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M. D. Ripley "Mike Ripley" (England)

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Lone Wolf: A Mafia Thriller Set in Rural Italy (A Sebastiano Cangio Thriller)
Lone Wolf: A Mafia Thriller Set in Rural Italy (A Sebastiano Cangio Thriller)
by Michael Gregorio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where even the wolves are frightened, 1 Jun. 2017
This is a cracking thriller where the action is split between the beautiful hill country of Umbria and the distinctly unbeautiful rougher parts of London, and juxtaposes the struggles of the reintroduced wolf population in the wild with the far less civilised activities of the southern Italian mafia determined to expand its criminal empire into the UK.
The hero is the engagingly innocent wildlife ranger Sebastiano Cangio, this time paired very effectively with the feisty Captain Lucia Grossi of the Special Crimes Squad, in a case where bodies - and bits of bodies - turn up in Umbria and also near Stansted airport. To establish a link, a Scotland Yard detective goes to Italy and the Italian pair visits London, despite the fact that Cangio is already a marked man by the mafia clan they are investigating but it is back in Italy that Cangio faces horrific danger in the heart of his beloved Sybillines National Park, where even the wolves are frightened of something which stalks the hills at night.
Written with great pace, Lone Wolf is also probably the first thriller to pose the question of what happens to pan-European policing after Brexit!


Stroke of Death
Stroke of Death
by Jessica Mann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.55

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death Comes To All, 6 July 2016
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This review is from: Stroke of Death (Paperback)
Jessica Mann's series heroine the archaeologist and some time employee of the security services Tamara Hoyland makes a welcome return after far too long an absence, but this is no secret agent romp. Tamara is older, more mature and has the responsibilities of looking after an extended family without the help of a wimpish husband who is absent when the unpleasant realities of life begin to mount up. The most unpleasant reality of life is, of course, death and The Stroke of Death is really a treatise on death, how to meet it, how to deal with the aftermath and, nowadays, how speed up its arrival. Along the way there are two distinctly suspicious deaths (and an obnoxious brother-in-law character who really deserves one) to be resolved, but the plot is not the important thing. This is a deeply-felt contemplation of the end of life in various forms, finely underscored with a deep swell of sadness.
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Think Wolf (A Sebastiano Cangio Thriller)
Think Wolf (A Sebastiano Cangio Thriller)
by Michael Gregorio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolves, truffles and organised crime, 31 Mar. 2016
Set in Umbria, a part of Italy not yet overcrowded by tourists or fictional detectives, Think Wolf is the second outing for engaging national park ranger Sebastiano Cangio and something of a direct follow-up to his debut in Cry Wolf Cry Wolf: A Mafia Thriller Set in Rural Italy (A Sebastiano Cangio Thriller). This fast-paced thriller revolves around the attempts of the Ndrangheta (the Calabrian version of the Sicilian Mafia) to move into Umbria and establish a new supply network for its drugs business under cover of a truffle-farming business. Cangio, an ardent watcher and protector of the wolves which now roam the beautiful Umbrian hills and woods, has history with the Ndrangheta - violent history - and naturally tries to adopt a low profile. The murder of a fellow park ranger, the gruesome unearthing of part of a skeleton and rumours of strange goings-on, possibly Satanic rituals, all conspire to drag Cangio away from his beloved four-legged wolves to take on the much more dangerous two-legged variety, leading him, in an intriguing plot twist, to London's Chinatown. A confident performance from the two authors (an Anglo-Italian married couple who live in Umbria), written with verve, an obvious love of the locale, a cunning plot and solid characters.


Tales on the Off-Beat
Tales on the Off-Beat
by Philip Youngman-Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Tales of Unease, 16 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Tales on the Off-Beat (Paperback)
I must declare an interest as I edited this anthology, so I would say this, wouldn't I? Sixty (in some cases, seventy) years on, these twenty-five stories are well-worth reading for they show not only a writer with an obvious talent for short, unsettling fiction, but many evoke an England - and especially a London - which was fading quietly from memory even as they were written. The cast list includes soldiers, professional crooks, con-men, put-upon journalists, dotty archaeologists, assassins, retired spies, artists and art-dealers, not to mention a medieval French monk who is way ahead of his time - and suffers for it. They are all written with a sardonic flair, as in this description of the wife of the public hangman: "A grim woman who had purchased her wardrobe many years before in evident anticipation of widowhood", but also a touch of the poetic as when the author (the husband of legendary crime writer Margery Allingham) describes the house of 'Peter the Blind' and the pre-war Postillion Street - a location and an address straight out of a 'Campion' novel. Several of the stories clearly come under the heading 'Gothic' and still have the power to shock, notably 'The Thorns Are Vicious', 'The Evil Eye of Brother Polidor' and 'Grand Seigneur', and several could have given the producers of the Indiana Jones movies a few ideas... All in all, a collection (published 45 years after the author's death) from the Golden Age of short stories which would have appealed to a certain Mr Albert Campion, that Golden Age amateur sleuth of impeccable taste.


Saint Peter's Plot
Saint Peter's Plot
by Derek Lambert
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Plot, counter-plot, Nazis and the Papacy., 16 Nov. 2015
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A good, solid 1970's thriller (think Jack Higgins or Frederick Forsyth) with Nazis as the reliably bad guys, though one of their number is singled out for our sympathy as the key protagonist of Operation Grey Fox - the intricate 'St Peter's Plot' (Nazis using the Vatican as an escape route) of the title. Whether he deserves or gets any sympathy from the reader is debatable, even though for most of the book he is kept in the dark about what the plot involves. The audacious ending doesn't quite come off - as we already know the outcome - but Lambert was a professional when it came to thrillers (although now almost completely forgotten - and threw in as many twists as he could get away with.


