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What are you reading right now?

I've experienced something similar.

When Vince Flynn passed away, Kyle Mills took over writing about Mitch Rapp. I read the first book that Mills wrote but won't buy any more because he absolutely butchered the character and alienated a lot of the fans with his trashy writing style.
Same here. I made the mistake of reading that first one as I didn't realise he had died. About the same time that I'd discovered Paul Lindsay had died. I'd enjoyed his two books written as Noah Boyd and had been looking forward to a third.
 
Spitfire Girl: My Life in the Sky by Jackie Moggeridge.

An intensely personal account of her life from awkward, but determined and ambitious, teenager growing up in South Africa through her experiences as an ATA pilot in WW2 (she flew more aircraft than any other transport pilot, male or female, in WW2), and how she battled her way through the misogynistic prejudices of post-war life to become the UK's first female airline captain.

One I'll be insisting my granddaughter reads.

5/5 role models.
 

Poppy

LE

exspy

LE
About the same time that I'd discovered Paul Lindsay had died. I'd enjoyed his two books written as Noah Boyd and had been looking forward to a third.
I've always thought Paul Lindsay was one of my own secret reading pleasures. I don't think anyone else has mentioned him here previously. I have the six novels he wrote about the FBI in hardcover. The first one, as in most cases, being his best. I didn't think the two books he wrote as Noah Boyd were as good, but each to his own. The website Fantastic Fiction doesn't show that he's passed.

I recall, when Mr. Lindsay was still alive and had already written and published some of his FBI novels, being at a Christmas reception with two FBI persons from their Detroit Field Office. Lindsay had worked out of Detroit while he was with the Bureau. I casually asked them about Lindsay and whether they had read his books. They both said they hadn't and that they couldn't recall any former Special Agent with that name. I couldn't tell if they were being disingenuous or not, but I guess if I worked at the same place as the office as described by Lindsay in his writings, I too would deny knowing him.

Cheers,
Dan.
 
I've always thought Paul Lindsay was one of my own secret reading pleasures. I don't think anyone else has mentioned him here previously. I have the six novels he wrote about the FBI in hardcover. The first one, as in most cases, being his best. I didn't think the two books he wrote as Noah Boyd were as good, but each to his own. The website Fantastic Fiction doesn't show that he's passed.

I recall, when Mr. Lindsay was still alive and had already written and published some of his FBI novels, being at a Christmas reception with two FBI persons from their Detroit Field Office. Lindsay had worked out of Detroit while he was with the Bureau. I casually asked them about Lindsay and whether they had read his books. They both said they hadn't and that they couldn't recall any former Special Agent with that name. I couldn't tell if they were being disingenuous or not, but I guess if I worked at the same place as the office as described by Lindsay in his writings, I too would deny knowing him.

Cheers,
Dan.
His own name novels are excellent. No question about it. I just also enjoyed the Steve Vail novels because they were a good choice for a holiday or periodic read instead of the trash pumped out by Lee Child et al. Lindsays death was a big loss to the world I feel, as his plots were always excellent.
 
I have finished Skin Deep by Timothy Hallinan and enjoyed it more and more as the book went on. This was actually the first book Hallinan wrote, but the second published. I have decided that I like to read an author's work in the sequence that it was written (late-onset a*al-retention?) which is why I have started , the first book that John le Carre (David Cornwell) wrote:

call-for-the-dead.jpg


Synopsis:

The first of his peerless novels of Cold War espionage and international intrigue, Call for the Dead is also the debut of John le Carré's masterful creation George Smiley.

After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the man's death, he begins his own investigation, meeting with Fennan's widow to find out what could have led him to such desperation. But on the very day that Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans - and their agents - know more about this man's death than the Circus previously imagined? Le Carré's first book, Call for the Dead, introduced the tenacious and retiring George Smiley in a gripping tale of espionage and deceit.

The book starts with an introduction in which le Carre explains how he came to write novels. He started this, his first book, while still working for the Security Service. The first chapter is titled A Brief History of George Smiley which does what it says.
 
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Breaker Morant by Peter Fitzsimons.

I am in two minds about this book because on the one hand the author has done a shed load of research as well as having access to information that may not have been available to earlier authors on the subject. Accordingly, I who previously thought I knew most of what there was to say on the subject, learnt that there was far more to the story. On the other hand the author's style of writing is so infantile that I wanted to take a lump of 4 x 2 to his head. It made reading what should have been an interesting book a very hard slog.

