Friday, 20 October 2017

Review of "Disappeared" - a novel about the dark days in Argentina. Written by Colin Falconer

As our then crown prince married a daughter from a minister during the Argentinian junta days I think we in The Netherlands know a lot more about that dark episode than for instance people from Poland. She became a respected and very popular queen by the way. The sins of the fathers should not be blamed on the children and at least dad was not welcome at the wedding.

The day before I started to read the book I got as a present from the writer, I met someone who was a refugee from Syria. A nice hardworking young man who told me he had saved up during 10 years working in the Emirates, had come back home, bought a home and 2 shops and started a family. And then the civil war came and all was lost.

When I started to read "Disappeared" life is similar for two friends from university in Buenos Aires in the early seventies. They find jobs, fall in love, marry and one of them, Reuben, becomes the father of twin daughters. Then the shadows start to creep into view. Communists create havoc and the military answers in kind. No one knows how to be safe anymore. At first it is people who did something subversive that are targetted but more and more it is just devilish evil coming out in the dark.

One night one of the wives is taken by the secret police. The neighbours and her husband are shocked. But things get even worse.

Years later both children and the father have never seen each other again. Evil has just changed names.

It is that shedding of civilisation that was shocking and so well described by the writer. The real bad guys do not see themselves as bad. They did torture less than their colleagues they both think. But also the men in the street forget their morals.

In the book the people are never safe. Even 20 years later.

Very good book. A stark reminder why human rights are so important. Our liberal party leader hates the fact that human rights treaties prevent the Netherlands from doing things and wants to get out of the treaties. You should never want to be without a human rights anchor to prevent the ship that is your state to float away and flounder on the rocks killing its passengers.


Buenos Aires, 1976. The generals take control and for rich Jewish financiers like Reuben Altman the world is coming to an end, just as it should be beginning. He has a beautiful wife who has just given him two twin baby daughters, Diana and Simone.

But the night the death squads come to his apartment, he is not there, he is with his mistress. It is a sin he will pay for, over and over again.

The man who tortures and murders his wife also takes one of his baby daughters as his own. But what happened to Diana?

Many years later, after the junta are overthrown, Reuben Altman returns to Argentine to try and unravel the secrets.

A deeply religious country with a dark and violent past, Argentine has always treated its generals with as much reverence as its priests. So it does not surprise him when his search leads him to Rome and the headquarters of the Catholic Church. In uncovering the truth he threatens men with powerful links to the international arms business and the Vatican bank itself.

But Reuben is a man looking for redemption and will stop at nothing to bring his daughters back together and uncover the most terrible secret any father can ever keep.

Colin Falconer is the international best selling author of ANASTASIA and VENOM and over two dozen other best selling novels. His books have been translated into 23 languages

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Review of "Miss Phryne Fisher: dead man's chest" -- even better than the series on tv

Miss Phryne Fisher, the 1920-ties female detective in her fast car and her flapper dress with a sleek bobcut  hairdo and a sigarette. I liked the series (was in those days here in Holland only available on internet sites - what for us Dutchies was not illegal to watch). The book is even better because of all the humour and subtle jokes. I was astonished to see point blank in a detective novel that felt very old style mentioned miss Fischer was sick of her dry spell of a week and masturbated. What will the American prudes have a shock :) (It took me to read it twice to grasp what was suggested there).

While Phryne's townhouse in Melbourne is redecorated she moves her companion and her adopted daughters to a seashore resort (in the making, it is interesting to see how "trippers" in those days vacationed) where they are allowed to borrow the house of a anthropologist who is away on an expedition. To their surprise however the housekeeper and cook couple is not present and it looks like the house is looted for food while the valuables are still there and even the housekeeper's dog shows up. Phryne and her merry band wonder what this is all about but make do with one daughter cooking all kind of fancy dishes (instructions included in the book after the story) and the other focussed on science.

