Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Dogstar Rising (A Makana Investigation Series) by Parker Bilal

Paperback:  Summer, 2001.

The mutilated bodies of young homeless boys are turning up in the backstreets of Cairo, and the finger of suspicion is pointing at the city's Coptic community.  As Makana, a private investigator who fled his native Sudan a decade ago, watches the embers of religious hatred begin to glow, he has a premonition that history may be about to repeat itself.

But for now, Makana has another case to solve, involving a disgruntled travel agent, stolen money, and threatening letters - an assignment that appears to point to nothing more than a family feud.  That is, until Makana meets Meera, a woman with a dangerous secret who asks for his help - and stumbles upon an unlikely link to the murdered boys.

When the travel agent's office becomes the backdrop to a brutal killing Makana is the sole witness, and he attracts the unwanted attention of not only the state security services and the police but also a disreputable Sudanese businessman - who claims to hold the key to Makana's past.

His search for answers takes him from the labyrinth of Cairo to the city of Luxor and an abandoned monastery near the tombs of the pharaohs, where he uncovers a web of intrigue, violence, and secrecy that reaches deep into Egypt's political heart.

Dogstar Rising (2013) is the second book in the excellent Makana Mystery series set in Cairo.

About the author:  Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub.  Mahjoub has published seven critically acclaimed literary novels, which have been widely translated, and has been awarded several prizes, including the Guardian African Short Story Prize, the St Malo Prix de l’Astrolabe, and the Mario Vargas Llosa Premio NH de Relatos.  He has also published short stories and essays.  Born in London, he has lived at various times in the UK, Sudan, Cairo, and Denmark.  He currently lives in Barcelona.

Rating:  5/5

Everything Is Meaningless

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

"We Can't Have Our Cake And Eat It"

Friday, 17 March 2017

Starving From Self-Realization

A Woman's Work (Non-Fiction) by Harriet Harman

Hardback:  Why does the political representation of women matter?  And which hurdles - personal, political and societal - have been faced, fought and sometimes overcome in the past thirty years?

From campaigning with small children to increasing the number of women in Parliament, bringing women's issues to the heart of the Labour Party and tackling a parliamentary culture with no consideration for family life, this frank, inspiring and politically charged book is a crucial account of the progress (and occasional setbacks) made in fighting to change the Labour Party, UK politics and the way the country has been governed since the 1970s.

When Harriet Harman started her career, men-only job adverts and a 'women's rate' of pay were the norm, while female MPs were a tiny minority - a woman could not even sign for a mortgage.  But, she argues, we should never just be grateful that things are better now.  There is still more to do.

"Women were thoroughly constrained, told what we could and, more often, couldn't do.  You can't expect the same pay as a man, you can't expect to be treated equally at work, you can't expect men to play their part at home, you can't object if your husband beats you, you can't expect to be taken seriously intellectually, you can't expect to be valued if you're not young and pretty.  And I, along with many young women back then, had an equally strong corresponding conviction that we were not going to put up with it," wrote Harriet Harman.

In A Woman's Work (2017), Harriet, Britain's longest-serving female MP, looks at her own life to see how far we have come, and where we should go next.  This is an inspiring and refreshingly honest account of the part she played (and the setbacks long the way) in the movement that transformed politics and women's lives - from helping striking female factory workers to standing for election while pregnant, from her memories of her own mother to her success in reforming the law on maternity rights, childcare and domestic violence and getting more women into parliament.

But it is also a call for all of us to get together and continue the fight for equality today.

If we don't, it won't happen.

About the author:  Harriet Harman was elected as Labour MP for Peckham in 1982.  Joining a House of Commons which was 97 per cent male, she had three children while in Parliament.  She has been politics' most prominent champion for women's rights, introducing the National Childcare Strategy and the Equality Act, changing the law on domestic violence and increasing female representation;  she was also the first woman Labour politician to answer Prime Minister's Questions.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Blue Blood by Sara Blædel

Paperback:  A young woman in Copenhagen, Susanne Hansson, becomes the victim of an unusually brutal rape attack in her own home.  Detective Inspector Louise Rick is summoned to talk to the victim, where she quickly determines that Susanne met the rapist via a dating website, a fact that Susanne shamefully tries to hide, especially from her domineering mother.

The police suspect that the rapist may have been caught on video in the subway, so Louise and a colleague go through the tapes. They are lucky enough to find him, but unfortunately the image is blurry and shows him only in profile.  While the police investigation is making progress, things take a negative turn for Susanne, who tries to commit suicide.  The rape is not the only reason.

In the meantime Louise becomes more and more immersed in the online dating world.  In her search she comes across the web site ',' which allows her to upload images that show people out in the night-time scene and who they are with.  She finds a picture of the man, who is now calling himself 'Prinzz.'  She contacts him using the name "Princess," and they agree to meet.

Events quickly spiral out of control as a horrified Louise realises that the rapist is using the website to target specific women for future attacks.  It is not long before the next assault leads to its victim's death and Louise finds herself in the middle of a full-blown murder investigation.

Undercover and in danger in a world of faceless dating, Louise must try and stop a murderer who has shocked Copenhagen to its core.  But how much is she willing to risk in order to catch a killer?

Danish number one bestseller Sara Blædel brings you a heart-pounding thriller that will have you gripped until the last page and make you ask yourself who you are really talking to online.  Blue Blood (2011) is the first book (English translation order) in the Detective Inspector Louise Rick series set in Denmark.  It is translated from the Danish by Erik J Macki and Tara F Chace.

About the author:  Sara Blædel is a Danish author best known for her crime fiction novels featuring Louise Rick.  She is the daughter of journalist Leif Blædel and actress Annegrethe Nissen.  She has been voted Most Popular Author in Denmark four times, received several prizes and grants and her novels have been published in thirty-one countries.  She is also a recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark's most prestigious literary award.

She was born in Copenhagen and grew up in Hvalsø Denmark.  After working as a waitress, she trained in graphic arts and publishing, working as the graphic coordinator at Denmark's Gyldendal publishing house.

Blædel founded the "Sara B" crime fiction publishing company in 1993, and in 1995 she started work as a journalist.  She worked on several television series a presenter, researcher, project manager, and editor before becoming an author.

Rating:  5/5

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Absence Of Guilt (A Scott Fenney Novel Series) by Mark Gimenez

Hardback:  Mark Gimenez is back as The Colour of Law star A Scott Fenney takes the stand for an impossible case.

An ISIS attack on America is narrowly averted when the FBI uncovers a plot to detonate a weapon of mass destruction in Dallas, Texas, during the Super Bowl.  A federal grand jury indicts twenty-four co-conspirators, including Omar al Mustafa, a notorious and charismatic Muslim cleric known for his incendiary anti-American diatribes on YouTube and Fox News.  His arrest is greeted with cheers around the world and relief at home.

The president goes on national television and proclaims, 'We won!'  There is only one problem: there is no evidence against Mustafa.  That problem falls to the presiding judge, newly appointed US District Judge A Scott Fenney.

If Mustafa is innocent, Scott must set the most dangerous man in Dallas free, with no idea who is really guilty.

And all with just three weeks to go before the attack is due.

The Absence of Guilt (2016) is the third book in the A Scott Fenney series set in Dallas.

About the author:  Mark Gimenez grew up in Galveston County, Texas.  Once a partner at a major Dallas law firm, Gimenez gave it up in order to start his own solo practice and to write.  He has two sons.

Rating:  5/5