I read much too much and I now seem to have become a top 1,000 reviewer on Amazon. It won't last, I see that others, who resent my strange success, have now taken to saying they find my reviews "unhelpful". I have no team of supporters to help me, so I will fade away.
This book really is an exceptional achievement. It is hard to believe it is a first novel. Zander's prose, perfectly translated (into American rather than English) by Elizabeth Clark Wessel, is a joy to read. The characters are expertly drawn. The plot, though complicated at times (because what appear to be two stories are being told and they only come together towards the end) is genuinely gripping. Zander's ability, in particular, to describe fast moving action scenes is astounding. But there is much more to the novel than mere action.
Although the story starts with a bang (literally), it does not continue, for a while, in that vein. Instead, we are gently introduced to Mahmoud… Read more
Looked at coldly and objectively, any decent person ought to hate Jack Reacher. He is horribly violent, often attacking and either killing or seriously injuring people on a whim (fortunately it usually turns out that the victim was a baddy). He is desperately pleased with himself, convinced of his vast superiority over everyone else. And now it seems, I hadn't picked this up before, he is teetotal (even dinner with the attractive heroine of this book in the top floor restaurant of the Park Lane Hilton is only accompanied by black coffee).
And yet there is something about this frightful monster of a man which makes us all root for him.
This was a very brave venture on which to embark. Jerusalem may be the holiest city on earth, acknowledged as such by all three Abrahamic religions (though Islam may put Mecca top of the list), but it has also been the site of appalling brutality throughout the ages. What makes this a brave venture is the fact that the controversies which led to all that brutality are very much alive today. And, what is more, the brutality continues. For a Jew, and one whose family has been closely involved with Jerusalem for many generations, to attempt an objective history of this sad and glorious city is courageous in the extreme.
But Simon Sebag Montefiore has succeeded. And succeeded… Read more