The Prophecy Of Bees – RS Pateman

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The Prophecy Of Bees is the story of Isabella, a 16-year-old who lives with her widowed mother, Lady Lindy, and their ever-reliable housekeeper, Olga. They are incredibly well-off, thanks to Izzy’s late father’s business prowess, and at the beginning of the book live in London’s Eaton Square. However, due to tension between Izzy and her mother, who disapproved of her daughter’s relationship with her feckless musician boyfriend (a relationship which ended with him disappearing, leaving Izzy pregnant, and feeling forced into an abortion), Lady Lindy decides a fresh start is in order and they move to a manor house, sight unseen, deep in the countryside. Right next to them is a small village, Stagcote, where traditions go back many years and the names in the graveyard are the same names which still populate the village.

Izzy becomes friendly with another “outsider”, Howard, the gate-house resident. He has returned to the area upon his father’s death after a life working in banking in the Far East, although his marriage didn’t survive the move. Izzy regards him as a surrogate father-figure; there’s no hint of impropriety. Two sisters from the village, Brenda and Glenda, regain their previous jobs as cleaners, as does Cedric, who’d been the estate gardener.

But Izzy can’t settle at the manor. She hears scratching noises in the night, seeming to come from within the walls. Certain areas of the house frighten her, and they seem to smell strange, although not in an unpleasant way. Through hints dropped by various villagers, Izzy learns there is supposedly a curse on the residents of the manor, but her mother and Howard immediately dismiss this as being nonsense, spread by country yokels with nothing better to do but attempt to scare a posh teenage townie. However, in the house, the Fletchers’ seem to have a superstition to be obeyed in every situation – but, again, Izzy is told it’s just the “villagers’ ways”.

So many possible conclusions went through my head when reading this – but I kept changing my mind and I was certainly kept guessing!  It’s a cliché to call a book a “page-turner”, but that’s exactly what this is. Every happening in the book has an innocent, or a not-so-innocent explanation, so you can read things however they suit you…and everything is beautifully explained and pulled together at the end, if a tad lengthily (it was almost as if the author was showing us how clever he was!)

I’ve no idea how much of the folklore and superstition mentioned in the book is taken from real sources, but they certainly sounded like the sort of ideas and sayings we’ve all heard, and added to the authenticity of the villagers’ beliefs.

As far as I’m aware, this is being marketed as an adult book, but would also be a hit with the YA audience, as I’m sure all the ancient curses/folklore-and-superstition would appeal to a section of them, as would our narrator Izzy.

The only review I’ve seen on a blog, before I began reading this, compared the book to the film The Wicker Man – the “stranger(s) in a strange place with strange ideas” story is similar. It also reminds of a book I read a year or two ago by FG Cottam, one of my favourite “spooky” authors, called Brodmaw Bay.

This isn’t a hugely taxing read, but thoroughly enjoyable, and very cleverly plotted. This is another author who I’ll be keeping my eye on. Great fun.

3.5 out of 5

I received my copy through NetGalley, courtesy of the publishers Orion Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday Finds

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This weekly meme allows you to showcase all the books that came into your possession this week. I hope you’ll share the link to your Friday Finds, and let me know what you think of mine…

I’ve got to confess I’ve never read any of Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler series, but such is the admiration of the series on the blogosphere, I bought no 3, The Risk Of Darkness. But then I spotted these two in Mary’s Meals, at 50p a whip, so really couldn’t pass them up, and I THINK they’re no 7 and no 5 in the series respectively. I’d love to get hold of nos 1 and 2, but even if I don’t, I’m definitely going to get into this series…all these people can’t be wrong. And Susan Hill is terrific when it comes to ghost stories.

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I got this one courtesy of NetGalley. The premise intrigued me, but after having read mixed reviews, I’m not sure what to expect – although of course I’ll let you know!

Blurb (courtesy of Goodreads):

You don’t remember her–but she remembers you.

On the face of it, Emma and Nina have very little in common. Isolated and exhausted by early motherhood, Emma finds her confidence is fading fast. Nina–sophisticated, generous, effortlessly in control–seems to have all the answers.

