Books 13-19 / 2016

13) The One From the Other – by Philip Kerr. I’ve been meaning to read a Bernie Gunther crime novel for a while, and this was worth waiting for. Set in pre- and post-war Germany, it covers a really wide range of ground whilst staying (mostly) believable and, in places, quite powerful. Gunther has a nice line in dry wit which keeps things moving along, and there were plenty of twists. Superior stuff. 7/10

14) Make Me – by Lee Child. Yes, a Jack Reacher novel. I was on holiday, OK? And..er… “men want to be him and women want to be with him” and that. These are incredibly fast, easy-to-read, fairly far-fetched, pacy read. Completely undemanding stuff, but passes the time, escapist-ly. 5.5/10

15) Prisoners of Geography: 10 Maps that Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall – Just finished this, and it’s really fascinating: explaining and putting global conflicts, history and politics into the context of national and continental geographies….and how they influence events, strategies, inter-national relationships and more. It’s brilliantly clear, sensible and illuminating – and will warrant re-reading, as I was learning something on pretty much every page. Highly recommended – one of the more interesting non-fiction books I have read of late. 8.5/10

16) Ordeal by Jorn Lier Horst – really like Horst’s Scandi police procedurals with Inspector William Wisting. Not quite sure why they get less attention than other inferior Norwegian / Swedish fare. This isn’t the best in the series, but a solid outing mixing drugs, smuggling, murder & a mystery safe. 6.5/10

17) Tenth of December by George Saunders – several people have recommended this and it’s excellent. Short stories that manage to be disconcerting, moving, enlightening, futuristic but also bloody funny. The story about the returning soldier has stayed with me, as have several others. Highly recommended. 9/10

18) Time of Death by Mark Billingham – I’ve read all the Tom Thorne novels, and they are eminently readable. The last in the series was a bit weaker, but this is much better – a great page turner about missing girls in a Warwickshire town, with Thorne as irascible as ever. Very entertaining if undemanding. 7/10

19) Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. Self-help book alert. Once I’d got over the implied insult from receiving this as a gift from my esteemed brother Jon Temple (to whom a copy of How to Win Friends is winging its way), I set to work on improving myself. It’s quite good in places, although loses its way towards the end – and he has an over-fondness of two-by-two matrices. A few nuggets to do with external environments and asking yourself the right questions to change your habits. But there’s an awful lot of flim-flam and Marshall’s ego to wade through. 6/10

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