Reads April 2024

Everwild (Book 2 of the Skinjacker Trilogy), Neal Shusterman
This carries on where Everlost left off, being the middle book in a trilogy. The intended audience is a teen readership, but I still feel older and younger can read this depending on the person, even though the themes are much darker here. I’d heard some surprises were disturbing and although I wouldn’t go that far, I hadn’t thought I could feel at all uneasy or surprised. This story certainly evokes the question of just because a person (or in this case, afterlight) has an ability, does this mean they should use it? For the greater good, probably not. I found this book better than the first, and, therefore, intend to finish all three books, when after the first, I felt I might not bother with books 2 and 3.

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley (audio), M.C.Beaton, Read by Penelope Keith
This outing flows along like most of the Agatha Raisin books, although this time Agatha and her neighbour (and possibly love-interest) James Lacey team up and move temporarily to a village to solve a murder pretending to be a married couple. Romance is in the air in more ways than one, and the end of this book sets up an interest question for the next book to come.

All the Fiends of Hell, Adam L.G. Nevill
Nevill has been among my favourite authors from my first read of his books. My favourite out of those I’ve read so far remains No One Gets Out Alive. This newest novel may well be a close second, although trying to choose the best of this author’s work is difficult. In this (possible) alien invasion, supernatural horror, there’s so much to appreciate. The author well uses every sentence, creates a solid plot, and introduces a protagonist who is an average man thrown into exceptional circumstances. One of the book’s strengths is this character’s reactions. Even when he’s frozen in indecision, making me scream, the reaction is appropriate, genuine, and realistic. Real people aren’t superheroes. When hurt, people writhe in pain, unable to always miraculously drag themselves to their feet. The bad guy reminded me of several people I’ve stumbled across and was an excellent love-to-hate antagonist. The world-building also performs well, creating a steady creeping atmosphere and breakdown of our world. Although the horrors unfolding take place on Earth, they feel terribly genuine. The question of what’s bleeding through into our existence, extraterrestrial, inter-dimensional, denizens of hell… you’ll be wondering about and believing in them all, gazing at the sky and hoping it never turns red.

Moonraker (audio), Ian Fleming, Read by Bill Nighy
I found this surprising. The best thing about this book is the female romantic interest. She’s quite different from what we expect from the Bond universe. Her indifference to Bond was refreshing and nothing about her was quite what we imagine of the average Bond ‘girl’. I thought no one could make a game of cards sound interesting, but Fleming conveys the tension of the players. Negatives are few and in part a sign of past times and writing styles. This exemplifies why a writer shouldn’t solely focus on one human movement, such as the shrugging of shoulders (and what other movements could shrug?), and sprinkle it throughout a book. And the focus on what people wear grew tiring. But these points are minor. Overall, this highlighted the contrast between the films vs reading the books. Of course, Bill Nighy expertly reads the audio, as one would expect.

Crusade in Jeans, Thea Beckman
I knew nothing about this book other than it was award-winning, and never having come across a historical children’s book before, I couldn’t resist having a look. I’ve seen some say the book suffers because of the translation, and I can easily believe this is true, as some stories don’t translate terribly well. Still, this based on fact fiction — an event in history I had only a vague concept of — is extremely readable and adventurous enough to entertain many children and some adults alike. It’s certainly memorable, and it’s an interesting concept — a fifteen-year-old stuck in the wrong time viewing the events with a modern mindset. In reality, early on, people would likely have killed such a visitor, but Dolf’s persistence in trying to save almost ten thousand children will capture the imagination of many. Having read this, I was ready to give up my copy, but I see it’s rare and selling for exorbitant sums.

Snowblind, Don Roff
This started out well, though I was less absorbed by the end. The author uses any cliched horror moments well by making them funny. A relatively light, fast read, that’s entertaining. I can imagine this could make a decent film if done well, and it’s apparently currently in production.

