Here’s some recent reads I don’t have much to say about:
The Grand Babylon Hotel, by Arnold Bennett
Nella, daughter of millionaire Theodore Racksole, orders a dinner of steak and beer at the exclusive Grand Babylon Hotel in London. Her order is refused, so Theodore promptly buys the chef, the kitchen and the whole hotel. But when hotel staff begin to vanish and a German prince goes missing, Nella discovers that murder, blackmail and kidnapping are also on the menu. A rollicking murder mystery from one of the finest writers of the last century.
I stumbled across this in the library – I’d never heard of it, but it was marked as a Classic crime fiction (but in the general fiction section rather than the specialist crime section). I was quite impressed – to me it was more of an adventure story than a murder mystery – although murder does occur. It was entertaining and light. Note – contains references of racism and anti-Semitism. Overall I gave it 3*. This is the second of my #20booksofsummer project.
The Woods, by Harlan Coben
Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever. Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six-year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long. When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened. Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children. Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.
I really enjoyed this. It was a real page turner that kept me wanting to go back for more. A little slow at the start until all the threads start to come together, but once they did I couldn’t put it down. This is my first Harlan Coben, but it won’t be my last. This was from my own shelf, and I gave it 4*. This is the third of my #20booksofsummer project.
A Year at the Circus, by Jon Sopel
Welcome to the White House.
At the heart of Washington, there is a circus. It’s raucous, noisy and full of clowns. Reporting on it is a daily cacophony. Four major stories can blow up and blow out before breakfast, and political weather systems are moving at warp speed. The one thing absent from the weather forecast is the tranquil eye of the storm. That we never see.
In A Year at the Circus: Inside Trump’s White House, BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, takes you inside Trump’s West Wing and explores the impact this presidency has had on the most iconic of American institutions. Each chapter starts inside a famous Washington room, uncovering its history and its new resonance in the Trump era.
You are invited to step inside the Oval Office where Trump called for loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, and experience life as a reporter in the Briefing Room, where the tense relationship between the media and the President is played out. Guiding you through these rooms, Jon reveals the inner workings of the Trump White House and details the key moments and conversations that have unfolded within its walls.
From Kim Jong-un and Kavanaugh to Merkel and the Mueller Inquiry – this is your insider guide to the Washington Circus. Roll up, roll up …
I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. Each chapter referred to a room in the White House, which was quite clever. It had interesting moments – plenty of anecdotes – but a bit too much history for my taste. Overall I gave it 3*. This was borrowed from the library, and was the fourth of my #20booksofsummer project.