Over 550 book reviews with full author links

28 February 2014

Jeffrey Archer: Be Careful What You Wish For

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Yet another cliffhanger ending
Those of you who have read the first three books in the series (you should read them in order) will know that at the end of each one Archer leaves you with a cliffhanger (I call them "Clifton" hangers) of an ending so you have to wait on tenterhooks for the next book in the series to be released find the answer. At the end of the last book ("Best Kept Secret") we were left wondering if Sebastian Clifton or his best friend Bruno had been killed in a fatal car accident. I would like to tell you what happens but can't do so because the outcome is important to the plot of this book.

Harry is getting used to being a best-selling author of detective novels both sides of the Atlantic. Emma is becoming increasingly involved with the decision of the Board of the Barrington Shipping Company to build a luxury liner, the MV Buckingham, at a time when Transatlantic air travel is becoming the normal mode of business travel. Sir Giles Barrington MP is becoming a more important member of the Shadow Cabinet and is planning to marry again after his disastrous marriage to Lady Virginia Fenwick. Harry and Emma’s adopted daughter, Priscilla grows up to become a very talented artist but has never been told the real secret of her birth.

In the previous book the Cliftons foil Don Pedro Martinez's efforts to import a huge amount of near-perfect Nazi counterfeit five pound notes hidden in a Rodin statue. Martinez's vendetta to destroy the Cliftons and Barringtons is central to this book. This time he is ably supported by his sons, a former SS officer, Karl Lunsdorf and the IRA.  He also uses the notorious Major Alex Fisher (who bullied Giles and Harry at school and nearly got Giles killed at Tobruk) as his proxy on the Board of Barrington Shipping to destroy the firm's plans to build the new luxury liner.  Giles' ex wife Lady Virginia Fenwick, is still around and always happy to add her particular brand of poison to the family fortunes.

All of this makes the foundation for exciting times in the lives of the Cliftons and Barringtons. While most of the characters were in the previous book, Archer adds a couple of interesting and influential new ones. Cedric Hardcastle is a dour and successful owner of a Yorkshire based Merchant Bank who becomes a member of the Board of Barrington Shipping and has to decide who to support to become the next chairman of the board: Emma Clifton or Major Alex Fisher? Priscilla's future father-in-law, Robert Bingham, who made his fortune as a manufacturer of fish paste, is another larger than life character who gets involved with the family fortunes.

Jeffrey  Archer is a consummate story-teller and this series continues to display his skills in writing easy-reading and page-turning family-based stories which twist and turn all the time. If you have read the first books in the series this is a must-read which I am sure you will enjoy. My only concern was that most of the baddies in this story are carried over from the previous one.

What about the "Clifton" hanger ending? Of course there is one and you can see it building up during the latter part of the book. Of course it leaves you on tenterhooks until the next book is released in about a year. The series keeps on going and going (this one only took us from 1957 to 1964) so it seems there may still be some more Clifton Chronicles to come.

23 February 2014

Audrey Magee: The Undertaking

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Another view of WWII from the German side
Audrey Magee has chosen a very challenging subject for her first book, a "love" story between two very different lonely and ordinary people caught up in the tide of WWII in Germany - soldier and ex-elementary school teacher, Peter Faber and  Katharina Spiller, a single woman living with her parents in Berlin . The story of the Peter's war covers the early days of the Eastern Front in Russia to the terrible days of the siege of Stalingrad. Katharina's war takes her through the hardships of war-torn Berlin and the consequences of the Russian siege and occupation of the city.

Peter Faber is now a soldier and to protect himself has become a callous killer.  Exhausted from war on the Eastern Front he selects Katharina as a wife from a marriage bureau catalogue so he can get three weeks leave from the front for the honeymoon. In exchange Katharina gets the "status" of married woman, the respect of the Fatherland for the possibility of producing children for the Reich and the promise of a widow's pension should Peter be killed. After a proxy wedding, Peter goes to Berlin to meet his new wife. A new life begins for both of them giving them memories that help to sustain them as the war gets worse.

Most of the book is written in dialogue style which is surprisingly gripping and page-turning and brings you very close to the terrible worlds they both live in. Peter gets caught up in the cruelty and devastation of the Russian campaign, and the brutal fighting and freezing and eventually starving conditions at Stalingrad. Katharina cultivates friends with good connections to the Reich to survive the increasing difficulties of living in a rapidly deteriorating Berlin.

