Six Recently-Arrived Titles from the Mysteries & Thrillers Section:
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Adam LeBor is a journalist and author of mainly non-fiction, The Geneva Option being his second foray into the world following his first novel, The Budapest Protocol, displaying a growing penchant for grounding his titles in attractive European cities.
His non-fiction has won him many accolades, tackling controversial subjects: Hitler’s Secret Bankers, exposing Swiss complicity with the Third Reich, and Complicity with Evil: the United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide which takes a strong moral stance against the UN’s failure to intervene in various incidences of genocide. The Geneva Option feels like a fictional extension of the latter.
His novel follows Yael Azoulay, an attractive young woman orchestrating the seedier business of the UN, brokering deals with warlords in the world’s most dangerous war zones. However, after a leaked document leads to her being ceremoniously ejected, she finds herself catapulted into a world of greed and corruption whose filthy trails lead all the way to the highest echelons of power.
Her story is plotted alongside that of Sami, another attractive, albeit scruffy, young UN correspondent for the New York Times, whose investigative journalism helps Yael (and the reader) tie the threads of plot together, as well as offering a handy romantic interest.
The novel is enjoyable in the way a thriller should be: it’s fast-paced, full of intrigue, abuse of power, greed and cinematic twists as we are safely led through by our moralistic protagonists. Descriptions are sparse, saved for scene-setting, but this is plot-driven and the plot is good, if a little heavy on the good guy-bad guy dialectic.
For me, though, it’s all a little too Hollywood, smelling suspiciously like Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy, a fact which LeBor himself seems to acknowledge in one ‘wink-wink-nudge-nudge’ moment. The Geneva Option is set to be the first in a trilogy of novels focusing on Yael Azoulay, and perhaps a second chance at developing her character may reveal something a little more interesting.
However, with a June release, it wouldn’t be a bad novel to pick up and settle into your deck chair by the seaside with, letting your mind race gently as you work on your stock of vitamin D.
You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.
Since both ABC stores are so full of nooks and crannies, and each and every one of us on the floor buys books for at least one section, we are planning to show you some of what we consider our treasures here more often. We know how easy it can become to head straight to your favorite section, and we want to show you there is so much more to be found! Jouke gave us a head-start with his Cozy Mysteries Corner, and now Jilles and Renate, our Fiction buyers at Amsterdam (when they’re not reading on the job), have taken up the gauntlet…
Get your classic Penguin summer bag and make all your book loving friends jealous! Have a great summer (because it *will* be summer this year, we can feel it in our bones)!
June will be ‘de maand van het spannende boek‘ (the month of the thrilling book) in the Netherlands. We in the fiction department are making ourselves ready for some literary blood and guts with both these three gorgeous hardcovers for everybody who wants to know about Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Watson, and these classic noirs that have been reissued in beautiful editions. If your relationship is boring you, get your tension and excitement here… Happy reading!
Shown in the bottom picture are: The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett, American Noir: 11 Classic Crime Novels of the 1930s, 40s & 50s – edited by Robert Polito, Blood on the Mink – Robert Silverberg, Double Indemnity – James M. Cain, The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler, and David Goodis, Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s – David Goodis.
In the new film One For The Money, proud, born-and-bred Jersey girl, Stephanie Plum’s got plenty of attitude, even if she’s been out of work for the last six months and just lost her car to a debt collector.
Desperate for some fast cash, Stephanie turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail bonding company…as a recovery agent. True, she doesn’t even own a pair of handcuffs and her weapon of choice is pepper spray, but that doesn’t stop Stephanie from taking on Vinny’s biggest bail-jumper: former vice cop and murder suspect Joe Morelli – yup, the same sexy, irresistible Joe Morelli who seduced and dumped her back in high school.
Nabbing Morelli would be satisfying payback – and a hefty payday – but as Stephanie learns the ins and outs of becoming a recovery agent from Ranger, a hunky colleague who’s the best in the business, she also realizes the case against Morelli isn’t airtight.
