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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Curmudgeon dressed as Lamb: Sue de Groot speaks to crime novelist Mick Herron about his irascible antihero in Spook Street

Published in the Sunday Times

Spook StreetSpook Street
Mick Herron (John Murray)
*****

When Mick Herron wrote Spook Street – the fourth in his series of spy novels about a cluster of misfits in Britain’s intelligence service – the Westminster terrorist attack had not yet happened. Nor had the attacks on London Bridge, in Manchester and at Finsbury Park.

All these subsequent events make Herron’s plot even more eerily relevant. Spook Street begins with the bombing of a shopping centre in the UK. (“It lasted seconds, but never stopped, and those it left behind – parents and families, lovers and friends – would ever after mark the date as one of unanswered phone calls and uncollected cars.”)

There is a grim echo, in the deadly flash mob at Westacres “pleasure dome”, of JG Ballard’s dystopian Kingdom Come – but where Ballard’s work is queasily alienating, Herron’s is warmly human.

His characters are flawed and vivid, particularly Jackson Lamb, head of a team of MI5 oddballs nicknamed “slow horses” (their office is in Slough House) and one of the most irresistibly unpleasant men ever to let loose a loud fart.

Herron, who on the phone is thoughtful and polite and about as far from Lamb as it is possible to get, says he has a lot of fun writing Lamb’s political incorrect dialogue.

“It’s kind of a safety valve,” he muses. “Lamb says all the things that you know you can’t say in public – you wouldn’t WANT to say them, you would never want to address other people in the way that he does – but there’s a great deal of fun and mischief to be had in doing it in fiction and knowing that for all the nasty things he comes up with, he’s saying them for effect, to annoy people. If he was behaving like that without being aware of how offensive he was, and actually believed the things he was saying, then he would be a different kind of person entirely.”

Lamb, like all the best characters in fiction, has slipped the bonds of his creator’s keys and taken on a life of his own. Herron says he often wonders what lies beneath the irascible old spy’s obnoxiousness.

“I know that there are things in his past that I haven’t fully uncovered. A key line to his character, from a previous book, is ‘when the Berlin wall came down he built another one around himself’. And there’s a line in what I was writing just this morning [the fifth book in the series will be published in 2018] where one of the other characters says Jackson ‘spent half a lifetime going to battle for what he believed in, and the second half of his life revenging himself on a world that seemed to have screwed things up anyway’.

“I think there’s a great deal of disappointment and bitterness there, and being obnoxious is his way of coping with it all, but I’m not sure I want to uncover the exact reasons behind the bitterness. I think one can destroy a character by probing too deeply into the reasons why they are how they are. I think it’s more fun just to let them get on with it. I’m very much enjoying winding him up and watching him go.”

Herron has the same attitude towards the universe in which his plots play out. He can be prescient about the real world but does not set out to write social commentary. In Spook Street he writes that the mall attack became “a made-in-Britain version of all those headlines, which had shrunk over the years to a page-7 sidebar, about events in distant marketplaces. Nothing brought the meaning of ‘suicide bomber’ home quite so hard as familiar logos glimpsed through the rubble.”

Having previously written successful crime novels, Herron turned to the world of spying because he “wanted to look at a broader canvas. One of the things that drove me to that was the bombings in London, the 7/7 bombings, that brought home to me how these huge events impinge on the lives of all of us, and that you don’t have to be a particular expert to have an opinion and to write about that sort of thing.

“These things are now happening … it’s not unusual to pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio and find that something very like that has happened – it’s chilling, and it now seems to be an ever-present danger, so that’s what I wanted to write about, the fact that we have those dangers there among us all the time.”

His focus, however, is always on the story. “I’m a novelist, and I do want to entertain, and the fact that I’m drawing the source of my entertainment from the real world is obviously a very important part of it, but I don’t feel that I have anything especially to warn people about or to tell them about, I’m just writing about how I perceive things to be. I don’t think anybody’s going to learn very much from my books, I do hope they will be entertained, thrilled, maybe shocked occasionally.”

