Reading Highlights – September 2013

Last month I managed to read five books, the same as in August. Which is quite pleasing as much of the month was spent on holiday. The most unusual feature was that for the first time in a long time I did not manage to listen to a single audio book.

Tapestry pbkI did though manage to include a non-fiction book and it is one I would definitely recommend. This was The Great Tapestry of Scotland by Susan Mansfield. Published as a paperback it is a short introduction to the whole project. The book covers the background to the project and the choice of topics for the 160 panels. It also features pen portraits of the key people involved in organizing the project as well as some of the stitchers. I must declare a personal interest here, as I feature in the book as one of the stitchers. Some lovely photos accompany the text.

6d28d0f64e636571fda1445e1dfa98f2Included in my reading was one general fiction novel, The Dream of the Celt by Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa. This is a fascinating, fictionalised account of the life of Roger Casement, the one time servant of the British and Belgian Empires who became a passionate advocate of Irish independence. Amazing tale which includes his exploits in the Congo and in Amazonia where he played a key role in exposing the cruelty of the Imperial regimes. The novel cleverly shows how his experience of this brutality gradually transformed Casement from an imperialist to a committed activist for Irish independence. A very powerful and gripping novel.

The other three books were in the crime/mystery genre. Betrayal,9780857861641 by Swedish writer, Karin Alvtegen, is more of a psychological thriller. A deeply disturbed person somehow avoids detection by the medical and social authorities. For how long will he be able to continue in his delusions? This was my second novel by Karin Alvtegen and it is another compelling read.

siren-of-the-watersSiren of the Waters is my first encounter with the works of Michael Genelin, an American writer. For some reason he has chosen to set his novels in Slovakia. Siren of the Waters is the first in what is now a series of tales which feature police commander Jana Matinova. She is based in Bratislava and the crime she has to solve involves people smuggling and prostitution in addition to some brutal murders. The trail leads her to the Ukraine, Strasbourg and Nice. Though the story is set in post communist times, the character of Matinova is developed through flashbacks to her marriage and family life in communist rule. A good enjoyable read and I look forward to the rest of the series.

14329366My final book was in Spanish. This was El Inocente/The Innocent by Mario Lacruz. It was first published way back in 1953 when Spain was still recovering from the brutalities of the Civil War and the imposition of the fascist Franco regime. As the title suggests the novel explores the ways in which an innocent person can be dragged into suspicion and arrest for the death of another person. Virgilio Delise is the person who is caught up in the middle of a complex web of deceit and fear. The novel is more about the psychological forces which drive the main characters than about solving a murder. The dominant mood which pervades the novel is fear and suspicion. No doubt a fair description of post war Spain.


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