The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

A global hit, The Girl On the Train is yet another gripping addition to the plethora of thrillers lining the bestseller charts. With romance, scandal, death and despair, this novel certainly meets all the genre’s hallmarks with great impact.

Following the story of Rachel, a hopeless alcoholic struggling through her daily commute, there soon unfolds a tale of confusion, doubt and violent remorse. With memory the enemy, and no one believing her suspicions, the novel’s sorry protagonist quickly descends deeper and deeper into a plot which will make her question not only herself, but her very life.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable read, drawing suspicions and casting doubt with every turn of the page. You can almost picture the author taking the train each day, drawing inspiration for her work out from the monotony of her daily commute.

The Girl On the Train is a credit to the author’s imagination, turning an ordinary setting into an elaborate thriller.

Length: 416 (Black Swan)

Overall Rating: 3 stars

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Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami

Set during the late 1960s, Norwegian Wood is a heartfelt ode to adolescence, filled with both the mindless and mindful meanderings of the young soul struggling along the path to maturity.

Murakami’s artful prose captures the pure essence of this age, reaching out to the unanswerable questions of life and love, as well as the transitory struggles for meaning in the adult world. It is from the tale of the stoic and utterly sincere Watanabe that these themes are laid bare.

Norwegian Wood is filled with vivid characters, each desperate to find meaning and explore their emotions. Through a variety of intricate and somewhat random acts, conversations and occurrences, Murakami tells the tale of youthful heartache. Much apart from his other novels,

Norwegian Wood was Murakami’s first seemingly conventional work, straying from the wonderful and fictional imaginings of his others. Despite this, it is also one of his most famous, raising his readership to the millions, and one which every young person should hold in their repertoire.

Length: 389 (Vintage)

Overall Rating: 5 stars

Mr Mercedes, by Stephen King

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The master of horror becomes the master of thriller. Mr Mercedes is a highly energetic novel, bearing all the hallmarks of a classic detective tale.


Set in an American city, Mr Mercedes follows the story of recently retired detective Bill Hodges. After an impressive career, Hodges is soon lured from his newly innate retired life of junk food and daytime TV by the resurgence of a past terror, the classic “perp that got away”. As mysteries are uncovered and tragedies begin to pile one upon the other, it soon becomes clear that no one can ever truly quit the chase.

Though the novel bears little creative ingenuity, a simple psychopath-pitted-against-justice novel, King’s engaging writing style certainly keeps the reader hooked. The prominence of modern technology also adds a new dimension to the classic crime mystery, with the old school detective persistently thrown off the scent by the ingenuity of technologically fueled madness.

Overall an entertaining and easy read, good for the summer, but readers looking for more intrigue had better revert back to the disturbing horrors the author was made famous for. Despite this, with its fair share of action, romance, comedy and tragedy, Mr Mercedes is a strong debut thriller from the world famous King.

Length: 432 (Hodder paperbacks)
Overall Rating: 3 stars

Imperium, by Robert Harris

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Politics, corruption, power – Imperium.

Imperium is told from the perspective of a highly able and literate slave, Tiro, following the story of his master Marcius Tullius Cicero, a great orator, lawyer and above all politician. The pair bear witness to the classic strive to ultimate power within the great Roman Republic, highlighting the dark deals, bribery and sheer ingenuity required to make it to the top. This is certainly in likeness to a Roman ‘House of Cards’, bearing the same dramatic trials and tribulations which make for highly compelling drama.

In the final decades of the Republic, Harris tracks this demise through a detailed narrative of its orcastrators. Legendary historical figures such as Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar are characterised in their glorious nature, but also in what was likely their true selves: ambitious, dangerous and entirely unstoppable.

Harris has an absorbing writing style, placing his reader in the heart of Roman life. Great events remembered throughout history are delved into more deeply, unearthing the corruption and strifes necessary for their accomplishment.

With a wealth of historical knowledge, and the use of Cicero’s own recorded speeches and letters, Harris captures real historical fact within the compelling compound of literature. Imperium is a thrilling narrative, which will have you following the exhilarating political manoeuvres from over two thousand years ago as attentively as if they were occuring today.

Length: 403 (BCA)

Overall Rating: 5 stars

The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden, By Jonas Jonasson

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Exotically imaginative and audaciously funny, The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden is another wonderful example of Jonasson’s witty and entertaining writing style. Following on from the success of his debut novel, once again Jonasson spins an irreverent and impossible narrative, born from small beginnings surging ever on towards the large and the great.

 

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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley 

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a fantastical novel suppressed by nineteenth century British charm. Following the narratives of a man working as a Telegraphy Clerk, as well as a woman exploring the bounds of early science, the novel is drawn about the centrifugal force of Mr Mori, the watchmaker of Filigree Street. Combining mysterious wonders with clear and dangerous realities, the novel quickly progresses from being a curious wonder to an absorbing page turner.

With the novel set in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Pulley has clearly done her research, careful to lend great marvels upon small wonders for the modern eye. The result of this is ever more interest towards the encapsulating character of Mr Mori. Impossible workings are given logical yet insubstantial solutions, leaving the reading ever wondering what truly is going on.

 

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High Society, by Ben Elton 

As with many of Ben Elton’s books, High Society takes an interesting idea and explores it’s repercussions in modern British society. In this case, the fictional novel follows a backbench MP striving to legalise all drugs in the United Kingdom. The narrative follows the politics, scandals and  effects of this campaign upon the central character, whilst simultaneously offering an extremely liberal but interesting take on the world of drugs.

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