Who should play Jackson Lamb?
Given the growing popularity of Herron’s novels, there will undoubtedly be several screen versions of the world’s rudest spy. When it comes to the actor who would best portray Lamb, Herron says: “If we went right through anyone who ever lived, it would be Orson Welles in Touch of Evil (1958). Physically, I think he looks like Lamb in that film; and his voice tone would also be about right.”

Not so silent: Lamb quotes
“The next sound you hear will be me, expressing confidence.” He farted, and reached for the cigarette behind his ear.

“So you’re the boss of the famous Slough House,” Flyte said. “Isn’t that where they keep the rejects?”

“They don’t like to be called that.”

“So what do you call them?”

“Rejects.”

“That is quite possibly the worst cup of tea I’ve had anywhere. And I’m including France in that.” – All said by Jackson Lamb in Spook Street

Follow Sue de Groot @deGrootS1

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Book Bites: 16 July 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

The CowsThe Cows
Dawn O’Porter (HarperCollins)
****
Book fling
It’s OK not to follow the herd. That’s the premise of The Cows, a powerful novel about three women judging each other, but also judging themselves and their ideas of children – wanting one, having one, and not wanting them. Tara, Cam and Stella are living their lives as best they can, but being constantly pressured to conform, they find it hard to like what they see in the mirror. When an extraordinary event brings them together, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all. This is a surprisingly funny novel. – Nondumiso Tshabangu @MsNondumiso

Here Comes TroubleHere Comes Trouble
Simon Wroe (Orion)
***
Book buff
Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian flair is reborn in Simon Wroe’s Here Comes Trouble. Kyrzbekistan, a fictitious Eastern Bloc country, is caught in the thrall of political turmoil that may sound all too familiar to many South Africans and Americans. As load-shedding seems to become permanent, troubled teen Ellis Dau attempts to rise to the occasion by restarting The Chronicle, his father’s independent press. Ellis’s humour (both intentionally and otherwise) is snort worthy. An excellent read for YA and new adult readers. Those over 30, however, may feel that they’ve heard this tale before, despite the fact we are living it today. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Last StopThe Last Stop
Thabiso Mofokeng (BlackBird Books)
*****
Book buff
Macko just managed to escape with his life after a bullet that was meant for him killed a child instead. His body may have survived but his mind is lost. He keeps seeing “things” and his stress is made worse by his dodgy taxi-owner boss and his money-grabbing girlfriend. Thabiso Mofokeng has done a sterling job of bringing to life the very real struggles of a taxi driver. It’s a poignant read and if you, like many, choose to forget the serious issues engulfing our country, this book will force them upon you. Thabiso, sir, never stop telling these very important truths. – Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

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An improbable page-turner: Margaret von Klemperer reviews Fiona Snyckers’ Spire

Published in The Witness

SPIREBACK in the mists of time when I was at school, the thrillers of choice were those by Hammond Innes and Alistair MacLean – for me the latter’s Ice Station Zebra. And it was that book kept coming to mind when reading Fiona Snyckers’ Spire. It isn’t just the icy setting – this time the Antarctic rather than MacLean’s Arctic – but also the breathless plot-driven nature of the story.

Here the background is eco-war rather than Cold War. South African Caroline Burchell is a virologist who is spending the winter at Spire, a remote research station on the frozen continent, as one of a multi-national team involved in a variety of projects. But shortly after their arrival, her companions start dying off from all kinds of nasty diseases like Ebola, the plague, smallpox and bird flu, all bugs which Caroline brought with her in sealed vials. Soon she is apparently the only one left alive, her sole contact with the outside world via Skype or radio phone, when the weather allows.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the project bosses in distant New York suspect her of bumping off everyone for some loony reason of her own. Caroline has to try to clear her name before the Antarctic summer allows rescuers and investigators to come in. And she slowly becomes aware that, in fact, she is not alone. Considering that she’s a brilliant scientist, she becomes aware remarkably slowly, and she’s not alone several times over, but I don’t want to give too much away.

