Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: February 2017

Untold Stories (February 2017)

By Alan Bennett

February 1, 2017

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

Alan Bennett’s first collection of prose sinceWriting Home takes in all his major writings over the last ten years.

The title piece is a poignant family memoir with an account of the marriage of his parents, the lives and deaths of his aunts and the uncovering of a long-held family secret.  Also included are his much celebrated diaries for the years 1996 to 2004.  At times heart-rending and at others extremely funny.  Untold Stories is a matchless and unforgettable anthology.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (February 2017)

By Agatha Christie

February 1, 2017

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

Roger Ackroyd knew too much.  He knew the woman he loved had poisoned her first husband, that someone was blackmailing her, and that as a consequence she had just taken her own life.  But as he read the letter that would tell him the identity of her mysterious blackmailer, he was stabbed to death in a locked room…

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Agatha Christie’s most brilliant detective novels and the book that catapulted her to worldwide renown.  As a play, under the title of Alibi, it then enjoyed a long and successful run with Charles Laughton as Hercule Poirot.  First published in May 1926 by Collins, and joining their Detective Story Club imprint in August 1931 to tie in with the release of the film version starring Austin Trevor as Poirot, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd remains as powerful and shocking today as when it was first published 90 years ago.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven (February 2017)

By Chris Cleave

February 1, 2017

When war is declared, Mary defies her family to protect the children her country would rather forget.

Tom refuses to sign up for a conflict he doesn’t believe in.

Alistair answers the call of duty, but can’t silence his own heart.

Could you dare to fall in love while the world around you is falling apart?

The Girl Before (February 2017)

By JP Delaney

February 1, 2017

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105,4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection… but can you pay the price?

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules.  After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.  As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

The Nowhere Man (February 2017)

By Gregg Hurwitz

February 1, 2017

He was once called Orphan X.

As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children’s home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists.  But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to go off-grid and use his formidable skill-set to help those unable to protect themselves.

One day, though, Evan’s luck runs out…

Ambushed, drugged and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him.  As he tries to piece together what’s happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.

With time running out, he will need to out-think, out-manoeuvre, and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he has never encountered if he’s to have any chance of escape.  He’s got to save himself to protect those whose lives depend on him.  Or die trying…

Cast Iron (February 2017)

By Peter May

February 1, 2017

In 1989, a killer dumped the body of twenty-year-old Lucie Martin into a picturesque lake in the West of France.  Fourteen years later, during a summer heatwave, a drought exposed her remains – bleached bones amid the scorched mud and slime.

No one was ever convicted of her murder.  But now, forensic expert Enzo Macleod is reviewing this stone-cold-case – the toughest of those he has been challenged to solve.

Yet when Enzo finds a flaw in the original evidence surrounding Lucie’s murder, he opens a Pandora’s box that not only raises old ghosts but endangers his entire family.

Hell Island (February 2017)

By Matthew Reilly

February 1, 2017

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

It is an island that doesn’t appear on any maps.
A secret place, where classified experiments have been carried out.
Experiments that have gone terribly wrong…

Four crack special forces units are dropped in.
One of them is a team of Marines, led by Captain Shane Schofield, call-sign: SCARECROW.

Nothing can prepare Schofield’s team for what they find there.
You could say they’re just entered hell.
But that would be wrong.
This is much, much worse.

Jericho’s War (February 2017)

By Gerald Seymour

February 1, 2017

Corrie Rankin is already a legend at MI6 when he is recalled, with little regard for the horrors of his recent past, and sent to the Yemeni desert.  There is a chance to take down a high value player in the war against Al-Qaeda – a chance, also, for the Brits to succeed without begging help from the Americans.

The sniper and his spotter who will go with Corrie are less than ‘top team’, but the best that can be found if the mission is to stay deniable.

And once the three misfits are in-country, they must rely on intelligence brought to them by a British Jihadi who has been ‘turned’ and a young archaeologist digging in the ruins nearby.

The mission is the brain-child of an apparently old, fat fool in a striped cricket blazer, a sweating figure of fun among the ex-pat community across the border in Muscat.  This is Jericho – not actually as old or fat or foolish as he appears, nor as harmless.

And this is Jericho’s War.  The weapons it deploys, the brutal aims it pursures, are state of the art.  The fear it breeds and the raw bravery it demands are as timeless as the desert itself.

Autumn (February 2017)

By Ali Smith

February 1, 2017

Autumn.  Season of mists and mellow-fruitfulness.  That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819.

How about Autumn 2016?

Daniel is a century old.  Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future.  The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.

Love is won, love is lost.  Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness.  The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means.  This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time.  Who are we?  What are we made of?  Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960’s Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making.

Here’s where we’re living.  Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.

Here comes Autumn.

City of Friends (February 2017)

By Joanna Trollope

February 1, 2017

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 18 February 2017 also on podcast

She glanced at her phone again.  There were appeals from the girls, from her ex-colleagues, a text from Steve reading with uncharacteristic imperiousness, ‘Call me.’  She couldn’t.  She couldn’t call anyone … She leaned forward, gripping the edge of the bench, and stared at the ground.  God, she thought, am I losing my mind?  Is this what happens when you lose your job?

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life.  Or at least, the only life she’d ever known.  For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London?

As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new – one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home – she at least has The Girls to fall back on.  Beth, Melissa and Gaby.  The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and for all the happines and heartbreaks in between.

But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey’s redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits.

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