Book Reviews - August 2010 Part II

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Book Reviews - August 2010


Trespass by Rose Tremain (Chatto & Windus)

The brooding, untamed countryside of Cevennes, France, is the apt setting for this psychological thriller by Rose Tremain, Orange prize-winning author of The Road Home. Trespass is about two pairs of ageing siblings, one British and the other French. Beginning on a note of intrigue, the plot unspools the back stories of the siblings, even as their fates intertwine in the village of La Callune. The main characters are a fascinating study in contrasts and similarities. The narrative, with its tangled skeins, is often ponderous. Yet, one cannot help but admire Tremain’s skilful steering of the plot.



The Songwriter by Beatrice Colin (John Murray)

Beatrice Colin, in her latest novel, The Songwriter, recreates New York during World War I, when America was about to enter the war. It was a time of great social turmoil. In the field of culture, jazz had been born – a hot, new musical genre that had all of New York enthralled. Colin’s story revolves around three New Yorkers from the entertainment industry. Well developed characters, superb historical detailing and a complex plot that goes at a fast clip keeps you glued until the last page.



Worst Case by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (Century)

Worst Case, the third novel that James Patterson has co-authored with Michael Ledwidge is very much an assembly line thriller. There’s NYPD detective Michael Bennett, a beleaguered father of ten, Emily Parker, the attractive FBI Special Agent and a nutty kidnapper of rich kids, all of which makes for what critics sneeringly refer to as a “page turner”. Patterson fans will probably lap it up, but more serious readers perhaps ought to stay away.  Worst Case is not complete trash – it’s just what you need to get through a sleepless night or long, boring flight.



Angel with Two Faces by Nicola Upson (Faber and Faber)

Josephine Tey, real life detective fiction writer, returns as the protagonist in Nicola Upson’s second crime novel, Angel with Two Faces. Tey belonged to the Golden Age of crime fiction, when Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers reigned supreme. Tey’s writing was darker and dealt with the more squalid side of human nature or had hints of taboo stuff like alternative sexuality. Upson piles on the suspense with a host of characters who all seem to harbour dark secrets or a streak of looniness. More than the plot, it’s the recreation of the background – a Britain still suffering from the trauma of World War I – that engages the reader.



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