Firstly I will start with what I am busy reading and then I will do a little trip back in time to what I read mid-November and through December.
I have been tempted to read this a number of times because of the intriguing title, great cover art work and the black page edges. There was always another book which tempted me more, but with the long holidays I finished all the others in my stack and so………..
The Book of Human Skin
Not the easiest book to get into, each chapter is told by a different character in his or her own vernacular. The tale is set in 1784 and takes part both in Venice and Arequipa (Peru).
To quote from the back of the book “Bewitching, daring, darkly humorous and alive with historical detail, it is a breathtaking story of unmitigated villainy, Holy Anorexia, quack medicine, murder, love and a very unusual form of bibliomania.”
So far it is living up to all of this and I am finding I am drawn into it, wanting to read more and more to find out how things will develop between the characters and what will eventually draw them all together.
What I Read:
The Red Queen
This is the 2nd book in her series on the Wars of the Roses, the first being ‘The White Queen’ which dealt primarily with Elizabeth Woodville who was the wife of Edward IV and a York. Various characters crop up in both books as their stories are intertwined. It is not necessary to read the books in sequence as they are not a sequence but rather the same events through different eyes.
The main character in ‘The Red Queen’ is Margaret Beaufort of Lancaster, mother of Henry VII. An incredibly strong and single minded woman who had no doubts about her destiny and obligations to her family and England.
A great read, full of heroes, villains, intrigue, betrayal, tragedy and honour…………….the kind of storyline that would make a great TV series!!
The 3rd book, dealing with another protagonist in the Wars of The Roses – Jacquetta Woodville – has just been released. It is called ‘The Lady of the Rivers’…………….cannot wait!
This is not my usual reading fare but I was interested in reading about the man who has the reputation of being one of the top 3 murder detectives in the world and a man who has become a world renowned specialist at solving serial murders.
He is a fascinating man, brought up in a very traditional Afrikaans family who would have liked him to become a Minister in the NGK (Dutch Reformed Church). His interests lay elsewhere and he began a career in the South African Police Force.
Hanlie Retief has compiled the dossier from interviews with Piet Byleveld over an extended period. I felt that some of the writing was a bit ‘thin’ but on the whole interesting to read about a ‘real’ detective and what really goes into solving these heinous crimes.
Oh my what a book. At times I felt compelled to read it and at others did not want to continue because of the inevitability of the unfolding tragedy. A beautifully written book and a very well crafted story.
Mornings in Jenin
It is the tale of a Palestinian family starting in 1948 and spanning the 10 days war in the 1960’s and ending in 2002. The story is told through the eyes of Amal the youngest in the family, who was born in the Jenin refugee camp.
The story told by the Palestinians who were evicted from lands they had occupied for centuries and something I never knew. It is in turn heartbreaking and hopeful, full of love and loss and deals with war and oppression, hate and forgiveness and in short one of the most intractable conflicts of our lifetime.
I highly recommend this book, it has changed how I view the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and because of it I think I am better able to see both points of view. It still leaves me with the feeling that this conflict will never be resolved because there is too much anger and misunderstanding and the rift to cross to forgiveness and reconciliation is far too wide.
A bit of ‘local is lekker’ and in this case it really is. Deon Meyer writes fast paced, breath holding, suspenseful thrillers.
Trackers did not let me down, it lived up to Deon Meyers reputation as ‘one of the sharpest and most perceptive thriller writers around’
The story starts with a woman escaping form an abusive marriage and finding herself working of a Governmental department tasked with ‘observing’ certain individuals who give cause for concern. An ex policeman who works as a bodyguard for the rich and famous protecting a pair of smuggled white rhino and another ex policeman working as a PI and then the usual group of sundry unsavoury characters.
All of the above eventually come together in a breath holding, no holds barred climax.
What makes the story even more gripping is the way it has been divided into ‘Books’ which deal with certain characters. Each character has its own form of presentation. With Milla it is her reports and recordings, with Lemmer it is extracts from ‘The Basics of Tracking”.
If you like thrillers and love a South African setting this is worth a read.
This is the second book Harlan Coben wrote and in his ‘Introduction’ he explains that this book, which was written 20 years ago, is as it was written without any fine tuning or editing. Brave Man.
It deals with a disease we are all too familiar with, AIDS, and the desperate search for a cure and the need for governmental funding for the research. The main protagonists are Sara and Michael, Dr. Harvey Riker and Lieutenant Bernstein. There are other characters who also have a bearing on the unfolding tale, but it is these four around whom the drama unfolds.
It is well told with plots and twists and sub-plots that have you guessing and scheming until the final unexpected twist.
So if you are a thriller junkie and like a well crafted tale you will enjoy this.
(I will keep you posted about the ‘Book of Human Skin’)