It’s easy to see why Emma is drawn to Nina. But what does Nina see in her?

A seemingly innocent friendship slowly develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Nina eases her way into Emma’s life. Soon, it becomes clear that Nina wants something from the unwitting Emma–something that might just destroy her. 

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More courtesy of, yes, NetGalley – Hilary Bonner’s another author I’ve heard good things about but have never got round to reading. Mick Herron’s modern spy stories, based in a kind of shambolic unit – there are no Bonds here – have been fairly successful, and I think they’re definitely for me…

Blurb (courtesy of GoodReads):

The long-awaited new novel by British espionage fiction master Mick Herron, author of the 2013 Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger-winning “Dead””Lions.” 
Tom Bettany is working at a meat processing plant in France when he gets a voicemail from an Englishwoman he doesn’t know telling him that his estranged 26-year-old son is dead–Liam Bettany fell from his London balcony, where he was smoking dope. 
Now for the first time since he cut all ties years ago, Bettany returns home to London to find out the truth about his son’s death. Maybe it’s the guilt he feels about losing touch with his son that’s gnawing at him, or maybe he’s actually put his finger on a labyrinthine plot, but either way he’ll get to the bottom of the tragedy, no matter whose feathers he has to ruffle. But more than a few people are interested to hear Bettany is back in town, from incarcerated mob bosses to those in the highest echelons of MI5. He might have thought he’d left it all behind when he first skipped town, but nobody really just walks away.

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And the last two, again from – you guessed it – NetGalley (it’s been a good week for me, being approved for some quality reads I’m REALLY looking forward to reading!) Firstly, well, after the last few days, I suspect Colette McBeth needs no introduction. This is the follow-up to Precious Thing, and both are standalones.

I also got the ARC of a book titled After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh. To all intents and purposes it’s Falling, which has also been a hit with my fellow bloggers – I can only assume it was mistakenly filed under one of it’s foreign titles.

As per usual, there’s more out than in – although I have a plan to rectify that, and I will fill you in on it very soon.

How’s your book week been – are you on a “book diet”, with Christmas coming? Or have you still added a few to that pile? What do you think of my choices – any blunders, or any gems among them? PLEASE leave any comments below, plus a link to YOUR Friday Finds, if you participate. And thanks for visiting Crimeworm!


WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading, this weekly meme involves answering three questions:

1) What have you just finished reading?
2) What are you reading now?
3) What do you plan on reading next?

And here are my answers!

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1) I’ve just finished reading and reviewing The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton, which is a fast-moving family drama-cum-thriller, where an American student on an exchange trip in Spain is accused of murdering a Spanish man. Her mother rushes over to support her emotionally and practically, but is soon left asking herself how well she really knows her daughter…My review’s at

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2) At the mo, as per usual, I’ve got more than one book on the go…three, in fact. I’m nearly finished Chapman Pincher’s autobiography, Dangerous To Know, and won’t say TOO much about it as I’ll be reviewing it shortly…suffice to say, it’s been a fascinating read about being a journalist in the golden age of newspapers – when people had to wait for the paper to come out to find out what was going on in the world. I’m also reading, on the Kindle, The Prophecy Of Bees by RS Bateman, which is the story of a well-off mother and daughter who move to a manor house in a village called Stagcote, which consists of an odd population who follow bizarre superstitions to try and avert disaster…I’m only halfway through, but it’s very enjoyable so far, despite the air of menace which is prevailing throughout… Finally, I’m really enjoying Dandy Gilver And The Reek Of Red Herrings by Catriona MacPherson. I was sent it to review some time ago, and laid it aside, thinking it was perhaps a bit “cosy” for my tastes…but it is in fact incredibly funny, and Dandy is a great character, who, along with Alec, her partner-in-crime (or partner-in-investigation, more accurately) gets involved in a case which involves dismembered pieces of corpses being found in barrels of herring…anyway, I’ll be reviewing that one too, in due course.

