Monday, 20 December 2010

A Deniable Death by Gerald Seymour

For a while Amazon have had a listing for an untitled Gerald Seymour novel due out next summer. Tonight I noticed that they have added a description...

C.R.O.P.: Covert Rural Observation Posts are places where men like Danny ‘Badger’ Baxter hide for endless, motionless hours, secretly recording criminal or terrorist activity.

But now Badger has a bigger job than photographing dissident Republicans in muddy Ulster fields or Islamic extremists on rainswept Yorkshire moors.

I.E.D.: Improvised Explosive Devices are the roadside bombs which account for 80% of British casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MI6 have a plan to assassinate the leading maker of these weapons when he leaves his house in Iran to visit Europe. But first, they need to know when he is leaving, and where he is going.So it is that Badger finds himself on the wrong side of the Iranian border, lumbered with a partner he loathes, lying under a merciless sun in a mosquito-infested marsh, observing the house. And knowing that if they are caught, Her Majesty’s Government will deny all knowledge of them.

Welcome to A Deniable Death.

I am assuming A Deniable Death is the title. The publication date is currently 7 July 2011.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Olen Steinhauer

One of my new "discoveries" this year has been an author called Olen Steinhauer. To date I believe he's written seven books and I've now read three of them.

The first one I read is his most recent paperback. The Tourist (2009) is a post-9/11 thriller set in the world of CIA operatives who are known as Tourists. The main character, Milo Weaver, is a former Tourist who on the face of things is hunting for an assassin. However things get complicated. The book is actually not that action-packed and is more of a character piece with some twisty plot developments to keep the reader thinking. I found the book well written and an enjoyable read so I decided to come back for more.

The second of his books that I read is The Vienna Assignment (2005). This book was also published under the title 36 Yalta Boulevard. This book is actually the third of five volumes set in a fictional unnamed Eastern European country through the post-war years. Most of the action takes place in 1967 and the main character is a spy called Brano Sev who is forced to defect to Vienna as part of an operation.

Finally I've just finished my third novel by this author. Victory Square (2008) is the fifth book in the five-book sequence set in the East and the date is now December 1989. The unnamed country now bears a stark similarity to Romania as it is undergoing a revolution and the dictator is put on trial. This was a very enjoyable read providing a recreation of the fall of the old regime with an added layer of mystery. Some old men are being targeted for death and the connection seems to be a trial in 1948. Is there a connection to the revolution? The main character in this one is Emil Brod, although Brano Sev pops up in the later stages of the book.

The author has a second Milo Weaver book currently in hardback titled The Nearest Exit. I expect it will be the next one I read before I track down the other three books I'm missing.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I think I have found a new author to add to my 'favourite authors of all time' list.

I've just finished reading Let the Right One in by Swedish author John Ajviide Lindqvist. I was vaguely aware of the book from it's previous adaptation to a movie of the same name (that I have yet to see). I knew that the movie had been critically acclaimed and that an English language remake was on the way. When I saw the nice shiny tie-in edition for the new movie (retitled as Let Me In) I decided to add it to my Waterstones 3 for 2.

I am very glad I did. Within a few dozen pages I was totally hooked. By the time I was a hundred pages in I was looking up which other works by the author had been translated into English.

I won't go into a lot of plot detail here as you can find that stuff elsewhere. But the book focuses on a boy called Oskar who lives in Stockholm in 1981. Very quickly we discover that he is relentlessly bullied by other boys at school. In fact many of the incidents are quite difficult to read. One night he meets a strange girl called Eli who has moved in next door. They strike up a touching friendship dispite the fact that she turns out to be a vampire.

Some of the quotes on the cover compare the book favourably with Stephen King and that is probably accurate, hoverer I found the Swedish setting added something extra. And as with King you get to know the characters and feel the loss when bad stuff happens to them. And it does. What is also interesting is that the motivations of the characters are explored and explained so the reader has some sympathy for them right across the board.

I've already bought the other two translated books, Handling the Undead and Harbour. Lindqvist has also some other books that have yet to be translated so I have them to look forward to as well.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Follett, Doctor Who, Cornwell and Hamilton

It's about time I updated this book blog thing so I thought I'd talk about some of the books I have bought this week.

