The Rook by Daniel O’Malley and the problem with ‘chunksters’ #20booksofsummer24

Before I get to my review of The Rook, my third read in this year’s 20 Books of Summer challenge, let’s have a discussion about chunksters, shall we. Up until recently, I loosely defined chunksters as any book of 500 pages or over, nowadays I revised that down to 450, and I’m inclined to pull Read More

The Coming Storm by Greg Mosse – blogtour

Last year I read Mosse’s first novel, The Coming Darkness (reviewed for Shiny here). A labyrinthine thriller set in the near future in 2037 in a world ravaged by global warming and a killer virus, it introduced us to Alexandre Lamarque, who works for the French equivalent of MI6. Alex found himself caught up in Read More

Honour Among Spies by Merle Nygate, #NoExitPress blogtour

You know me, I never say no to a spy novel, and this one, the second to feature spyrunner Eli Amiram. I’ve not read the first, but didn’t feel I missed out on much, so was able to get into Honour Among Spies without worrying about Eli’s backstory. Given that in this novel, Eli is Read More

Beirut Station by Paul Vidich – blog tour

This espionage novel was my first encounter with Vidich, who has previously written five more. In Beirut Station, given the current political situation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, with Hezbollah watching in neighbouring Lebanon, the timing of the publication of this thriller set in Beirut back in 2006 when the Hezbollah and Israel were Read More

The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton – #1962Club

My contribution to the 1962-themed reading week hosted by Simon and Karen is veteran thriller author Len Deighton’s debut novel which introduced us to the unnamed spy later immortalised on film by Michael Caine (right) as Harry Palmer. Although I have seen the 1965 movie many times, and also enjoyed the more recent ITV adaptation with Joe Cole Read More

The Traitor by Ava Glass – blogtour

Emma Makepeace is back! Last autumn, I absolutely devoured The Chase – Glass’s first book in the ‘Alias Emma’ series, and I was delighted to join the blogtour for the second book in the series, The Traitor. It begins with a body in a suitcase, Emma is called to join her boss Charles Ripley at Read More

#20booksofsummer23 : Mackie, Herron & Kuang

How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie There is a select sub-genre of crime novels featuring prison confessions of serial killers. One I read last summer was A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G Summers. In that book, Dorothy Daniels is a food critic and black widow, murdering her lovers – and enjoying eating select Read More

Book Group Report – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré

This was my suggestion, actually a re-read for me, however, in between reading it for the first time decades ago and now, I must have watched the original 1979 TV series starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley at least four times including during lockdown, and I’ve seen Thomas Andersson’s film with Gary Oldman a few Read More

The Man in the Corduroy Suit by James Wolff

I’m delighted to be the penultimate stop on the blogtour for this book, the third standalone spy novel of ‘The Discipline Files’ series by James Wolff. A new author to me, and one I’ll definitely be returning to since reading this novel. The book begins with a top secret memo, outlining the admission of a Read More

A Game of Deceit by Tim Glister – Blog tour

Exotic locations are de rigueur for the period spy novel genre, but none are more suited for a bit of cold war paranoia and plenty of double-crossing than Hong Kong in the mid 1960s. That is the setting for half of Tim Glister’s third Richard Knox spy novel. I haven’t read the first two – Read More

Watchlist: mid-March to end-April 2023

Films on the small screen: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Prime) – after reading Baxter Dury’s memoir (reviewed here) I was recommended this biopic of his dad, Ian and loved it. Andy Sirkis’s singing is a little more raucous in comparison, but he was brilliant. Tetris (Apple+) – starring Taron Egerton. Who’d have Read More

The 1940 Club: Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler

When looking through my books to choose one to read for Simon and Kaggsy‘s 1940 Club reading week, I was surprised to find I’ve only read one (since I started keeping my spreadsheet) published in 1940 – that was the sublime Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker (reviewed here). However, I found two super classics from Read More

The Translator by Harriet Crawley – blogtour

Anyone who visits my blog regularly will know that spies and secret agents populate my favourite thrillers, and there are plenty in Harriet Crawley’s splendid new novel The Translator. Crawley, fluent in Russian, lived and worked in Moscow for twenty years – but in the energy sector. Who knows if she knew anyone from Moscow Read More