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3) When we moved house, six months ago, I was in the middle of reading The Reckoning by Jane Casey. I packed it carefully, with the intention of continuing it once we were settled – except I couldn’t find it. Until yesterday. So I will probably have to start this one again, but, hey, it’s Jane Casey, so no biggie. I also have Colette McBeth’s next book, The Life I Left Behind, courtesy of NetGalley, so I figured I should get round to reading her first book, Precious Thing…

Blurb (courtesy of GoodReads): Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good?

Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever. 

They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara’s life is spiralling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes. 

Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.

I’ve also been looking forward to reading Sweet Damage by Rebecca James, which is due out soon, so time to read and review:

Blurb (courtesy of GoodReads): ‘I still dream about Anna London’s house. In my dreams it’s as if the house itself has sinister intentions. But in real life it wasn’t the house that was responsible for what happened. It was the people who did the damage …’ 

When Tim Ellison finds a cheap room to rent in the perfect location in Sydney it looks like a huge stroke of luck. In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn. When strange and terrifying things start happening in the house at night, Tim wonders if taking the room is a mistake. But then his feelings for Anna start to change, and when her past comes back with a vengeance, Tim is caught right in the middle of it.

A thrilling rollercoaster of a story – read it with the lights on!

Well, that’s this week’s plan, but as regular followers will know, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley.”

What are your reading plans this week? Leave a link, I’d love to see what you’re reading. Or any comments or opinions on my choices are always great to hear – as are recommendations, although I really shouldn’t say that…!

The Perfect Mother – Nina Darnton

The Perfect Mother

Out 25th November

This book at first glance, reminded me, as it will many readers, of the Meredith Kercher/Amanda Knox situation, but, respectfully the writer has taken that as a what if? and altered many details. The book is set in Spain, not Italy, and does concern an American exchange student accused of being involved in a murder. The victim, however, is in this case male, and Spanish.

The book opens with Jennifer, the student’s mother, being woken one night by a panicky, middle-of-the-night call from 20-year-old Emma, her oldest daughter. She explains she is in trouble and begs her mother to come straight to Spain; that there had been a death, and, for whatever reason, the authorities think she’s responsible. Jennifer and Mark rapidly confer, and decide that she should head over to Seville immediately, while he looks after their other two children, and winds up his work as a corporate lawyer, before following Jennifer abroad.

Jennifer remains the main character, and the investigation, from her perspective, plus her feelings and thoughts, form the rest of the book. The main question she asks herself is how one of HER children have got themselves in such a mess? She had given up her career as an actress (I couldn’t help cynically wondering how successful her career had actually been!) and been a “stay-at-home mom”, with freshly baked cupcakes waiting for them after school, as well as being willing to taxi them about to all the activities she has arranged for them, in the hope that they’ll get into one of the best colleges. She seems to find her ideas about child-rearing are affirmed when she finds herself the confidant of her own childrens’ friends. So how, then, could Emma have got herself in a situation as horrendous as this in her junior year abroad from Princeton? (Clearly the constant stream of extra-curricular activities worked, in her case!)

The investigation in this book moves fast and drip-fed just enough information to keep me turning the pages fast and furiously til all hours. It’s no spoiler to say that, from the get go, Emma’s account of events doesn’t stack up with what the forensics examinations have revealed…but how much of her story is lies? And is she lying to protect herself from lengthy imprisonment – or someone else? The lawyer, José, and case investigator, Robertos, act as the family’s – and our – guide to Spanish law, and Robertos provides Jennifer with some much needed support while Mark, her husband and the children’s father, is absent from Spain due to work and the needs of their other children.

Probably the main theme in this book is, how well do we really know those closest to us? Jennifer clearly thinks she knows her daughter better than anyone, but throughout her time in Spain, Emma continually shocks and surprises her. She has lied to her, notwithstanding the murder investigation, about her course, her living accommodation, whether she had a boyfriend, what her (and so her parents’) money was being spent on…So when Emma’s version of events is constantly being thrown into doubt by new, seemingly reliable pieces of information, Jennifer begins to question whether her daughter could be lying in a murder investigation. Mark, considerably more realistic when it comes to Emma’s shortcomings, also reminds her of earlier incidents in Emma’s life where her behaviour was wanting. So perhaps the question is, do you ever really know what anyone close to you is capable of?

