Friday, January 30, 2015

Slow Horses and Dead Lions: Two Entertaining Spy Novels from Mick Herron

Check out Mick Herron's spy novels Slow Horses and Dead Lions for a good read.  The spies here are washouts from British intelligence; agents who've bungled badly and, in true bureaucratic fashion, rather than being fired for their mess, are exiled to London's Slough House to work on tedious, meaningless tasks in the hopes that they will simply quit the job.

But these spies - ambitious, well trained and highly skilled - seek action, redemption, and to return to the big show. In Slow Horses, the Slough House agents get involved when extremists kidnap a Muslim teen and threaten to execute him live on the web. And an intriguing and clever hunt begins.

In the second book, Dead Lions, an old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus. Slough House's chief, Jackson Lamb, knew the agent from back in the day. Lamb finds the death suspicious and sends his agents into action to investigate.

The plot is clever in both books and the development of the characters at Slough House is entertaining. Slow Horses and Dead Lions are well recommended reading.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's Burns Night - January 25

Today, January 25, is the annual celebration of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. Whether you are a fan of poetry or not, you've undoubtedly mumbled through a bit of Burns' work on New Year's Eve: Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne.

Even if you don't have any haggis on hand for supper, perhaps tonight you can nonetheless pour yourself a drop of whisky, download the Robert Burns app, and read a bit of poetry.

A Red, Red Rose
Robert Burns

O, my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O, my luve is like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only luve,
And fare thee well a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Recommended Reading: The Secret Place by Tana French

Looking for a good book for the weekend? Check out The Secret Place, another tale of the Dublin Murder Squad from Tana French.

In this outing, a new clue to an old murder falls into the hands of Dublin Detective Stephen Moran. The murder in question occurred on the grounds of St. Kilda's, an elite boarding school for girls; the victim was a 16-year old boy from a neighboring elite school for boys. Moran, who feels his career is stuck in the Cold Case squad, sees the clue as an opportunity to showcase his skills and possibly join the Murder Squad. The lead Murder Squad detective on the case, Antoinette Conway, sees the clue as an opportunity to solve the high profile case that is haunting her career. The pair have one day at St. Kilda's to effectively use the new information and crack the case open. Are the two detectives as wily as the teenagers they have to question?

The Secret Place is an entertaining read and my favorite Tana French book to date.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Books

The January 19 edition of The New Yorker briefly reviews several intriguing books: Sophia by Anita Anand, The Seventh Day be Yu Hua, and Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet.

I am going to check out all three, starting with Sophia, the biography of Sophia Duleep Singh. Sing, born in 1876, was the daughter of the last maharaja of the Punjab. According to The New Yorker's description of the book, Sing "was a trendsetter in everything from clothes to dog training. But by her early thirties she had joined the suffragettes, and she became a key figure in the movement." It sounds like an interesting life and I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Saturday, January 17, 2015