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V. L. Harding (Wales UK)

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Natchez Burning (Penn Cage, Book 4)
Natchez Burning (Penn Cage, Book 4)
by Greg Iles
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, 11 Mar. 2014
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I have read all Greg Iles books starting with his first"Spandau Phoenix." He has varied and diversified his stories over a range of differing subjects but still retained the ability to make them interesting and good reading.
With eight hundred pages to peruse his latest offering "Natchez Burning," which he says in the preface is the first of a proposed trilogy, is his most ambitious to date. He returns to the lives of Penn Cage lawyer-prosecutor and now Mayor of Natchez and his father, Tom Cage. It recounts the events taking place in Mississippi in the 1960's during the Civil Rights movement in America. It features the racist activities of the Ku Klux Klan and corrupt Police officials, the killing and disappearance of black activists with covert connections to the assassination of national figures. Secrets and liaisons which remain hidden for forty years before being exposed by an old crusading newspaper reporter bringing unforeseen and dangerous consequences into the lives of Penn and Tom.
The story switches between Tom's early life, serving as a Medic in the Korean War, then as a doctor in Natchez in the 1960's attending to both the black and white communities. In 2005 Penn is dealing with the repercussions of Hurricane Katrina and still fueding with his old adversary Shadrach Johnson the District Attorney as new unexplained deaths occur which are linked to the disappearances and murders of forty years ago. Tom Page is implicated and accused of murder and Penn involves the FBI to clear his Father's name and bring to justice the powerful families that still hold positions of authority in the state and who will go to any lengths to keep the secrets of the past hidden.
The book ends fairly satisfactorily with some questions resolved but with many loose ends still unanswered. Will any bones or bodies be found when the deep waters of the "Jericho Hole" is finally dredged? and will Penn be able to locate the hidden graves buried at the "Bone Tree" in the depths of the vast Lusahatcha Swamp?
In the second book of the trilogy Greg Iles may give the answers. I hope the wait will not be long.


The Undesirables
The Undesirables
by Dave Boling
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars The Undesirables by Dave Boling, 20 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Undesirables (Hardcover)
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A story of the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War told through the experiences and eyes of a young fourteen year old Boer girl, living on a farm in the outback.
When the British army invade their homeland of Transvaal, her Grandfather, Father, and older brother ride off to join a Commando unit which uses hit and run tactics to harass and confuse the British forces. Aletta and her Mother, younger brother and sister, along with Bina, a native servant are left to manage the farm. In September 1900 a detachment of troops arrive and they are accused of aiding and supplying food to the Boer fighters. The house and fields are set on fire and the livestock either killed or confiscated. The family are imprisoned in a concentration camp along with hundreds of other families. They are billeted in a tent with another family, sharing the barest of neccessities to sustain life.
The camp is divided into factions and fenced off from each other, the "Tame Boers", who would not fight, the "Hands-uppers" those who surrendered and the "Joiners" who were considered the worst because they actively assisted the British in the field by scouting and spying on their former neighbours. These receive more rations and were better treated than the rest of the camp. She describes life in the camp while comparing it with her former life on the farm amidst her Family.
In May 1902, after twenty months in captivity, they learn that the Boers have surrendered, they are finally released and make their way back to the ruins of their farm. There they eke out a living while waiting for news of their menfolk and praying for their return.
A powerful indictment of war, and the inhumanity it releases on a defenceless civilian population caught up in the resulting carnage, where they are the majority who suffer the most. Will politicians and governments ever learn.
The author's second book, both worth reading.


The Wind Is Not a River
The Wind Is Not a River
by Brian Payton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wind is not a River By Brian Payton, 15 Jan. 2014
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The Aleutian Islands stretch from Alaska, a thousand miles into the Pacific Ocean. No trees grow on the Islands and the native inhabitants,numbering about four hundred, make a living by fishing and raising fox to sell the fur. Six months after Pearl Harbor, a Japanese strike force bomb Dutch Harbor Naval and Army Base, the only U.S.defences in the Archipelago and seize the outermost Islands of Attu and Kiska sending the inhabitants to internment in Hokkaida, Japan.
The U.S evacuates the remaining native inhabitants to Alaska while mobilizing an Air and Army force on the Island of Adak, midway on the chain, to repel any proposed Japanese beachhead being established on the mainland of the U.S.A. A news censorship is also put in force by the military.
John Easley, aged 38, is a journalist living in Seattle but who was on an assignment in the Aleutians writing articles for the National Geographic Magazine during the coup. He persuades the pilot of a plane flying bombing sorties from Adak, the forward base of the operations, to take him with them in order to record details of the operation. The plane is shot down over Kiska and only he and Karl Bitburg, a 20 year old member of the crew manage to achieve a safe parachute landing on a deserted section of the Island. Their struggle to avoid capture and survive in a cold and inhospitable environment is told in alternate chapters with the story of Easley's wife Helen, who receiving no news of her husband, decides to leave their home in Seattle and travel North in an attempt to locate him.
She joins an entertainment group performing concerts at Army bases along the Western Seaboard until they reach Anchorage and then finally to Adak. It is a story of war, of a native people displaced from their Homeland, their homes and property destroyed, and after hostilities cease, returning to their Islands to start afresh. Most of all it is a love story of two people, separated, but united in their desire to find each other and regain their lives. Well worth reading.


