First thoughts




Criminal

Karin Slaughter

Century, €17.17;

ebook £8.07

Review: Roddy Brooks

Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, finds himself at the heart of a murder mystery alongside his supervisor Amanda Wagner.

Buried in the Deep South, the story starts in the 1970s when prejudice is rife — man versus woman, black versus white, cop versus criminal. Out of the hate-filled housing projects comes a murderer so vile that his imprisonment causes all those touched by him to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

That is until Trent finds himself tangled up in the case, as the crimes of the past are revisited in the present.

Trent must unravel the tale behind the murders and also come to terms with his own part in the whole unsavoury business.

Karin Slaughter has carved a career out of thriller writing and her prolific sales have seen her a consistent performer on the best-seller lists for more than a decade.

With Criminal she has brought to life a murderer whose depravities will test even the hardest of hearts.

The Red Chamber

Pauline Chen

Virago, £12.99;

Kindle £5.99

Review: Paul McGurk

The Red Chamber is a retelling of one of China’s most famous works of literature, the 2,500-page epic Dreams Of The Red Chamber.

It follows an 18th century orphan, Daiyu, sent to the capital, Beijing, to stay with her aristocratic cousins, the Jia family. The passionate Daiyu is drawn into a love triangle; her cousin, Baoyu, falls in love with her, but it has been arranged for him to marry the kind-hearted, dutiful Baochai, daughter of the Xue family.

With its political intrigue, from the highest levels of court to the scheming of the servants, this tale of star-crossed lovers is familiar from stories like Gone With The Wind and Romeo And Juliet.

But in its depiction of the lavish lifestyle of the aristocracy of 1720s China — and its degradation once hard times appear — The Red Chamber has a texture all of its own.

When Ziggy Played Guitar: David Bowie And Four Minutes That Shook The World

Dylan Jones

Preface Publishing, £20:

Kindle, £9.54

Review: Chris Gibbings

Dylan Jones has been such a big David Bowie fan since he was a boy that he has written a book about his hero, based around one appearance of the singer on Top Of The Pops.

Jones was so taken with Bowie’s first TOTP rendition of ‘Starman’ on Jul 6, 1972, that he has seen fit to write something that comes across as a 200-page forum post with pictures.

His book, subtitled David Bowie And Four Minutes That Shook The World, has nuggets which obsessives (admittedly such as me, sometimes) will appreciate — like who else was on the show, what other programmes were on that week, and news events of the time.

All these build up a sense of nostalgia which is basically the attraction of the book.

As with some posts or blog entries, the writing flows well and you won’t mind all the wallowing in Jones’s past as long as your tastes are similar to his.

Meander: East To West Along A Turkish River

Jeremy Seal

Chatto & Windus, £16.99;

Kindle £10.70

Review: Natalie Bowen

Travel writer Jeremy Seal has a well-documented love affair with Turkey. For his fifth book, he explored the great Turkish river, Meander ... by collapsible canoe.

The verb ‘meander’ came from the river, which takes a leisurely route from the mountainous town of Dinar to the Aegean Sea, and has a rich history, referenced by Ancient Greek and Roman writers. Urged on by romanticism — and little else, as the region is poorly mapped — Seal aims to paddle the length of the waterway, but development has diverted and dammed the mighty river to serve mankind’s purposes. He pushes on and the book sweeps between travelogue, societal investigation, historical interpretation and analysis.

Sometimes the history gets a bit heavy against the vivid modern adventure, but Turkey is a land of conflicts and Seal’s humorous style ties it together with aplomb.


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