Reads March 2024

Everlost (Book 1 of the Skinjacker Trilogy), Neal Shusterman
A teen book for 12 up that deals with death and, to some extent, what happens afterwards, although this isn’t a religious book. Everlost is a kind of purgatory for the souls of children who get knocked off course. The world the author creates with its various characters, creatures, and monsters is the best thing about it. However, there’s a lack of emotion from Nick and Allie over their death, to a point which struck me as unrealistic. There’s plenty to like about them, but there could have been more. Likewise, the suggestion of a budding romantic interest seems out of place so early in events. The book is more of an adventure plot than a teaching method, which is fine, though I feel it could have done more. Still, the book contains a great cast, and I’d still recommend this for children even though I feel some under 12s could read this. I was reading books like Oliver Twist when I was 8, so the nasty parts don’t seem to warrant such a high age rating for some. I’m sure well-read younger readers would enjoy this and it’s easily readable, containing some fabulous ideas, and a well thought out story world.

The Face, Dean Koontz
A re-read for me, and a well-plotted exceptional book for someone prepared to suspend disbelief and accept a storyline heavy on supernatural elements in a thriller involving a kidnap plot. Some of the descriptive passages could be called overwritten, and I can’t help feeling a little trimming would help the book. I liked the use of a child in this story, those chapters being some of the best. The parts which revolved around the antagonist(s) were a little heavy-going, but the various threads certainly keep the reader guessing with so many creating an intricate story overall. It’s hard to say more without giving the plot away.

The Girl of Ink and Stars, Kiran Millweed Hargrave
A young adult book that has enough of a story for adults to enjoy, with a story complex enough to stretch younger readers. The book’s beautifully presented with maps and patterned pages. The world building here stands out, though there’s something vaporous about the overall plot and some of the action sequences, which may confuse a younger audience. Even I found a couple of sequences difficult to picture; with all the drops off ledges, I expected broken bones. Although characters get hurt, they seem to have miraculous escapes. Still, there’s something charming and magical about this story. The young female lead shows more than her share of bravery, as do her young friends. I’m left wanting a grumpy old chicken.

A Stroke of the Pen, Terry Pratchett
A collection of lost stories written before Discworld. There are many hints of Terry’s developing style here and of his books to come. Light reading but charming, and every story left me smiling. Worthwhile for the dedicated Pratchett fan.

Green, Jay Lake
I’m unsure how I feel about this novel, which can easily be called an epic fantasy. The plot includes slavery, abduction, and mystical holy wars. Green is a girl whose path in life changes when her father sells her, but by the end of the book, the reader and the character have reason to question her destiny often. Mostly, I found the writing and story absorbing even though I don’t favour first person storytelling, but in parts I found the narrative lagged because of meticulous description, which includes all the training Green goes through. This made the book feel overly long despite much of the training being interesting. When we learn of the planned life path various people have for Green, there’s good reason to feel increasingly sorry for her. None of her choices appear to be wonderful, none of them simple. The sexual content never feels entirely natural or necessary, though perhaps realistic and handled well for those whose companionship is restricted. The details become somewhat vague when dealing with the various deities. I sometimes found Green’s character vs her age hard to believe despite her training, but it’s nice to see a young lead treated with the same respect an adult character would receive. For so long, the ‘rule’ has been a child lead marks a book for a young audience. That’s plainly not the case here, couldn’t be, and even though Green is in infancy when taken, we are privileged to her inner thoughts as she’s moulded into what others would make of her, while she battles to keep a sense of self. Strongly character driven, wonderful in parts, weaker in others, I’m pleased to have read this, but feel disinclined to read the rest of the trilogy, although Green makes for an interesting and capable female lead.

Reads Feb 2024

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, Benjamin Stevenson
All the clues needed are here, some so subtle it’s easy to pass over them, but it all ties together in the end. For me, it’s the style in which it’s all presented that made this book so engaging. I’m not usually a fan of first person and I’ve seen that the fictional author of the book talking to the audience has annoyed some readers, but I loved it. Others call it confusing and say it’s all been done before by better. That can be said for many books, but that doesn’t negate other novels. I wasn’t confused and don’t feel it’s fair to assess a book against another. All I know is I had fun with this. I did, however, set my sights on the suspect(s) before the denouement, but not early enough to spoil the outcome. I may check out other works by the author.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Laura Imai Messina
Based on a real phone box people visit to talk to their departed loved ones, this is a gentle story even though its subject is one of dealing with loss; of how to open oneself up to a future in which one can find the right balance to live a hopeful and love-filled existence, even though genuine grief’s a close companion through life. Snippets and minor details intersperse the chapters to the section just read, which lend the book a certain unique charm and style. Yes, the story lingers afterwards, although I its emotional aspect failed to move me.