The book highlights the concept of duty to the Reich when the family are faced with the prospect of sending Katharina 's brother, still suffering from shell-shock, back to the Eastern Front to face almost certain death. It also stresses the importance to the German people of support for the Fatherland where it was considered better for a soldier to have died as a hero than surrender as a coward to save his life.

It isn't possible to say that you will enjoy this book because of the dreadful subject matter. What I can say is that when I had started the book it was hard to put in down. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading another view of the time but also to anyone interested in something much more that just a simple love story. I congratulate Audrey Magee on an excellent and memorable début  novel.

J A Jance: Moving Target

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Not a very exciting thriller
"Moving Target" is one of the most unexciting crime/cyber thrillers that I have read recently. It is a lot of mundane private detective mumbo jumbo mixed up with a bit of cyber nonsense to give it a contemporary feel.

Ali Reynolds is getting stressed with plans for her forthcoming wedding to wizard computer security expert, B. Simpson. She is only too happy to go with her octogenarian gay assistant Leland Brooks to see his estranged family in England that he hasn't seen since his father disowned him at the end of the Korean War because of his sexuality. The big plus is that she can choose a wedding dress away from the watching eye of her interfering mother.

While in England they meet with Leland's mixed up family ranging from a charming and helpful gay young man to a couple of bitter and nasty cousins - Maisie and Daisy (oh dear!). In the process they find out that nobody had told Leland that his father was murdered and the case is still open. Ali and Leland get access to bloodstained clothing and set out to get DNA to try to prove that the murderer was Leland's unscrupulous but now dead brother, Langston.

Back in Texas teenage computer genius Lance Tucker has developed some ground-breaking software GHOST that will revolutionise web security. Before he can finalise the software he is put into juvenile detention after he hacked and closed down the school district's computer system in protest at a proposal that all students should wear a trackable identity bracelet. While Lance is in detention someone sprays him with a flammable liquid and sets him on fire. His computer teacher apparently commits suicide and Lance and his family are in danger from people wanting to use the software for criminal purposes.

Ali's fiancée B. Simpson, called B. because his real name is Bart [oh dear!] is a rich computer security expert. B investigates what is happening to Lance because he feels responsible for Lance getting an excessive sentence for a reasonably trivial offence. B. is interested in hiring Lance to develop GHOST for legitimate purposes. From all parts of the world B. get his associates try to protect Lance from evil forces. The most charismatic character is a Catholic Sister that B. sends to help Lance. She doesn't believe in guns but always carries a taser for her personal protection (of dear!). B. also uses a retired priest who happens to be a former Navy SEAL (oh dear!).

All in all this was not a very exciting read. The English sidetrack added nothing to the plot and IMHO Ms Jance should leave cyber-crime to others who are better qualified in that complex area. This is the first time I have encountered Ali Reynolds and B. who are not exactly the kind of charismatic characters I would expect to see as the lead in a popular crime series.

19 February 2014

Tara Conklin: The House Girl

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Did she run?
Tara Conklin has written an ambitious début novel taking a very different slant to a historical novel about slavery. The story of "The House Girl" intertwines the stories of two women separated by time. Josephine Bell was a house slave in Virginia in the mid 19th Century always thinking about running north to freedom. In the present, Lina Sparrow is an ambitious junior lawyer working on a landmark case for reparations for the cost of slavery, who is tasked at finding descendants of a slave who can act as the prime plaintiff in the case.

The story of Josephine was fairly compelling and page turning as she agonised if and when to run and where to go. Josephine was lighter skinned because her unknown father was a slave owner. She started looking after Lu Anne Bell when she was no more than a child, being at her beck and call every day. While Lu Anne treated her well by the standards of the day, even teaching her to read and write and draw and paint, every day Josephine thought about making a run for freedom. She tried once but physical problems made her come back on her own accord. Will she make another run?

The best part of  the story of Lina was her attempt to unravel Josephine's secrets and find her descendents. The rest of her story was a bit mixed with unnecessary character and plot lines which went nowhere. While I admired Lina's perseverance in tracking down what may have happened to Josephine, I couldn't build up any real affinity to her as a person or to what she was asked to do. The feasibility of a cloud-cuckooland trillion dollar class action slavery reparations case is only briefly questioned and it is hard to fathom why Josephine's story is so compelling when there are so many other better known stories around. Lina's family story about the loss of her mother and her relationship with her father was almost superfluous padding.

