a gripping read, as ever, from Robert Harris and highly recommended.

four stars





It’s a blast

20 02 2016

Pompeii by Robert Harris

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A number one bestselling Roman thriller from the award-winning master of the literary and historical thriller genre: Robert Harris. A thrilling depiction of one of the most famous natural disasters in human history: the explosion of Mount Vesuvius.

A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome’s richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world – the mighty Aqua Augusta – has suddenly ceased to flow. Through the eyes of four characters – a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt millionaire and an elderly scientist – Robert Harris brilliantly recreates a luxurious world on the brink of destruction.

A hugely enjoyable thriller set in the last days of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Harris manages to create real suspense and excitement through these characters although his portrayal of Pliny the Elder is rather unflattering. Overall, really rather good. In fact, it’s a blast.

four stars








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