by Louisa Carroll

Dear readers, as KCDC declared a Satire-free Zone (SFZ) in Kapiti on 11 August, I have turned my eyes to reading books that can never be charged with this hideous offence. All these books are currently available at the library. So with no elections to follow, here is a bit of entertainment for you. Enjoy

The English Spy  Daniel Silva  

This is the first book I have read by this author. I will be seeking out some of the 20 others he has written.  This book apparently falls within the genre of “International Thriller.” You learn something every day. 

The tale has many twists and turns as Gabriel Allon, a spy, sets out to find and bring to justice Eamon Quin, a bomb maker for hire. The plot is plausible and has many sub plots that are themselves intriguing. The writer has researched his material well as evidenced by his Author’s Note, at the conclusion of the novel.

 It would be perverse to go into plot detail and ruin the surprises that abound. This is 8.2/10

Private Investigations  Quintin Jardine

I have been a fan of this Scottish author for many years and have read almost all his books–over 30 of them. He is as good as Ruth Rendell, if you enjoy “police procedurals” A ripping good yarn, you feel as though you are in Scotland. 

Former Chief Constable Bob Skinner has retired only to go into private investigations. One suspects the author realized he was killing off a good thing when he retired Skinner–so has brought him back. The characters are convincing, the milieu authentic.


Murder in the Courthouse  Nancy Grace   

When her fiancé was murdered just before her wedding day Nancy Grace abandoned plans to become a Shakespearean literary professor and decided to get a law degree, becoming a leading prosecutor. Hailey Dean is the character in this novel, based on the author’s own experiences. Dean, a prosecutor has been called to give expert testimony at a trial. On her way to give evidence she is alerted to a murder and that starts a ball that rolls with growing tension-right to the end of this well constructed story.

Did the accused murder his wife? Why is his mother so adamant about his innocence? how sound is the forensic evidence? Read and find out- it is an intoxicatingly engaging journey.

The courtroom scenes are convincing. The author’s love of literature is reflected in the quality of the writing.


Invisible Murder L. Kaaberbol & A Friss  

The print is off putting- you almost need a microscope to read it in this edition. Its an okay story. The New York Post said “Fans of Nordic crime fiction, rejoice: something is rotten in Denmark”. On this occasion I cannot endorse that recommendation. I love Nordic crime fiction but this one comes in at a mere pass. 5/10

Not yet Dead   Peter James  

This guy sells. The dust cover says “11 million sold”. We are not enlightened as to whether it is of this book or a combo of all his books. I have read 3 of his others so reading this fourth may have left me feeling unnecessarily jaded- that feeling of having been there, done that. However, I did read on. “By Jove, this is a British crime novelist, your favorite alongside Nordic, we have the outstanding detective Roy Grace detective superintendent of Sussex CID and a plot of some complexity.  Stick to the task boy!” So I did. And gradually its appeal grew and the rating went up as I read on.

The genre is listed as “mystery”, I would describe it as “detective mystery”. The author is cleverly commercial. We have a great Hollywood based female [Gaia] singing mega star turning to acting. She is the drawcard for a movie about to be made by a director whose career is on its last legs and may be over if this movie does not get off the ground. The proposed film is about the mistress of George IV–Maria Fitzherbert*.

The production is threatened by a stalker of Gaia who has already killed one of Gaia’s assistants, a case of mistaken identity. Gaia also has a fanatical fan who believes she has a “special relationship” with her star. So the story motored on, weaving its way towards its climax. And I have to confess, that once I was a passenger in this sports racing car of a novel I could not jump out. And, the fun was worth the reading time.

7.6/10 Begrudgingly–because I really was wanting to pan this book as commercial escapism of the worst kind–and the book proved me wrong.

* Maria Anne Fitzherbert was a longtime companion of George IV of the United Kingdom before he became king. In 1785, they secretly contracted a marriage that was invalid under English civil law because his father, King George III, had not consented to it.