The Tilted World
The Tilted World
by Tom Franklin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Ferrally, 27 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Tilted World (Hardcover)
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After months of heavy rainfall and despite the continuous efforts of the people in their towns and villages to maintain and improve the dirt levees and contain the Mississippi River, in April 1927, at Greenvale on the border of Arkansas and Mississippi, the river broke through the levee flooding the countryside from there to the Mississippi Delta under thirty metres of rampaging flood waters, causing loss of life, burying houses and farms and carrying away livestock. The flood changed the entire landscape of southern Mississippi.
Around this terrible natural disaster, one of the worst in America's history, Tom Franklin and his wife Beth Ann Ferrally have written "The Tilted World" a story of prohibition, bootleggers, moonshine, and two revenue agents gone missing, believed dead. Two veterans of the 1914-18 War, Ham Johnson and Ted Ingersoll are charged by Secretary Herbert Hoover to solve the disappearance of the missing revenue agents and to bring to justice anyone responsible. They become involved with a Store robbery by looters and in the resulting outcome a young baby boy is orphaned and Ingersoll is left with the task of finding him a new home.
It tells of a young girl, Daisy Clay, growing up trapping animals and selling the hides, before meeting and getting trapped in a loveless marriage to a bootlegger.
Like Tom Franklin's previous books the writing accurately captures the time and place but I believe Beth Ann Ferrally's input has brought out a greater potency to the girl's story and thereby enhancing the book as a whole.
Well worth reading, and recounting an event of which I was not aware and which has remained largely forgotten.


Fallen Land
Fallen Land
by Patrick Flanery
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery, 6 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
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Paul Krovik, a property developer acquires a section of farmland owned by Louise Washington, the last remaining member of a black sharecropping family, she retains the ownership of the old farmhouse. Paul intends to build a development of executive houses but part way through the construction he gets into money difficulties and the bank forecoses, taking in the business including Paul's own home.
His wife and two small children leave him, but Paul remains in the house living in a cellar complex, built without planning permission under the foundations, with a hidden access into the house and the nearby woods.
When a couple with a young boy buy the house Paul loses touch with reality, hunting for game in the woods, prowling the house at night, confusing the boy with his own children and remembering snatches of his own troubled chidhood under the control of a domineering father.
The stories of the book,s characters switches back and fro between the present and the past, between a simple love of the land and lives lived in the money powered business world of a driven modern society. The house is the central part of the story and some parts heavy going but with a powerful beginning and a tragic ending as Louise reveals how a black share cropper family, the children of slaves, came to legally own their farmhouse and the surrounding land.


Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2)
Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2)
by Lyndsay Faye
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seven for a Secret by Lyndsey Faye, 2 Aug. 2013
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This is Lyndsey Faye's second novel recounting the adventures of Timothy Wilde, it's set in New York in 1846. Timothy is a copper star "Policeman" in the recently formed New York Police Department and the story recaptures yet again New York's streets and alleys, the dirty grimy tenements,drinking dens and brothels and the people that inhabit them. It deals with the influx of Irish and European immigrants and their exploitation by the shady politicians of Tammany Hall.
Timothy becomes involved in the case of a free coloured family, kidnapped from their home by blackbirders and in the process of being transported to the Southern States to be sold into slavery.
When Tim's friend, Julius Carpenter, a negro bartender is also brought before the Court by slave catchers claiming he is an escaped slave from a Southern plantation the Vigilance Committee of the Abolitionist Movement asks Tim to testify on his behalf. The story is a murder mystery but the historical content makes it much more interesting than the normal "whodunnit."
The book highlights the obscene laws regarding black people and slavery which existed at that time. At the beginning of each chapter there are a few paragraphs written by historical characters of the time, from each section of the divide concerning slavery, which cannot fail to move any independent person.
A very good read.