This book is well-plotted, with, as I said, a good, fast murder investigation. It kept me reading, and wanting to know more. That’ll be good enough for many people. But I have to say, some of the dialogue was cringe-worthy – on several occasions I felt like I was watching a Channel 5 afternoon made-for-tv movie. The characters didn’t seem particularly like real people, just characters in such a movie.  Yet, to be fair, in other parts the dialogue was fine – generally, in the tenser parts. Perhaps the times in between the action was the author writing-by-numbers. I also think in better, more experienced hands, a book which properly examined the family dynamics, as well as featuring the murder investigation, could have been produced. Although I’m not a huge fan, it’s the sort of scenario Jodi Picoult does very well. But it is a debut novel, so, as with Natalie Haynes, it’ll be interesting to see what Nina Darnton does next.

3.5 out of 5.

I received this digital copy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin Plume Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Amber Fury – Natalie Haynes

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I read somewhere that this book had been on the shortlist for the Deanston’s Scottish Crime Fiction Novel Of The Year (it didn’t win – the prize went to Entry Island by the rather over-rated – sorry! – Peter May) but I recalled I had it somewhere in the TBR pile. The author, Natalie Haynes, was immediately recognisable to me from The Review Show (previously Newsnight Review; now sadly defunct.) So I was keen to read her attempt at crime fiction.

Alex Morris is our main character. Her fiancee has been suddenly killed (we find out the details of what happened gradually.) Barely functioning, and desperate to get away from all the memories of Luke in London, she takes a job working in a unit for troubled children in Edinburgh, teaching drama and dramatherapy – despite having had a hugely promising career in theatre direction. Her old lecturer from Uni in Edinburgh, Robert, runs the unit (bizarre career move, but, er, whatever!), and, knowing she needs a whole different life, for a time at least, arranges the position for her.

The book concentrates entirely on her relationship with the oldest class – there’s no mention of any of the other classes. There are only five of them: Ricky, who lives with his grandparents due to his mother’s addictions, and who never seems properly clothed or fed; Jono, a chubby lad who loves computer games; Annika, whose bad behaviour results entirely from her parents’ moving from Stockholm to Scotland for her father’s job in the oil industry; and best friends Carly – who wants to be a make-up artist and treats every day as a practice run – and Mel, who is deaf, and angry at her divorced parents.

Alex manages to get her class interested in studying Greek tragedy, with it’s huge themes like sacrifice, retribution, death, revenge, war, and the inevitability of fate. Such extreme ideas work well with the teenagers, who’s hidden and extreme passions make the plays a good fit.

But Alex makes some small – but foolish – revelations to her class regarding her past, and Luke, and as a result some of the class become fascinated by what happened to him – and to her. They wonder why, after they follow her, Alex travels to London every Friday, to sit alone in a café for three hours, then return to Edinburgh.

One of her pupils, though, is taking the obsession further. Some work on the internet, and a snatched glance at something crucial, and they think they understand Alex, and her feelings, and intentions. Inspired by her tragedy-themed lectures, and full of thoughts of fate creating a perfect circle, they embark on a plan…one which will prove fatal…

This is a great first novel, and the premise is fantastic. Natalie Haynes is especially good at creating dialogue, particularly that of the Edinburgh teenagers – it takes an excellent ear to get any dialogue bang-on; teenagers, with their in-words, slang and regional dialect, are very difficult. Sometimes they sounded not unlike my children! The classes Alex holds come across as natural and plausible. Sympathetic, but idealistic Robert, and his long-term partner, and Alex’s reverend mother who struggles to understand her daughter’s devastation, make for interesting and unclichéd secondary characters. And, as always, the backdrop of Edinburgh is a great fit, and clearly a city the author knows and loves.

