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selina o'grady

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Where the Devil Can't Go (Kiszka and Kershaw Book 1)
Where the Devil Can't Go (Kiszka and Kershaw Book 1)

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BETTER THAN RANKIN, 28 Nov. 2011
A fantastic debut - shocking, surprising, wonderfully funny and utterly up to the minute. An English female detective and a Polish petty crook cum private detective cross paths as they discover the links between a dead body in the Thames, a missing woman, and political events in Poland dating back to the fall of communism in the 1980s. Anya Lipska has written a detective story/political thriller that out-Rankins Rankin. Like him she lovingly recreates a city - in this case London - which is as much a character as her people, but this is a London most readers, including Londoners, will have only glimpsed from the outside. It is the London of the vast Polish community: of young Poles working on the building sites for the Olympic Games in the East End, or doing bodged jobs on converting flats for the rich in Notting Hill Gate, of sex workers in Soho, of Polish matrons, of the straight and the ever so slightly crooked, including Lipska's wonderful hero the 'big man' Janusz, who engages in a little smuggling when he's not sorting out the Poles' problems - with a little violence if necessary. Janusz is in the mould of Rankin's Rebus, but because he straddles both sides of the law he is much more convincing as an anti-authoritarian urban knight. His nostalgia for the staider more insular London before the Poles settled there in such numbers, and his delightful friendship with reckless fellow smuggler Oskar, make him genuinely idiosyncratic and funny. Like all good heroes of detective stories, Janusz is haunted by demons - in this case linked to real life political events in Poland. Lipska's female detective Kershaw is equally well drawn - ambitious, fighting hard to overcome the chauvinism of her fellow cops though the seemingly most chauvinist of them brought tears to my eyes when he proves himself otherwise. The final denouement with Janusz fighting for his life in London's docklands is breathtaking; you're fighting with him on every page. Great book and I hope Lipska gives us another soon.

Death in Breslau: An Eberhard Mock Investigation
Death in Breslau: An Eberhard Mock Investigation
by Marek Krajewski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SEX AND SCORPIONS - SIMPLY THE BEST, 9 Sept. 2011
This is probably the best detective story/ thriller I've ever read, although I probably liked it as a novel more than as a whodunnit. The plot itself is over-elaborate and slightly unconvincing involving a vendetta which reaches back to the Crusades. Set in the 1930s in what is now Poland where the Nazis are just coming in to power, its central character Eberhard Mock is an extremely ambitious, brothel-loving senior policeman. In other circumstances the 'gloomy neurotic' Mock would have been a morally flawed, not particularly pleasant man. What the author Krajewski does so well is show how the particularly appalling brutalitiy of the Nazis can turn an ordinarly morally flawed being like Mock, into someone verging on the evil. Mock is prepared to let a young Jewish girl become a morphine addict and prostitute, her father to be killed, and probably the only person he has ever genuinely loved go mad in order to further his career. Yet despite that, the author manages to make Mock sympathetic. You too, he seems to say, under the pressures of the SS and the Nazis, might behave in the same way. The Nazi regime put Mock to the test in the way that most of us never are. Mock failed as most of us probably would under similar circumstances.

Like Rankin, Krajewski is in love with a city - in this case Breslau - and lovingly details its cafes, restaurants, buildings and streets. Unfortunately he is as meticulous in recording the torture inflicted by the SS and by Mock and his assistant. Sexual and physical violence seep from every pore of his characters, from the effete barons with their exquisite paintings and orgies, to the red-faced sweating SS torturer.

If I've made the book sound nasty, it is. Not just sex and violence, but scorpions also creep through its pages. But Death In Breslau escapes all the tired conventions of the detective story and provides a really convincing picture of the slow corruption of a city and its inhabitants under the influence of the Nazis.

4.50 from Paddington (Agatha Christie)
4.50 from Paddington (Agatha Christie)
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST OF THEM ALL, 27 July 2011
This is my favourite Agatha Christie. A great beginning with an old lady seeing a woman being strangled in a passing train. No one believes her except, of course, her friend Jane Marple. Like Poirot, Marple can be exceptionally irritating, but in this one she keeps her little old ladyisms to a minimum, and even her habit of using St Mary Mead villagers as her template of humanity works quite well. It helps that Marple has a good sidekick - the competent, no-nonsense Lucy Eylesbarrow - who is infiltrated into the household where the suspected murderers are thought to be, and receives marriage proposals from all of them.

Christie at her best. Cliches kept to a minimum. Characters quite well rounded; the regulation lovers more Beatrice and Benedict sparring partners than sweet cooing doves. Christie provides all the safety of a world where you know order has only briefly been disturbed and will be restored by the end of the book, while at the same time leading the reader through a maze of promising paths and dead ends. This is the classic, beautifully constructed English detective novel, littered with clues, suspicion falling on everyone: the denouement literally made me gasp.

The Naming Of The Dead
The Naming Of The Dead
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rebus, the Scottish Marlowe, 27 July 2011
This review is from: The Naming Of The Dead (Paperback)
Can the British detective fiction cop ever escape from the shadow of Chandler's Marlowe? Judging from Rankin, the answer is no, which is not to say that The Naming of the Dead is predictable. Edinburgh is under virtual siege as the police gear up for the G8 summit and the world's political leaders descend on the city along with anarchists, hippies, and other protesters determined to disrupt the proceedings. Rankin keeps you guessing until the end as to whether and what the link could be between the death of a politician at the summit and a potential serial killer. He's great on the details of the city, the tensions between the English and Scottish police, all on overtime to protect the politicians; his women - the cops especially - avoid the usual caricatures being neither too hard-boiled nor too touchy-feely. It's good to see Siobahn Clarke taking centre stage, she's even Rebus's boss. But I'm not sure whether the appearance of real people like Midge Ure, Geldof and Tony Blair, really works. Rankin's style is so reminiscent of Chandler thrillers that modern references seem like unnatural intruders. There is one hilarious moment when Rebus encounters Big Dubya on his bicycle. But often Rebus is so much in the mould of Marlowe - the anti authoritarian cynical, wise-cracking but highly moral defender of order - with a few Scottish additions like eating too much junk food, that it feels as though he has stepped into the wrong movie when he encounters contemporary figures. And it's because of this American formulaic style that Rankin's characters never feel quite real. None the less, as always Rankin is fun, often funny. He, or at least his alter ego Rebus, is a wonderfully disenchanted observer of both the do-good politicians and the do-good celebrity protesters. I was genuinely moved by Siobahn's attempts to win her parents' love and as always by the end can't help but be seduced by the tarnished knight, Rebus.

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