Eric Idle Online
The Hollow Crown by Dan Jones - Mar-2015

Since I just finished The Plantagenets I went straight into his sequel about the War of The Roses, which as he explains, is far more than the simple York v Lancaster struggle it is often presented as. He is a good narrative historian. It’s interesting to see how important Kingship was in those days to keep an unruly country with powerful and ambitious Lords in check. When the unfortunate (bi-polar?) Henry V1 came to the throne everything fell apart. Nicer for the French of course. Had a signed copy I picked up in Hatchards. (UK)

The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss - Mar-2015

Pretty good simple history of Caesar and the principal assassins.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - Mar-2015

Welcome back Cutter. Sorry. Silly mood. I really enjoyed this dark, disquieting first person narrated thriller about a Chicago female reporter sent home to the South, and her awful mother, to investigate a couple of teen murders. Very well written. I am going to read more of her, she really delivers.

Fatherland by Robert Harris - Mar-2015

I enjoy his books and I had somehow missed this one, which is about a Berlin detective, but with the twist that Hitler is still alive and the Nazis won the war. An excellent read.

The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon - Mar-2015

The latest in the Penguin paperback new translation and series of re-releases of these excellent short detective stories featuring the indefatigable Maigret. Perfect for a plane ride.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami - Mar-2015

I really like some of his books, but others I find too long, and in this one once we got to talking dogs I’m afraid I lost interest. Far and away the most enjoyable I have read so far is the trilogy IQ84.

Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler - Feb-2015

Love him. Love it. He is one of the best American writers, not just of detective fiction, but of prose. I have read them all before but enjoying them even more a second time.

Re-read with great enjoyment. Chandler is one of my favourite writers.

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler - Feb-2015

A brilliant book. Quite stunning in fact.

A Theft by Hanif Kureishi - Feb-2015

My Con Man. A very short but true story about the writer plagued by a charming con man.

The Longest Afternoon by Brendan Simms - Feb-2015

An account of the 400 men who pretty much decided the Battle of Waterloo, by defending the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte during the battle of Waterloo, fatally delaying Napoleon’s advance and ensuring time for the Prussians to arrive, to save the day and all Europe from the relentless dictator.

Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt - Feb-2015

A very finely written memoir by this very funny man, of his total addiction to movies, and the growth of a brilliant comedian. I was fortunate to see him interviewed by his brother at The Writers Guild, and then again interviewed and doing Stand Up at Largo.

A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon - Feb-2015

Another in the brilliant new series of Penguin Maigret novels. They are very short and simply written, but deceptively great.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin - Feb-2015

Finely written Irish novel.

Angels Gate by P. G. Sturges - Feb-2015

A Shortcut Man novel. I really enjoyed this, as I did a previous one of his. It’s a Crime Novel and an excellent one.

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones - Feb-2015

Since the New Year I have been working through Dan Jones’ long story of The Kings Who Made England or who nearly unmade France as they might better be known. Violent, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, muddle headed and very often wrong, they seem to have only two flavours: mad and violent, or mad and sneaky. Two deposed: Ed 2 and Dick 2, both as it turns out far shittier, tyrannical, and less sympathetic than Shakespeare and Marlowe present. Hard not to sympathise with the French, the Welsh and the Scots, and all who suffered under them, not the least being the poor English caught between taxation, endless wars and the plague. Nicely written narrative history.

Jeremy Thorpe by Michael Bloch - Feb-2015

In hindsight it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about Thorpe. Once removed from the scene he was never missed. A man whose confident sense of his own superiority led him to get away with (attempted) murder. I skimmed. This was the man in the silly hat who hit the beaches to the Monty Python theme tune. Always a charming clown and of course stalked by the singularly unattractive looney Norman Scott with whom he had an affair in the days when that sort of thing, though widespread, was illegal. Between the Kings and the Upper Classes it’s a relief the Sixties happened.

Life Ascending by Nick Lane - Feb-2015

A fascinating biologists account of the ten great inventions of Evolution. A little smarter than I am, but I learned a lot more about evolutionary biology and filled in a few glaring gaps in my biology knowledge. He explains things I know nothing about very well, even with my poor science background. O level Physics with Chemistry. (45%. A bare pass)

Fifty Mice by Daniel Pyne - Feb-2015

A nicely written thriller about a man confusingly picked up and put into the hands of the Feds for an unwanted change of identity. What does he know, what did he do, what did he remember? The State as tyrant. Good yarn nicely told.

January Window by Philip Kerr - Jan-2015

Hilarious. About The Premier League and with real people in it. Made me shout with laughter.

Someone said the critics didn’t like this. I told them I don’t read critics I read books. To be this funny may seem easy but it is desperately difficult. I was at first surprised and then delighted. Not sure if you have to be a Football (Soccer) fan to enjoy it or not, but as a fan of both it and him I was really happy.

The Emerald Light in The Air by Donald Antrim - Jan-2015

A book of short stories with an air of underlying anxiety about them. Manhattan malaise. Either everyone is unhappy with someone they are with or anxious about their previous lover, and they have frequently just undergone some kind of nervous collapse. I liked them though.

The Innocent by Ian McEwan - Jan-2015

I found a signed first edition of one of his I haven’t read. It’s an odd bird. A romantic spy story set in Berlin. It’s like he’s still learning his trade and trying on this genre. It’s not really comfortable to him, so really to me the book is of interest in a novelist exploring himself.

Dead is Better by Jo Perry - Jan-2015

A wonderful, original, hilarious, and brilliant book. I really enjoyed it. I think you’ll like it very much indeed… And she is married to the wonderful Thomas Perry, whose books I have been binging on. A must read.

The Face Changers by Thomas Perry - Jan-2015

I got lucky and found a Jane Whitefield Novel I hadn’t read! Actually I think it’s my favourite. Someone has set up pretending to be Jane and hiding people, or in fact milking them, having set them up. Really gripping.

The Face Changers by Thomas Perry - Jan-2015

I found another at an airport. This one about people pretending to be Jane Whitefield without bothering to keep them alive. They too pursue Jane as she tries to hide an innocent plastic surgeon. Gripping as ever.

The Jane Whitefield books are:

Vanishing Act

Dance for the Dead

Shadow Woman

The Face Changers

Blood Money


Poison Flower

A String of Beads

Strip by Thomas Perry - Jan-2015

I found a signed first edition at The Iliad Bookshop ( and though I have read it I began to read it again because it starts so grippingly and continues so. Love it.