At the start of the book I thought that it was a winner - part way through it started to lose me. All in all while I found the book well written and researched and some parts about Josephine fascinating, I really didn't connect to Lina's part in the story or to her character.

16 February 2014

Barry Eisler: Graveyard of Memories

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Birth of an Assassin
John Rain is a legendary assassin created by Barry Eisler. This time, similar to other authors who have created legendary fictional heroes (Lee Child/Jack Reacher, Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon, Vince Flynn/Mitch Rapp) Eisler takes us back to the early days when the hero was learning his "trade". In 1972 John Rain was just twenty and trying to find his way in a world that found it difficult to accept a part Japanese/American who was  fresh from the killing fields of Indo-China.

Settling temporarily in Tokyo he takes a job for the CIA delivering cash to corrupt parts of the Japanese administration. In his spare time Rain learns Judo to black belt level to augment his already considerable wrestling skills. One day one of his bag swaps goes wrong and he is confronted, and defeats some thugs and comes up against vengeance from most powerful gang in Japan, the Yakuza. Things get worse when the Yakuza send one of their most skilled Judo operators to eliminate Rain.

Rain goes into hiding in a back-street "Love Hotel" and meets Sayaka, a tough, beautiful enigmatic ethnic Korean woman confined to a wheelchair. To survive he makes a pact with the CIA to take out a high-profile target in exchange for information about his pursuers. Rain is resourceful and dangerous but still immature and sensitive and has not yet acquired all of the tradecraft and skills which will keep him alive in his newly found dark profession. As Rain tangles with the Yakuza and the CIA, with Sayaka's life is in danger Rain has to cope with more than he is prepared for.

What I really liked about this book was Barry Eisler's absorption of the story into the rapidly changing post-war world of Tokyo in the early 70's. We lived for a couple of years in Tokyo in the early 80's and I could identify closely with a lot of the environment that still survived at that time, especially in the backstreets. The places, the people and the urban landscape were so familiar to me and so well drawn.

I have read a lot of books about fictional assassins but John Rain is one of the most thoughtful, sensitive and personable characters in that kind of dark world. Some of the early days stories by other authors I mentioned at the start of the review were no more than sidetracks to keep the character alive. This one was essential to tell us more about where Rain came from and how he evolved into the complex character he eventually becomes. If you like this kind of thriller then it is a must read.

Lesley Pearse: Survivor

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Another gutsy heroine from Lesley Pearse
Lesley Pearse has written a number of books about strong-willed young women who suffer and eventually overcome great  adversity. "Survivor" is a standalone successor to her very successful "Belle". In this book Belle has overcome her adversity and in 1938 she is happily married to Etienne, her French lover from the days of WWI, with a daughter and two sons, and is living in Russell in the beautiful Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

Belle's daughter, Mariette (Mari) has always been forthright and strong-willed and when she is seventeen a dalliance with an undesirable young man threatens her reputation in the small close-knit town. Despite the world being on the edge of war, Belle and Etienne decide to send Mari for a visit to old friends in England. During the voyage Mari meets a handsome Cockney steward, Morgan, and the memory of their meetings remains with her for a long time.

After settling down in great luxury with a caring and loving family a better part of  London, Mari soon gets caught up in a whirl of upper class dances and parties. When war breaks out things change when all of this gets taken away by a well aimed a bomb in the Blitz. Mari is left completely on her own and moves to London's poverty stricken East End where she finds the kind of friendship she has never had before.

Once again Lesley Pearse has written a story about a strong and gutsy heroine who struggles to make a difference in a dangerous world. Of course it is a bit formulaic because that is the kind of books she writes. Of course there is a thread of impossible love because that is also what she writes about. The plot line is a bit convoluted and a few parts of the plot that could have been developed disappear without trace.

While this kind of book is not my normal genre did enjoy this overlong book, but not as much as her previous book "Forgive Me".  I gave it 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars because I am sure that most Lesley Pearse fans will still love this book (my wife did).

Christina Baker Kline: The Orphan Train

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Orphans in Two Different Worlds
We all need to read a "feel good" story from time to time. This is one of the most memorable ones I have read for some time - a coming of age story about two young girls faced with similar situations, albeit about 80 years apart.