First up here's Fall of Giants by Ken Follett which is just out in hardback. As noted in a previous post Follett is not really one of "my" authors. However this book looked interesting and was half-price in the supermarket so I thought why not give it a go. It's the first of a trilogy and is set in the years from 1911 onwards. It's also a long one at over 800 pages.

Next is The Fort by Bernard Cornwell, best known for his Sharpe books. Strictly speaking I don't have the book yet but I've ordered it from Amazon at 60% off. Yes: 60%. Madness.

Anyway I used to read each new Cornwell novel as they came out but the last few I've not got around to. However The Fort sounds very interesting as it is set during the American war of Independence in 1779 which is a period that Cornwell has rarely visited.

Next is Doctor Who The Brilliant Book 2011. Yes, it's for kids, but it was only half-price in the supermarket and is lovely and glossy. It deals with the recent "season 5" episodes featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond. This means there's lots of photos of the lovely Karen as the lovely Amy...

Sorry, I got sidetracked there. It also features a short story by one Brian Aldiss which is a nice bonus.

Here's a book that's not out for another couple of weeks but I thought I would mention it here. It's a Doctor Who novel called The Coming of the Terraphiles and is by one Michael Moorcock. Moorcock is a very highly regarded author of fantasy that I am ashamed to admit I have never read. I'm hoping this book will be a good way in for me.

Now, here are two books by science fiction author Peter F Hamilton that I already have lying around somewhere. I saw these new editions of Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained today in Waterstones and was quite impressed by the new cover designs. I'm going to dig up my copies and finally get reading them.

Finally here's that Follett chap again. The Pillars of the Earth is his 1989 novel about the building of a cathedral in Twelfth century England. Many regard it as his best book and a TV series has been made. Channel 4 are supposed to be showing it soon and I thought I'd give the book a go. It's another long one at over 1000 pages though.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Stephen Hunt's Jack Cloudie (with new cover design) have revealed the cover to the next Stephen Hunt novel, titled Jack Cloudie, as well as the cover of the paperback edition of Secrets of the Fire Sea.

First of all I'll get my disappointment out of the way. HarperCollins have ditched the lovely retro designs that graced the covers of the first four hardbacks in favour of a generic photoshopped thing. It's not nearly as nice.

Jack Cloudie comes out in hardcover on 7 July 2011 so it's quite a wait. Here's the blurb:

A tale of high adventure and derring-do set in the same Victorian-style world as the acclaimed The Court of the Air and The Secrets of the Fire Sea. Thanks to his father's gambling debts, young Jack Keats finds himself on the streets and trying to survive as a pickpocket, desperate to graft enough coins to keep him and his two younger brothers fed. Following a daring bank robbery gone badly awry, Jack narrowly escapes the scaffold, only to be pressed into Royal Aerostatical Navy. Assigned to the most useless airship in the fleet, serving under a captain who is most probably mad, Jack seems to be bound for almost certain death in the far-away deserts of Cassarabia. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Omar ibn Barir, the slave of a rich merchant lord finds his life turned upside down when his master's religious sect is banned. Unexpectedly freed, he survives the destruction of his home to enter into the service of the Caliph's military forces -- just as war is brewing. Two very similar young men prepare to face each other across a senseless field of war. But is Omar the enemy, or is Jack's true nemesis the sickness at the heart of the Caliph's court? A cult that hides the deadly secret to the origins of the gas being used to float Cassarabia's new aerial navy. If Jack and his shipmates can discover what Cassarabia's aggressive new regime is trying to conceal, he might survive the most horrific of wars and clear his family's name. If not!

The previous book in the series, Secrets of the Fire Sea comes out in paperback on 3 Feb 2011.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

New books for July

Here are a few books that I bought last Thursday and am looking forward to reading over the next few weeks.

First of all Gerald Seymour's new novel The Dealer and the Dead has just been published in hardback in the UK. I've been reading Seymour since 1987 and he's my favourite author currently writing, so his new novel is always something I look forward to.

This new book deals with a hit-man being sent after an arms dealer who never delivered weapons to a Croatian village that was under siege during the civil war in the 1990s.

Next up is the new Robert Harris paperback, Lustrum. As with a previous novel, Imperium, the book is set in ancient Rome and takes the form of a fictional biography of Cicero. Put like that it sounds quite boring but Harris can make anything exciting and is great at describing his characters.

