The Perfect Murder by Peter James

The perfect murder by peter james

The perfect murder by Peter James

The Perfect Murder is a novella by Peter James the bestselling author of the Roy Grace series. Committing the perfect murder and getting away with it is a recurring theme in the crime genre.

Victor Smiley is an unhappy man. His wife, Joan, passes her time ridiculing him and he has for years had no love for her.  He sees a local prostitute, called Kamila, to bring some excitement into his otherwise increasingly pointless life. He has no interest in his work at a factory and dreams only of escape. Joan has her own issues, the marriage is falling apart. She hardly sleeps with the grating sound of Victor’s snoring. Victor is oblivious to the fact that Joan is frittering away large sums of money building up credit card debt. She has her own secret amour, Don and she likes to impress him in constantly evolving sexy outfits.
Victor loses his job and riddled with debt he begins to formulate an escape route to a better life with Kamila. Joan, who he now loathes, has to be removed from his life, permanently. Victor is about to get a shock as he finds murder is also on someone else’s mind.

The Perfect Murder is a top notch novel that is tightly plotted and keeps the reader glued to the page.

Peter James is a very popular novelist who has had several of his novels made into films. He was educated and Charterhouse school and followed this with film school. Born in the UK Peter James lived for several years in North America where he worked as a film producer and screenwriter. He now lives in the UK.  His Roy Grace series was a Sunday Times number one bestseller.

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Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying, a novel featuring Major Jack Reacher, written by Lee Child.

 

Lee Child’s second novel, Die Trying, was published in 1998 featured Jack Reacher, centre stage, once more.

Whilst working as a doorman in Chicago Reacher becomes caught-up in the kidnapping of Holly Johnson, an FBI agent. She is also the daughter of a US Army general who is serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  They are both bundled into a truck and driven across the States for a reason and to a location unknown to them. Holly’s FBI colleagues take some time to notice her missing but then begin to try to piece together her movements and what has happened to her.

Reacher and Holly find on arrival in a remote part of Montana that they are being held by  the Montana Militia, whose leader is Beau Borken.

The intricate plot involves not only an FBI mole in the militia who has infiltrated them, but also a traitor within the FBI who supplies Borken information.

The President, fearful of another Waco type media catastrophe, does not want an outright assault and wishes the matter to be handled sensitively and carefully by the FBI and Army.

The novel is very well plotted and has the ability to keep the reader hooked and guessing. Lee Child is a true master of his craft. I found the novel immensely difficult to put down.

The Jack Reacher character, first introduced by Lee Child in Killing Floor, is sure to become an enduring hero in the mould of James Bond.

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Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Jon Stock is an English author and journalist and former editor of the Weekend section of the UK’s Daily Telegraph. Dead Spy Running is scheduled to be made into a Hollywood film. Stock has previously worked in New Delhi, India and lived in Cochin in Kerala.

A suspended MI6 agent, Daniel Marchant, while running in the London Marathon notices a reluctant suicide bomber stalking the US ambassador. Marchant cannot stop without provoking the bomber into an early detonation. Marchant had been a victim in the internal wrangling that existed between Britain’s intelligence community, MI5 and MI6. He also had the suspicion of being a traitor hanging over him.

Daniel’s heroic efforts to prevent calamity at during the London Marathon are misconstrued as he is suspected of being in league with the terrorists and they are used to further demean him. MI5 set him up and he is betrayed by a mole. He then falls into the hands of CIA torturers finding himself variously interrogated and waterboarded.
Marchant’s MI6 colleague and lover – Leila and the new chief, Sir Marcus Fielding have come to resent the CIA’s increasing influence in Whitehall.

Marchant goes on the run from the CIA. He then goes on a hunt from Wiltshire, to Poland and on to India to find the terrorist in an attempt to expose the false accusations made against his father and him. It was in India that Marchant’s father once met with a senior terrorist. Proof of treason on his part, or part of an ingenious intrigue?
Stock’s novel is well researched, plausible and utterly contemporary. A well-executed spy novel, from a writer who clearly has his finger on the pulse of the modern, murky world of espionage.
Dead Spy Running is part of the Legoland Trilogy.

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The King of Torts by John Grisham

john grisham the king of torts

John Grisham The king of torts

John Grisham’s The King of Torts is, as one might expect,  a legal suspense novel which was published in 2003 and which remained in the top 15 of the New York Times Best Sellers list for more than 20 weeks having been in first place initially.

The novel centres around a lawyer, Clay Carter and what can be, the sordid world of the class action. Mr Carter doesn’t earn much working for the Office of the Public Defender, though he has high aspirations. Reluctantly, he takes on the case of Tequila Watson, a man accused of a random street killing. A random murder in Washington, D.C. sees the case of Tequila Watson pass before Mr Carter who reluctantly takes it on. He does not know why he killed Pumpkin, his friend.

However, the case is set to change Mr Carter’s life and fortunes. A shady individual, oddly named Max Pace, alerts Clay to a conspiracy that has been perpetuated by a pharmaceutical company. They have been conducting medical trials on recovering drug addicts. However, worryingly they have not obtained their consent first. Tequila was one of the unlucky ones to be part of a trial and doubly unlucky in that Tarvan, the drug, does not work in 10% of cases. Though it does not work in those few cases it has an unpleasant side effect in that it leads patients to commit random murders.