Citizen Alex (Let Freedom Ring), Bruce Campbell (ebook)
A lighthearted, short, fun read. The main character of Alexander Madison could easily be the lead in a series, and the writing shows Bruce’s sense of humour well. Maybe not as funny as I expected, but there were moments with political satire woven in.

The Lost City of Z, David Grann
The only trouble reading a book like this is it does nothing to lower the to-be-read mountain because I couldn’t help wondering if the author’s written any more than half as good. If only all my history lessons could have been so entertaining and informative. A factual historical adventure as gripping as fiction, the book follows in the wake of Percy Harrison Fawcett into the Amazon to answer the question of what happened to Fawcett and whether he was on the track of an amazing civilisation. Often brutal, this tale is also enlightening. We know all about the destruction of the rainforest in recent years, but this reveals how deep that ruination goes, of how early explorers began that devastation in pursuit of the land’s resources more years ago than most of us probably imagine. Many of the hostile tribes greeted these men in defence of that land and in response to the enslavement of their people. The treatment of indigenous races and pack animals is harrowing. The description of diseases and insectile hazards may make you itch. If I have one criticism, it’s that the version of the book I have had seriously small writing, which made the experience less pleasant, if pleasant is a word one can use when reading this type of book. Note: The film on Netflix based on the book takes only the main part of the story and dramatises it. The film’s worth a look, but I preferred the reading experience as it’s much more in-depth.

The Power, Naomi Alderman
I didn’t expect to enjoy this book, although ‘enjoy’ doesn’t feel like the right word. This is a dystopian look to a future in which women develop the ability to emit an electrical discharge, turning almost all women into a walking weapon. The resulting upheaval in societies and cultures all over the world plunge the planet into wars on both the small and large scale. There’s too much in this novel to go into without writing an essay. The meaning may well be different to different people, based on their own biased views. To me, it screams that there is no better or worse, just the corruption of power, and we should all be equal. But, sadly, though likely accurately, this shows that equality also includes all human traits, both good and bad. The book shows what people are capable of, questioning gender equality on a grand scale. It’s thought-provoking, though touches only lightly on a subject that has greater depth than you’ll find here. Some might feel it’s a feminist novel, but it speaks more eloquently of the failures in human nature. Creative and possibly provocative for some.

Jan Reads 2024

The House at Phantom Park, Graham Masterton (ebook)
I found this to be far from the author’s best work. In the past, scenes from a previous book of the author’s made me go physically cold, difficult to make me do as I don’t scare easily. This one carried a slight creepiness but didn’t scare. I liked the plot and these less than average ghosts impressed. A lot of info gets repeated in the narrative, particularly in conversations and within a short timeframe, reminding me of several shows that have unnecessary exchanges to remind the audience of what they already know. In style, this made me wonder if the book’s intended as YA horror, though some scene content seems a little too gory for that. I wanted to like this more than I did, though there were elements I appreciated.

Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam
This book seems to do a few of the things many publishers tell their authors not to do, so it took a little while to get used to the omnipresent head-hop style, knowing things the characters in the book can’t yet know, or never know. A social commentary on isolation, dependance on technology and society, wrapped up in tension, the themes here make one realise how helpless so many of us might be in the face of disaster; how most people require order and structure, and how close they come to panic, man turning on each other when these things come under threat. A suspenseful piece of writing. Often disturbing. (Note: the Netflix adaptation is good but I preferred the reading experience.)

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener (audio), M.C.Beaton (read by Penelope Keith)
Agatha never learns from past mistakes; whenever she cheats, as with horticulture in this story, you know she’s going to be caught out. She is a mercurial character, though that’s partly what makes her fun. We like to see her fail as much as triumph. Her sense of right and wrong is her saving grace, though she has a sharper tongue than mind sometimes. In this, the sniping among the characters, not only Agatha, provides the most fun.

