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The Fourth Man

The Fourth Man

Lee Child

1st September 2019

This short novella in the Jack Reacher universe sees the character pay a trip to Australia after his photo turns up on a hit list.

While it is brief, it kept me entertained for the length of a train journey where the lights weren’t working (preventing me from reading a paper novel) and reminded me of how enjoyable the Reacher novels are.

The plot possibly could have sustained something longer, but actually worked well as a brief bit of light reading, and could serve as a neat introduction to the series if someone wanted to dip their toe into the water.

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Grey Wolves

Grey Wolves

Robert Muchamore

1st September 2019

Grey Wolves is the fourth novel in the Cherus prequel series ‘Henderson’s Boys’, set in the early days of the youthful secret agent service during World War Two. This time, Henderson has taken a group of his young operatives to occupied France.

As usual, Muchamore’s sense of realism prevails - his are some of the most authentic books aimed at teens that I’ve read, and the historical setting provides an opportunity to describe the realities of day to day living under the Nazis that is brutal and honest.

While the main plot is pretty solid, it lacks some of the finesse of Muchamore’s earlier modern-day works, and seems a little more straightforward. The constant presence of Henderson as a main character doesn’t help, as it makes the story feel less focussed on the children. The secondary plots are far more interesting, dealing with the character interactions and the setting - although some remain fairly adult in focus.

A good book, but not one that particularly stands out within the series.

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Buy book: UK
The Rapture of the Nerds

The Rapture of the Nerds

Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross

1st September 2019

I picked this book up in a charity shop based on the title, and having read a book by one of the authors previously. It’s the tale of a neo-luddite Welshman in a technological future, who travels to attempt to put a stop to modern technology, but ends up on a complex roller-coaster ride.

I must confess to not finishing this book - I reached around halfway and realised that I didn’t find the character, the setting, or the plot interesting enough to hold my attention, and that I’d much rather move on to something else.

The narrative is aligned completely with the main character, and I didn’t engage with him - his motivation seemed unwarranted, and his focus led to a lack of explanation of the world he lived in which frustrated me. It was particularly unhelpful when he was thrown into part of the world he didn’t know either, which just left me even more lost.

I can’t recommend this.

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The Mystery of the Melted Coins

The Mystery of the Melted Coins

Franklin W Dixon, Leslie McFarlane & Andrew E Svenson

29th July 2019

This mystery is a classic of the Hardy Boys - seeing the brothers investigating several different mysteries which come along at the same time - a man with a missing memory, some counterfeit coins, and hidden treasure - but the greatest mystery might be the secret that Aunt Gertrude is keeping.

It contains all the key elements, cliffhangers, captures, Chet - that make the Hardy Boys books a pleasure to read - though a great deal of this is likely nostalgia value from reading them when I was younger.

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Knife

Knife

Jo Nesbo

29th July 2019

Book one-too-many in the Harry Hole series sees the crime hit a bit too close to home, and… well actually, I didn’t finish it.

The Hole novels have always been on the dark end of the popular crime spectrum, featuring quite graphic scenes, and a generally depressing alcoholic detective. But this one really goes too far for me.

I don’t know if it’s me, and I’ve aged or become more sensitive - or whether it’s the book and Nesbo has got darker over time - but this was definitely too far for me, and I found myself hating reading it, and unable to consume more than about three pages in a sitting. So I decided to abandon book and find something the I’d actually enjoy.

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The Mystery of the Missing Man

The Mystery of the Missing Man

Enid Blyton

29th July 2019

Book thirteen of the Five Find-Outers (and dog) was an interesting one in that I had very little memory of the plot from when I read it (probably multiple times) as a child.

The case is slightly unusual, in that it’s issued by the police, rather than being randomly uncovered by the children. The story is also unusual in introducing some quite prominent new characters into the lives of the children (who I again had no memory of) and having a lot going on that served as comic relief.

While the solution seemed obvious to me, I am most certainly not the target audience (any more) - and I think a child reading or being read the story would work it out before the reveal, which is the ideal timing for a mystery (although on second thoughts, some of the clues might be too dated for a modern youngster to get).

Probably one of the best in the series actually.

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Buy book: UK
The Real Town Murders

The Real Town Murders

Adam Roberts

29th July 2019

An unusual book - the first of Roberts’ that I’ve read - set in a future where most people live virtual lives, and only a few bother to inhabit the real world.

It’s a plausible imagining of a bureaucratic future, where the main character is first invited to investigate a suspicious death by one government department, before another asks her to stop.

While it wasn’t bad, I didn’t fall in love with it. There were hints of Jasper Fforde (who I absolutely adore) but the narrative didn’t capture my attention in the same way, and I didn’t find myself coming to care for and invest emotionally in the characters.

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Reading now

The Enterprise War

Reading soon

  1. White Sand volume two
  2. The Short-Wave Mystery