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The Black Orchestra by JJ Toner
Touched a Nerve
The Black Orchestra kept me awake at night. Having lived half my life in Germany I almost started looking over my shoulder as he described the workings of the various security service systems and the undercurrent of xenophobia which, during this period, exploded onto the world stage with such a horrendous force. With an array of major and minor plot lines JJ Toner has described the tensions within the national identity which may not have changed very much over the last seventy five years. Credible descriptions of the social and political thought of the day packaged in a well paced spy story.
The Shame of Innocence by Nikki Copleston
This is a long story. Just when I thought I'd got a grip on all of the characters a few more came along. And that was good. This is a story about what is happening everyday; and it shouldn't be. The large number of characters serve to make clear just how widespread the network of child abusers is in a wide range of social and business environments. With amazing expertise the author unfolds the crimes and unmasks the perpetrators like peeling layers from an onion. Quite breathtaking. And I never once lost the thread. She teased me along to the quite unexpected climax. A very good read.
Moscow Bound by Adrian Churchward
Old Game; New Players – A Great Read.
If you’ve lived in a country where a knock on the door late at night can only be an unwelcome guest your nerves will be tingling after Scott Mitchell’s first interrogation by FSB’s Colonel Yakovlev. In my case it was South Africa in the seventies. If not, you’ll slide into a sheath of uncertainty which will soon have you looking over your shoulder when you are out on the street.
Fast forward to Moscow at the beginning of the 21st century. Post Glasnost. Post Cold War. The fear is tangible whether the strings are being manipulated by the FSB or GRU. Wasn’t it once the KGB? Plus ça change…
Having set up this chilling framework Adrian Churchward unfolds a political thriller in which you expect the main characters to disappear without trace at any moment. But they don’t. They weave a tale of intrigue and distrust which holds you spellbound until the last page. We see the puppets. But where are the puppet masters?
Ghost and Ragman Roll by Pete Adams.
Masterclass in Crime and Comedy
From the opening in Honfleur I was captivated by the colourful characters and, not having read the previous three, surfed through the fourth book in the series on the crest of a wave of bellicose humour woven into the multifarious storylines. Having chuckled my misspent youth through P.G. Wodehouse’s witty tales of his hapless hero I slipped easily into the world of DCI Jack (Jane) Austin who, having exchanged Wodehouse’s Edwardian slang for his cockney brand, became my wide boy Bertie Wooster. Ghost and Ragman Roll was exactly the right companion with whom I laughed away a(nother) rainy weekend.
Dear Reflection I Never meant to be a Rebel: Jessica Bell
Life on a knife edge
Jessica Bell’s dialogue with her reflection is a brilliant way of describing an internal therapeutic process which enabled her to resolve the chilling personal crisis which threatened to bury her before she had a chance to realise what an amazing future she could have.
While many young people drink too much, stumble into their first sexual experiences and struggle to find their identity in this period of hormonal induced chaos complicated by the parallel requirements of psychosocial maturation, the additional insecurity imposed by a severly dysfunctional family background stack the odds against survival so high that the reader is left wondering where the strength and resilience came from that enabled the author to develop into the successful, multitalented author, singer, songwriter, designer she has become.
Although a memoir, the narrative style is in the tradition of the finest storytellers.
Read this book if you are struggling or have struggled with your own demons. It will give you courage.
If your path through the torments of adolescence was easier this book will help you understand those who lived on a knife edge.
Respect! And respect for the family for agreeing to it being published.
Favourites Old and New
Trips and Tales
Cuba February, 2017. We did a bike tour. Only Germans do things like that. 35°C in the shade, headwind, heat reflecting from the tarmac, more potholes than roads. And 14 from 17 people got Delhi Belly. The hygiene standards in the hotels put me off eating. I ate toast and bananas for breakfast and only stuff that was grilled with a flame thrower for the rest of the time. And escaped the bugs. I got most of my calories from Rum. Havana was OK. Like a fifties Hollywood set. The façade is there but one street behind the set everything is crumbling. And of course the association with Hemingway. Mojitos in La Bodeguita Del Medio. Fifty years of zero investment and since the breakdown of the eastern European complex, no customers for sugar cane anymore. And the oldtimers of course. Exhaust fumes you can chew. Lots of all-inclusive hotels with top drawer prices and bottom drawer guests. The farther east you get the poorer the people. The area at the extreme eastern point of the island where the hurricane hit is still largely devastated. I took T shirts for the adults and coloured pencils for the children. It’s heart-breaking to see how little these kids have and just how limited their chances are.