Rotherweird, Andrew Caldecott
A book that’s difficult to describe. Made me think of Gormenghast a little, in that it’s a hidden world in our world, somewhat though not entirely closed off because of a historical secret, and I’m sure the town is more fantastical in my imagination than the author intended because of that. I want to adore this book, but it requires concentration in part because of the wealth of characters. There’s so many don’t expect any real depth to them. In that, possibly the book is missing something, but to allow the audience to get to know them more deeply would require additional verbiage to an already long narrative and it’s already a little too much. I can’t help feeling that this book would benefit from some editing, though choosing what to cut (the author already states in the back that scenes and characters ended up on the cutting room floor), would require a well-trained eye, or perhaps several, as opinions will naturally vary. But the flaws are irritating because this should be, and is to a degree, an amazing book. I guess the broadest genre to place this would be fantasy, but to use one word to describe the work would be an injustice; if you can think of it, you’ll likely find it here. Fantastical is perhaps a better word. The book excels in scope and is mostly a triumph, but it’s heavy going, and I used to read a lot of epic fantasy with no problems. I couldn’t help loving most of it and may tackle the trilogy in time, though for now, I feel as though my brain needs a rest.

By the Light of the Moon, Dean Koontz
A re-read for me as part of a book clearance, although I enjoyed this as much, if not more, than the first time around, so may hold on to it awhile. Not only a solid plot, but Koontz creates an enjoyable balance of characters here. Even the antagonist, with his self-serving justification, lifts the mad scientist level somewhat. Yes, it’s necessary to suspend disbelief, but then this is a supernatural thriller — what else should the reader expect except the miraculous? The penultimate part with Shep being a little bit ‘something’ (the best way I can describe it, giving nothing away) has always stood out for me and the urge to protect the protagonist’s autistic brother makes for plenty of suspense.

Best Reads of 2023

Around this time of year I look at how many books I read the previous year, and choose the best of those reads. When I first looked at the list, I despaired that I would find any to recommend, but later on several cropped up. These are the few that stayed with me the most, though I’ve found it almost impossible to select an outstanding book of the year. If pushed I might select Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls for all the reasons stated below.


Roger Rabbit, Xerious Business, Gary K.Wolf
The fourth novel of the series and perhaps the best. This shows the human side of Jessica before she became a toon. I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first and fourth book possibly being my favourites. Don’t expect these books to follow on, one after the other. They each have their own stories and don’t pick up where the other left off. Take them for they are, as the author has written them, and they’re fun, though not as zany as the film. Don’t expect Disney here.

Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie
It’s marvellous to love a book as much on a re-read years later as much as when first read. This is one of those. I still rank this as Crusie’s best book. A steamy small town romance and mystery perfectly blended. This is a rare book where not one sentence seems out of place. With a perfect balance of characters (especially Sophie and Phin), and an ending that still made me laugh and smile, this book brings a bright meaning to carrying on family traditions. Top marks.


No One Gets Out Alive (audio), Adam Nevill, read by Colleen Prenderghast
I picked this up for two reasons: It’s one of my favourite horror novels (yes, I’ve already read this), and I’ve enjoyed audio books read by this reader. It’s best to think of it as a book of two halves, though both have their share of scares. Many may feel this book goes on too long, and this especially comes across in narration (and in the second half), but I still enjoyed this story immensely. Some skilled editing could shorten this by making some sentences more concise, but I’d struggle to find much, if anything, worthy of deletion. This tale works as a horror on so many levels. As a ghost story, societal commentary, the isolation and fear of a woman alone, and the helplessness anyone would feel trying to make others accept an unbelievable truth. Suspenseful.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
I knew the story though this is my first reading of this book, but I doubt it will be my last. Technically classed as a book for children, it’s one all of us need to read. Almost all of us will be in young Conor’s position at some point — losing someone we love from an illness. We’ll experience emotions we hate ourselves for, and perhaps, don’t even understand. This book deals with all that and more. It also teaches forgiveness, especially for oneself, and that emotions don’t always surface in the best or most obvious ways. Children may lose some of the nuance depending on age but, if they don’t take to it, I’d recommend trying again as they grow older. Indeed, the older one is, the more this might tear the reader apart. It may well devastate adults more, as we understand the pain in these pages too well. I’d have to place this among the best books ever written, and it’ll break your heart.