Finally there's the new 800 page plus door-stopper from Stephen King, Under the Dome. This books deals with a mysterious barrier appearing around a small town that cuts it off from the outside world. (I know at least one other novel that dealt with a similar set-up, All Flesh is Grasss by Clifford D Simak.)

The UK publisher has the gimmick of a "limited edition" set of different covers, four of which are shown below. I think there is at least one other that I have not seen online yet. I went for the "young woman" cover oddly enough, although the "old man" cover is growing on me!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Inverted World by Christopher Priest

Thanks to Gollancz for reprinting another of Christopher Priest's early novels. Priest is an author I knew nothing about until I saw the movie of his 1995 book The Prestige. I've gradually been gathering up his back catalog as they become available.

This edition of Inverted World is published as part of Gollancz's SF Masterworks and has the new "yellow" themed cover.

Inverted World features a strange society of humans who have to keep their city moving on railway tracks. They are trying to keep the city as close to its "optimum" position as they can, however optimum keeps moving. If they fall too far behind then a strange phenomena will destroy the city.

But as with Priest's other works, not everything is as it seems.

I enjoyed the book very much and will be looking forward to reading his others.

Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End

Today I spotted the new Gollancz "SF Masterworks" edition of Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End in Waterstones. What's interesting is that it has a hardback cover rather than the usual paperback that most of the other books in the series have. I assume this is because another publisher has the rights to the paperback.

Gollancz has done something similar with their editions of Frank Herbert's Dune and Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Currently they also have a hardback of H.G. Well's The Island of Doctor Moreau.

As with the other books in the series it has been given what I can only describe as a "yellow" makeover. Compare and contrast the actual cover with the original artwork (the first image).

Childhood's End deals with the arrival of an advanced alien race who seem to have some knowledge about mankind's ultimate destiny. It's been a while since I read the book so I may treat myself to the new edition.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Some classy looking Collins Classics

I caught sight of the new Collins Classics series of novels in HMV (of all places) yesterday. The series includes the usual classic novels but the difference being that they have been given a more contemporary cover makeover. Most of the books feature photographic covers rather than detail of old paintings which has become the norm. They seem to be priced at £2.50 each although for some reason Jane Eyre was priced at £2.00.

Here are the covers to five of the books in the series: Emma, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Wuthering Heights.

I do like these editions. I've bought three already and I expect I'll be buying a few more.

Friday, 28 May 2010

James Bond is back in Project X

Exactly a year from now we'll have another James Bond novel to read. The Ian Fleming copyright holders have announced that American crime author Jeffery Deaver will be writing a new James Bond novel (codenamed Project X) for publication on Ian Fleming's next birthday, 28 May 2011.

Deaver is one of those authors I've always meant to read so this should encourage me. I believe that he also has written an introduction to one of the recent Fleming paperback reprints from Penguin.

This will be the first new Bond novel since the centenary Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks that came out in 2008.

As an interesting (or not) footnote the book will be published by Deaver's publishers Hodder & Stoughton in the UK rather than Penguin. Hodder published various Bond books through the 1980s and 1990s before Penguin took over.

Find out more at and

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Gerald Seymour's The Dealer and the Dead cover revealed

Thanks to Ross for alerting me that have put up the cover for Gerald Seymour's new novel, The Dealer and the Dead.

The cover art matches the design of the last year's novel The Collaborator. The publication date is still set for 8 July 2010.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Joe Poyer scans

I've just done a few cover scans of Joe Poyer's last three novels that were published back in the 1980s. The books are Devoted Friends, a novel set in the days of the Russian Revolution and Civil War and The Transgressors & Come Evil Days, the first two volumes of his unfinished WW2 epic, A Time of War.

You can find out more about Joe Poyer's books at my page Joe Poyer - a checklist (

Friday, 5 March 2010

Gerald Seymour's The Dealer and the Dead publication date moved up

Just spotted this on Amazon UK. Gerald Seymour's next novel, The Dealer and the Dead, has had its publication date changed to 8 July 2010.

This is only ten months since the previous book, The Collaborator, came out in hardcover so I imagine it might be a mistake.

Still, I am quite happy to be proved wrong!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Secrets of the Fire Sea by Stephen Hunt, my comments

I've spent the last number of days reading Secrets of the Fire Sea by Stephen Hunt. This is the latest in his series set in a alternate/future steampunk world. I was a big fan of the previous books in the series so I was looking forward to this one.