This isn’t a who-dunnit, and that’s very clear from the start of the book. It moves back-and-forth between Before and After the climactic event, slowly teasing out the whole story. At the climax, it’s like watching a car crash you know is about to happen and are unable to prevent…

My only criticism is of the end – there’s an exchange of letters I find unnecessary and implausible, and also a hint of a happy ever after – so predictable! I’d have preferred it to end earlier, on a less neat-and-tidy note, and be more ambiguous about the characters’ futures. But you can’t have everything.

I think anyone who enjoys a slightly unusual crime novel, with more of a psychological aspect, would love this highly accomplished debut – and I’ll definitely be looking out for her next book!

Natalie Haynes

Natalie Haynes

4 out of 5.


Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading, this weekly meme asks for your answers to three questions:

1) What have you just finished reading?

2) What are you reading now?

3) What do you plan on reading next?

And here are my answers!

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1) I’ve just finished reading The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes. I’ll not give any clues to what I thought of the book, as a review will follow shortly…

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2) I’m now reading something a wee bit different for Crimeworm – an autobiography, namely Dangerous To Know by Chapman Pincher. A renowned journalist from the end of the war onwards, he broke many huge stories. He also wrote a book which is one of the definitive studies of The Cambridge Spies (Their Trade Is Treachery.) I’ve just started it, so I’ll probably grab a faster read – fiction – as Mr Pincher’s book is definitely one to be savoured…

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3) I’m DEFINITELY going to try to get back to Marcia Clark’s The Competition this week (yes, I am aware I’ve said this before…possibly more than once…!) plus I’d also like to read a book I was sent to review ages ago, Dandy Gilver And The Reek Of Red Herrings by Catriona MacPherson. As the Dandy Gilver books are definitely part of a series, I thought I’d ask if any fellow bloggers have read any of them, and whether they enjoyed them. I’m also aware I have Val McDermid’s The Skeleton Road to continue with…(Note to self: Finish the book you’re reading before starting another. No matter how exciting the next one looks…!) What have you read/are you reading? And what’s next on your pile? (It is a PILE…admit it…!) Do let me know below…

Beast In View – Margaret Millar

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My interest in this author was piqued when I read in one of the numerous crime newsletters I subscribe to that all of her books were going to be reissued in 2015, and that she had been the wife of Ross MacDonald (real name Kenneth Millar.) When I was a child, I remember always seeing Ross MacDonald books when looking for something to buy in our local bookshop (Alistair MacLean also featured heavily!) By the time I was old enough to read him, MacDonald had all but disappeared from bookshops, but I’ve since read a couple of his and really enjoyed them. So I was interested to see what I’d make of his wife’s writing. I chose Beast In View as it seemed to have the best ratings on Amazon – although, to be fair, they all had pretty good reviews.

Beast In View would probably be called a novella nowadays – it clocks in at just 170 pages, and reads very quickly, so you whizz through it in a couple of hours. Not a word is really wasted, though – even at the beginning we are launched straight into the story. It’s about Helen Clarvoe, a thirty-year-old, somewhat unattractive, heiress who lives alone in a hotel, rarely going out, and only communicating with her stockbroker and estranged mother and brother, and then by letter. It becomes apparent that Helen has been left her late father’s fortune, causing animosity with her mother. Her brother appears to be unable to settle to any profession, and had married, although the marriage was later annulled, for reasons which soon become apparent. He’s certainly Mrs Clarvoe’s favourite of her two children, to the extent she smothers him. Helen has no friends, and clearly suffers from some kind of nervous problem, rarely, if ever, leaving her hotel room.

One evening, she receives a phone call from a woman called Evelyn Merrick, who describes herself as an old friend and clearly expects Helen to recall her, although Helen claims not to. The call becomes threatening, with Evelyn saying that she has a crystal ball and can see Helen in it, “…mutilated. Your forehead is slashed open, your mouth is bleeding, blood, blood all over, blood all over…”

Helen is so disturbed by this phone call that she writes to the only person she feels she can ask for help – her financial advisor, Mr Blackshear. He reluctantly comes to see her, and she reveals that, as well as receiving the threatening phone call, she believes someone has been stealing from her, as almost $900 is missing from her hotel room. His advice, naturally, is to contact the police, but Helen has another plan to which he reluctantly agrees – to track down the mysterious Evelyn Merrick, as Helen is certain she means to cause her harm.