Intensity, Dean Koontz
When Chyna Shepherd crosses paths with a killer, she has to fight for more than her own life. A re-read for me I’m pleased to say I would still rate among the author’s best books. While I might not have thought this was as perfect as I did on my first read many years ago, much of this book remains intense. Yes, the antagonist possibly feels excessive, but not as caricatured as some famous criminals real or invented. Whatever writers can dream up, reality often trumps. But I recall the protagonist being among the first truly strong female characters despite her making one or two stupid mistakes. Being human and ‘not thinking’ makes for a more realistic person. She’s not superhuman. There are spiritual elements, which is often the case in Koontz books, but there’s no reason to buy into these if the reader doesn’t want to. The same elements could be coincidence yet give Chyna strength and determination. Only her belief in them is important. There is some animal injury and death, so that may be a trigger warning for some; I could deal because ultimately what happened is still the killer’s fault, but realistic in context, and not gratuitous.


Making Money, Terry Pratchett
No doubt baffling, but I have a handful of Terry Pratchett books left to read, well aware that when I’ve read them, there are no more (although I can and may well read them again). Therefore, though it’s been out for many years, this is my first reading of Making Money. What Terry and Moist von Lipwig did for the post office, he does here for the banks. What more can I say? Fine comic writing. Wonderful satire. Outstanding as always with a cast of unforgettable characters, including a dog with a newfound and beloved toy.


Swan Song (audio), Robert McCammon, read by Tom Stechschulte
The easiest way to describe this book is as an epic analogy against war, especially nuclear war. One can’t help think of Stephen King’s The Stand while reading this, and, I imagine, vice versa, once having read both, but each deserves their own place on anyone’s bookshelves. I can’t say everything I want to say without giving away the plot and outcome, but I’m not sure the anti-hero attempt quite works for me, maybe because it seems so sudden and brief. Sadly, the outcome speaks so eloquently, showing us with a painful foresight that some people may never change, even though hope runs throughout. There was a moment where I rolled my eyes when they get to their final destination and who they find there, but that soon dissipated when the author flipped the story defying my expectations. A head hopping but absorbing narrative worthy of recognition.

A Man Called Ove (audio), Fredrik Backman, read by Joan Walker
Having recently watched A Man Called Otto based on this book, I revisited this story by listening to the audio. I loved reading the novel and still have it on my shelves. The audio did nothing to disappoint. At first glance, one might wonder why they’d want to read the story of a grumpy old man, but Ove is not all he seems and his life is one to be celebrated. One thing the book does better than the film is give us his wife’s point of view. We get to learn of the qualities she saw in him, long before a new family moves into the neighbourhood. We also learn more about his background. If you liked the book, there’s no reason not to enjoy the story in other formats. If you’ve only seen the film, watch or listen to the book, and enjoy how Ove touches the lives of others.


Scratchman, Tom Baker
Reading this made me feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Bizarre. Surreal. Far more wild and wacky than I was expecting, but who can fault the wild and wonderful imagination of Tom Baker? His sense of humour shines through? The theme of the book is fear, and this resonates by the end. I’m tempted to get the audio, just to hear this brought to life by the author/Doctor.


Road of Bones, Christopher Golden
A road named because of the number of prisoners who died there forced to work by the Soviet Union, bodies left in the ice in Siberia. I’ve read Christopher Golden before but can’t remember when I enjoyed one of his books as much as this. The unusual setting is as much a character as any of the people that populate the story. I felt for any of them, even those I barely got to know. A short slow start after which momentum rarely lets up. The plot is fantastical, but I felt so immersed in it, I found it easy to suspend disbelief — easier, no doubt, because of the wilderness. Not what I expected, but better for it. The only slight negative is I expected the ‘road’ to have more to do with the major story, whereas it’s more of a subplot.

The Red House Mystery, A.A.Milne
The one and only detective novel written by the author of Winnie the Pooh. This is light-hearted and fun. The amateur detective asks all the right questions and comes up with all the right pro and con answers. This kept me guessing until almost the end, when I worked out what had happened but not why, though the clues were there. I’m just sorry there’s only the one, though for this to be a series, A.A.Milne would have had to improve with each book. Even if this was an author just having a little fun, this would have been a solid effort of its day. It understandably has a ‘classic’ feel. I thoroughly enjoyed this, though mostly because of the author’s excellent style. Makes me want to read my childhood Pooh books again.

