Ralph’s Books Will Help You Through Gloomier Times

As the weather eases us into chillier times let me try to help you keep warm with some puzzling recommendations to distract you from gloomier times ahead. writes Ralph McAllister.

THE ROSE CODE by Kate Quinn is set in wartime England at Bletchley Park where three intrepid young women are part of a team trying to break the German codes and help win the Second World War.

Girlfriend of Philip, before Elizabeth

Upper class Osla, girlfriend of the future Duke of Edinburgh, is very much the party girl until a catastrophic night at the Cafe de Paris.

Beth is the mother dominated daughter who fights for her right to use her brilliant mind in the search for breaking the Enigma code.

Mab refuses to call herself Mabel,even if she is an Eastender ,born and bred,but is possessed of all the guts and  bossiness associated with her working class background.

How these three feisty women interact in the face of male prejudice and stupidity is central to this gripping novel and 600 pages fly past as the author offers a worthy successor to her THE ALICE NETWORK.

A must.

‘I couldn’t finish this’

By contrast I cannot lie,I have to admit to failure in trying to finish THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS by Elena Ferrante.

Giovanna,is the adolescent narrator of this family feud ,set in middle class Naples ,a feud which introduces pompous parents,a wicked aunt and a bracelet.

The plot ,such as it is,moves at a snail like pace in  development ,with indulgence and repetition central.

I kept wanting  to shout “get on with it”.

After the hugely successful TV series of My Brilliant Friend ,this stand alone novel is a major disappointment,the only puzzle being where was the editor who might have saved the best of this disappointing new work.

Can a successful crime writer get away with murder?

New Zealander Paul Cleave’s latest thriller THE QUIET PEOPLE poses the question whether successful crime writers can get away with murder.

Devoted parents and hugely popular crime writers Lisa and Cameron have a troublesome seven year old Zach who goes missing.

Concern begins to centre on the parents,accusations begin to fly,demonstrations in suburban Christchurch turn ugly.

The reader is caught in the centre,opinions changing from chapter to chapter,as the puzzlement and bewilderment grow.

The twists and turns in this Cleave’s eleventh book prove that he is in top form .

He challenges us as we cosy up to find out whether this crime duo did get away with murder.

And…Box 88

BOX 88 by Charles Cumming has 18 year old Kite becoming a spy in modern day France.

It may be prejudice but Kite is so much more interesting than angst ridden Giovanna!

Flashbacks help us turn the pages, but only just, as the end does not justify the bemusement.

Till next month

Ralph

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