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The Dragon's Tail
The Dragon's Tail
by Adam Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars good but not great, 22 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The Dragon's Tail (Paperback)
Like his previous two books in the China trilogy the Dragon's tail is a good read but falls short of being a great book. Williams has once again done his research and his first hand knowledge of China is evident and he writes well. However, in my view, the plot line is weak. The changing relationship between Harry Airton and Chen Tao, a boyhood friend who grows up to be Harry's nemesis, is unrealistic as is the resumed romance between Harry and Ziwei- after a twenty five year absence. The Mills and Boon dialogue between Harry and Ziwei also devalues the book. The middle section of the book, When Ziwei is sent to a labour camp is perhaps the best part of the book. However, this is negated by the second half of the final section which smacks of a lazy tieing up of loose ends in the worst pot boiler romantic novel fashion. This is a shame as the author has the talent to be a serious writer.


The Emperor's Bones
The Emperor's Bones
by Adam Williams
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing but...., 16 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The Emperor's Bones (Paperback)
After enjoying the Palace of heavenly pleasure I found The Emperors bones to be slightly disappointing. The author has, to his credit, focused on China complex and turbulent history in the 1920s, a period little covered in historical fiction. But the book falls between the two stools of an historical epic and an historical romance and it is an uneasy mix. On the historical side the introduction of so many characters inevitably results in several superficial portraits while at times the recurring romantic theme is out of context with the main narrative and may well be the result of the publishers insisting on a certain quota of romance. The author is an excellent writer with a first hand knowledge of China but at times his historical portriats become cliche ridden and the romance input decends to the Mills and Boon level. I think he has tried to be too many things to too many readers and the book has suffered as a result.


The Innocent Man
The Innocent Man
by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars justice for all-us style, 3 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
An excellent, well researched and written book that marks a major departure for Gresham into factual writing and is a very unsettling indictment of the US Legal system. Gresham portrays a system that is struggling to provide basic justice and is populated, at the lower end, by overworked, incompetent, indifferent and arrogant officials who main aim appears to be a high conviction rate irrespective of the evidence. The basic, or deliberate, mistakes made by officals all the way up to judges is appalling. What is equally unsettling in this case is the inability of a so called christian (bible belt) community to forgive Ron Williamson even after his innocence had been proved. God help you if you are poor and you get on the wrong side of the law in small town America. This book is another strong argument against capital punishment, which was perhaps Gresham's aim in the first place.


River Of Time
River Of Time
by Jon Swain
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars remarkable, moving and sad, 7 July 2010
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This review is from: River Of Time (Paperback)
An excellent and moving account of Jon Swain's time as a journalist in Cambodia and Vietnam in the 70s. Anyone who has visited these countries can, in a small way,identify with the pull this region had on certain people. Jon Swain is very honest about his intoxication and fascination with both the region and the horrors of war and his determination to be part of it at all costs - giving up a good job to go freelance probably stifled his early journalist career. There is a certain sadness in someone who had (and knows he had)the best years of his life as a relatively early age. I lived in Hong Kong in the 80s and I meet several Vietnam era journalist in the FCC for whom Vietnam was the peak of their professional and personal lives and everything after paled in comparison. Some of them were sad figures. However, for anyone who wants a view of the Indo china conflict from the journalist point of view I would highly recommend this book in conjunction with Christopher J Kock's novel Highways to a war, in which the main character is partly based on camerman Neil Davis who covered the vietnam war only to be later killed in a minor coup in Thailand.


The Sorrow Of War
The Sorrow Of War
by Bao Ninh
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vietnam war classic, 3 July 2010
This review is from: The Sorrow Of War (Paperback)
There are so few accounts of the Vietnam war from the North Vietnamese side but this novel will go down as a classic. The simple matter of fact and unemotional style of writing only makes the book more powerful. For anyone who want to understand the Vietnam war from the North vietnamese soldier on the ground point of view this is essential reading. It is worthy of comparison to All quiet on the westerm front and is certainly the best war movel to come out of Asia.


Omerta
Omerta
by Mario Puzo
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars awful, 3 July 2010
This review is from: Omerta (Paperback)
After reading the first six chapters of this book I was convinced it was a spoof of a stereotypical mafia novel. The cliche ridden dialogue is truely awful and the characters cartoon like and the plot line appears to be a composite of the ten worst mafia films every made. This was the author's last work before his death and it is such a departure from his earlier works that you wonder just how much of Omerta was actually written by the author.


Name To A Face
Name To A Face
by Robert Goddard
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars exhausted seam, 28 Jun 2010
I read several of Robert Goddard's novels some years ago including In Pale Battalions and Hand In glove and thoroughly enjoyed them. I was, however, disappointed with Name To A Face. I found the story predictable, the characters sterotyped and unbelievable and the general twists and turns of the plot somewhat implausable. Robert Goddard has been writing what are effectively historical thrillers for over twenty years and this is perhaps the problem. Name To A Face comes accross as a very tired and laboured remining of a seam that appears to be exhausted. This is a shame as his earlier books were excellent.


The Man From Beijing
The Man From Beijing
by Henning Mankell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A tourist's china, 10 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Man From Beijing (Hardcover)
Mankell is an excellent thriller writer and I have enjoyed several of books. However, I found The Man from Beijing disappointing, primarily because Mankell had departed from his area of geographically expertise (Scandanavia) and ventured into China. Having lived in Hong Kong and been a frequent visitor to China I found his portrayal of China and the chinese characters sterotyped and their actions unrealistic. For example it would be absolutely unthinkable for a person in China as rich and powerful as the character Ya Ru to have been physically involved in killing or attempting to kill someone - this would have been farmed out to a lowly minion or modestly paid hitman (as have several real life murders involving business disputes). It is always a risk when a writer departs from their area of expertise and unfortunately this book,although well written,lacks the authenticity of his previous works.


When I Was a Young Man: A Memoir by Bob Kerrey
When I Was a Young Man: A Memoir by Bob Kerrey
by Bob Kerrey
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars interesting tale but dull author, 1 Mar 2010
Bob Kerrey's autobiography of his early years, which covers up to the end of the Vietnam war but excludes his later political career is both interesting and dull. It is interesting in that it is a portrait of its time, the turbulent sixties, and the author speaks with remarkable honesty and evenhandedness about his now well documented experiences in the vietnam war- one wonders how much his calm reflections are a product of the passage of time with the book published some twenty seven years after the end of the Vietnam war. However, his writing style is dull and ploding - the unimaginative title of the book gives a clue- and, certainly in the earlier chapters, you get the impression that he is going through an historical checklist, mentioning the historic events of the day and his reaction to them. Unfortunately this writing style also gives a clue as to one of the reasons why his presidential campaign was unsuccessful. For all his bravery and honesty Bob Kerrey unfortunately come accross as dull and unimagatively and this book reminds us why his presidential campaign inspired so few people. A politican such as Bill Clinton, for all his faults, does inspire people and no one could ever accuse his of being dull.


Flashman on the March (The Flashman Papers, Book 11)
Flashman on the March (The Flashman Papers, Book 11)
by George MacDonald Fraser
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars deja vu, 9 Feb 2010
Once again one has to admire the amount of research that has gone into 'Flashman on the march' and GMF's flowing writing style. However, having read three of the Flashman series some years ago (and perhaps because of it) I found GMF's last work predictable and repetitive. While the earlier books appeared fresh and innovative, by the time GMF came to write his last book I think he had well and truely mined this literary seam to exhaustion. This is not to take away from what is an excellent, entertaining and impressively researched series of historical dramas. But I think Flashman should had hung up his spurs before the author did.


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