The Cobra by Frederick Forsyth

 

Description: Veteran Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal) shows once again he’s a master of the political thriller by taking a simple but completely original idea and turning it into a compelling story. The unnamed Obama-like U.S. president, disgusted by the horrors wrought by illegal drug trafficking, decides to bring the entire weight and resources of the federal government against the international cocaine trade. He first declares drug traders and their cartels to be terrorists, subjecting them to new and extensive legal procedures, then he brings in ex-CIA director Paul Devereaux to head the team that will implement the effort. Devereaux, known as the Cobra from his operations days, is old school–smart, ruthless, unrelenting, and bestowed by the president with free rein to call in any arm of the government. Forsyth lays out how it would all work, and readers will follow eagerly along, always thinking, yes, why don’t they do this in real life? The answer to that question lies at the heart of this forceful, suspenseful, intelligent novel.

Didn’t capture my undivided attention; it was on in the background and that was where the bland content let it stay.

5* The Day of the Jackal
4* The Odessa File
3* The Fourth Protocol
3* The Dogs of War
4* The Devil’s Alternative
2* The Afghan
2* The Cobra
3* The Kill List
5* The Shepherd

The True Deceiver

 
The True Deceiver - Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal, Ali Smith

bookshelves: winter20092010, fraudio, published-1982, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, translation, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, next

Read in December, 2009


Publisher description:
Deception—the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others—is the subject of this, Tove Jansson’s most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, The Summer Book, to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.

Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybody’s talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly children’s book illustrator, appears to be Katri’s opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Anna’s life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.

BBC description: Winter settles over the Swedish fishing village of Västerby. Katri offers to run errands for the ageing artist who lives on the outskirts. But what does this strange young woman want in return from Anna Aemelin?

Indira Varma reads from the novel by Tove Jansson. Abridged by Jeremy Osborne.

On her very first visit to the rabbit house, Katri identifies just which window will be the window of Mats’ new bedroom. The manipulative skills of the sociopath are very cleverly displayed by Jansson and one cannot help but feel sorry for Anna at the halfway mark.

Didn’t like this one at all.

3* Finn Family Moomintroll (The Moomins, #3)
5* Moominland Midwinter (The Moomins, #6)
3* Moominvalley in November (The Moomins, #9)

4* The Summer Book
3* Travelling Light
1* The True Deceiver
CR The Listener

The Noble Outlaw (Crowner John Mystery #11) by Bernard Knight

 

Paul Matthews narrates

Description: When Matthew Morcok, a former master saddler, is found mummified above a renovated school, the authorities call on Sir John de Wolfe and coroner’s clerk Thomas de Peyne to stop what is fast becoming a campaign of terror. Later victims include a master glazier, who’s strangled, and a candle maker impaled through the eye. John’s work is complicated by the conflict between his shady brother-in-law, Richard de Revelle, and Nick of the Moor, an outlaw who returned from the Crusades to find his estates expropriated by de Revelle and de Revelle’s cronies. John makes an arduous wintertime journey into Dartmoor to meet Nick, who’s actually a knight, Nicholas de Arundell. Nick’s plight so moves John that he takes the outlaw’s case to England’s Chief Justiciar for resolution.

A good, solid series so long as the episodes are not encountered back-to-back. Knight’s style is rather old-fashioned and brutish, however he does give us an interesting over-arching personal story with Nesta and Matilda.

3* The Tinner’s Corpse (Crowner John Mystery #5)
3* The Grim Reaper (Crowner John Mystery #6)
3* Fear in the Forest (Crowner John Mystery #7)
3* The Witch Hunter (Crowner John Mystery #8)
3* Figure of Hate (Crowner John Mystery #9)
3* The Noble Outlaw (Crowner John Mystery #11)
TR Crowner Royal (Crowner John Mystery, #13)
3* A Plague of Heretics (Crowner John Mystery #14)

This Gun for Hire by Graham Greene

 

Read by Patrick Tull

Description: Raven is a man dedicated to ugly deeds. When Raven is paid for killing the Minister of War with stolen notes, he becomes a man on the run. Tracking down the agent who double-crossed him, and eluding the police simultaneously, he becomes both the hunter and the hunted.