Max Pace is used by the drug company to make contact with Clay in an effort to keep a lid on their unsavoury practices and to keep victims quiet by paying them off with muchos dineros. Though Clay is concerned with the process he soon turns into a convert when he sees the vast sums of money to be made. Clay’s fortunes don’t come from winning cases but from forcing the pharmaceutical companies to settle out of court at the earliest point. He departs from the Public Defenders Office taking some colleagues and setting up his own firm.

Clay begins his slide into a murky world as Max Pace gives him insider information on other dangerous drugs that he may be able to profit from.  Clay rapidly reaches the dizzy heights among other established tort lawyers in the city. Clay’s meteoric rise, however, comes to the notice of the authorities and he is soon under investigation for such things as insider trading to name but one.

Clay’s luck rapidly changes as he is badly beaten up and hospitalised and as one of his biggest cases loses and his unhappy clients turn on him and begin to sue. Despondent, he eventually flees to England with his girlfriend, Rebecca.

Though I did enjoy the rollercoaster ride of The King of Torts novel by John Grisham it did in parts seem to lose momentum. The plot is good, the characters strong and the novel flows, but it is just not totally convincing. However, that said, it is still a great read while soaking up some rays on a tropical beach.

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Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon, was a bestseller when it was published in 1969 and who among us will not remember the Hollywood film of the same title which starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Papillon, the French for butterfly, was a nickname that was given to Charrière and it also referred to his tattoo. It is a novel about the recollections of Henri Charrière and it describes his conviction, incarceration on and subsequent escape from a prison on Devil’s Island, which was a French penal colony off the coast of French Guiana.

The author, Charrière claimed that all of the events that he wrote of were true but this was later called into question. Though some of it clearly is true it is thought that some of the scenarios and adventures may have been distilled from the lives of his fellow inmates.

The book opens with Charrières conviction in France for murder of a pimp named Roland Le Petit and following a period in prison in Caen he was sent by ship to South America and onward to the notorious Devils Island. Papillon met a fellow inmate Louis Dega who had previously been a banker prior to conviction for counterfeiting. Papillon liked Dega and protected him from other inmates. The book spans a period of fourteen years of Papillon’s life up to 1945 and covers his hardships and various escape attempts.

Papillon a fascinating tale, particularly if it was all true, and gives a real insight into the brutalities of the time and the incredible tenacity and will power of Charrière. Well worth reading, even if you have seen the film which differs in part.

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An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Many of us will have heard of ‘The Dreyfus Affair’ and will remember it as a distant memory from history classes as a child, but I suspect, like me, your remaining knowledge will be selective and riddled with holes and inconsistencies. Such a shame when you consider this pivotal time in French military and political history before the First World War. It gripped a nation at the time and the world more generally. This novel has modern day parallels in the forms of anti-Semitism and whistle-blowers.

The 2013 novel, An Officer and a Spy is a 2013 is a fictional thriller based on these dramatic events in French history. It is written by the supremely talented and diverse journalist and writer, Robert Harris. The novel recalls the true story of the head of counter-espionage, Colonel Georges Picquart, in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

There had been some disquiet about the conviction of Dreyfus for spying and his subsequent incarceration on Devils Island off the coast of South America. An island made famous in the novel Papillon which was written by convicted criminal, Henri Charrière. Picquart began to investigate the evidence against Dreyfus, who was from a Jewish background, which he found to be very weak and that the government and military had manufactured or altered crucial evidence. Picquart was pressured to forget his findings despite his assertion that the actual spy was still operating.

Anti-Jewish feeling was running high at that time and Dreyfus initially had little public support, but following an open letter published by the highly respected writer, Émile Zola, the tide began to turn. The letter, J’accuse, was published in a French newspaper in January 1898 and was a damming indictment of the whole affair – the rest is history….as they say!

The Harris book is the recipient of the Walter Scott Prize and the American Library in Paris Book Award, both in 2014.

Harris has researched many newly released documents and many of the original sources such as newspaper reports, the court transcripts and Dreyfus’s own written recollections. This is a thoroughly enthralling spy and political intrigue thriller made all the more captivating as it is based closely on fact. Picquart is shown as a principled man who strives to expose the truth despite overwhelming opposition from superiors and his peers. His fate is utterly intertwined with that of Dreyfus and so is his final judgement. An Officer and a Spy is a superb novel which brings great clarity to the subject and is utterly thrilling.

Robert Harris was born in Nottingham in central England in 1957. Following a career in television and as a journalist he came to prominence with his best-selling novel, Fatherland. He has subsequently published a succession of top novels including Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost which was made into a very effective and evocative film by Roman Polanski, The Fear Index and Dictator. He is, as you can see, a difficult man to pigeon-hole as his works are quite diverse and expertly crafted.