The author is described on the back cover as "Australia's greatest storyteller..." and I felt that the opening words of the book should have been, "Are you sitting comfortably, good, then I'll begin." He interjects personal comments on what he is describing. A small example following the arrest of Morant, "He may have, for the moment, lost his liberty, but nobody will ever accuse Breaker Morant of having lost his nerve. And bloody cheek, come to think of it." And another on Major Thomas being requested to act as defence counsel, "A cable for you, Major Thomas." Its like reading a script for a play and there are far worse examples than those two.

As to the contents of the book it is comprehensive. It covers the background to the Boer War, the background to the offer of combatants from the colonies and the initial conventional conduct of the war, although primarily of the Australian parts in that. It also covers in some depth the antics of Morant in Australia and his reasons for enlisting to go to South Africa. It also delves deeply into the change of the conflict into guerrilla warfare and the response from the British which led to the creation of the Bushveldt Carbineers.

It is no spoiler to say that the author is rightly convinced that Morant, Handcock and Whitton were guilty as charged. He also points out that there are significant differences between military justice and civil procedure that have been raised as evidence of unfair play in the matter. However, what came as a surprise to me was that a number of others were also put on trial for the deaths of the Boer prisoners and murder of the German missionary that are at the core of the charges, in some cases it was knowledge after the fact and failure to act appropriately.

The author also makes a very convincing case that one person in particular should have been convicted for some of the deaths although personally not being present. That person was initially charged over eight deaths but Kitchener ruled out six of the charges with the remaining two being very easy to defend. It was no secret that the man was part of Kitchener's intelligence network and did very well from appropriating the livestock taken from the surrendered Boers who were subsequently murdered. The man had the reputation as a murderer among the native Africans.

I learnt a massive amount from the book, for example, the battle at Elands River, another example, the recommendation for mercy from the court martial that was immediately dismissed by Kitchener but there is far, far more than that. It was worth reading but I doubt that I will ever reread it due to my distaste for the author's style. It probably won't even make my bookshelf but will be passed on.

p.s. The film about Morant with Edward Woodwood in the lead role is generally accurate although much condensed and it elevates the role of the defence counsel, Major Thomas, unduly.

1605842298901.png
 
Australia’s greatest storyteller. More like Australia’s biggest nob and there’s plenty of choice but the president of the republic movement and hater of all things British wins the award

Just so but to be fair the book is not overtly anti-British or a hater of all things British as such. Kitchener does come in for a lot of criticism but not for Morant et al. More for his tactics in handling troops in the initial stages of the war and then how the guerrilla war was handled.
 
Call for the Dead, John Le Carre's first novel didn't take too long, and very good it was too.

Tonight I start this:

Mongkok Station.jpg


Jake Needham has written books in two series, one featuring Samuel Tay and one featuring Jack Shepherd. All books are eminently readable. In this book he brings Tay and Shepherd together.

Blurb:

A city that’s falling apart, a man who’s falling apart, and a girl with a secret past who has disappeared without a trace. What complicates things is that the missing girl is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in America. She just doesn’t know it.

Hong Kong is teetering on the edge of anarchy. Violent street battles are raging between riot police and mobs demanding democracy.

Samuel Tay is a legendary Singapore homicide detective. He’s retired, but it was purely involuntary. It seems his legend made a lot of senior officers uneasy and they wanted him gone. John August is an American who has shadowy connections to the intelligence community. He’s done Tay a lot of favors in the past, and Tay owes him one.

When August asks Tay to come to Hong Kong to track down the missing girl, Tay doesn’t much want to go. August and his friends deal in the fate of nations. Tay deals with personal tragedies, one human being at a time. Even worse, he doesn’t like Hong Kong and, to be completely honest, he’s not all that fond of Americans either.

Regardless, Tay answers August’s call for help. He’s a man who honors his debts, his forced retirement really sucks, and there’s this woman… well, there’s always a woman in there somewhere, isn’t there?

August thinks that the triads may have kidnapped the missing girl. Tay doesn’t have the sources to get inside the Hong Kong triads so August teams him up with Jack Shepherd, an American lawyer living in Hong Kong who just might be the only white guy on the planet the triads trust.

Tay is considerably less than thrilled by that. Here he is in a city that seems only moments away from going up in flames, everybody is certain the missing girl is dead, and now he’s stuck with all these Americans. Can things get any worse than that? Oh yes, they absolutely can.

Tay has developed symptoms that indicate he may be very seriously ill. For everybody, there is always a last time around the track whether they know it when they make the trip or not. As Tay’s symptoms worsen, it begins to dawn on him that this missing girl just might be his own last time around.

If this really is the end for him, Samuel Tay vows he’s going to go out with one hell of a bang.
 
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Currently reading the biography of Lady Anne Blunt by H.V.F. Winstone.