The novel ties into Greene’s later, more famous work, Brighton Rock. Pinkie Brown’s assassination of Kite, the Colleoni’s rival mob boss, sets the events of Brighton Rock in motion in much the same way that Raven’s assassination of the Minister of War sows the seeds for global conflict in A Gun For Sale.

Thoroughly enjoyed this ride. Three and a half smoking hand guns

Raven: the cold-hearted assassin for hire with hidden decency and a personal sense of justice. Extremely sensitive about his harelip.

Mather: stalwart police detective trailing Raven, with many of the same characteristics. Joined police for stability of the routine.

Anne: a chorus girl who is engaged to Mather, is used by Raven as a shield. The two develop a fragile friendship that may or may not be real.

Cholmondeley a.k.a. Davis: a grossly sensual man who acts as the agent of a masonic corrupt steel tycoon, Sir Marcus, and betrays Raven. Anne tries to help Raven get revenge upon him.

Saunders: a decent police detective with a heavy stammer. He is Mather’s loyal protégé who plays a vital role in the novel’s climax.

3* The Quiet American
4* The End of the Affair
3* Our Man in Havana
4* Brighton Rock
4* Travels With My Aunt
3* The Third Man
4* The Human Factor
4* A Burnt Out Case
4* Monsignor Quixote
3* The Captain and the Enemy
3.5* This Gun for Hire

All Things Wise and Wonderful

 

 

Had my doubts when picking this up such along time after reading the others however I loved it; gentleness coupled with reserved mode of story-telling had me in its grips right from the get-go. The inclusion of RAF training and the birth of his son in this volume were absolutely lovely.

4* – All Creatures Great and Small (1972)
4* – All Things Bright and Beautiful (1973)

4* – All Things Wise and Wonderful (1977)
4* – The Lord God Made Them All (1981)
4* – James Herriot’s Dog Stories (1986)

Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4) by Dick Francis

 

Read by Martin Jarvis and I like him!

Cheltenham is a lovely racecourse.

Description: It’s the third death on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day that really troubles super-sleuth Sid Halley. Last seen in 1995’s Come to Grief, former champion jockey Halley knows the perils of racing all too well-but in his day, jockeys didn’t usually reach the finishing line with three .38 rounds in the chest. But this is precisely how he finds jockey Huw Walker-who, only a few hours earlier, had won the coveted Triumph Hurdle.

Just moments before the gruesome discovery, Halley had been called upon by Lord Enstone to make discreet inquiries into why his horses appeared to be on a permanent losing streak. Are races being fixed? Are bookies taking a cut? And if so, are trainers and jockeys playing a dangerous game with stakes far higher than they are realistic?

Halley’s quest for answers draws him even deeper into the darker side of the race game, in a life-or-death power play that will push him to his very limits-both professionally and personally.

Opening: “Sadly, death at the races is not uncommon. However, three in a single afternoon was sufficiently unusual to raise more than an eyebrow. That only one of the deaths was of a horse was more than enough to bring the local constabulary hotfoot to the track.”

How lovely to find this dustying up in the storage boxes and I dive in with relish as it has been ages since an encounter with the wonderful Dick Francis.

4* Odds Against (Sid Halley, #1)
3* Whip Hand (Sid Halley, #2)
3* Come to Grief (Sid Halley, #3)
3.5* Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4)

4* Bolt (Kit Fielding, #2)

3* Proof
4* Dead Cert
4* Blood Sport
2* Shattered
3* Nerve
4* Decider
3* Straight
3* For Kicks
4* Bonecrack
3* Enquiry
3* Field of Thirteen

The Life of William Shakespeare: A Critical Biography by Lois Potter

 

Narrated by J P Gemont

Description: “The Life of William Shakespeare” is a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of Shakespeare’s life and works focusing on oftern neglected literary and historical contexts: what Shakespeare read, who he worked with as an author and an actor, and how these various collaborations may have affected his writing. Written by an eminent Shakespearean scholar and experienced theatre reviewerPays particular attention to Shakespeare’s theatrical contemporaries and the ways in which they influenced his writingOffers an intriguing account of the life and work of the great poet-dramatist structured around the idea of memoryExplores often neglected literary and historical contexts that illuminate Shakespeare’s life and works.