The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters (Ian Flemings Bond Letters)
The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters (Ian Flemings Bond Letters)
by Fergus Fleming
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WE've been expecting you, Mr Fleming, 26 Oct. 2015
There have been several good biographical works about the life of Ian Fleming, including Reg Gadney's excellent 1989 TV movie "Golden Eye" with Charles Dance as Fleming (and Julian Fellowes as Noel Coward) but the final word on the subject should be left to the man himself - or at least his correspondence - especially when it comes to his most famous creation, James Bond. It has fallen to Fleming's nephew Fergus to edit The Man With The Golden Typewriter, more than fifty years after the death of the author and a damn good job he has done. Fleming's letters - to friends, fans,
publishers and fellow writers - sometimes seem to fly off the page as they once flew out of Fleming's infamous gold-plated typewriter. There is a humour in them which rarely appeared in his novels (he thought humour had no place in thrillers) and some fascinating banter between the novice author and his publisher about print runs (always too small) and cover designs (always to expensive). There is also a streak of self-effacing charm as when Fleming wrote to Raymond Chandler in 1956 saying: "If one has a grain of intelligences it is difficult to go on being serious about a character like James Bond". With a new film breaking box office records and his adventures still in print today, I think Mr Fleming was doing himself down. An excellent insight into the man behind the legend.


I, James Blunt
I, James Blunt
by H.V. Morton
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best known as a travel-writer, 3 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: I, James Blunt (Paperback)
Being a huge fan of Len Deighton's "SS-GB" (set in a Nazi-occupied England in 1941), I sat up and took notice when Len Deighton himself told me about this novella, which envisaged a Nazi victory over England and was written when such a thing might just have been possible, in 1942! Best known as a travel-writer, H.V. Morton turned briefly to "alternative history fiction" for morale-boosting purposes, pointing out that the war was not yet won and calling for the British to concentrate on fighting it. This short book (56 pages!) takes the form of the secret diary of retired tradesman James Blunt, living in leafy southern England and quietly resisting the none-too-subtle attempts to "Germanise" the population. What comes through the strongest is the paranoia about whether one can trust one's neighbours which must have been a very real fear in the countries which did suffer occupation. A curious piece which might have been developed into an interesting novel, though probably not by H.V. Morton.


The Concrete Flamingo
The Concrete Flamingo
by Charles Williams
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Boiled Heroes, 3 Aug. 2015
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A neglected classic of "noir" fiction, utilising all the traditional elements - a footloose amoral drifter, a femme very fatale, a steamy Florida setting,
a rich but hapless victim, a cleverly executed financial scam and an utterly ruthless murder - The Concrete Flamingo still manages to sparkle with originality, genuine depth of character and very clever plotting. There's even a rather moral (though not morally uplifting) ending and it's all packed into 140 pages, which makes many a modern so-called thriller seem remarkably overblown. Charles Williams is possibly the most forgotten of the great American hard-boiled writers of the 1950s and 1960s. Goodness knows why as he always delivers a tough, taut tale which you know, from the start, probably isn't going to end well.


The Death-Riders
The Death-Riders

4.0 out of 5 stars Spotting the Villains, 20 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Death-Riders (Hardcover)
A novel which, when published in 1935 was criticised for being to scathing of the "new German government". Co-authored by John de Vere Loder and Hilary St George Saunders (one half of the more famous "Francis Beeding" crime-writing team), The Death Riders is the only title published under the pen-name Cornelius Cofyn and must have been one of the earliest British thrillers to openly identified the Nazis as villains who posed a threat to the peace of Europe. The unlikely hero is a young, Scottish Tory M.P. (which makes him an endangered species) who volunteers to go into Germany (in 1934) to help a former radical escape to England with details of a dastardly plot by "The Death Riders" - a secret organisation which finds the Nazi party too left-wing! (The Riders are a quite prescient take on the organisation the SS was to become a few years later.) Our hero pulls no punches when describing the plight of the Jews in Germany at the time and the growing power of the police state but after infiltrating the Death Riders, the book turns into one long chase story as the Nazis follow the (rather naïve) M.P. back to Scotland from whence the story becomes almost sub-John Buchan and is certainly not patch on Geoffrey Household's 1939 "Rogue Male". Still, this is an interesting novel because of its take on contemporary events and certainly well-written if even if the pace and suspense could have been increased by fewer and shorter chase scenes (by car, lorry, boat and aeroplane) and fewer attempts at cliff-hanger chapter endings which involve either the goodies or the baddies being left tied up. That happens so often it becomes repetitive and tiresome and you are left longing for somebody to just shoot someone!
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A Man Lies Dreaming
A Man Lies Dreaming
by Lavie Tidhar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Holocaust as Twisted Pulp Fiction, 20 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: A Man Lies Dreaming (Paperback)
I missed this when it first appeared and can't think how I hadn't heard of it. It's difficult to describe - alternative history/ parable? morality play? revenge story? - but whatever it is, it's quite brilliant. The set-up is that the Nazis failed to seize power in Germany in 1933, the Communists did, persecuting and dispersing the Nazi hierarchy. "Wolf" (a thinly disguised Hitler) ends up in 1939 London working as a private eye! In the course of twin investigations he gets satisfyingly beaten up, tortured and betrayed by everyone from Oswald Mosley to Klaus Barbie and Rudolf Hess and ends up taken on the identity of a Jewish refugee heading for Palestine. It is all, of course, a fantasy concocted by the 'Man' of the title, a writer of Jewish pulp fiction desperately trying to stay sane - and alive - in Auschwitz. This is not a book you can really "love" but it is one to admire. It is also very funny in places, notably when Wolf/Hitler is thrown out of a publishers' party by Leslie Charteris and Evelyn Waugh!


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