This book is about Joe Coughlin, the third son of a well known Boston policeman who has descended into a life of crime. He likes to present himself asThis book is about Joe Coughlin, the third son of a well known Boston policeman who has descended into a life of crime. He likes to present himself as an "outlaw", but is, in effect, rises to become the leader of a local Mafia group in an area of Tampa, Florida.
The book traces his "gangster life" in Boston before an arrest (a time in which he falls for a leading gangster's girl), his time in prison, and his subsequent life in prohibition era Tampa.
The book wasn't a bad read, it was just a little hard to believe. Coughlin has real issues with killing people, which is surprising given he's become a Mafia boss (albeit local). There is a good reason for much of his hesitancy, but it feels as if Lehane is trying to keep Coughlin likeable, rather than being honest. ...more
This was actually one of PD James' better reads. I've read 6 or 7 over the past couple of years, and this is one of the books I'd actually recommend.This was actually one of PD James' better reads. I've read 6 or 7 over the past couple of years, and this is one of the books I'd actually recommend. In the book James introduces the young private detective Cordelia Gray, who was, I suspect, intended to get more than 2 books, but for the fact that she let s television company develop the character, only for James to dislike how she was developed (or so I read in a Guardian interview).
In this book, Ms Gray investigates the suicide of a university drop out who committed suicide. His father wants to know what brought on this turn of events. As a result of her investigation, she tootles rounds Cambridge, interviewing the boy's friends. I used to live outside Cambridge, and while I found the description of some of the students somewhat..... irritating, she described elements of the city that I remembered, and had a soft spot for.
The final outcome stretched credulity some, but all in all, it was a fun book, if a little on the short side....more
**spoiler alert** This is the second book in the Michael Dobbs/Francis Urquhart series, and assumes that the ending of the previous book (where Urquha**spoiler alert** This is the second book in the Michael Dobbs/Francis Urquhart series, and assumes that the ending of the previous book (where Urquhart throes himself off the Houses of Parliament) hadn't happened. I'm told this happened because television liked the series, and wanted to continue it, which would be a problem, given Urquhart was dead.
The book itself was just as silly as the first book. In this book, he deliberately provokes an argument with the King to demonstrate he's a tough leader (and making him look like he's somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan), while the King seems so wet and liberal, he could be used to describe wet liberal in the dictionary.
This said the book is still a fun read. It rattles along at a fair old lick, with the result that you feel like you've read it pretty fast. ...more
This book is a rather silly book about a British politician's scheming to become Prime Minster of the UK. In a way it reminds me of Chris Mullins' A VThis book is a rather silly book about a British politician's scheming to become Prime Minster of the UK. In a way it reminds me of Chris Mullins' A Very British Coup, but while that book, felt, at least in part, believable, this book is just pulp fiction. It's good pulp fiction that rattle along at a fair old pace, it's pulp fiction all the same.
The book itself traces the scheming of Francis Urquhart, the Conservative Chief Whip as he bully, cajoles, and blackmails his way to the top. I call it silly because his schemes are all rather too perfect, and the people he deals with (who are presumably just as ruthless are either naively gullable when it comes to his plans, or considerably less ruthless in carrying out their plans (which is something I find hard to believe).
My other grumble with the book is that it's dated now (it was published 25yrs ago). I don't think Urquhart would be able to pull off many of the things he attempts nowadays.
All this said, it was still a good fun read....more
If anyone were to say they remembered Dennis Healey, they'd describe him as a significant right wing Labour politician who held two of the most importIf anyone were to say they remembered Dennis Healey, they'd describe him as a significant right wing Labour politician who held two of the most important positions in government (as Defence Secretary and Chancellor) in the 1960s and 1970s. They might also mention his ability to come up with a good quip in a speech, or that he could have led the party in the late 1970s, or 1980s, and that his leadership in the 1980s might have prevented the split that formed the SDP.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, Healey had his issues. He was fighting large elements of the pacifist wing of his party a lot of the time as Defence Secretary, while the economy was circling the toilet while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer (interest rates rose to 15%, while inflation was north of 25%). You could argue that he kept the economy together in difficult times, but given the UK's storied history, this isn't exactly the most enviable claim to fame.
The book was a decent read. It was a bit self serving in places (he blamed others for the problems he faced a lot of the time), but its' biggest problem is that it's dated (it was published almost 25yrs ago). I doubt people will remember many of the people he talks about now, unless they're keen politics junkies who take an interest in that period....more
This is an interesting, if somewhat depressing book, especially if you came into this series of books with a generally positive view of Lyndon JohnsonThis is an interesting, if somewhat depressing book, especially if you came into this series of books with a generally positive view of Lyndon Johnson.
When he started this book, Caro intended the series to be 3 books, Johnson from birth to his first electoral loss (this book), Johnson in the senate, and Johnson as president. As I'm sure people know now, it has morphed into a (probable) 5 book series, though this book still covers Johnson's life up to his first electoral loss.