Snyckers is inclined to over-egg her pudding, and by throwing everything at the plot, she compromises some of the tension her story ought to create. Caroline has to struggle with keeping herself alive, dealing with dozens of corpses and keeping the facility running, coping with being suspected of mass murder, personal problems, investigations into the lunatic fringe of eco-warriors on the dark web – she obviously has a better internet connection than some of us in less remote places – and the realisation that someone nearby is toying with her. But somehow, Spire lacks the creepiness and sense of foreboding all that should engender. It is just too improbable. Still, there is enough here to keep the pages turning. I’m not sure who Snyckers’ target audience is, but thinking back to my Alistair MacLean days, Spire could well resonate with readers looking for an escape from schoolwork. Margaret von Klemperer

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Far-right words: Kate Sidley talks to Tammy Baikie about her debut novel Selling LipService

Published in the Sunday Times

Selling Lip ServiceSelling LipService
Tammy Baikie
****

In the world of Tammy Baikie’s debut novel, Selling LipService, language is a commodity and a source of control. After the coming of haemhorr-age at around 18 years old, people can only speak if they’re wearing LipService transdermal patches, sponsored by corporations and scripted by copywriters so that the wearer’s every utterance promotes a brand.

The protagonist, Frith, experiences tastures – a sort of synaesthesia, whereby she experiences a taste with everything she touches. In addition, she has been introduced to literature by her father, who works in the repository where books are quarantined (they are no longer available to the public). She is eager to hold onto these meaningful experiences and escape the constraints of branded communication. She wants to silence “You” – the patch’s brand persona and her conformist alter ego – and to speak for herself. The plot deals with Frith’s attempt to circumvent the powers who control language in this consumerist society and to exercise her own voice outside of the brand babble.

Baikie is multilingual – German, French, Russian – and works as a translator, which she describes as a kind of ventriloquism. “It’s bizarre. You know you ‘wrote’ the words, but you are speaking for someone else.” This idea of speaking for someone else was the spark for this very original book.

It is oddly apt that we meet to talk about a book about language and the power that comes from defining how we talk about things on a day when the news is full of the language manipulations of Bell Pottinger and WMC and fake Twitter. “People don’t realise how carefully words are selected by PR and ad agencies,” says Baikie. “I notice it, too, when I listen to talk radio. A select vocabulary will be used around an issue or event and it is quite eerie to hear how those words come to be mimicked.”

Baikie thinks deeply about language, and the novel considers it in its many forms – as communication, as advertising copy, as art form; as a means of control or commerce or human connection. This is a big concept work, unusual and thought-provoking around those issues. And yes, you follow Frith’s struggle for speech and agency and connection. But for many readers the delight in this book is in the author’s inventive use of words themselves.

The commercial-speak of the LipService wearers, and the inner workings of Frith’s mind, provide rich opportunities for wordplay and the creation of words. Portmanteau, the melding of two words, is a key mechanism and something which Baikie notes is having a resurgence in our own era, with words like “frenemies” or “Brangelina” (which she calls “those celebrity shmoosh names”). She plays with verlan, a form of French slang which transposes syllables. Or she will retain the recognisable shape of an idiom, but swop out a word. It’s an ambitious high-wire act that at its best is quite thrilling for word nerds.

One wonders at the author’s seemingly endlessly linguistic manipulations. She puts it down to her training in and obsession with languages. “I’ve spent years of my life learning vocabulary. I read widely, mostly foreign authors, and have a taste for slightly weird stuff. Some of this has been useful in this book. I have hundreds of scraps of paper with word lists, lists of synonyms, rhymes, created words that I’ve fiddled with, putting them together…”

Here’s an example, in which a copywriter speaks: “Given the choice, focus groups prefered a whip-sharp quip to the old ad-lib. They like being able to twinpoint members of their own social tribe.”

Selling LipService was the winner of the 2015/16 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award. Anyone who loves books and words and wordplay, or is fascinated by the power of language, will find this book intriguing and often entertaining. You can be fairly certain you’ve read nothing else like it.

