9 quick book reviews: The good & the bad
Here’s some short reviews of the good and bad I’ve been reading:
• Under the Harrow. By Mark Dunn. I can’t begin to express how much I enjoyed this novel, which is the best read of this lot. Imagine a group of people hidden away in a secret valley in Pennsylvania, who have been cut off from the rest of civilization for the last century – and whose main learning consists of the complete collection of Charles Dickens. Lots of dark secrets are about to be revealed. I’m on the lookout for more books by Dunn. An excellent fantasy novel.
• The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin. A detective series set in 19th century Istanbul, this time with a side visit to Venice. Yashim the detective is searching for a possible portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror. Very entertaining and the period details are great. Who knows much about old Istanbul?
• A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate. By Kenneth S. Stern. An oldie from 1996, written after Waco. Feels like it was written quickly but gives a decent overview of the extreme American right in that era. Decent.
• Watson and DNA. By Victor K. McElheny. Bio of James Watson, who won the Nobel with Francis Crick for discovering DNA. The book is fascinating up to the discovery and shortly afterwards. Lots of details about scientific discovery in the 1950s. Loses momentum after that as it devolves into his life as an administrator at Harvard, which is not nearly as interesting.
• John Kay: Magic Carpet Ride. The autobiography of John Kay and Steppenwolf. By John Kay & War II German soldier, who died in the war. His mother escaped from East Germany after the war, eventually settling in Canada. Not a bad read, for fans of the band.
• Hitler’s Savage Canary: A history of the Danish Resistance in World War II. By David Lampe. I’m a big history buff, so wanted to like this book. But the writing is not very good and I couldn’t finish it. Can’t recommend.
• If the Dead Rise Up. By Philip Kerr. I’m a huge fan of Kerr and this doesn’t disappoint. Half the novel is set in Germany in the 1930s, shortly before the infamous Berlin Olympics. It follows Bernie Gunther, a hotel detective, who hates the Nazis but wants to stay alive. The second half is set in corrupt Havana, Cuba, during the 1950s. Throw in a beautiful woman and a cold-blooded killer keeps appearing in Gunther’s life. Excellent read.
• Hell’s Horizon. By Darren Shan. A fantasy novel set in dystopic city sometime in the future. It’s a dark adventure. Fair.
• Run for Your Life. By James Patterson. Detective Michael Bennett is chasing a calculating murderer called the Teacher. Entertaining popcorn for the mind.
Tags: darren shan, david lampe, force upon the plain, hells horizon, hitlers savage canary, if the dead rise up, james patterson, jason goodwin, john kay, kenneth s. stern, mark dunn, mcelheny, philip kerr, run for your life, steppenwolf, the bellini card, under the harrow, watson and dna