Snow White Must Die

by Nele Neuhaus (MacMillan) ISBN 978-1-4472-2708-3

 

Snow White must Die is the fourth in Neuhaus’ series of murder mysteries following Detective Pia Kirchhoff in her investigations. The novel ties together a murder mystery from the past and one from the present.

 

Set in a seemingly idyllic town, young pretty girls are not safe. Eleven years previously two seventeen-year-old girls vanish without a trace. Tobias Sartorius is convicted for their murders. When he returns to the village after serving his time in prison the residents are filled with fear and hatred.

 

Then another pretty girl vanishes. Detectives are thrown into an investigation into the past, and the dynamic of a terrified village determined to take matters into their own hands. It becomes clear that things run deeper in this village, and there is far more to the crimes than meets the eye.

 

This is a gripping mystery that is very well plotted and executed. The story deviates at times, but the suspense and intrigue will definitely hold your attention. Crime and mystery lovers will definitely enjoy this.

 

Victoria Malakou

3/5

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How Stella Saved the Farm

by Vijay Govindarajan & Chris Trimble (MacMillan) ISBN 9780230761360

 

This business fiction book uses a fable to show how to make innovation happen in a company.

 

A farm run by animals is on the verge of bankruptcy and may be acquired by their (human-run) competitor. The innovative idea is to expand the (sheep) wool business by introducing a luxury item: wool of Peruvian Alpacas.

 

In the second part it goes through the eight key points to implement this idea. It mentions the challenges and risks the animals are facing. The book ends with questions and lessons to remember, like the importance of disciplined experimentation.

 

Story telling works and it is a good tool to catalyse the learning process, as the authors say in the preface. I think this book would work best as a syllabus that is part of a workshop or seminar. It shows how a company or organisation can successfully incorporate innovation initiatives in simple ways. It provides practical methods, without threatening the core business.

 

The storyline is straightforward, and because of that, easy to remember. The illustrations by Keny Widjaja are cheerful. The tone of the book is maybe intended not to intimidate, but with that I think the authors have limited their target market.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

3/5

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The House of Memories

by Monica McInerney (MacMillan) R195 ISBN 9780230763012

 

Ella lives in a nightmare. Her child has died. She blames her husband and her half-sister for her baby boy’s death.

 

After twenty months, her uncle, Lucas has invited her to come from Australia to his house in London. It is the House of Memories in the title. He needs her to investigate who of his four tutors is stealing from his clients. This is the pretext. Lucas and Ella’s stepbrother, Charlie have made it up in order to help her piece her life together again. Will they succeed in a reconciliation of Ella with her husband and with her half-sister?

 

The tone is light-hearted, but written with enough depth that it made me want to turn the pages and keep reading.

McInerney is the bestselling author of nine novels. In her books family values, love and relationships are recurring themes. One of the critics calls it comfort-reading.

 

I can recommend this latest work of fiction. It was well written and fast paced. 

 

Pauline Vijverberg

4/5

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The Forbidden

by F.R. Tallis (Macmillan) ISBN 9780230760806

 

The title refers to an incident at a mission hospital in the tropics in the 19th century, where young doctor Paul Clément witnessed a ritualistic murder and was prohibited to speak about it and cursed if he did.

 

Clément is fascinated by near-death experiences and back in Paris he becomes a pupil of Duchenne, the pioneer of electrical resuscitation techniques and later works for Charcot, father of neurology. Tempted by the accounts from his patients of a voyage to the frontier of eternity, he endeavours on a daring experiment.

 

Based on true historical facts and with a good dose of intellectual discussion, the book got me enthralled. The complexity of human decisions and how people are influenced and responsible for their acts are major themes. Halfway through however, it turned into too much of a blood sucking story to my taste, when Clément is possessed by a demon.

 

F.R. Tallis is an experienced writer and a clinical psychologist. A few of his crime novels have been shortlisted for crime awards. This latest work is beautifully written and imaginative, with a lot of Faust-elements and philosophical concepts, which I found fascinating and because of that I can recommend it.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

4/5

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Winter of the World

by Ken Follett (Macmillan) ISBN 978-0-2230-71010-8

 

When you start reading this huge book, make up your mind that you will finish it. It is an awesome story of five families who live out their destinies as the world is shaken by war.

 

Just holding the book was a task in itself and you realise that the author’s research on each family is quite remarkable.  I loved every moment of the story and could visualise each family’s hardships and successes. Hitler strengthens his grip on Germany, and I was swept along by the clashes of military might that rage from London to Pearl Harbour, from Spain to Stalingrad.

 

The frightened people who rise above starvation are so real that I feel as if I have known them forever. The dazzling American socialite called Daisy grows up before your eyes. Her shallow aristocratic husband, Boy Fitz Herbert, is a typical man of those times. The women scientists also amaze the reader with their brains and beauty. 

 

This is far too big a work to comment on in depth, except to say it is a fantastic read and once begun you will not put it down.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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Not Dead Yet

by Peter James (Macmillan) ISBN 978-0-230-74727-2

 

Gia, a world famous Hollywood star, is filming in Brighton. She plays the Queen to the King and they are shooting the movie under an enormous chandelier that hangs over a banqueting table. Everyone is jealous of the actress and her life is at stake. Even with guards on the movie set old flames are out to destroy her.