In the phone call, Evelyn claimed that one day she would be, “…famous; my body will be in every art museum in the country.” This gives Blackshear somewhere to start, and so he goes through the phone book looking for modelling schools, until her name is recognized at the Lydia Hudson School Of Charm And Modelling. Here an equally odd picture emerges of Miss Merrick; she had told Miss Hudson she wanted to be “immortal”. Miss Hudson also gives Blackshear a couple of other leads: photographers; one which Evelyn Merrick had claimed to have done work for; and another to which Miss Hudson sent her in the hope he could offer her employment. Blackshear continues to follow the trail, and soon discovers Helen Clarvoe’s fears are well-founded – Evelyn Merrick is clearly a very disturbed individual. But is her mischief making confined to making threatening phone calls? If not, what is she planning? And for whom?

I rather enjoyed this book, which certainly kept me guessing and turning the pages, and I must say the twist in the tale was a genuine shock. I’d certainly like to read more of her work (she was quite a prolific author – there are 26 books listed in the front of this one.) However, I’ll probably wait until they’re reissued next year, as I have a sizeable TBR pile right now – a problem I’m sure many of my fellow bloggers can sympathize with (I’m thinking of you, FictionFan, although you and I are certainly not alone!)

For those specifically interested in Ross MacDonald, there’s a rather good article I stumbled upon from The Guardian at:

Please leave me any of your thoughts, recommendations, or just random…stuff. All of it is hugely appreciated!

The Trinity Six – Charles Cumming

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What if there was a sixth member of the Cambridge spy ring, previously unsuspected? And what if someone claimed to have his memoirs?

It would be the scoop of a lifetime for Charlotte Berg, a respected broadsheet journalist. She also suggests to her long-time friend, Dr Sam Gaddis, a lecturer in Russian History at UCL, and our main character, that they could then work together on a book on the subject. Sam generally writes obscure, scholarly books on Russia, but money problems, and the explosive nature of the scoop, ensures his interest is piqued. He agrees to work with Charlotte investigating the claims of Charlotte’s mysterious source, Thomas Neame, and finding the Sixth Man – whose name, Neame claims, is Edward Crane. The problem is that Edward Crane allegedly died in 1992. Or did he?

Just previous to discussing this joint venture with Charlotte, at his book launch Sam is offered boxes and boxes of research materials by a beautiful and mysterious woman (a stock character in spy stories, of course!) named Holly Levette. They were left by Holly’s recently deceased mother, Katya. Somewhat enamoured by Holly, but unsure whether the papers are of any value, Sam decides to accept them, mainly as an excuse to see her again. They, somewhat predictably, embark on an affair.

However, before Sam and Charlotte can get back together to fully discuss their joint project, Sam receives a telephone call from Charlotte’s husband, Paul. Charlotte is dead, from a heart attack. The old fashioned journalist’s lifestyle, of booze and fags, coupled with a genetic weakness, has got to her. Sam is devastated at the loss of his closest friend, but is ashamed to find himself also mourning the opportunity to unmask The Sixth Man. However, Paul gives him his blessing to continue Charlotte’s investigation, and Sam starts to sift through her files in order to try and find the mysterious Thomas Neame – who he hopes will lead him to Edward Crane…men who claim to have a revelation that would “rock London and Moscow to their foundations.”

The possibility of a sixth man is indeed a great premise for a spy story (and I’d be most surprised if it hadn’t been used before.) Charles Cumming is a skilled writer, and keeps the book moving quickly, with plenty of lies, double-crossing, the involvement of both the FSB and MI5 and 6, and lots of journeying all over Europe, and beyond, searching for people who worked with Neame, and who may know what the secret is. The Russian president, Sergei Platov, is a thinly disguised Vladimir Putin, and his FSB are also on the hunt for contemporaries of Crane, in a desperate attempt to keep this secret – which they had assumed long buried – under wraps. Of course, they will stop at nothing…including murder.

