Held Up

by Christopher Radman (Headline) ISBN 978-0-7553-8920-9

 

The black barrel of the snub-nosed  gun is right beside his head as he sits in his new white BMW. Paul can't think...

 

‘Maak oop,’ open the window, the blunt command comes from outside. Paul is numb, he cannot blink. Even the window is afraid. He can't stop staring at the slit through which the window has disappeared. And of course you don't look at them. These wild Africans. ‘Hande agter jou kop!’  Hands behind your head, slowly.

 

Paul has been held up. He stands and stares as the car drives off. He is dizzy. He can't hear much. And then he realises that his baby girl is still in the back of the car! What made him forget? Claire and Paul battled to have this baby. When he tells her what has happened, he can feel her blaming him. Claire, left alone in the house, decides to drown herself.

 

Paul buys a second-hand car and goes to live in Soweto in the hopes of one day finding his daughter, Chantelle, alive. He adopts a black boy called Stompie who leads him to find Chantelle, seven years later. Her name has changed. She has a native name and can speak ‘pigeon taal’.

 

This is an absolutely gripping story, covering aspects of South Africa that we never see. This book affected me greatly, and is an unforgettable read.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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The 500

by Matthew Quirk (Headline) ISBN 9780755387410.

 

The 500 will take you on a rollercoaster ride from page one.

 

Mike Ford was raised streetwise. His father taught him the tricks of the trade of how to con people. Having learnt the hard way, he decides to go straight and manages to qualify as a lawyer from Harvard. He is employed by the Henry Davies Group, a powerful political consulting firm. He works his butt off but the money is good and so are the privileges that go with it.

 

He discovers that all is not what it seems. Being on the side of the law is not necessarily moral or honest. He is being manipulated and decides to play a game of his own, which is like a chess game - each move and counter move produces a new result. We see the sleazy side of politics and power mongering. Mike Ford takes a terrifying bumpy ride that leaves you breathless until the end.

 

This is truly a page-turner. If you liked John Grisham's The Firm, this one is for you.

 

Dawn Blankfield

4/5

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Death of an Empire

by M.K Hume (Headline) ISBN: 978 0 7553 71471

 

Most of us have heard of the legend of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin. It has been told many times before and yet we seem to never get enough of it. It is no different when it comes to M.K. Hume who has made her mark in presenting a different and perhaps a more exciting version of these legends.

 

In her first series she dealt with Arthur but Death of an Empire forms part of a series that looks at the life of Merlin and a part that little is known of. This alone made it an exciting read.

 

The second book in the series is set in historical Rome and explores the early years of Merlin’s life. It does not take much to realise that the author has done her research which in turn lends to the authenticity of the story. She successfully mixes the legend of Merlin with an accurate historically based novel.

 

The book can stand on its own without reference to the first in the series.

 

Michele van Eck

4/5

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The Gods of Atlantis

by David Gibbins (Headline) ISBN: 9780755353996

 

All the ingredients are there: the archaeologist, Jack, with the strong jaw line, a deadly virus that will kill millions, exotic locations, scuba diving for treasures in caves at the bottom of the sea while volcanoes are erupting, all this enlivened with historical details about Atlantis and the Second World War.

 

The novel is fast paced and full of action, spread out over the course of three days.

 

A Nazi bunker in a German forest holds a horrific secret, and a hidden treasure has disappeared. Jack, and his partner, Costas, have found a clue in the underwater caves of the lost island Atlantis.

 

Action, adventure and discovery: a guy’s book. In the background to the novel, Gibbins explains the research behind the story. I have learned a lot of interesting facts. However, only towards the end of the book, a woman is introduced to whom I could relate. Before that, no women feature, except the reference to Jack’s daughter. When I look at the reviews, men like it, women don’t.

 

Gibbins is a marine archaeologist. He is an authority on shipwrecks and submerged ruins in the Mediterranean Sea. This is his sixth book.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

3/5

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Explosive Eighteen

by Janet Evanovich (Headline Review) ISBN: 9780739378229

 

I've read 17, so I had to read Explosive 18.

 

I'm glad I did. I was so anti-Stephanie Plum at the end of Smokin' Seventeen. She was beginning to remind me of Bella Swann at her most pathetic. Whining about everything, caught between loving two men, and always having to be saved.

 

She managed to redeem herself - a little. Stephanie seems to be growing up. Finally! She still makes silly mistakes and gets into crazy situations but her efforts to save herself are improving. She has a real gun, a car that doesn't explode and she's seriously considering her future. She even has some money.

 

Everybody is there, from Vinnie - her slimy boss, to Lula - her sidekick, to Joyce Barnhardt - her nemesis. Ranger appears, and disappears, as usual. Morelli is back in her apartment. Everybody is trying to kill Stephanie, but she kicks and shoots and talks her way from Hawaii to New Jersey. 

 

Evanovich is a funny, talented writer. I hope she allows Stephanie to settle into adulthood properly in novel number 19

 

Amanda Patterson

3/5

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Plugged

by Eoin Colfer (Headline) ISBN: 9780755379996

 

Eoin Colfer writes children’s books and is very good at this. He created Artemis Fowl. Then they employed him to write a new Hitch Hiker’s Guide. And you know, I don’t hate him for it. That’s just how good the man is.

 

But those were in the past and this is now. And he still has it. I mean it is crime and there will be no magic and lasers, and no Thor or Author Dent. But bugger them. This is just a good book.

 

You don’t need the props if you can write brilliant characters. Superman is just some guy with a lame job without his powers, but I’d watch Johnny Depp In a movie called Johnny Depp works at Burger King. And I’d read a book on stamp collecting by Eoin Colfer.

 

Colfer just has the neurotic Irish gift for making the boring better and the interesting extraordinary. Who cares about a balding Irish ex-army nut case? I do now and it’s all thanks to Colfer.

 

Reflecting on those last two sentences I should add he doesn’t run a matchmaker’s website or anything weird, were talking about a book here. If you’re interested in the other stuff go to the classifieds.

 

Christopher Dean

4.5/5

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