Add to the mix her meddling family, a potentially homicidal boxer, witnesses who keep dying and the problem of all those flying sparks when she finds Morelli himself…well, suddenly Stephanie’s new job isn’t nearly as easy as she thought.
Based on the first title in a popular series by Janet Evanovich, One For The Money stars Katherine Heigl and opens in Dutch cinemas on April 26th. Want to see it for free? We have three pairs of tickets to give away!
To enter the draw, just send an email to email@example.com by 11am on Monday April 23rd.
Please include your contact details in the mail, which store you would like to collect the tickets in, and put “One For The Money tickets” in the subject line.
The highest praise I can give any book is that it puts your life on hold for however long it takes you to read it: you will hold your pee until you finish the chapter; just fifty pages more and then you’re really going to do the washing-up. Val McDermid writes such books. From the consistently gripping opening sentences onward, you are at her mercy.
McDermid’s most famous creation is Dr Tony Hill, a clinical psychologist affiliated with the fictional University of Bradfield. He collaborates with DI Carol Jordan of Bradfield CID on the sort of baffling, gruesome murders that would make Fred and Rosemary West uncomfortable. Jordan is a tough copper who swears by forensic evidence. Hill, on the other hand, “gets these feelings” about the crimes and their perpetrators. At the start of their working relationship she only tolerates Hill’s eccentric behavior because his irrational, intangible instincts and his insights into the psychopathic mind get results. As the years go by, however, they find themselves drawn to each other, dysfunctional loners that they both are.
Carol Jordan is your run-of-the-mill no-nonsense copper. You will have seen her type on everything from The Sweeney to The Bill. The only interesting thing about her is the fact that she is a woman doing what is traditionally a man’s job. (For further reference, please see Lynda la Plante. )
Tony Hill is a masterful, inspired creation. Mentally and physically abused as a child by his mother and grandmother, he knows better than anyone what neglect can do to a vulnerable child. He himself was only saved from becoming a psychopath by a dinner lady at his school who showed him kindness and who made him feel safe and loved. It is this intimate knowledge of the criminally insane mind that makes Hill such a terrific profiler. He frequently asks himself, What would I do? How would I get rid of the body of a raped teenage girl? Where would I strike next? By his own admission, Hill only “passes for human”. He is socially inept and suffers from a motor learning difficulty. He relaxes by playing the Tomb Raider videogame. Some people who meet him assume he is autistic and thus underestimate his abilities. One such person is Jacko Vance.
Vance was once half of a successful television presenting team with his wife, Micky. Fourteen years ago he was arrested for murdering half a dozen teenage girls. (I would be interested to find out what Richard Madeley has to say about the character.) He has spent all this time in prison. But now he has escaped and he is losing no time in going after the people who took away his freedom in the first place. In the meantime another murderer is on the loose, targeting prostitutes who work the streets of Bradfield.
Few things make me happier than a new Tony Hill novel, with the possible exception of a new limited-edition flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. These books are not your typical whodunit or even whydunit; Tony Hill is not your typical shrink. The tightness of the plots is remarkable. Even in this book, where two separate plot strands run together, the reader is never confused as to what is going on and who the many police officers working the cases are. McDermid knows her way around forensics and police procedure, but she never drowns her reader in a mire of unintelligible and boring jargon. The Tony Hill series are miles ahead of any other crime thrillers and Val McDermid leaves all pretenders to her throne far behind.
My advice to you reading this review would be: Do not read this book! Start from the begining with The Mermaids Singing instead and work your chronological way towards The Retribution. That way, you will slowly get acquainted with Dr Hill and learn to admire and love him. If that is still not enough for you, get your hands on the – now sadly cancelled – ITV series Wire in the Blood with Robson Green as Dr Tony Hill. I guarantee it will be a love affair for life. You’re welcome.
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