The background to the story is the so-called "Orphan Trains" that carried thousands of abandoned children from the US East Coast to the Midwest from mid 1800's to 1929. The children faced the possibility of being adopted by a kind and loving family, or facing a childhood of hard labor and uncaring servitude. Many even get their names changed by the family that selects them.

The story doesn't start well for Niamh (pronounced Neeve) Power when her family is forced to leave Ireland and move to New York. Living in a tenement in 1929 with her parents, two brothers and a younger sister is hard for a nine year old girl but things get far worse when most of her family are killed in a fire and her mother is sent to a mental asylum. All that is left for her is to take her chances on the "Orphan Train".

The story also doesn't start well for Molly Ayer, of proud part Penobscot Indian heritage, who in 2011 at age seventeen has been bounced from foster home to foster home for years after the death of her parents. Things are not comfortable in her current foster home, especially in her teenage rebellion years where she dresses Goth, and has multicoloured hair and nose rings. Molly loves reading and is caught stealing a tattered copy of "Jane Eyre" from her local library. This petty theft requires some community service, and a friend's mother arranges for her to help wealthy 91 year old Vivian Daly (formally Niamh Power) to sort out a huge store of memorabilia stored in her attic.

This starts an unusual relationship between two persons from different generations, an old woman with no immediate family and a rebellious but very smart teenager. What brings them together is that they both have both endured emotional and physical hardships in multiple foster homes. The story tells their experiences in alternating perspectives about 80 years apart and focusses on their similarities and their ability to help one another to change as the relationship becomes closer.

Vivian's journey to Minnesota takes her from family to family without any real feeling of home. She is mostly treated as an unpaid helper living and working in appalling conditions and she is subject to mental and possible physical abuse. Eventually Vivian successfully finds her way in the world but events prevent her having a real sense of family. Molly is still finding her way in the world and as she helps Vivian to recall her history through the boxes in the attic, they share stories and begin to realise how close their different worlds are and, importantly, how they can help one another.

The characters are beautifully drawn and you can feel the emotion in everything they did in their childhoods and as they are slowly drawn together towards a surprising and unforgettable ending. While you are an outsider you feel that you belong in their lives which show that amid turbulence, pain, and loss, in your life sometimes things may work out all right in the end.

The background to the book is authentic as Christina Baker Kline deeply researched the background to this book including interviewing a handful of survivors of the Orphan Train, now all over 90 years old. This book is highly recommended and already in my list of memorable books for 2014.

Mark Gimenez: The Abduction

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As good as it gets
I thought it would be hard for Mark Gimenez to match his debut novel "Color of Law" but IMHO he has done that with his second novel "The Abduction". I expected that this would follow the pattern of Gimenez's other books which are mainly legal thrillers, but this is a no holds barred complex thriller which puts him at the top of my favourite author list.

Gracie Brice is an active, highly intelligent and mature ten year old daughter of an IT genius, John Brice, who is about to float his company and become an instant billionaire. Her mother, Elizabeth, is a top tough defense lawyer who will stop at nothing to win her cases but is haunted by nightmares of evil that prevent her fully connecting with her husband and family.

Gracie is tops at soccer and has just won the match for her school, watched occasionally by her father who spends most of his time on his cell phone managing the float. When he goes to collect Gracie after the match the Coach tells him she has been collected by her uncle to take her to hospital because her grandmother has had a stroke. But Gracie doesn't have an Uncle and her grandmother lives in New York, not Texas!!

Colonel Ben Brice is a Vietnam hero who conducted bloody cross-border operations in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam and was a POW. He is now a drunk living in isolation suffering from post traumatic stress from his experiences. Despite this Gracie visits her Grandfather and they have a very close and loving relationship. As soon as Ben hears that Gracie is missing he springs into action and revisits the family he has not seen for years.

Most cases of child abduction normally involve a sex offender and the chances of survival are slim. In this case because the family are mega-rich the police and the FBI believe that ransom may be involved. But then Ben sees something that turns his blood cold and sets him off on the trail of the kidnappers.

This is a thriller that has everything with an adventurous fast moving plot involving complex and troubled characters, kidnapping, the Police and FBI searching for child molesters, and conspiracies going back to the days of the Vietnam war. While some may think the final plot line is a little far fetched Gimenez has used this author's licence to to write an unforgettable, page-turning, adrenaline-packed, edge of your seat thriller that you won't want to put down.