Follow Kate Sidley @KateSidley

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Book Bites: 9 July 2017

The Sun In Your EyesThe Sun In Your Eyes
Deborah Shapiro (HarperCollins)
****
Book buff
This story of a complex friendship between two women comes spangled with praise from American critics. Years after leaving college, Vivian and Lee set off on a road trip to untangle the great tragedy of Lee’s life: the death of her father, Jesse Parrish. Lee was still small when Parrish, a leading singer/songwriter, died in a car accident. His life and death have become mythical, especially as the tapes of the album he was working on disappeared on the night of his death. Lee’s whole life has been burdened by his memory and it is time to deal with it once and for all, and to sever, or renew, her foundering relationship with Vivian. – Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

Reservoir 13Reservoir 13
Jon McGregor (Bloomsbury)
****
Book biff
Fans of Jon McGregor know he is a painter who uses words rather than watercolours. Reservoir 13 is a portrait of English village life. A collection of everyday people whose everyday lives are shifted and haunted after a 13-year-old girl vanishes while on holiday with her parents. Each chapter begins a new year, with the characters slowly moving forward. It is we human beings who exist in routines that tend to alter at a gradual pace with age. This book is a work of art for readers who read for the pleasure of words and do not require tidy narratives with no loose ends. This novel is an echo of life. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Secret History of Twin PeaksThe Secret History of Twin Peaks
Mark Frost (Macmillan)
****
Book thrill
Twin Peaks – the TV series by David Lynch and Mark Frost – aired in 1991, and we were introduced to the town of Twin Peaks, the murder of Laura Palmer, and the cultish strangeness surrounding the killing. In 2016, 25 years after the series was aired, Lynch and Frost have collaborated on another season, and writer Frost has brought out his third book in the franchise. Presented as a dossier of FBI documents, photos, letters, newspaper clippings, and transcriptions, which may – or may not – elucidate the new series. But it’s pretty damn good, as Special Agent Cooper might say. – Aubrey Paton

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Acts of useless beauty: Bron Sibree talks to Tim Winton about his new memoir The Boy Behind The Curtain

Published in the Sunday Times

The Boy Behind the CurtainThe Boy Behind the Curtain
Tim Winton (Picador)
*****

Tim Winton refers to his new memoir, The Boy Behind the Curtain, his 28th book to date, as a midlife “looking over the shoulder”. Yet it’s difficult to conceive of more a revealing work from a novelist so revered by his fellow countrymen, but so renowned for shunning the limelight. It is a companion volume to his 2015 non-fiction meditation on the role of Australian landscape on his own fiction and that of the Australian psyche, Island Home.

Yet, this collection peels back the curtain on his life as a man and a writer in far more revealing ways. It also surprised Winton with what the book unveiled. “What sticks out for me,” he says, referring to a body of work that has earned him two Booker Prize shortlistings, “is just how unlikely it all is, having come from this modest, working-class background where no one had ever finished school”.

He writes of his sadness that members of his family remain illiterate in a chapter in The Boy Behind the Curtain, that also probes his concerns about the growing divide between rich and poor. For this is no conventional memoir, but a series of profoundly personal essays in which the 56-year-old author of such novels as Eyrie, Breath, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and The Riders, attempts to make sense of the world, his childhood and the unconscious patterns of his fiction. “You are drawing on real stuff as a fiction writer whether you know it or not, so it’s me trying to acknowledge and also make plain some of those strands that make up the rope.”

Some of that rope’s most significant strands are those of his childhood. The book takes its cues from its titular chapter in which Winton recalls himself before he found words: a troubled, inarticulate 13-year-old who took to aiming his father’s .22 Lithgow rifle at “innocent passers-by” from behind the curtains of his parent’s bedroom. “When I think of that kid at the window, the boy I once was,” he writes, “I get a lingering chill.”

In another he recalls his fears as a nine-year-old, clinging to the steering wheel in the aftermath of a road accident in which his traffic cop father gave his son a job to do while attending an injured motorcyclist. Winton was an adult before he realised his fears related to an earlier traffic accident: one in which his father had been so badly injured that then six-year-old Winton felt he’d been robbed of the father he knew. “That scene,” he reveals, “has puzzled me all my life. Haunted me, in a way.”

That those childhood events remain so resonant in his life and work also surprised Winton . “To recognise myself as the little boy still clinging to the steering wheel, and also to recognise in this long-ago boy holding the gun behind the curtain, that he’s been and gone in one sense, but he’s still present. The people that you’ve been in your life are still with you. They still inform you and you have to be mindful of them, learn from them and not pretend that they’re not there.”