January into Feb watchlist

At the theatre: Stewart Lee – at the Oxford Playhouse You either get Lee, or you don’t. He’s unashamedly literary and intellectual for a comedian and I’ve been a fan for years of his TV shows (a couple of his shows are available on BBC iPlayer), but this was the first time I’ve seen him Read More

A One-Session Read – The Chase by Ava Glass

You all know how much I adore spy thrillers, don’t you? Whether on the page or screen, the twisty double or triple-bluffing, the danger, the tradecraft, the rivalry between secret government agencies, the mind games and living on your wits that are the life of the secret agent combine to tick all the thriller boxes Read More

Our Man in Kuwait by Louise Burfitt-Dons – Blogtour

The town of Ahmadi in Kuwait was only established in 1946 after the discovery of oil there, and the town built up around the operations of the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) – it remains the KOC’s headquarters today. Many British and American ex-pats settled there and worked for the oil company, and entertainment centred around Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Sorrow and Bliss

First Saturday of the month, and it’s time for the super monthly tag Six Degrees of Separation, which is hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our Read More

April Watchlist

Big Screen on Little Screen I wasn’t able to get to the cinema this month – nothing I particularly wanted to see there, but I did stream some good films – and a little dross as well! Film of the month has to be Boiling Point (Netflix). That this film was made in a single Read More

Feb into March Watchlist

Time for another review of what I’ve been watching lately, as opposed to reading. Big Screen I’ve only made it to the cinema once. That was to see the wonderfully funny and touching film The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. The story, set in Newcastle during the early 1960s is based on a Read More

The 1976 Club – Helen MacInnes

It’s time for another Club reading week hosted by Simon and Karen – and the year chosen this time is 1976. When I examined Wikipedia’s 1976 in Literature page, I saw I’d read quite a few back in the day – most of the SF listed (Delany,Herbert, Niven/Pournelle, Zelazny), plus an assortment of others including Read More

A Catch-up!

Life has been a bit busy this past week, school trips, fireworks to organise – just generally being more active, and then falling asleep in front of the telly, one more week until our two week half term! All this has led to a bit of a blogging slump. But it’s the weekend and it’s Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 nos. 18-20 – Le Carré, Sallis & Shaw

I’m going to finish off the reviews of my 20 books in one go today. Here goes… Call For the Dead by John Le Carré Having read many of Le Carré’s early books over the years, I was slightly surprised to discover I’d never read his first book, the novella Call For the Dead, published Read More

A new spy series: Meet Thomas Dylan

Awakening of Spies by Brian Landers Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for the first book in a new spy series from Red Door books, written by Brian Landers – a former defence intelligence politico and director of HM Prison Service. With Landers’s pedigree, and given that this book starts in 1973, I Read More

Crime Panel event at Mostly Books

Last night, I went to my local indie bookshop, Mostly Books in Abingdon, for their latest Crime Panel event. We had not just one or two, but five crime authors talking about their work! Olivia Kiernan, CJ ‘Caz’ Tudor, Andrew Wilson, Mick Herron and Dominick Donald. It was such a treat, and thank you to Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Daisy Jones & The Six

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month – the starting book is: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid How I loved Read More

Spooks v Terrorists

A Fatal Game by Nicholas Searle I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Nicholas Searle’s latest novel, for there is not much I enjoy reading more than a spy story. A Fatal Game is Searle’s third novel; his first The Good Liar, a psychological thriller, has been filmed with Helen Mirren Read More

20 Books of Summer #1 & #2: Rooney & Torday

Red Joan by Jennie Rooney You may remember the case of Melita Norwood, a British civil servant who passed secrets to the KGB for around 30 years after 1937. She wasn’t uncovered until 1999, but wasn’t prosecuted, dying in 2005, aged 93. Red Joan, Rooney’s 2013 novel was inspired by Norwood’s story (the recent film adaptation directed by Read More

Reading between the lines?

Transcription by Kate Atkinson I really must not wait so long to write my reviews. This was the first book I read in 2019! The good thing is it was such a good book, unlike other lesser fare, I haven’t forgotten what it was all about quite yet. However so many of my blog friends Read More

Thriller central

I’ve enjoyed reading several of Henry Porter’s novels (my review of his second book, A Spy’s Life is here). They are solidly plotted, full of action with great lead characters. His latest, Firefly, has a great tagline on the front cover of my ARC, ‘The prey – a boy genius. The predator – a deadly Read More