09 February 2014

Lisa Unger: In the Blood

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Extreme psychological suspense
 "In the Blood" is an extreme psychological thriller about people who have inherited psychological (and sometimes psychopathic) problems. These issues may be disturbing to some readers.

Lana Granger has experienced great psychological stress in her youth, especially when her father is convicted of killing her mother. Lana was in the house at the time of her mother's death and her father made her help him dispose of the body. Lana's Grandfather was a convicted murderer.

Now in her early 20's Lana is stable under a cocktail of psychotic and anti-depression drugs and amazingly she decides to study child psychology at college. Her psych professor finds her a "suitable" part-time job looking after an 11 year old boy, Luke, after school. Luke has a genius IQ but attends a special school because he has already been diagnosed as a violent control-freak psychopath.

Luke's mother, Rachel, has had terrible experiences as a single mother bringing up and controlling Luke (there is no mention of his father).  For safety she locks Luke in his room each night. She welcomes Lana's help as others haven't been able to connect with Luke.

This unbelievable connection between two seriously affected individuals starts up a dangerous liaison. Luke likes to play games that give him control of people in his life, especially his mother and now Lana. With the disappearance of her best friend, Becky, and the impact of Luke's sick mind games Lana struggles to maintain her sanity.

While this was a well written book, especially the flashback diary sequences, the extreme and far-fetched psychological issues that underpinned this book made it difficult for me to really enjoy it.

04 February 2014

Jonathan Kellerman: Killer

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Another great Alex Delaware thriller
Jonathan Kellerman has been writing the Alex Delaware series since 1985 and "Killer" is #30 in the bestselling series about a forensic psychologist sleuth who helps LAPD with their homicide investigations and the courts with psychological assessments. After so many in the series this book is still well worth reading when other authors of long series would have reached their use by date or relied on co-authoring by this time.

Delaware is asked by the courts to assess what appears to be a straightforward case between a single mother Cherie (Ree);and her cousin Connie for custody of Ree's sixteen month daughter Rambla. Ree is a single parent, an unsophisticated original flower child throwback, and her cousin Connie is a dominating, cold hearted, emotionless and successful owner of a pathology laboratory. Things turn nasty when Connie, realising that Alex’s decision is not in her favour, tells Alex "I'm not going to shoot you, Doctor Delaware. Even though I should."

Alex knows that he is in grave danger when he hears rumours that Connie has put out a contract on the streets for his assassination. The danger doesn't last long when Connie is found stabbed and strangled, Ree and her baby disappear and Ree's aged rocker friends are in danger.

What started as a straightforward psychological assessment turns into a murder investigation. Alex helps his best friend LAPD Homicide Lieutenant Milo Sturgis to track down the killer and find Ree and her baby - possibly before it is too late.

Kellerman is a trained psychologist and this clearly shows in his characterisation of Alex Delaware and the way he treats his clients. His compassion is clearly evident and his clients trust him, even one of the most vicious  gangsters in LA. The relationship with Milo is a long standing one of trust and friendship and Milo frequently asks for assistance from Alex well outside normal arrangements.

This a very very well and clearly written book that will hold your interest throughout. The suspense and mystery evolve in unexpected twists and turns, from the courts to the backstreets of LA as the body count grows. While some clues were seeded early on, it is only in the last few chapters that there is any real pointer to the murderer and motives. This is a well recommended, easy reading, page-turning thriller that will keep you guessing almost to the end.

01 February 2014

Peter Corris: Silent Kill

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Looking forward to reading more Cliff Hardy adventures
I am an Aussie reviewer with a penchant for thrillers and I must confess that I have never read any books by Peter Corris "The Godfather of Australian crime fiction" featuring private investigator Cliff Hardy. After this interesting introduction to Hardy's fascinating character I have a big task ahead of me as Corris has written 39 books in the series over the last 30 years.

Cliff Hardy is happy to get some new business when he is asked to join a country-wide tour by political firebrand and whistleblower Rory O'Hara, who is just leaving hospital after recovering from serious injuries from a deliberate hit-and-run accident. O'Hara has collected a number of enemies from his activities and Hardy's job is to find out if any of O'Hara's entourage of personal, PR, IT and medical support hangers-on have any connection with the accident. As is usual (I am told) in Hardy's adventures there are a couple of attractive females around to spice up the action.

