Ralph Mcallister’s Picks


By Ralph Mcallister

Christmas approaches, so next time I shall try to give you some suggestions for those days on the beach.

Reading I mean! 

Meanwhile, a few recommendations or warnings!

Red or Dead’ by David Peace

I cannot think of many people who will want to read RED OR DEAD by David Peace. This a fictionalised account of Bill Shankley’s time as manager of Liverpool Football Club in the 60’s and 70’s.

He was the man, reputed to have replied when it was suggested that football was a matter of life and death,that it was much more important than that!

Be that as it may, Peace has given us 700  pages of football, football scores, football tables, football transfers, football gossip, all within the structure of a repetitive and oddly compulsive novel.

I manged to read it all, but you better know that I have been a fan of Liverpool’s for many years and that did help in the reading for  what  for most would be a fairly turgid encounter.

‘Open’ by Andre Agassi

Sticking with sport,a much more pleasurable experience is OPEN by Andre Agassi,a well written and fascinating account of the child prodigy,the obsessive father and the neurotic genius of a tennis player who loathed the sport and almost committed murder to get away from the battle against his own body and those around him.

All the old favourites are there: Pete Sampras and the  new boy on the block, Roger Federer. Brooke Shields lingers too long but happiness is finally achieved with Agassi’s commitment to education and the love of his life: Steffi Graaf.

A good read.

Guernica’ by David Boling

This is a first novel which is  part love story ,part history lesson and part murder.

Set during the Spanish Civil War we meet families trying to survive before and after the bombing of Guernica.The bombing itself is powerfully told with descriptions of a horrific nature befitting the murderous horror of that chapter in history.

A curiously uplifting and touching story.

‘Solo’ by William Boyd

If you want murder on a more mundane level,try SOLO by William Boyd,the latest reincarnation of James Bond.

Boyd is a fine English novelist and he follows in the footsteps of Kingsley Amis, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver each of whom has ‘done’ Bond at the invitation of the Ian Fleming estate.

Boyd sticks to the familiar girl ogling, smooth cocktail drinking, car loving Bond so that what we get,whilst Bond tries to stop a war in West Africa, is formulaic and fun, gruesome and piled with murders, with Bond getting older and a bit tired, just like the novel really.

 Police’ by Jo Nesbo

Finally my favourite, Harry Hole, is back in POLICE by Jo Nesbo.This is the eighth in the series of one of Scandinavian’s best serial killer catchers.

For some reason the killer is recreating scenes of past crimes,all of them centred round cops who meet spectacularly gory deaths .

Hole just wants to stay in retirement and marry his girl friend.

But, guess what, he doesn’t, and so we have another scary and fine thriller.