Officially published on 1 Jan 2010, The Disappeared is the second in the Jenny Cooper 'coroner series' by M R Hall, introduced in The Coroner last year. Here, Cooper faces an unidentified 'Jane Doe' corpse and a distraught mother, Mrs Amira Jamal, as The Disappeared opens. As with The Coroner, it's Hall's remarkably intricate plotting that keeps the pages turning as the reader has no idea what could possibly some next. Also like The Coroner, Hall engages in a theme. With The Coroner it was youths in custody and with The Disappeared he explores Muslim radicalism.
Following his early December interview on BBC Radio Wales and appearances in Newport and Cardiff libraries, I picked up Dead Tomorrow, the fifth in the Roy Grace series by Peter James. And now I know why these novels sell so well. What came across so evidently in his talk was James’s attention to detail. Delightfully, you will find this in Dead Tomorrow which makes for one of the most realistically portrayed police investigations I have read in a few years. With a very contemporary plot that plays out more as a chase thriller than an intricate layering of clues and red herrings, Dead Tomorrow's 532 pages move like the breeze. And James ensures we are never far away from the impact on direct victims and those around them. This is not crime fiction for those seeking the gratuitous; this is crime fiction to educate and make you think.
Here’s another good (non-crime fiction) book for the festive market and one I consider an investment. It’s also another timely tome as the UK lags behind in coming out of the recession and rumours abound that a second wave might hit our shores. Many are feeling the pinch and many are reviewing the way they spend their money. Thus, The Frugal Life, being packed full of tips on this topic is full of good advice. Neither is this a book to dishearten, for as the subtitle says, this is one about “How to Spend Less and Live More”.
I’ve noted this is not a crime book (in the usual fictional blog-throughput sense), but you may care to differ when you read the content and think about crime. With a sub-title of “The Shocking Lies We’re Told Every Day”, Complete and Utter Zebu will leave you wondering if legal action ought to be taken. It will also make you laugh and if it arrives in your house for Christmas, expect to hear cries of “Well, I never knew that! Did you know…” and have your attention diverted from the sprouts as someone regales a little story from within. And if you read the zebu story on which the title is based, you may start to look at that turkey in a different light (wondering if you knew enough about where it came from).
Complete and Utter Zebu is perfect for this time of year because it’s the typical festive book of short articles with something to capture everyone’s attention and it’s also highly topical, managing to take in some very recent scandals.
‘It was a life, but so distant from what I’d wished.’
A Quiet Belief in Angels is the story of the life of Joseph Vaughan and how much of his life is stolen away, how parts of the lives of others are stolen around him, and how lives are taken through the simple act of murder.