The tour has only been going a couple of days when Hardy's job implodes when the tour ends in disaster when one of the entourage kills O'Hara's nurse and disappears. That could have been the end of the job but the nurse's wealthy brother hires Cliff to find the killer. This takes him on a search around Australia, including Darwin and Canberra to track down the killer and gets him involved with the outer reaches of the intelligence community. His search is aided by an interesting "alliance" with beautiful Penelope Marinos, O'Hara's former PA.

While others have said that this was not one of the most notable of Hardy's adventures, I loved the character and found the book was well written and easy reading with just enough action to keep my attention. I have been looking for this kind of series to read from time-to-time as interludes from more serious fiction, so I am looking for advice about which of many books in the series I should read next.

David Baldacci: Bullseye: An Original Will Robie / Camel Club Short Story

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What a Doozy when Will Robie meets the Camel Club
David Baldacci has written a clever and frequently laugh-out-loud novella featuring hit-man Will Robie, and Oliver Stone and his famous Camel Club. Many best selling authors write mediocre short stories to promote their next book. This is not the case with this well written complete novella featuring a classic meeting of my favourite Baldacci characters, Will Robie and Oliver Stone with his band of unlikely heroes, the Camel Club.

Stone is still working as a low paid cemetery manager and is on his way to personally bank his paycheck (he distrusts the internet). As he waits in line he suspiciously notices Robie in the bank but almost immediately several masked people enter the bank, having slit the throat of the security guard. Stone and Robie are cable-tied and locked in a storeroom with other hostages while the intruders go after what they really want.

Stone and Robie quickly recognise each other as "professionals" and work together to get out of their dilemma. Stone finds an easy way to cut the electricity and in the darkness finds his phone and calls in the cavalry - the Camel Club, led this time by first class con artist Annabelle Conroy superbly backed up by fellow members, Reuben Rodes, Caleb Shaw and Harry Finn. Secret Service Agent Alex Ford can't be contacted because he is on duty but gets in the act in the end. The result is a classic Camel Club operation backed up by hit-man Robie.

Good novellas are not easy to write. I enjoyed this one because it brought together my favourite Baldacci characters in a tight and sometimes amusing thriller. The book includes a promo/teaser for Baldacci's next book, "The Target" where Will Robie and Jessica Reel are assigned to work together on possibly their most dangerous mission. I have no problem with this because the promo only takes up 18 per cent of the book space. I am looking forward to reading that book when it is published just after Easter.

Anna Hope: Wake

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Aftermath of a brutal war
Although it is now nearly 100 years from WWI many authors are still exploring this brutal and cataclysmic war. Anna Hope's splendid debut novel looks at the aftermath of war with compassion and emotion through the eyes of three women and the impact of the war on them and the men in their lives. It is set against a backdrop of the burial of an unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey exactly 2 years from the 1918 Armistice - a "Wake" that the nation hopes will help everyone to lead a normal life in the future.

Anna Hope introduces us to 3 women whose lives have been altered by the war. Hettie is a dance "instructress", charging sixpence a dance at the local ballroom dancing up to 10 hours a day to support her mother and her brother, who is basically mute after his return from the war. She cannot connect with her clients but is attracted a a handsome educated man she meets at a nightclub, even though there is something very strange about him.

Evelyn comes from a wealthy family and, after her boyfriend is killed, volunteered to work in the most dangerous part of an explosives factory. She now encounters wounded and shocked men every day as she works at the Pension Office. She seeks solace from her beloved brother but finds he cannot help her as he has changed since he returned from the front.

Ada's only son, Michael, died of his wounds but there is no known grave. She is beset with visions that he is still alive, which drives her husband away from her. One day a returned soldier calls at her house to peddle dishcloths and jolts here to the core when he utters the name of her son.

After 2 years of peace all of the victims are trying to come to grips with their loss or experiences. The burial of the unknown soldier gives them a chance to come together and grieve during the burial ceremony and hopefully emerge to live a new life in the aftermath of their tragedy.

Anna Hope builds her  story to an emotional conclusion but the message I really remember was that "War wins .... and it keeps on winning, over and over again." WWII was less than 20 year away.

In the last year I have read several excellent novels based on different aspects of WWI, the fighting, the nursing and coping with normal life after the guns have stopped. Anna Hope's analysis of the painful aftermath of war is up there with the best of them, with a natural prose and very real and moving characters. This is a very good debut novel by a writer of great promise which I recommend to anyone who wants an intelligent and different focus on the aftermath of this cataclysmic event.