1. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
Other reviewers on Amazon.co.uk seem to be disappointed devotees of Connelly and his detective. This is my first acquaintance with them so I do not have the adverse comparisons to make . It is a short, fast moving detective story, and I for one did not anticipate the ending. If you want an easy, exciting read for your flight or vacation I can recommend it as a topical crime thriller. It will entertain but not stretch the mind.
2. The Union Jack: The Story of the British Flag by Nick Groom
This book is more than its title states. It examines the history of the countries in the British Isles and their development up to the present United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. You will learn many new things like the origin of the three lions on England shirts and why we legally have no national anthem let alone no English one at all. You will find in the light of history why it is no surprise that this years bicentenary of England and Scotland's union went uncelebrated. The rise and fall of a United Kingdom is herein explained. The one frustration in the book is the absence of a decent set of illustrations. Why rely on words to describe flags when they are visual symbols, best illustrated not described? The author is an enthusiast for the Union. I fear he is standing amid a flowing tide of nationalism.
3. Not Dead Enough by Peter James
This is the first of this author's works which I have read and it is likely to be the last. He simply has too much explicit sex and graphic violence for my liking. The violence seems worst during the postmortems. It may appeal to others but not to me. Brighton is the setting but I do not think this will do anything to attract visitors. I think one may be meant to think you have uncovered the murderer fairly early on but there is one fairly incredible final twist.
4. The Sewing Circles of Herat: My Afghan Years by Christina Lamb
Lamb's title is misleading. The sewing circles which hid clandestine education for women forbidden by the Taliban, are but a minor part of the author's travels in Afghanistan in two main periods, the war against the Russians and just after the defeat of the Taliban. This is a terrible account of what war does to destroy a land and of the inhumanity of life under the strict Islam of the Taliban. Who can imagine what it must have been like to live under a regime where all picture, music and even laughter were banned. So what is related here is often ugly,violent and cruel. Lamb writes well but one cannot help wondering what was the mother of a young child thinking of to put her life at risk as she did. This is not a pleasant read but there is something of happiness before the end and now life in Kabul is, I can say from personal experience, much better than when Lamb wrote. Afghanistan though sadly remains a land of violence still in danger from oppressive Islamists
Labels: Afghanistan, books, history, Ireland, Islam, United Kingdom