Then there is his obsession with “useless beauty” as he describes his passion for the natural world. “I realised late in life, just from surfing, that in indulging in all those thousands of mornings and afternoons surfing, I was essentially indulging in acts of useless beauty.”

He writes of his abiding need to tap into the power of the ocean in a dance he calls “the wait and the flow” in this memoir. And to read it is to swim marginally, fleetingly, closer to comprehending the miracle of Winton ’s preternatural ability to harness the power of the natural world to the page. For he writes just like he surfs. “And the feeling is divine.”

Follow Bron Sibree @Bron Sibree

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Jacket Notes: Niël Barnard discusses the backstory of his book Peaceful Revolution

Published in the Sunday Times

Peaceful RevolutionPeaceful Revolution
Niël Barnard (Tafelberg)

There was no shortage of inspiration for this book, a sequel to Secret Revolution (Tafelberg, 2015). In fact, here and there I was asked to tone down my “enthusiasm” for some politicians and their not-so-admirable ways.

From a young age I never shied from the heat at the proverbial coalface. To be honest, I was attracted to it – not for the sake of sensation but for the opportunity to make a contribution where and when it really mattered.

While lecturing in political science at the age of 30, I was asked to head the National Intelligence Service. A defining part of my stint there was the secret talks, started in May 1988, which I held with Nelson Mandela while he was still in prison. This led to his release, the unbanning of the liberation movements and almost four years of tense transitional negotiations – the topic of Peaceful Revolution. For good reason the subtitle speaks of the “war room” at the negotiations. Fight, we surely did, and not only with political opponents but also among ourselves on the government’s side. So much was at stake: a lasting conflict or prospects for peace, for starters.

I try to shed light on the real issues, the personalities and the forces that determined the outcome of the peace process. As a member of the government’s negotiating team and having had the experience of (informally) negotiating with Mandela, I was in a unique position to observe, take part in and assess the momentous events leading to April 27 1994.

Acquaintances will know that I am a straight-talker who doesn’t mince words. I see no reason to spare ex-president FW de Klerk or his security czar, Kobie Coetsee, any criticism – the former for his wavering and lacklustre leadership and the latter for his baffling manoeuvres. The same applies to the obstinate Mangosuthu Buthelezi (often equalled by Cyril Ramaphosa) and the sometimes petulant Mandela.

But despite the heated debates and public posturing on all sides we shared a deep commitment to work towards peace and prosperity.

On numerous occasions this patriotic spirit provided the glue which kept the process on track.

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Love and hurt: Jessica Levitt reviews Chwayita Ngamlana’s novel If I Stay Right Here

Published in the Sunday Times

If I Stay Right HereIf I Stay Right Here
Chwayita Ngamlana (Blackbird Books)
*****

Chwayita Ngamlana’s debut novel is a spectacular one: a tale of a woman’s inability to let go of a relationship that she cherishes but which ultimately breaks her down. Shay, a journalism student out on a story, meets Sip, an unemployed varsity dropout who is in jail. Shay is attracted to the slight-figured convict and breaks the cardinal rule of journalism: don’t get personally involved with your subject.

Sip is released and soon they’re living together. Sip turns out to be an aggressive partner. Shay loses her friends and lives in fear as Sip gets progressively more jealous and physically violent. Yet Shay stays. Sip has got a hold on her and knows how to use her raw and alluring sexuality on Shay.

From the beginning the odds are against them in a story that asks: is love ever enough? The author has said she wrote in an experimental format to make the story more relatable. And boy did she succeed. The flow and structure of the novel glides smoothly. Ngamlana’s style is raw and honest. You’ll feel an extra hurt if you have ever been in a destructive relationship, or know anyone who is in one. If this is what Ngamlana is starting off with, then we’re signing up to her fan club, like, immediately.