Dec Reads

Lost for Words, Stephanie Butland
An enjoyable read, set in a bookshop, though Loveday Cardew’s big secret wasn’t so secret to me. I easily worked out what was coming, although other elements were more of a surprise at the end. I’m not a fan of first person, so this, together with the way the book is structured, meant it took me over 100 pages to truly drop into Loveday’s world. Once I did, I found this more enjoyable. I liked the characters, good and bad, and in-between — like people, characters aren’t always perfect citizens; that would be boring. I struggled a little with why Loveday found it so hard to confess her story to ‘anyone’, even a single soul — I would hope we’d be more understanding these days — but then she’s worked so hard to cut herself off from any form of risk. She says one horrible thing towards the end that jarred, though it’s so small it didn’t put me off the book — that ‘people are imperfect’ thing again, and we all have an uncharitable or selfish thought occasionally. I liked the locations in the book. The plot and conclusion were satisfying. Archie was a fun addition to the cast.

Road of Bones, Christopher Golden
A road named because of the number of prisoners who died there forced to work by the Soviet Union, bodies left in the ice in Siberia. I’ve read Christopher Golden before but can’t remember when I enjoyed one of his books as much as this. The unusual setting is as much a character as any of the people that populate the story. I felt for any of them, even those I barely got to know. A short slow start after which momentum rarely lets up. The plot is fantastical, but I felt so immersed in it, I found it easy to suspend disbelief — easier, no doubt, because of the wilderness. Not what I expected, but better for it. The only slight negative is I expected the ‘road’ to have more to do with the major story, whereas it’s more of a subplot.

The Red House Mystery, A.A.Milne
The one and only detective novel written by the author of Winnie the Pooh. This is light-hearted and fun. The amateur detective asks all the right questions and comes up with all the right pro and con answers. This kept me guessing until almost the end, when I worked out what had happened but not why, though the clues were there. I’m just sorry there’s only the one, though for this to be a series, A.A.Milne would have had to improve with each book. Even if this was an author just having a little fun, this would have been a solid effort of its day. It understandably has a ‘classic’ feel. I thoroughly enjoyed this, though mostly because of the author’s excellent style. Makes me want to read my childhood Pooh books again.

Growing Pain and Other Stories, Paul Tremblay
This book is going to be polarising from loving to loathing it, and all the levels between. Some stories felt as though they needed more of a resolution. Others read like a metaphor. Then there comes the “What the hell did I just read?” portion. A few certainly linger in the mind. I loved three — Where We All Will Be, Her Red Right Hand, It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks — liked others, hated none, but felt somewhat indifferent to a few. These stories are experimental, even slipstream in parts, and unique to this author’s style.

Reads Nov 2023

Only two books this month, though they were long and made for slow reading.

The Fisherman, John Langan
This took me a long time to get through, not because of the book but because of a holiday and other things going on although I will admit I’m not a huge fan of first person, which can make some books sound more tell than show. That’s the case here, though I’m unsure if third person would have worked. The story is told in three parts, first and last by Abe, the book’s main character, and the Middle by someone Abe and his fishing buddy meet, when we learn the legend surrounding Dutchman’s Creek. This structure removes one from the story a little in that I found myself far more interested in past characters and events than those of the present ones. I also found the sex scene towards the end gratuitous. Fans of Lovecraft type literary tales should love this book. For others who don’t like the gothic slow burn they may not appreciate it so well. The world the author creates, he brought to life, and the narrative invoked all the right imagery. It’s an excellent book — fantastical, imaginative, dark, visceral in places, subtle in others, mythological, epic — and the right reader will love it. The end was satisfying, though left me questioning the fate of the world, and the possibility of one the horrors presented ever bleeding to a greater degree into our reality.

1610 A Sundial in a Grave, Mary Gentle
This is quite a blend of historical fiction with touches of fantasy and eroticism with some scenes that may shock some readers; a love story with duels and plenty of political intrigue and conspiracies. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re reading a gay romance to begin with, but then the book takes a turn. That’s not to say it’s an easy read. Often I get through 100 pages a day, even when it’s a complex plot, but found I needed to take my time with this. This mostly gripped me, but there was a sense of wondering whether I’d ever finish, although it’s hard to say why. I’ve read books more involved than this, but some scenes felt needlessly long. I can’t help feeling I’m doing the book a disservice by saying some pages flashed by, others were a slow amble, and the tone of the book changed throughout, which also threw me. The author is meticulous, maybe overly so, but I found sticking with this worthwhile. A story that begins in France with the arrangement of an assassination moves on across the world.