This is a really enjoyable, fast moving yarn, and Sam is entirely plausible as the academic who ends up well out of his depth. And the “secret” is definitely something that would cause the FSB to eliminate anyone who stumbles across it. Thomas Neame is amusing as the mischievous elderly troublemaker who won’t let the past stay buried. One thing – I can’t help feeling that the “beautiful, mysterious woman” is a slightly played out aspect of the spy novel, but as such women have been a part of spy novels since longer than I’ve been on the planet, what do I know?! Perhaps it’s because they traditionally appeal to a male audience… But The Trinity Six will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, irrespective of sex. And I’ll definitely be reading more of Cumming’s work.

4-and-a-half out of 5.

Note: I’d also like to thank Lady Fancifull for recommending Eric Ambler, a name new to me, but whose spy books, particularly The Mask Of Dimitrios, which she recently reviewed, sound great. For my next foray into the spy genre I hope to read one of his.

Any comments on this book, or further recommendations, or indeed ANYTHING are gratefully received below!

Friday Finds

Friday Finds
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Hosted By Should Be Reading

I am of course aware that it isn’t Friday, but I haven’t been able to get to a PC, over the weekend, just my Kindle, so I thought I’d wait until now to post my Friday Finds (also, I couldn’t come up with any alternative alliterative titles for this feature when posting it on an another day of the week – so Friday Finds it will remain…) As other bloggers will know, this is when you reveal the books which have come into your possession in the last week, adding to that already teetering TBR pile…Tree books, ebooks; begged, borrowed or stolen; this is the place to display your wares:

My first book is one I’ve been eyeing up, and which I would probably buy in paperback.  So I was rather delighted to spot it in Mary’s Meals for the princely sum of one of your British pounds. Seems ridiculously cheap, I know, but they operate on a “sell em cheaply and quickly” basis, and it seems to work, as the shop is always packed. (It also has the most exquisite window displays, better than most high-street shops!) This is also where ALL my “finished with” books go.

I like Andrew Marr, to the extent I don’t mind getting up early-ish on Sunday to watch his show, as he always seems to set the political agenda for the start of the week. Plus he’s a Scot, and is one of these men who are certainly not conventionally attractive, but whose intelligence makes them so…or is that just me?!

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BLURB (Courtesy Of Goodreads): The first novel from Britain’s most celebrated political commentator is a gleefully twisted take on what goes on behind the door of 10 Downing Street.

It’s September 2017, and the United Kingdom is on the verge of a crucial referendum that will determine, once and for all, if the country remains a member of the European Union, or goes its own way. The stakes could not possibly be higher, and the outcome is delicately balanced.

But, unsuspected by the electorate, and unknown to all but a handful of members of the Prime Minister’s innermost circle, there is a shocking secret at the very heart of government that, were it to become known, would change everything in an instant. A group of ruthlessly determined individuals will stop at nothing – including murder – to prevent that from happening.

Andrew Marr’s first novel is a darkly comic tale of deception and skulduggery in Downing Street and Whitehall. Making full use of his unrivalled inside knowledge of the British political scene, Marr has created a sparkling entertainment, a wholly original depiction of Westminster and its denizens, and a fascinating, irreverent glimpse behind the parliamentary curtain.

My second choice comes from NetGalley, and like Cleo at CleopatraLovesBooks, I was struck by the similarities in the blurb of this book to the Meredith Kercher case, particularly the parallels to the accused, Amanda Knox. But, looking closer, it seems the author has taken that case – which gripped Italy, the UK, and the US and probably beyond – and spun a what if? scenario from the events. Anyway, this sounds rather interesting…

The Perfect Mother

BLURB (Courtesy Of Goodreads): When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.