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Six Days of the Condor by James Grady

Six days of the Condor by James Grady

Six days of the Condor by James Grady

American, James Grady wrote the thriller Six Days of the Condor which was first published in 1974. Grady next released a further novel following this success in 1978 called the Shadow of the Condor. Six Days of the Condor was set in Washington, D.C., and varies greatly from the film that was made in 1975 with actors Robert Redford, Max von Sydow, Faye Dunaway and Cliff Robertson.

The film, for some reason was titled Three Days of the Condor and seems to be the better known name.

Grady has written a clever, intricate novel that has a clever and believeable premis. The character, Ronald Malcolm’s job is to read the spy and mystery novels and to analyse their content and report on it. Do people really get paid for this as it’s a job made in heaven for me! Anyway, Malcolm is actually working for the CIA and is based in a secret office in Washington, D.C. By chance, Malcolm goes for lunch using an exit in the basement. On his return Malcolm finds that all of his collegaues have been shot and killed. He knows that he has had a lucky escape and that he is in danger and he immediatly calls a contact at the CIA headquarters.

On calling Malcolm gives his code name, Condor, and is ordered to meet CIA operatives. However, he fortunately survives a trap and goes on the run.

Malcolm has no where to hide and at random kidnaps a paralegal called Wendy Ross who he entreats to assist him….

I don’t want to give away too much. This is a great read in the classic style and well worth taking to the beach or on a commuter train.

Buy now:
Six Days of the Condor (Coronet Books)

Blu-ray
3 Days of the Condor [ 1975 ] Blu-Ray + extra’s

 

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Killing Floor by Lee Child

Killing Floor by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher novel.

Killing Floor by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher novel.

I decided to read the debut novel by Lee Child, Killing Floor, as I had heard so many people speak of this writer in good terms. I am glad I did. The book was utterly unputdownable….is that a word – who cares, it is certainly an experience!

Bieng a first novel it is all the more remarkable, very engaging and great character development.

Killing Floor follows the exploits of one Jack Reacher and it cuts straight to the action. Reacher is a wanderer and a former Major in the United States Army Military Police Corps.

He gets off a Greyhound bus and walks many miles into the town of Margrave in Georgia, USA. He is interested in the death of a musician named Blind Blake who died there many years before. In a diner, shortly after arriving he’s arrested for murder. He is interviewed by a detective called Finlay and he tries to prove he was not the murderer. A phone number is found in the dead man’s shoe and Finlay calls it and cons a man into telling him his name, that of a Mr. Hubble. Hubble is brought into the police station for questioning and he  cracks, confessing to the murder. Reacher, however, is sceptical. Reacher and Hubble are then sent to the state prison. Reacher averts an attempt on his life, which was intended for Hubble. two days later, Roscoe, a police woman to whom Reacher is attracted, proves……

Well if you want the rest you will just have to read Killing Floor. But don’t just believe me…this really is top fiction from Lee Child and here is a list of the awards it has won already:
Awards and nominations
1998 Dilys Award nominee
1998 Anthony Award winner, Best First Novel
1998 Barry Award winner, Best First Novel
1998 Macavity Award nominee, Best First Mystery Novel
2000 Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize winner, Best Translated Novel

 Buy now:

Killing Floor: (Jack Reacher 1)

Happy reading!

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A Delicate Truth by John le Carré

A Delicate Truth Novel by John le Carré

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré

 

After 9/11 the gloves came off in the espionage field and in the war on terror as Western governments grappled with this new and brutal threat from al-Qaeda.

A Delicate Truth is John le Carré’s 23rd and novel and details the conflicts between conscience, duty and the murky wworld of government cover-ups.

Toby Bell, a decent young man and private secretary to a British foreign minister, hears of a counter-terrorism operation on the crown colony of Gibraltar.

Codenamed Wildlife, the operation is being mounted in Britain’s most important colony. The plan is to capture and abduct a top jihadist arms-buyer. Toby is not cleared for it due to it’s high level secrecy and it is planned by a Foreign Office Minister and a private defence contractor.

Throughout the book there is a whiff of le Carré and his own journey through life.

The book shows the change in the world of espionage since 9/11 and it’s increasing militarisation.

The novel follows Toby as he tries to do the right thing while the plot dances around the Foreign Office corridors.

John le Carré at his best.

Buy now:

A Delicate Truth

 

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The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

The Kill List Novel by Frederick Forsyth

The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

What can I say about Forsyth!….a giant of a writer who’s meticulous research just oozes out of the pages. I live in expectant anticipation for each new novel. Frederick Forsyth is a true master of the thriller genre.

The Kill List is highly topical, scarey and cleverly plotted. A terrorist who delivers online radical sermons and who has come to be known as The Preacher has incited some Muslims to carry out assassinations. A retired US Marine general is one of their victims, but his son is a terrorist hunter.

The terrosit hunter enlists the helps of a teenage computer geek with Asperger’s Syndrome. The young man never leaves the loft of his family home though he is a genius when it comes to the internet.

The novel races between the USA and Somalia with detailed subplots involving warlords, pirates and special forces.

Forsyth has an intense knowledge of all he writes of which is ever evident.

Frederick Forsyth is at his best in this novel and shows the true mastery he has attained through skill and exceptional hard work.

Don’t miss out on this one.

Buy now:
The Kill List

 

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