 

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace has his work cut out keeping the murderers at bay. There is a story within a story as Grace’s old wife hasn’t been seen for years. He and his new wife are ecstatic at the thought of a new baby on the way. He is selling his house and a mysterious buyer says hello to Grace’s fish, which is very strange.

 

Gia is kidnapped and the police pursue her through a labyrinth of tunnels until Grace becomes fade to face with the killer.   You cannot put this book down and even when you reach the end you find you are holding onto the book for all its worth, the suspense is so well described.

 

There are unexpected thrills all through the novel and everything seems very real. A fabulous read.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed (Revised Edition)

by Mandy Wiener (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781770102453



This gripping non-fiction crime story delves into the underworld where political influences and shady relationships are considered normal. The events told in the book are far removed from the average person’s perception of life. It almost reads like fiction, but with the chilling reminder that it is reality. 

Written with journalistic flair, the author managed to catch my attention from the start. This paperback edition includes additional up to date developments from the previous publication and also an author interview which I found to be an interesting addition. 

The story can be summarised from the introductory pages of the book: “Killing Kebble is not the story of one murder. It’s a gritty fast-paced chronicle of how one death blew the lid off Johannesburg’s underworld.” Excellent read. Interesting and disturbing at the same time. 

Michele van Eck
5/5

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The Killing

by David Hewson (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447213956

 

This is the re-telling, by novelist, David Hewson, of the award winning Danish crime drama originally created by Soren Sverstrup.

 

A girl is found raped and murdered on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Detective Sarah Lund cancels her move to Sweden to take charge of the case, with Jan Meyer, the man who is supposed to replace her.

 

The book does well as a stand-alone story without having watched the TV series. The fast pace and riveting plot kept my attention throughout. The author did well in keeping the pages filled with action. It did not disappoint.

 

The one let down was the font and presentation of the book. The novel is already lengthy (exceeding four hundred pages) and the font seemed smaller than usual. It felt as if the words were squished onto the pages. This had a negative impact on the reading experience.

 

Otherwise a good read. The author stayed true to the genre and fulfilled the basic expectations of a crime novel.

 

Michele van Eck

3.5/5

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Into The Abyss

by Carol Shaben (Macmillan) ISBN 978-0-230-75803-2

 

This true story is chilling in every way. I felt as though I was sitting with the four men in the snow in front of makeshift fire in the middle of nowhere. Blanketed by clouds and thick trees is the wreckage of an aeroplane.

 

Only four men survived. Paul is a prisoner shackled to his guard, Scott. Paul decides this is the moment to run for it but he reluctantly helps the others who are in trouble around him. Erik, the pilot blames himself. He had been warned against flying for this aeroplane company but jobs were scarce so he took a chance. Larry, the politician is totally blind without his glasses which were lost in the wreckage of the plane and Paul guides him around. The desperate survivors give a cheer when they hear a helicopter. 

 

The book then moves into the lives of each man. They have a reunion every year and find themselves changed people. Paul, the hero who doesn’t want to be a hero, finds life in the outside world too tough. It is fascinating to read how he became a criminal.

 

This is a harrowing journey through the cold, wet and snow, but your get a warm feeling in your insides when each man cares for the other. An excellent, well written story and it’s all true. Don’t miss this gripping tale.

 

Dee Andrew

4.5/5

 

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The Agony Chef

by Kate Sidley (illustrations by Leigh Forrest) Macmillan ISBN 978177010269 9 R214 



The Agony and the Gastronomy. Have you ever wondered what to cook when your boyfriend’s dumped you? Run over a neighbour’s cat? How to make the perfect snacks for your kid’s first sleep over? 
Maybe you don’t see yourself as much of an amateur chef—and let’s face it, most of us spend more time watching Master Chef or Food Channel to dust the cobwebs from our Salton blenders—then maybe the answer to these culinary niggles is moot. 
But, come on, surely you’ve been curious as to the etiquette in asking for a doggy bag at a posh restaurant, or wanting to know which foods are considered aphrodisiacs? 

If, like me, you’re a lazy eggs-on-toast slob, then The Agony Chef has the answer to these cheeky questions and more—it’s the chic lit of cookbooks. Kate Sidley has created the irreverent and smart Delilah as an agony aunt, ready at the drop of a whisk to provide a recipe for whatever life throws at you. From comfort food to gourmet fare, there’s a recipe to match every mood, environment and occasion. I’ll admit the book hasn’t left my bedside—she’s a really funny writer—but one of these days I’m going to test out something in my narrow, pristine and unused kitchen. 

While I loved Leigh Forrest’s charming illustrations, the book could have done with some colour photos of the prepared dishes as inserts—nothing like a real life pic to get the taste buds watering. Still, it’s the perfect gift for that annoying foodie friend who has every recipe book from Julia Child to Jamie Oliver. When she’s not indulging her alter ego, Kate Sidley whips up a weekly column for the Sunday Times and other fun features for magazines. 

PS: Incidentally, I did know the answer to ‘What to cook when your boyfriend’s dumped you?’ His bunny. Duh. 

Faith Parker
4/5

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