THE HOLIDAY by T.M.LOGAN

The expression “I could not put this book down” isn’t one I very often use, because it needs to be kept for the real McCoy.

For a gripping page-turner that absorbs you and makes you want to read faster and faster to see what happens next, whilst simultaneously making you regret that you are racing through the book.

For a book like “The Holiday’, in other words.

This psychological thriller is as close to being un-put-down-able as anything I’ve read.

The premise is simple and pretty middle-class-British. 4 women, best friends since university, go away for a week’s holiday in the south of France, to celebrate their 40th birthday year. Their husbands and children accompany them – a group that has pretty much known each other for 2 decades.

They stay in a luxurious villa in a vineyard. The descriptions of the French countryside and the suffocating summer heat, of slow village life, of the food and the chilled wine – they are all gorgeous and you feel immersed in this French summer.

The story is told from the shifting perspective of the different people in this house party, but Kate is the main voice. Early on in the book, Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the “other woman” is one of her 3 best friends. She sets out to try and find out who. And why. And how.

The plot has so many twists and turns and surprises, that I certainly had no idea as to what was coming in the final pages of this fabulously gripping thriller.

And that’s about all I can tell you, because I would not want to spoil one iota of your pleasure, by letting drop any hints.

Super read.

If you haven’t read this book, you can buy it right now, using the link below.

You are in for a treat!

NO ONE HOME by TIM WEAVER

Nothing like your kid sister leaving behind a big fat thriller she’s finished – and a hardback copy, to boot. Such a joy, in this Kindle world.

Let me state upfront that I haven’t read any books by Tim Weaver before.

Dunno if that somehow coloured my judgement.

Shortly after I’d plunged into the book, and asked Jane if this was a stand-alone story or part of a series, I enthusiastically decided that I’d finish this book and then go back and read all the earlier books in the David Raker series.

Now I’ve finally finished the book, I’m not sure I’ll bother.

This murder mystery was initially really gripping – a community of 9 neighbours in the hamlet of Blackgale has disappeared, totally and without leaving any trace whatsoever.

David Raker, the main protagonist, specialises in investigating cold cases of missing persons, taking up the trail long after the police have stopped investigating. He is engaged by the families of the 9 missing neighbours to try and solve this seemingly impossible conundrum.

By the end of the book, shame on me, I was bored and just wanted to find out if I‘d guessed correctly who dunnit.

I had, pretty much.

The first 100 pages or so are super gripping, and I raced through them, but somewhere, something changes and the pace slows down, and the detail gets too much and the repetition – well, it just repeats itself, and to be brutally honest, once I thought I’d figured it out, I just wanted the book to end. There are only so many descriptions of people walking through endless forests that a girl can take.

As Raker investigates the crime in Yorkshire, there is a parallel story of a murder investigation in 1970’s Los Angeles.

At some point, the 2 stories do eventually converge, but I respectfully suggest that Mr. Weaver could have axed the whole American narrative and his story would not have suffered an iota. Might have benefitted by being snappier.

The total disappearance of a group of people is an interesting premise. It’s sad that Mr. Weaver squandered his idea with way too much detail, lots of it superfluous to the main narrative.

LADY IN WAITING: MY EXTRAORDINARY LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROWN by ANNE GLENCONNER

First, I watched That BBC interview with Prince Andrew.

Then I watched Season 3 of The Crown.

And sandwiched between these 2 “royal” events, I read a just-published memoir, with lots of jolly stories about how super and smashing the royal family is.

And let me own up – this book is an immensely fun read.

This autobiography, written by the sprightly 87 year old Lady Anne Glenconner, is a rattling good read, galloping along at a fairly breathless pace, and entertaining us all the way.

Anne Glenconner has lived a life of great privilege, and also one of great sorrow, losing 2 of her sons when they were still young men – one to AIDS and the other to heroin addiction. She nursed her 3rd son back from a coma, after he was badly injured in a horrific motorbike accident.

But not once in her book is there a hint of self pity, neither about these heartbreaking personal tragedies, nor about her eccentric and erratic husband, Lord Colin Tennant. The author speaks in a brisk, no-nonsense voice, accepting life’s vicissitudes, and comes across as a thoroughly lovely, gutsy lady.

A close friend of the royal family, as a little girl the young Anne played with the current Queen and her sister, and was famously one of the Queen’s 6 ladies in waiting at her coronation:

Lady Glenconner’s life story truly is an amazing one, taking us from her family home, Holkham Hall, an 18th century Palladian style house on the Norfolk coast, to the tropical island of Mustique, which her husband bought on a whim, and turned into a party destination for the very rich and the very famous.

Lady Glenconner became Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, and is a loyal, staunch supporter of a royal who has garnered much negative press. It is interesting to see the “other”, unknown side of the Queen’s younger sister.

And if ever there was a delicious case of life imitating art, it was the visit of the actress Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret in The Crown, researching the part, that prompted Lady Glenconner to write her memoirs.

Neatly trying all the threads of an extraordinary life together.

A fun read, showing us a lifestyle that has gone for ever – just as we are all rediscovering it thanks to Netflix.

Here you go. The link to order this most enjoyable of memoirs:

AGENT RUNNING IN THE FIELD by JOHN LE CARRE

What an interesting read “Agent running in the field” is.

Not that one would expect anything less from John Le Carré, but this latest addition to the world of spy fiction has a powerful parallel leitmotiv running through the book, that drives the plot.

It is Brexit, and how Britain is in the midst of a crisis of her own making, a country seemingly adrift.

Alongside a well-crafted Le Carré story of intelligence work and political loyalties, there is the story of Brexit and of a morally impoverished country, seemingly weary of the whole mess.

The city of London, the backdrop for much of the book, seems exhausted and a bit down at heel.

Nat, a 47 year old intelligence officer, is symptomatic of the malaise – after years abroad, Nat is slightly out of step with the UK, with his employers, and with the political reality of Britain drifting aimlessly towards Brexit.

Intelligence work takes place in this powerful book, but it is not the glamorous cloak and dagger stuff of yore. There are no elegant, charismatic heroes. No worthy (or even unworthy) villains. Just a dusty, almost-forgotten office, ironically called the Haven, and budget cuts, and cheap car rentals, and an overweening feeling of exhaustion.

Mr. Le Carré, other than using a few anachronistic words like “swain” and “bobby”, speaks in an altogether different tone for much of this book. You can feel the author’s palpable anger with the whole Brexit mess, and with the venality and incompetence of politicians, both British and American.

Take this powerful statement from Nat:

“…I reply, stung by the suggestion that I’ve somehow failed to notice that the country’s in free fall. “A minority Tory cabinet of tenth-raters. A pig-ignorant foreign secretary who I’m supposed to be serving. Labour no better. The sheer bloody lunacy of Brexit.”

I loved an early review of the book, where it was gleefully pointed out that the quote unquote pig-ignorant foreign secretary is now the British PM.

Mr Le Carré also clearly revels in some of the earthier new language used to describe the sheer disastrous levels of British politics these days:

“Guy Brammel has come up with a grudgefuck theory,” he runs on, delighting in the term like a naughty boy. “Ever heard that one before? Grudgefuck?”

“I’m afraid not. Cluster only recently, and never grudge. I’ve been abroad too long.

Me neither. Thought I’d heard everything…”

Great read, lots of typical Le Carré twists and turns, right up until the closing paragraphs – which obviously I’m not going to reveal and therefore spoil things for you.

Hats off to a veteran writer for an impassioned, outspoken spy thriller.

You all know how to order online.

So here you go!