If you're expecting it to be a straight biography of Lyndon Johnson's life and his family, you'd be right and wrong, for while the book looks at Johnson's life and family, it strays, interestingly, from what you'd expect from a typical biography. It looks at the Texas Johnson grew up in generally for example, and gives us considerable detail about the characters that inhabit Texas' political landscape at the time.
Where I got depressed by the book was in its' portrayal of Johnson. I understand politicians have to be ruthless, and show a certain "low cunning" if they want to achieve anything in life, but the Johnson shown here takes ruthlessness and low cunning to a whole new level, and I find it hard to contrast that with what he would later achieve with the War on Poverty, and the Great Society....more
This is a really good reference book. It's a dictionary of reference terms, coupled with a collection of random facts (State Capitols, and King and QuThis is a really good reference book. It's a dictionary of reference terms, coupled with a collection of random facts (State Capitols, and King and Queens of England for example) at the back.
Quite why they haven't reprinted this in the time since it was first published is beyond me....more
I don't know what to make of this book. It watches the life of a former Physics prodigy (he was young when he won his Nobel Prize) after he's old, fatI don't know what to make of this book. It watches the life of a former Physics prodigy (he was young when he won his Nobel Prize) after he's old, fat, divorced on multiple occasions, and in charge of a government agency looking at renewable energy.
The book is in 3 parts. The first watches Beard as he runs a crumby little agency in Reading, while he divorces from his fifth wife. The second watches what happens when his divorce becomes more final and he leaves the agency, while the third section looks at the build up to what should be the second great triumph, the opening of a renewable energy plant he owns in New Mexico.
NcEwan said he wanted to write a book about the Greenhouse Effect, but couldn't find an "in" (without it being nerdy) till he decided to tell it watch the bureaucratic goings on in governmental life, using that contrast for comic effect. The problem for me was I didn't like the main character, I didn't find the book very funny, and I wondered why parts of the story were there (the unwitting thief story for example).
Maybe it's me, maybe I just can't access "good fiction", but this was the second McEwan book I've read, and I haven't enjoyed either....more
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, given it's got the word Requiem in the title, but this book was depressing.
The book has an interesting structure. ItPerhaps I shouldn't be surprised, given it's got the word Requiem in the title, but this book was depressing.
The book has an interesting structure. It alternates between an historic story about Joe Pike, a former LAPD patrol officer whose partner died, and a modern story where Pike and Elvis Cole (Pike and Cole are private investigators) investigate the disappearance, and subsequent death, of the daughter of a client. Neither of the stories have a particularly happy ending.
The story was a good story. It's a modern detective story, which means it focuses more on being more realistic than the stories told by Agatha Christie and PD James. Like all works of fiction there are differences between it and reality, but it was still a good read if you like your stories more modern (though not that modern, it was written before the internet became widespread).
As a general rule, I use "reading speed" as an indication of my enjoyment of a book. Admittedly I was on a long flight (13hrs), but I read the book in one sitting, which tells me I enjoyed the book, and I think most people who like modern detective fiction will like it too....more
The Shining is probably one of the most famous books by Stephen King. It's status was helped by the Jack Nicholson/Stanley Kubrick film of the same naThe Shining is probably one of the most famous books by Stephen King. It's status was helped by the Jack Nicholson/Stanley Kubrick film of the same name.
In The Shining, the Torrance family act as caretakers at a hotel that closes over the winter (due to "beyond inclement" weather). While there, the father has a melt down (the book emphasises more mystical reasons for this), and the son discovers others have his "condition" (which he find is called "The Shining", which allows him to read people's thoughts).
This book sees what happened to the child when he's become an adult. He naturally has "issues" (if The Shining doesn't screw you up, having a violently drunk father who goes bananas in an enclosed space will), but he's learning to live with the issues when he discovers a child whose "Shining" is so powerful, he can feel it across continents.
The problem is that there are "baddies" (The True Knot) who are dining on children's Shining, and they've discovered the child. So she, and Danny Torrance (the child from the previous book) have to stand up to them to save the girl.
The book itself wasn't bad. It's a fairly easy read (I read it quickly) and it's a clever story, it's just not brilliantly scary. Maybe that's because I've read a lot of King's books (so I know his style), but I felt I knew too much about what was going to happen to get scared....more
This book consist of responses to a questionnaire that is sent out to as many current professional cricketers as the editor can find. Up until the 201This book consist of responses to a questionnaire that is sent out to as many current professional cricketers as the editor can find. Up until the 2011 edition, the questionnaire didn't change much between editions. The questions it asked ranged from the obvious (name, date of birth, club you play for) to the random. The result was you got a bit of colour about the guy you were watching (particularly from the random questions).
The format was probably due for a change. You probably can't expect people (even cricket fans, who are fairly conservative) to fork out almost £20 a year for something that's too samey, but the problem is I'm not sure the authors know what to replace it with.The last couple of years the questions have been very cricket focused. That's understandable, but it reduces the "colour" we used to get about the players, and that's half the fun for people who've historically bought the book I think....more