Good Reading : February 2015
GOOD READING FEBRUARY 2015 43 CRIME / THRILLER WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG The Bookseller Mark Pryor Hugo Marston is a former FBI agent who is now head of security at the United States embassy in Par is. He is negotiating to buy two books from a bouquiniste – a seller of antiquarian and used books – on the River Seine embankment when the bookseller is kidnapped at gunpoint. Overcoming his surprise that such a thing should happen in broad daylight, the American contacts the police. They don’t believe the preposterous story and record it as a hoax. Frustrated that he can’t convince them otherwise, Marston decides to investigate. He discovers that someone is killing the bouquinistes of Paris. The police consider each death an accident and don’t have the manpower or the budget to enquire further. Marston enlists the help of three people: an under-utilised CIA officer whose proclivity for hard liquor is becoming a problem, a journalist whose husband – a policeman – was killed in the line of duty, and his own secretary at the embassy. Their efforts unearth the dangerous work that the bouquiniste was involved in before he started buying and selling books – and the probable reasons for his kidnap. When primitive urges are awakened and questions of loyalty arise, this mystery becomes a thriller. The Bookseller, the first of four novels in the ‘Hugo Marston’ ser ies, starts slowly. The body count increases, tension builds, and Mark Pryor introduces us to memorable characters. This is a commendable debut with Par is as an attractive backdrop. ★★★ Prometheus Books $27.99 Reviewed by Clive Hodges Bitter Remedy Conor Fitzgerald The flawed detective is a bit of a cliché, but normal detectives can get a bit dull. Just being flawed, however, doesn’t necessarily make for a compelling character. Take, for example, Alec Blume, the protagonist of Bitter Remedy. Blume is a hypochondriac, recovering from some sort of breakdown by taking a holiday with a suitcase full of nasal sprays and pills. He also suffers from commitment issues and is barely on speaking ter ms with the mother of his newborn daughter. Blume and his portable supply of pharmaceuticals arrive in a sleepy Italian village for a course in Bach flower remedies. But when he arrives he discovers that the course has been cancelled. After a somewhat contrived chain of events, Blume develops a strange fever and is stranded in the village with no way out. A Romanian prostitute has also disappeared from the village without a trace. Despite resistance from just about everyone he meets and his increasingly dazed state, Blume takes on the case. The trouble with Bitter Remedy is not that it is a bad story, but rather that, like Blume himself, it’s underwhelming. Blume is not a compelling character and his issues have obviously evolved through the previous entries in the series, but it is hard to care about him. The story is also just too coincidental to be taken seriously. ★★ Bloomsbury $24.99 Reviewed by Tessa Chudy disappeared from the village without a trace. Despite resistance from just about everyone he meets and his increasingly dazed state, Blume takes on the case. Remedy but rather that, like Blume himself, it’s underwhelming. Blume is not a compelling character and his issues have obviously evolved through the The Bookseller Mark Pryor head of security at the United States embassy in Paris. He is negotiating to buy two books from a bouquiniste February 2014 More about Conor Fitzgerald Born in England in 1964, Conor Fitzgerald has lived in Italy since 1989. In the early 1990s he collaborated on the translation of lectures and essays that James Joyce wrote in Italian when he was in Trieste and Rome. wrote in Italian when he was in Trieste and Rome.
December January 2015