My third – and final – choice is also courtesy of NetGalley, and is – well, the title is self-explanatory. I enjoy a good magazine article, particularly Bryan Burroughs’ in Vanity Fair, and of course Michael Lewis (of “Moneyball” fame) who makes the most complex financial machinations comprehensible to even me, in the same publication. There’s also a Zadie Smith short story, so that’s something else to look forward to!

Product Details

BLURB (Courtesy Of Goodreads): Our annual anthology of finalists and winners of the National Magazine Awards 2014 includes Jonathan Franzen’s eloquent rumination in “National Geographic” on the damage we continue to inflict on the environment and its long-lasting consequences; William T. Vollman’s blackly comic reflections in ” Harper’s” magazine on being the target of an extensive FBI investigation into whether he could be the Unabomber, an anthrax mailer, or a jihadi terrorist; and Ariel Levy’s account of extreme travel and great escape to a remote land — while pregnant — in the “New Yorker.”

Other essays include Wright Thompson’s bittersweet profile of Michael Jordan’s fifty-something second act ( “ESPN”); Jean M. Twenge’s revealing look at fertility myths and baby politics ( “The Atlantic”); David Kamp’s poignant portrait of a small town recovering from one of the nation’s worst mass shootings ( “Vanity Fair”); Janet Reitman’s controversial study of the Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ( “Rolling Stone”); Ted Conover’s eye-opening account of working undercover in a commercial slaughterhouse ( “Harper’s”); and Wells Tower’s wild tale of bonding with his father at a notorious art and music festival ( “GQ”). The collection also features a short story by the critically acclaimed author Zadie Smith ( “The New Yorker”).

Other contributors: Steven Brill ( “Time”)Emily DePrang ( “Texas Observer”)Kyle Dickman ( “Outside”)Steve Friedman ( “Runner’s World”)J. Hoberman ( “Tablet Magazine”)Stephen Rodrick ( “New York Times Magazine”)Witold Rybczynski ( “Architect”)Matthew Shaer ( “The Atavist”)

I’ve probably read all your Friday Finds, but hopefully I’ll be more with it this week…the PC stuff is, slowly, coming back to me and it’s embarassing how easy it all is…so hopefully I’ll keep working away at it to make this blog more appealing to look at.

And please leave a comment – what do you think of my picks? Have you read any of them? Or, really, feel free to add any comment about books. It’s great to hear from fellow bloggers and bookworms!

Thursday Quotables

the trinity six

This is a new meme for me, the idea originating from the delightful blog, Bookshelf Fantasies, which I urge you to check out (once I learn how to actually do it, I’ll provide a link!) Anyway, it’s not dissimilar to Miz B’s Tuesday Teaser, but this one fits in better with my reading week, given I only read the quote last night! It’s from The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming:

“…Dr Sam Gaddis thought of himself, first and foremost, as a teacher. He believed in the unarguable notion that if a young person is lucky enough to read the right books at the right time in the company of the right teacher, it will change their life for ever.”

How true this is! I can’t help noticing on the author’s bio that he went to Eton, then Edinburgh Uni…I doubt many of us in the blogging community were so fortunate in their education (with the obvious exception of our esteemed Professor!), but all of us probably had one or two exceptional teachers – in my case, our primary school head Mrs MacDonald, and our secondary school English teacher Mrs Methven (who’s now Jane Oswald Russell). I remember Mrs Methven, as she was, thundering at a boy who’d selected Ed McBain from the school library, “What would your parents say if they knew you were reading Ed McBain, hmm?” I can’t help thinking his parents wouldn’t have had a clue who Mr McBain was – mine certainly wouldn’t! But these women instilled in me a love of books which has, obviously, lasted throughout my life. Yet I know so many people who have laid books down after leaving school and I think, how sad. You really don’t know what you’re missing.

I’d love to hear about any YOUR school anecdotes; the teachers who you still remember fondly (or indeed, not so fondly – we had a History teacher who so destroyed my interest in the subject that I didn’t do the Higher until I was 23 – a B, if you’re interested, but in mitigation it was only a night class and I did have two small children at the time! – thankfully Dad’s library revived my interest in the subject!) Anyway, that’s my ruminations (great word!) on the subject over…