A Few Easy Reads

I’ve been reading some rather lengthy and serious books lately, so I thought I would unwind with a few lighter reads. Here are three I read in about a couple of hours each, something for every taste.

WRitingGert Loveday: Writing Is Easy

Delightful and frothy like a French dessert, this is a book for and about writers. There are a couple of deaths within its pages, but it’s not crime fiction. Instead, writers’ workshops and retreats are given the satirical treatment. The lively characterisation ¬†really makes the story here: washed-out novelist Marcus Goddard, who is afraid he will never live up to the success of his first novel; impenetrable modernist writer and performance poet Lilian Bracegirdle; the wannabe writer of hardboiled detective fiction who gets stuck with too many dames; the fitness fanatic who firmly believes it can’t be that hard to write a book in a week; the downtrodden housewife turning to the world of fantasy fiction for comfort; the serial award-winner who still hasn’t managed to find her own voice. Not forgetting resourceful or greedy assistants, a temperamental chef, tremendous egos and past secrets resurfacing to haunt people. A romp of a novel, just the thing to make you laugh out loud at human absurdity.

InawordMargot Kinberg & Martin Edwards (eds.): In a Word, Murder

This is a labour of love: an anthology to commemorate indomitable blogger and crime fiction specialist Maxine Clarke, aka Petrona. All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to one of Maxine’s favourite charities, the Princess Alice Hospice. It’s a fun collection of murderous short stories in diverse styles, reflecting the diversity of authors included. There is a lot of humour, as well as darker deeds, in this collection, and quite a few of the stories have a literary bent as well: self-publishing becomes a life-saver (literally), book blogging becomes deadly, changing publishers is a dangerous game… and so on.

 

Stella Rimington: The Geneva Trap

GenevaOK, I’ll admit it: I read this one purely for the location, as I live in the Geneva area and thought it would be fun to see if the author had captured the local flavour well. Needless to say, as with any spy thriller, the locations change and also include Marseille, London, plus some godforsaken rural areas in France and England. Stella Rimington was famously the Director General of MI5 for many years, so she knows her stuff and perhaps her work is more authentic than John Le Carre or the recently read ‘I Am Pilgrim’. But oh, how much more boring authenticity is! A lot of surveillance, meetings on park benches, computer analyses… This is the 7th book in the Liz Carlyle series, so perhaps I missed something by not starting with the first, but it just felt like run-of-the-mill spy fiction ¬†to me. There was nothing to lift it above the average. Still, this would work well as a quick airport/airplane read.

 

 

For the Love of Your Dog

NameoftheDogHow far would you go for animal rights? In the book ‘In the Name of the Dog’, Takeshi Koizumi is prepared to go all the way. When his best childhood friend is destroyed in a dog pound, his whole life becomes a quest for justice and revenge. Along the way, he exposes the¬†inhumane conditions of animal shelters (I use the term ‘shelter’ loosely) in Japan, as well as the cruelty and hypocrisy regarding animal rights in one of the richest countries in the world.

This may sound like a compelling thriller, but it is also a true story. Koizumi is still languishing in a Japanese prison and facing the death sentence as we speak. If the story sounds vaguely familiar to you, it may be that you read about the crimes he committed back in 2008 in Japan, or because I’ve¬†mentioned¬†this¬†book before on my blog. I had read it in the original Romanian. Some of you expressed interest in the story but were not quite prepared to learn Romanian to read the book! I am happy to report that the author, Claudia Sumiya, has not been idle and has translated and published the book in English. It is now available on Amazon (see the links below). Full disclosure: Claudia is a friend and former classmate of mine, and she is also a successful writer with many published books to her name, most of them set in Japan, which she has now made her home.

claudiagolea
Photocredit: psychologies.ro

The English edition is more complete and well-rounded. It offers a contrast between the unhappy, obsessive life of Koizumi and the author’s own happy life with her pets. Told in the form of a series of letters between the author and the incarcerated man, it is also the story of an awakening to the darker, crueller side of human society and a gradual commitment to veganism and animal activism. An added twist: this links well with the eco-warriors narrative thread in the latest series of ‘The Bridge’. A book which could spark an interesting debate.

Amazon UK

Amazon US