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Book Bites: 15 November 2015

Taken for DeadTaken for Dead
Graham Masterton (Head of Zeus)
***
Book thrill
The fourth Garda Katie Maguire book. Masterton is better known for horror writing than for crime novels and this comes through in the long, lingering descriptions of stomach-turning violence that pepper the narrative. After a human head is found baked into the wedding cake at a west-country cèilidh, Maguire has to grapple with a wave of violence, courtesy of a group called the High Kings of Erin. The book is longer than it needs to be, but crime aficionados will find it fast-paced and exciting.
- Fiona Snyckers @FionaSnyckers

Pretty IsPretty Is
Maggie Mitchell (Orion Books)
****
Book buff
What if two girls were abducted and spent a summer in captivity deep in the woods – would they have the same memory of events? Thus the question at the heart of this astonishing novel. Carly May is a child beauty queen turned failed actress; Lois is a brilliant professor and published novelist. All they have in common is their kidnapping, a moment that changed their lives forever. The saying “pretty is as pretty does” echoes throughout, as the book interrogates memory, identity and the nature of trauma.
- Annetjie van Wynegaard @Annetjievw

Sibanda and the Death’s Head MothSibanda and the Death’s Head Moth
CM Elliott (Jacana)
****
Book thrill
Hallelujah for the return of the fit, handsome and urbane Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda in this thriller that traverses rural Matabeleland, taking in animal poachers along the way, as well as subtly commenting on the current state of policing and politics in Zimbabwe. Sibanda’s ingenuity and intuition are tested by two apparently unconnected deaths, but he is able to trace linkages through coded messages in the diary of one victim. A lively read against the backdrop of the breathtaking Zambezi.
- Ayesha Kajee @ayeshakajee

Conspiracy of Blood and SmokeConspiracy of Blood and Smoke
Anne Blankman (Headline)
****
Book monster
The second in a series by Blankman set in pre-war Germany, after Hitler comes to power but before the full horror of his ideology is realised. Young Gretchen Whitestone and Daniel Cohen, having escaped Nazi Germany, live quietly in Oxford. Gretchen was one of Hitler’s favourites and Daniel is Jewish, but they are in love. Then Daniel receives a telegram which makes him return to the Reich and Gretchen, when she hears of his arrest for murder, hurries after him. An exciting young adult read.
- Aubrey Paton

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