While the other books included voyages into dangerous foreign lands a lot of the action took place in the Kingdom of Jackals (imagine a version of 19th Century Britain with an aerial navy). Fire Sea in contrast takes place almost entirely on the island of Jago, a volcanic isle inside the arctic circle that is habitable because a civilization developed around the generation of electricity from geothermal energy.

But the human population on Jago is decreasing and now the only city left inhabited is the underground Hermetica City where humans depend on the mercenary army of ursine soldiers to protect them The ursine are a large bear-like people who as it happens have their own claim on the island.

Into the mix is Hannah Conquest, a student at the Circlist cathedral in Jago. Her parents were killed years before after stumbling across a dangerous secret and now Hannah finds herself having to find out what the secret is if she is to survive.

As usual we have a number of imaginative companions for her adventure such as a detective from Jackals and his steamman friend Boxiron. Also returning from the previous books is u-boat commander Commodore Black who once again finds himself in wicked trouble.

Another entertaining adventure, I look forward to the next one.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Gerald Seymour's The Dealer and the Dead blurb

Amazon UK now have a short blurb for Gerald Seymout's next novel, The Dealer and the Dead...

Eighteen years after the barbarous war with the Serbs that tore their communities apart, a group of Croatian villagers discover the identity of the Englishman who they believe betrayed them by welching on a deal to supply arms.

With revenge in sight at last, they hire a professional killer from London to track him down . . . but is the story as simple as they think?

A brilliant, bruising thriller, told in a unique way, about what happens when the hand of the past suddenly reaches out to the present - and is holding a gun.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Spy by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott

Amazon UK now have the cover image and blurb for The Spy , the third book in the Isaac Bell series by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott. As I have mentioned before Justin Scott is one of my favourite authors and this one looks interesting.

Here's the blurb.

It is 1908, and international tensions are mounting as the world plunges towards war. When a brilliant American battleship gun designer dies in an apparent suicide, the man’s grief-stricken daughter turns to the legendary Van Dorn Detective Agency to clear her father’s name. Van Dorn puts his chief investigator on the case, and Isaac Bell soon realizes that the clues point not to suicide, but to murder. When more suspicious deaths follow, it becomes clear that someone—an elusive spy—is orchestrating the destruction of America’s brightest technological minds . . . and the murders all connect to a top-secret project called Hull 44. As the intrigue deepens, Bell finds himself pitted against German, Japanese, and British spies, in a mission that encompasses dreadnaught battleships, Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, Chinatown, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Isaac Bell has certainly faced perilous situations before, but this time it is more than the future of his country that’s at stake — it’s the fate of the world.

That reminds me a little bit of Scott's Normandie Triangle (aka The Man Who Loved the Normande) which featured spying and sabotage in New York during World War II.

Here's the link to the book on

The book is due on 24 June 2010.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Firefox flies, the new Russian stealth jet

The new Sukhoi T-50 stealth aircraft...

... and the fictional MiG-31 Firefox...

OK, this has very little to do with books as such. But my favourite author has been and remains Craig Thomas and the reason I started reading his thrillers was because of the movie FireFox, the novel it was based on, and the sequel novel. (Yes, something was called FireFox before the web browser.)

The original novel FireFox came out in 1977 and dealt with a Russian supersonic stealth fighter that NATO codenamed FireFox. I don't think they called it a stealth fighter in the book but it was invisible to radar which is the same thing.

Clint Eastwood made a move of the book in 1982. It has it's critics but I find it a good solid Cold War era thriller and the plane they designed was pretty darn cool looking.

Craig Thomas went on to write a sequel novel called FireFox Down in 1983 that continued the story at the point where the first book and movie ended.

The US eventually revealed their own stealth aircraft at the end of the 1980s but the Russians never did get around to building a FireFox. So yesterday's news on the BBC website caught my eye. Russia has flown it's new Sukhoi T-50 stealth aircraft, also known as the PAK FA, and shown it off on TV.

The BBC article is at

and the Times newspaper has an article at

Saturday, 23 January 2010

New Gerald Seymour novel listed

It's a long way off but Amazon UK are listing a new Gerald Seymour novel to be published toward the end of the year.

It's presently titled The Dealer and the Dead and will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on 14 Oct 2010.

No cover or plot details yet and I wouldn't be surprised if the title changes before then.

In the meantime you can find the hardback listing at