Lady Anne was the granddaughter of the infamous/notorious/scandalous Lord Byron, the poet and it is fair to say that she overcame that as well as a fractured childhood being dragged between her feckless parents and very determined grandmother (Byron's widow) to become one of quiet achievers of English society in the Victorian era. Her mother was a prodigious mathematician who spent a lot of time with Charles Babbage in perfecting his "difference machine" and encouraging him to modify it so that it would run on electricity. We now know it as a computer. Lady Anne was never as publicly prominent as her forebears being very quiet but very determined. I believe she was more accomplished than them being a very good watercolourist, a good musician (she had a Stradivarius violin that is now known by her name), a linguist fluent in several languages as well as having the spirit of adventure that would put many today to shame.

She married Wilfred Scarwen Blunt, a man described as being "too beautiful to live" who treated her appallingly. If her childhood was one of turmoil her marriage was even more so with countless miscarriages and still births (the description of her holding several of the babies as they died is incredibly moving as the author quotes Lady Anne's own writings) but she remained the centre of calm and self-effacement through it all. Wilfred has always attracted the attention of biographers and the publicity, mostly because he was such an outrageous character and totally self-absorbed and indulgent. However, it was with Wilfred that Lady Anne undertook what can only be regarded as her most extreme adventures. She twice went deep into Arabia looking for Arab horses with which to found a breeding stud.

These trips were not in the manner of European journeys of the time with massive number of retainers and porters but were with only a few locals to assist them and a guide. Both she and her husband dressed in Arab dress but otherwise made no efforts to disguise themselves. However, they could both speak Arabic. On both trips they came close to loosing their lives to raids being conducted on their small caravan. On both occasions when it was explained to the raiders who they were and that they were travelling with official blessing their possessions were returned with apologies.

For those with an interest in Arab horses will recognise her as one of the founders of the Crabbet stud and one of the most important people in preserving the Arab horse from being lost to humanity. While much of the credit for that is given to her husband when you read her journals and letters you begin to realise that it was Lady Anne that achieved far more. It is fair to say that I find her a most inspiring character and would well serve as a role model for many today. I recommend the book.
 
I finished Mongkok Station last night - recommended, although it would be better if the previous Samuel Tay books were read first.

I feel the need for something much lighter now, so tonight I'll start the next Robert G. Barrett novel featuring Les Norton:

and-de-fun-don-t-done-a-les-norton-novel-7.jpg


Blurb:
They don't call him Lucky Les for nothing. A ticket in a raffle and Norton was off to see to US of A-Siestasota, Florida, where it turned out hot, red hot, and it wasn't just the weather. Night club brawls, mafia hitmen, too many girls called Lori, gun crazed Americans and the whole lot washed along in a sea of margaritas. Even for Les Norton it was just too hot to handle. So it was off to 'greener' pastures-the Caribbean-for reggae, rum and Rastafarians, not to mention Sultry Delta, sweet-lipped Esme, and Millwood Downie, schoolteacher, historian and would-be stand-up comic, who helps Les trace his family tree and possibly uncover the biggest earn ever.
The world is finally Norton's oyster. All he has to do is get the shell open.
 
Just finished Antony Beevor's Stalingrad.

I have to say it's the first time I've ever felt sorry for Germans in WW2. I found it a most uneasy and depressing read, man's inhumanity to man, etc. If you haven't read it I do commend you do, if only to help understand the hatred each side had for the other, and to understand the events of that period of WW2.

Has anybody got any suggestions for light, preferably humorous, reading to help take my mind off those things?
 
Just finished Antony Beevor's Stalingrad.

I have to say it's the first time I've ever felt sorry for Germans in WW2. I found it a most uneasy and depressing read, man's inhumanity to man, etc. If you haven't read it I do commend you do, if only to help understand the hatred each side had for the other, and to understand the events of that period of WW2.

Has anybody got any suggestions for light, preferably humorous, reading to help take my mind off those things?

Have a go at Stalingrad by Iosif Solomonovich Grossman
 
Just finished Antony Beevor's Stalingrad.

I have to say it's the first time I've ever felt sorry for Germans in WW2. I found it a most uneasy and depressing read, man's inhumanity to man, etc. If you haven't read it I do commend you do, if only to help understand the hatred each side had for the other, and to understand the events of that period of WW2.

Has anybody got any suggestions for light, preferably humorous, reading to help take my mind off those things?
'Riotous Assembly' and 'Indecent Exposure' by Tom Sharpe.
 
Have a go at Stalingrad by Iosif Solomonovich Grossman
If it’s similar to the one by Vasily grossman I’d book a year off. Russian authors seem to delight in setting the picture so much they describe every blade of grass before moving on with the story. In fairness you can see how it was re written so many times to fit communist doctrine but when it finally does get to the battle it’s a captivating read.
 

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