With the FutureLearn course ‘Shakespeare and his World’ from The University of Warwick due to start at the end of next month, I thought this is a great opportunity to get this under the belt beforehand.

Just as astronomers can tell where a hidden celestial body is by the gravity it exerts on visible bodies in the vicinity, so Potter gives us a fantastic view of Shakespeare and his world. Daddy John was a bit of a rogue wasn’t he!

This book is only for those truly interested in the Bard as this is a scholarly, dense text, yet aficianados need not worry that this is dry, I didn’t find it so at all. A magisterial keeper for reference purposes.

01 Born into the World 1564-1571
02 Nemo sibi nascitur 1571-1578
03 Hic et obique 1578-1588
04 This man’s art and that man’s scope 1588-1592
05 Tiger’s hearts 1592-1593
06 The Dangerous Year 1593-1594
07 Our usual manager of mirth 1594-1595
08 The strong’st and surest way to get 1595-1596
09 When love speaks 1596-1597
10 You had a father, let the son say so 1596-1598
11 Unworthy scaffold 1598-1599
12 These words are not mine 1599-1801
13 Looking before and after 1601-1603
14 This most balmy time 1603-1605
15 Past the size of dreaming 1606-1609
16 Like an old tale 1609-1611
17 The second burden 1612-1616
18 In the mouths of men 1616-after

Highlights from Folger Shakespeare Library’s Release of almost 80,000 Images

The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

 

Description: Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the states largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control 10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support. The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them and spurs them into surprising actions.

Jonathan Davis narrates.

Book before film.

LATER: No film for me, it would ruin this story in the mind’s eye. The Descendants is not 5* perfect, however it is pretty darn fantastic debut, and so well read by Davis. I have internal film of all the family members, and that, right there, shows how finely wrought Hemmings has crafted them.

My one-liner sum up is this: Mr King, father to Valley Girls, new millenium style, has to grow thick skin in order to keep his family together in the aftermath of tragedy and amidst revelations of disloyalty.

Four and a half Hawaiian Islands

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

 

Description: Master storyteller and bestselling novelist Clive Barker creates an enchanting tale for both children and adults to cherish and retell. The Thief of Always tells the haunting story of Harvey, a bright 10-year-old who is suffering from the winter doldrums, and of a creature who takes him to a place where every day is filled with fun, and Christmas comes every night.

Opening:

No such thing as a free lunch, Harvey; didn’t your mother tell you?

Four all-day every-day Christmas dinners

The Merchant’s House (Wesley Peterson, #1) by Kate Ellis

 

Read by Graham Roberts. 9 hours 15 mins

Synopsis: A black policeman from the Met might expect to meet some resistance, when he’s transferred to a West Country seaside town. But, for Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, it’s like coming home. Not only was he at university in the area, one of the first people he bumps into is an old friend. Neil is now heading an archaeological dig at a Tudor merchant’s house, and Wes has to tear himself away to meet the rest of his new team. It’s all friendly faces here too – except one. But DC Steve Carstairs has “pillock” written all over him; there’ll be no problem dealing with him. And, there’s no time for trouble to brew, as Wes is immediately involved in a major search for a missing child. The tension is mounting when a body is found – but to Wes’s relief it’s turned up at the dig, and is over four hundred years old. It seems to be a tragic murder nonetheless, for the bones turn out to be of a strangled young woman and a newborn baby. But, until little Jonathan Berrisford is found, Wes has no time for distractions. But as another, more recent body is found, and the circumstances surrounding the Berrisford child’s disappearance become more complex, Wes is more and more convinced that the age-old motives of jealousy, sexual obsession and desperate longing for a child are behind the crimes, ancient and modern, that he must solve soon if further tragedy is to be averted. One thing is for sure – The Met is beginning to look like a rest cure in comparison with sleepy old Devon…

 photo cal.gifPedestrian 2.5* NEXT!

2.5* – The Merchant’s House (Wesley Peterson, #1)
2* – The Shining Skull (Wesley Peterson, #11)