In the meantime they meet the neighbours: the ghastly old hag who spies on everybody, the always drunk mother of a teenage boy who with his two friends bullies the local kids and some weirdo surrealists. Then there is the filmcrew shooting a movie about a local pirate and his never recovered treasure hoard, a snapper who cuts off the braids of young girls and smugglers and maybe a murder.

The book is a pleasure to read. After having seen a series it is always a gamble if the original book will be as much fun but it was even better. The author is a very accomplished writer. Not just the plot but also the how.

AMAZON writes:
It's high summer in Melbourne—the ideal time, Phryne Fisher thinks, to pack up the Hispano-Suiza and withdraw to the quiet vacation town of Queenscliff, at the mouth of the Bay. And yet, there is mystery and intrigue almost from the moment of her arrival. The Johnsons, who staff the holiday house, are nowhere to be found… along with much of the home's contents. When their bedraggled dog shows up days later, the Johnsons’ absence begins to look like something more sinister. Between the missing staff, coastal smugglers, daft surrealists and a pigtail thief, Phryne’s vacation is proving to be anything but.

Dead Man’s Chest, set in the Australia of 1929, is the 18th of Kerry Greenwoods much-loved Phryne Fisher mysteries.

When you like Indiana Jones this is the book for you

Sean, the husband of  Isabel, is an archaeologist. At the beginning of the novel Isabel, who works for the intelligence service normally, has travelled to Egypt because her husband has gone missing there. Egypt is in a turmoil with the army taking power and the Muslim Brotherhood going for presidency again. While Isabel is trying to find a trace of her husband another archaeologist with backup of a powerful businessman insists there is a hidden area in the pyramid of Cheops. He invites her for the opening of that hidden room.

The story is intriguing and many current affairs of nowadays Egypt intertwine within the story. You keep on reading. However do not expect deep psychological analysis.Although the mourning is well written.  In the end I had the feeling the story was rushed. On the other hand the fact that some people appear in Isabel's life and then after a short time die instead of developing in a love interest or a mysterious nomad makes the story more realistic and less "constructed".

Written as a review for Netgalley


From the award winning bestselling author of The Istanbul Puzzle. For those who want to understand where the latest, real headline-grabbing revelations from the Great Pyramid of Giza will lead us. Read as a stand alone or start the series with The Istanbul Puzzle.

Henry warned her. “If you go to Cairo, you'll get yourself killed.”

But what choice does Isabel have? She has to find Sean, her missing husband, and she's discovered that a hospital in Cairo treated an American patient recently, flown to Cairo from Germany for some unexplained reason. But she's arrived at the wrong moment. A mass uprising is being crushed in Tahrir Square. The next day, an Egyptian billionaire announces a discovery at the Great Pyramid of Giza. Isabel decides to talk to him. He might help her find Sean.

She ends up deep in the desert, at a camp run by the Muslim Brotherhood. They murder her driver in front of her, then ask her to carry one simple task. They will lead her to Sean if she agrees. But what they are asking goes against everything she believes in. And time is running out.

The Great Pyramid of Giza provides the final piece of the puzzle, which Isabel and Sean first encountered in Istanbul. In a fabled hall, assumed by most to be an ancient myth, Isabel finds out what happened to her husband. She also discovers what lies beneath the Great Pyramid, based on real, ground penetrating archaeology, which will undermine what millions cherish as the truth.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Review of "Adored: the harem diaries" - ok story without background research

The romance story is interesting but when you situated a novel in a real country and your readers might know that country themselves,  there is the danger of errors distracting. For instance: Fez and Casablanca are situated in a farming area with the desert way further to the South. I wonder if Casablanca even existed then. Churchbells in a Muslim country? A son of the Moroccan sultan is not a caliph because that is like the pope and was a title of the Turkish sultan and I wonder if the titles of the harem officials would be Turkish ones. Naming not Marrakesh as a major city etc.etc.

So just read this as a faitytale and enjoy that. For me the factual errors broke the spell.
Also a bit pricey for a Kindle.

