Eric Idle Online
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark - May-2016

I love her writing. Here she experiments with form and has the victim ensure her death is achieved. An odd tale, imaginatively told.

I Met Someone by Bruce Wagner - May-2016

On form Bruce. Happy to have another book from him.

The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn - May-2016

An excellent short story, with perhaps one of the very best ever opening lines: “I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.”

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney - May-2016

Ya know, it’s a best seller. I get it. It’s going along. Nothing much wrong with it. Then I was no longer interested.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson - May-2016

The shocking attack on and sinking of the Lusitania, which virtually propelled the US into WW2, very carefully and very well told.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace - May-2016

Not brief enough for me. I liked the film though.

False Nine by Philip Kerr - Apr-2016

A disappointment for me in the end. The story of Manson, a black Scottish football player and manager and solver of crimes in and around the game. The gags are good, but he fails to convince me that this guy is real. Even if he does get to shag all the beautiful women in the book, who throw themselves at him, this is more Bond than reality. I liked January Transfer but I’m not sure if I’ll bother with the one in between. About a missing French footballer returning to Guadelope before joining Barca from PSV. He writes well always, but one recurring character too many?

The Mystery of Michael Black by Adam Johnson - Apr-2016

Thank heaven I found something finally by him I wasn’t crazy about. This is about a writer who writes what is about to happen. A little too cute and fantasy for me.

Maigret and His Dead Man by Georges Simenon - Apr-2016

On I-Pad
Impeccable and reliable as ever.

The Mystery of Olga Chekhova by Anthony Beevor - Apr-2016

Sadly the mystery seems to be why anyone would bother to write a book about her…

The History of the Conquest of Mexico by William H. Prescott - Apr-2016

On I-Pad
For the second time. Magnificently written telling of the fall of Montezuma and the Aztec Empire in the face of the implacable Cortez. 150 men and 16 cavaliers, four cannon… Outrageous manipulation of will, diplomacy and determination. I am still avidly reading this beautifully written book first published in 1842. Of course he cannot from his time period entirely show that the Aztec Gods were just as weird as the Spaniards, but he can at least suggest it, and his prose is to die for. And what a story. Shameful, reprehensible, but world changing and it happened.

Inspector Cadaver by Georges Simenon - Apr-2016

The latest in this wonderful series from Penguin. In his short novella world the drama always comes from characters. Their pride, their greed, their fears. Nothing much happens except internally as Maigret tries to understand what really happened by the reactions of those around. Here once again he is involved in small town politics, where the rich and powerful close ranks at all costs. As usual he out waits them.

Emporium by Adam Johnson - Apr-2016

On I-Pad
Recent volume of short stories. He is just so great. I am still reading this. Savouring them, and saving them, like the best chocolates in the box. You’ve been good, now you can have another.

Clandestine by James Elroy - Apr-2016

On I-Pad
Interesting. Gripping. And at times downright weird. A huge work, with great ambitions most of which it achieves.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - Apr-2016

Recommended by a friend and absolutely fabulous. A brilliant telling of what happened in and to St. Malo and its inhabitants, and its occupiers, at the end of World War Two. A beautifully woven tale. A masterpiece. A must read.

The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr - Apr-2016

And thank h. Philip Kerr came through and redeemed himself at the last whistle with another Bernie Gunther novel. I loved it, and it is amazing how cleverly he works real people into his stories, which accounts for their quirky reality. Here Somerset Maugham plays a big role, really?, yes and also Anthony Blunt. Good fun.

Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts - Apr-2016

A magnificent read. A wonderful 800 page biography of Napoleon, elegantly written, with excellent analysis of the battles and the campaigns, terminating in the Longwood House on St. Helena from stomach cancer. Often self-deluding, and frequently aggrandising, this is a fair minded account of the life of a great military man, and civil leader, who nevertheless spilt more French blood than anyone before or since, and lost almost 2 million dead in his sixty battles. France has still not recovered from his effects on the population. A perfect book for the beach….

The Gap of the Time by Jeanette Winterson - Mar-2016

The Winter’s Tale. A modern rendition of the Shakespeare play. The first half is absolutely brilliant. Gripping, thrilling and the people come bursting off the pages. The second half falls apart totally. As I suspect so does the play but it’s been a while since I saw or read it. Even when we get to our longed for end, when the lost Perdita is reconciled with Leo (Leontes) and her mum comes back from the dead (as a statue in the play, as a recluse here), she cuts it short and flips into an essay on Shakespeare and his heroines. Because of course she, the author, is an abandoned daughter, a Perdita, and lost to her own mother, and to her that is of course more interesting than the reconciliation with a fictional mother, which never in her life happened. And of course she hated her foster mother and wrote two absolutely brilliant books about this monster of a woman. If it had only stopped at page 123 I would be raving about this. But sadly it doesn’t. Pity. What with Howard Jacobson having a go at Shylock this is quite the age of novelising Shakespeare.

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson - Mar-2016

Superbly written short stories I could easily re-read again. Read on Kindle on flights and in Hotel rooms on the road. He is just fabulous. One of the stories actually concerns two North Korean defectors, which was interesting. He seems to know so much about the Koreas. The stories are: Nirvana, Hurricanes Anonymous, Interesting Facts, George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine, Dark Meadow and Fortune Smiles.

Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks - Mar-2016

A sort of sentimental novel, a memory of war and love and visits to an old man on an island. Robert Hendricks never quite seems to enjoy love affairs with any of the women offered up to us. Instead spending his life quietly denying his thirty years regret of not being with the Italian woman Luisa he met and had an affair with during the war. Anzio is described well from the British perspective and he is supposed to have written a book about new ways of looking at the mad, but all in all it feels like that rather sentimental type of movie, where the nurses wear starched white and no one quite gets to do anything. He is of course reconciled with Luisa once she is tragically stricken with cancer. An odd thing. Many good things but…

I think I have also read by him Charlotte Gray, and The Girl at the Lion D’Or.

Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante - Mar-2016

So well and succinctly written, even if we hadn’t become accustomed to Helen Mirren playing the role. The first case of Detective Jane Tennison, and she is up against the full prejudice of the Police force. This adds a piquancy to what is already a great tale.

Girl in The Dark by Marion Pauw - Mar-2016

Amazing how good all these contemporary female thriller Writer’s are. This is the English language debut of a Dutch writer. Masterly (mistressly?) construction, gripping and unexpected.

The Orphan Masters Son by Adam Johnson - Feb-2016

An absolutely first class brilliant book. A work of fiction and imagination that seems entirely real. Set in the bizarre and foul world of Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, he relentlessly exposes what it is like to live under the insane dictatorship of this poisoned state, and the contradictions in self behaviour and self correcting thought it requires to even survive. A brilliant and thoroughly original and unique book. Masterful.

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon - Feb-2016

I thought I had read this, but reading the first page in a Brisbane bookshop really grabbed me. Now 50 pages in I’m beginning to feel he’s lost the thread and that the extremely funny prose that seduced me is losing its pull. Will give it a bit more of a go. Which I did and finished by the last night, but wtf? Conspiracy theory as a novel. So many good things, so unsatisfactorily woven together, and so much that is frankly puzzling.

The Whites by Richard Price - Feb-2016

Often novels end weakly. The author seems to run out of steam. The only category of novels in which this is absolutely unacceptable is the Thriller, or Detective novel. The climax, the end, is the whole point. This one I found took me a page or two to understand and then built and built and went off like a rocket. I loved it.