The Accounting
The Accounting
by William Lashner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Accounting by William Lashner, 30 April 2013
This review is from: The Accounting (Paperback)
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William Lashner's first book, Hostile Witness, was published in 1995,his latest, The Accounting' tells the story of Jonathan Willing, who after the break-up of his Mother's marriage to a rich prominent Philadelphia family relocates to a run-down estate called Pitchford.
There he makes friends with two other boys, and enemies of the school bully and his hanger-ons. When they are seventeen the three boys commit a burglary, the result of which will change their lives.
The story moves back and forward between those early years and twenty-five years later when they are individually held to account. The story involves drugs, a crazy biker gang, a broken down old boxer with a boat and an unscrupulous collection agency whose officers use intimidation to recover their debts.
The story mainly concerns relationships, family relationships through the different generations, friendships formed during schooldays that last through the years, marriages that flourish and some that fail and the bond between parents and sons and daughters.
A little different from the normal books of William Lashner but still good reading. A few years ago I donated three books by William Lashner to my local Library and the Librarian tells me they rarely remain on the shelf for long.


Sutton
Sutton
by J. R. Moehringer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sutton by J R Moehringer, 4 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Sutton (Hardcover)
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On Christmas Eve 1969, Willie Sutton, aged 69, America's most notorious bank robber is set free from Attica Correctional Facility after serving a sentence of seventeen years. He is met by newspaper and television media, all seeking interviews to tell his story.
Willie strikes a deal with one newspaper, which includes in return, a reporter and photographer driving him around New York to different locations of his choice, where he tells them of the events in his life that occurred there.
The story jumps between the present day and memorable periods of his early life. Born into a closed Irish community, swimming in the murky waters of the East River in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, meeting girl friends at Coney Island, visiting the Yankee Stadium to see Babe Ruth hitting a home run, seeking work in the Depression and Prohibition years and finally, along with some close friends, drifting into a life of criminality.
He became one of the most successful bank robbers in the history of America and although caught and imprisoned managed to escape on two occasions and continue in his career of robbing banks. He used the years in prison to improve his education, reading the books of famous authors past and present.
He carried a gun but never used it, and if arrested never split on his accomplices.
The book faithfully captures the lives of working people in New York in the early 1900's and is worth reading.
Just a thought, back in the day, it was members of the public who robbed the banks, today it's members of the banks who rob the public.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2013 3:18 PM GMT


The Pain Scale (Long Beach Homicide)
The Pain Scale (Long Beach Homicide)
by Tyler Dilts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pain Scale by Tyler Dilts, 29 Nov. 2012
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This is the second story featuring Long Beach Homicide detective Danny Beckett. He has just returned to duty after a year-long medical leave. He, along with his partner, Jennifer Tanaka, are assigned to the murder case of a young woman and her two young children at their up-market family home. Although a small safe has been taken from the property Danny discounts robbery as the motive and believes they are dealing with a contract killing.
The victim is married to the son of a Congressman and Danny finds two officers from the FBI are also taking an interest in the investigation.
Danny still suffers with constant pain from his injured arm and uses a Deerforth banjo, given to him by a close friend to alleviate the pain and improve the use of his fingers. Danny and Jennifer apprehend the killers but are unable to extract from them the identity of the persons who gave out the contract. They have to go outside the legal requirements to eventually bring them to account.
Danny's life in the Long Beach area, the fast-food joints he frequents and his search for a new residence for Jennifer, along with his love of music are all built into the story.
I think we will be seeing more of Danny in the author's future work.


The Devil's Waters (A USAF Pararescue Thriller)
The Devil's Waters (A USAF Pararescue Thriller)
by David L. Robbins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Devil's Waters by David L Robbins, 1 Nov. 2012
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David L Robbins latest book is undoubtedly his best, his research has been thorough and widespread, spending time amongst the forces personnel and in the locations of which he writes.
He tells a topical story of a container vessel, with a top secret cargo, hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and being steered towards Qandala, the pirates village on the Somalia coast line where it will be held for ransom.
A unit of the United States Army Pararescue Service stationed at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, are the closest to the scene and they are tasked by High Command to parachute onto the ship under cover of darkness and if possible rescue the hostage crew and kill the pirates, especially the chief, Yusuf Raage, with extreme prejudice.
Whatever the outcome of the rescue attempt, the ship will not be left under the control of the pirates, it has to be sunk in deep water in order to conceal the nature of the cargo it carries.
The story switches between the group of P-Js,-Pararescue jumpers whose motto is dedicated to saving lives and who are now being ordered to take them. Their close knit relationships and the camaraderie they share are integral to the story. The Somali pirate Yusuf Raage, leader of his small village tribe, existing in a poverty stricken, war-torn, lawless land and seeking to enrich their lives in the only way he knows how.
David Robbins doesn't seek to demonise the pirates, he shows some instances of their lives and their faith, before the hijack brings together the two sets of combatants, fighting for their own individual values.
Well worth reading.


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