Book Reviews

Five of the best crime and thrillers of 2021

Photograph: PRSilverview John le Carré (Viking)Le Carré’s final complete novel was published in October, in the week of what would have been his 90th birthday. Having made his fortune, Julian Lawndsley has left the City to run a bookshop in East Anglia, where a meeting with an eccentric Polish émigré and former spy draws him into a web of intrigue. The cast of characters, including several husband-and-wife spy pairings, are
Book Reviews

Book Review: A Walk by the Sea – Independent Book Review

Reviewed by Toni Woodruff A lush literary romance of love and regret Like Wuthering Heights, this sweeping romance novel is a love story of tragic characters. Guilt stifles. It is elusive and hard to predict. Meriel hasn’t been painting for long, but the solitariness of it solaces her. She paints by the sea and feels one with nature, which is something she hasn’t been able to feel with another person
Book Reviews

In the Eye of the Wild by Nastassja Martin review – life after being ‘kissed’ by a bear

With her second book, French anthropologist Nastassja Martin seeks to tell us what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. In August 2015, when living among the Even people of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, she – the immovable object: a headstrong, combative woman – met the unstoppable force of a large brown bear.Her story to begin with is simple, and beautifully gruesome. She writes of “the bear’s kiss on
Book Reviews

Book Review: Terms of Service – Independent Book Review

Reviewed by Chika Anene A shining feat of literary sci-fi in a totalitarian futuristic society Kim lives in a society largely controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). Everything from the outfits she wears to the food she eats to the people she has sexual relations with is decided for her. In this society, thoughts that involve the individual rather than the collective are considered “selfist.”   Working as an AI trainer
Book Reviews

Greek Myths: A New Retelling by Charlotte Higgins; Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth by Jessie Burton – review

Retellings of classical myths may be all the rage in publishing but, as Charlotte Higgins notes in the introduction to Greek Myths, her own erudite and exhilarating collection, it’s a trend as old as the stories themselves. Though certain versions came to dominate, there was no canonical account of “the Greek myths”, even in antiquity. As she puts it: “Bubbling, argumentative diversity is everywhere in classical literature.”As early as the
Book Reviews

The Gate to China by Michael Sheridan; The World According to China by Elizabeth C Economy – review

In celebration of the sixth plenum of the 19th central committee earlier this month, the Chinese Communist party published yet another history of its own glorious achievements. Many pages were devoted to the wise, indeed infallible leadership of the present incumbent, Xi Jinping. Chairman Xi sets considerable store by both territorial integrity and, as he might put it, the righting of past wrongs. In that catalogue, the unequal treaty by
Book Reviews

They’re Ballerinas — and, Quite Possibly, Murderers

Spy fiction is a genre that, done poorly, can lurch toward humorlessness. Mick Herron has for years avoided this pitfall with his dryly entertaining Slough House series — a new one will be published next year, o frabjous day — while taking occasional turns writing shorter pieces that mix criminal doings and the absurd.The bulk of those short stories are included in DOLPHIN JUNCTION (Soho Crime, 294 pp., $24.95), a
Book Reviews

Book Review: Why Medicare Advantage Plans Are Bad – Independent Book Review

Reviewed by Kathy L. Brown A concise, easy-to-understand guide to Medicare and making the right healthcare choices David W. Bynon is an experienced healthcare insurance professional and blogger who noticed a troubling trend: many Americans make their retirement health insurance plans based on poorly understood, inadequate, or misleading information. Referencing common questions to his blog, this book aims to rectify that situation. In a clear, conversational voice, Why Medicare Advantage
Book Reviews

Harsh Times by Mario Vargas Llosa review – CIA secrets and breathtaking lies

This is the kind of novel that mocks the give-it-10-pages, I-need-to-be-grabbed-because-life-is-too-short school of reading. Even those of the trust-the-artist, persevere-and-stand-fast persuasion should prepare to be tested. I confess: I was confused, bewildered, lost. I wrote down the names of the characters. I backtracked. I cross-tracked. I re-tracked. The shape of the narrative only really began to declare itself around page 90. But then … oh, what an engaging education Harsh
Book Reviews

Magritte: A Life by Alex Danchev review – a man of mystery

Unlike his surrealist contemporaries, René Magritte tended to keep Freud at a distance from his work – though few artists offer as much scope for armchair analysis. Speaking in 1961, he observed that “psychology doesn’t interest me. It claims to reveal the flow of our thoughts and emotions. Its efforts are contrary to what I know; it seeks to explain a mystery. There is only one mystery: the world.”One conclusion