Follow Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

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Book Bites: 2 July 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

Find MeFind Me
JS Monroe (Head of Zeus)
Book thrill
****
Intelligent, fast-paced, and intriguing, Find Me is an excellent thriller in the classic English mould, written by Cambridge graduate and freelance journalist JS Monroe. Dubliner Jarlath Costello is a promising writer who works as a click-bait journalist for an entertainment site. He falls in love with Rosa, a brilliant young student, and he cannot recover from her supposed suicide. Then two things happen to change his life: he starts seeing Rosa, and he receives her encrypted diary – which he has decoded. But her death still makes no sense and since her body was never found, Jarlath is convinced she is still alive. His investigation reveals more than he, or the reader, ever suspected. – Aubrey Paton

A Dangerous CrossingA Dangerous Crossing
Rachel Rhys (Doubleday)
Book fling
***
The Great Gatsby goes to sea in Rhys’s genteel A Dangerous Crossing. On the brink of Britain entering World War 2, Lily Shepherd flees bad memories and sets off to Australia to take up domestic service and begin again. Life at sea is unique; class lines blur and allow people to act out fantasies in a way they’d never dare to while on land. Aboard the ship, Lily is quickly swept up by dashing new friends, brimming with wealth and fabulous clothes. Together, the odd menagerie of pals have grand adventures while guarding many secrets. But with the murder of two passengers, Lily is to discover that there is much tarnish behind the glamour of the upper class. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Here and GoneHere and Gone
Haylen Beck (Harvill Secker)
Book thrill
****
I love thrillers that have been recommended by Lee Child. He doesn’t praise many, but those he chooses are winners. This is no exception. Audra is running from New York, her abusive husband and the possibility of losing custody of her children to him. She runs before the judge can rule. In Arizona, she is pulled over by a shady sheriff who finds marijuana in her car and arrests her. Her 11-year-old son and three-year-old daughter are taken by a deputy to a “safe place”. So intense, this book never lets up. Like Audra, the reader can only really breathe at the end. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

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Book Bites: 18 June 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

Right Behind You
Lisa Gardner (Hodder & Stoughton)
Book thrill
***
Profilers Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner have fostered a troubled youngster, Sharlah, who is traumatised by a childhood in which her drunken father murdered her mother, only to be killed himself by Sharlah’s older brother Telly, aged 9. Telly, now 17, has gone on a killing spree, starting with his foster parents: it seems he is after Sharlah, but she has little memory of the night her parents died, and no clue as to what would trigger this murderous rage. A manhunt ensues, with all the usual drama. This is the seventh book featuring Quincy and Conner and, while it works well as a standalone, is sadly forgettable. – Aubrey Paton

This Is How It Always Is
Laurie Frankel (Headline)
Book buff
****
The Walsh-Adams family already had four sons by the time Claude arrived. He was a bright boy, like his brothers, but different. By five Claude had renamed herself Poppy, grew out her hair, insisted on only wearing dresses and carried her lunch to school in a purse. Frankel, who wrote this novel as a tribute to her trans-daughter, gives an honest portrayal of the difficulties faced when raising a transgender child. For while the family may love and accept their child, society will have varying opinions, some of which can be deadly. Frankel’s true gift is capturing the essence of family dynamics, from the chaos to the hilarious smart remarks. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie
 
Live by Night
Dennis Lehane (Abacus)
Book thrill
****
Written, produced, directed by and starring Academy Award winner Ben Affleck, Live by Night was released last year as a major movie. A major movie disappointment, that is – comprehensively panned by the critics. Perhaps Affleck should have left the script to the original author, Lehane, one of the great American fiction writers. The tale starts in 1920s Boston, during the Prohibition years and sweeps majestically through to the eve of WW2. Joe Coughlin, a 19-year-old small-time stick-up crook, foolishly robs the casino of a big-time gangster. During the heist he becomes intrigued by one of the workers, the sassy, fearless Emma Gould. He tracks her down afterwards and falls desperately in love. But Emma is also the moll of the gangster whose casino Coughlin robbed, setting off a blood-splattered train of events that culminate in Coughlin becoming one of America’s most feared gangsters. – William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

The Mermaid’s Daughter
Ann Claycomb (HarperCollins)
Book fling
****
This is the modernised version of The Little Mermaid – not the happy singing Disney version but the edgy Hans Christian Andersen telling. Kathleen is a young student and soprano opera singer. Her feet hurt like hell – like she is walking on broken glass all time – and her mouth pains with her tongue feeling like an alien part of her body. The fates decree that her life is a tragedy of murder. It’s an easy read and seems to be suited for younger readers but the story has a great hook and one learns quite a bit of the workings of an opera. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

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