Sunday, 24 August 2008

Book of the Week - Tony Black, Paying for it

There is a little of the summer to go yet, so still time to pick up late holiday reading. "Paying for it" is Tartan Noir at its best, a first novel set in Edinburgh by Tony Black. Highly recommended, as the first in a new series set in Edinburgh, in an increasingly popular genre, and with good reviews.

Gus Dury once had a high-flying career as a journalist and a wife he adored. But now he is living on the edge, a drink away from Edinburgh's down-and-outs, drifting from bar to bar, trying not to sign divorce papers. But the road takes an unexpected turn when a friend asks him to investigate the brutal torture and killing of his son, and Gus becomes embroiled in a much bigger story of political corruption and illegal people-trafficking. Seedy doss-houses, bleak wastelands and sudden violence contrast with the cobbled streets and cool bistros of fashionable Edinburgh, as the puzzle unravels to a truly shocking ending.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Book of the week and Bibliography - Jason Goodwin, The Bellini Card

Jason Goodwin's Ottoman Eunuch sleuth, Yashim, made his appearance in the 2007 novel The Janissary Tree, which won the Edgar Award for best mystery. The third book in the series, The Bellini Card, has just appeared. It takes Yashim from the winding alleyways of Istanbul to the decaying grandeur of Venice. Charged by the Sultan to find a stolen painting by Bellini, he enlists the help of his friend Palewski, the Polish Ambassador, and goes undercover. Venice in 1840 is a city of empty palazzos and silent canals, and Palewski starts to mingle with Venetian dealers - self-made men, faded aristocrats and the hedonistic Contessa. But when two bodies turn up in the canal, he realises that art in Venice is a deadly business. These are enjoyable books which are steeped in the history of the Ottoman Empire – a series well worth collecting at this relatively early stage.


Lords of the Horizons – A History of the Ottoman Empire (Chatto and Windus, 1998)
Greenback – The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America (Hamish Hamilton, 2003)

Yashim the Eunuch

The Janissary Tree (Faber, 2006)
The Snake Stone (Faber, 2007)
The Bellini Card (Faber, 2008)
An Evil Eye (Faber, 2011)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Book of the week and Bibliography - Richard Morgan, The Steel Remains

So, after my quick world tour I return with another Book of the Week. I have been avidly reading Richard Morgan’s books since Altered Carbon was published in 2002 by Gollancz. A signed copy is now likely to cost £200 plus from a dealer, and he has subsequently kept up the same high standard. The books are exciting, innovative and at times deal with serious issues. The Steel Remains, which has just been published, represents a slight departure into fantasy rather than science fiction – I am currently awaiting my copy, and I suspect it will be just as good a read as his previous books.

Ringil, the hero of the bloody slaughter at Gallows Gap, is a legend to all who don't know him and a twisted degenerate to those that do. A veteren of the wars against the lizards he makes a living from telling credulous travellers of his exploits. Until one day he is pulled away from his life and into the depths of the Empire's slave trade. Where he will discover a secret infinitely more frightening than the trade in lives. Archeth - pragmatist, cynic and engineer, the last of her race - is called from her work at the whim of the most powerful man in the Empire and sent to its farthest reaches to investigate a demonic incursion against the Empire's borders. Egar Dragonbane, steppe-nomad, one-time fighter for the Empire finds himself entangled in a small-town battle between common sense and religious fervour. But out in the wider world there is something on the move far more alien than any of his tribe's petty gods. Anti-social, anti-heroic, and decidedly irritated, all three of them are about to be sent unwillingly forth into a vicious, vigorous and thoroughly unsuspecting fantasy world.


Altered Carbon (Gollancz, 2002)
Broken Angels (Gollancz, 2003)
Market Forces (Gollancz, 2004)
Woken Furies (Gollancz, 2005)
Black Man (Gollancz, 2007) – published in the US as Thirteen by Del Rey
The Steel Remains (Gollancz, 2008)

Graphic Novels

Black Widow – Homecoming (Marvel Comics, 2005; 6 parts)
Black Widow – The things they say about her (Marvel Comics, 2006; 6 parts)