 You can buy it here


 This was not the adventure she'd been promised…

The last thing Miss Antonia Freeman anticipated as companion to Duchess of Weatherly on the final leg of their tour in beautiful Morocco was ending up in the Caliph of Fez’s palace. But when presented with an offer to finally see lands she had only ever dreamed of, she eagerly agrees to the journey. Still, nothing could have prepared her for the splendor of the palace and coming face-to-face with the most beautiful man she's ever seen.

Khalil Al-Rasheed, Caliph of Fez, is the ruler of all he surveys. After suffering the heart-rending loss of his wife in childbirth, he finds himself in desperate need of a teacher for his beloved yet mischievous daughter, Cassiopeia. What he does not anticipate is being presented with a disheveled and bedraggled British woman with four young boys in tow.

From the palace's lush gardens to the majestic grandeur of the harem, skepticism gives way to adoration as Khalil sees the wonders Antonia works in his little girl. Amidst intrigue and danger, Khalil and Antonia find themselves exploring a burgeoning passion that is threatened by betrayal. Confronting the truth may tear them apart as Khalil is forced to come to terms with his grief and Antonia questions if she can ever win the heart of a man longing for the love of his past.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Review of "Saved by Sheikh Omar"

Old fashioned style romance story set just after World War I in which the guy is a hero who treats the woman with love and respect. 

Compared to the real old fashioned romance stories of the 1970 and 1980 a lot more explicit.

It is more of a short story. Not long enough to call it a novel.

AMAZON writes:

It is 1923. British lady Mira, fresh out of school, and her brother Charles, a veteran from the Great War, are en route to his new farm in Rhodesia in Southern Africa. Their family fortune is gone and he hopes to start a flying school in the African colony. Their plane however malfunctions over the Sahara desert. Charles is forced to do an emergency landing. He departs to find help, leaving Mira all alone in the middle of the desert.

A few hours to the North, Arabian Sheikh Omar prepares his caravan to return home to his oasis town.

Enjoy this historical romance set in Northern Africa in the 1920ties.

You can download the Kindle App to read Kindle type ebooks on your smartphone or pc

Review "Fletcher's Fortune" - a navy story with a detective aspect

At the end of the 18th century an orphaned bastard  is set to inherit a fortune without knowing it. His half brothers and their mother want him dead. He ends up presses into the navy but it seems his enemies still know how to reach him.
Good story but the ending  is unbelievable.

AMAZON writes:  

Young Jacob Fletcher, whilst unsure of his parentage, did know that as an apprentice he couldn't legally be seized by the press gang.

But this particular gang couldn't actually read the rules. And didn't care anyway.

Which was how he found himself risking life, limb and sea sickness on board His Majesty's frigate Phiandra, about to do battle with what looked like half the French fleet.

Meanwhile at Coignwood Hall, the late Sir Henry lay face-down in his soup as his beautiful but evil widow, Lady Sarah, along with their two loathsome sons, ransacked his papers for the will that would disclose to their horror that the entire family fortune has been left to a previously unknown illegitimate son.

Who would now have to be tracked down and disposed of as a matter of some urgency...

What will become of Fletcher's Fortune?

Fletcher's Fortune is the first in a rollicking series of memoirs that bring the 18th Century back to life in its tawdry glory.

When you wonder how to read a Kindle book from the US? Just download the Kindle App on your phone or pc. And pay attention: compared to Dutch prices you pay like 15%

Thursday, 31 August 2017

REVIEW of novel set in pre-Taliban Afghanistan. Very impressed by this insiders account

When you stop your car at a truckstop so you can read a bit more a book is really interesting!

I am NOT going to tell too much of the story as essential in that story is the past getting revealed bit by bit.

At the beginning of the novel we meet Scottish Miriam married to a doctor in rural Afghanistan. He is her second husband and things are less happy than they seemed at first. Bit by bit we get to know her history and that of her husband.

It is clear the writer knows - later I discovered she indeed has firsthand experience- Afghanistan.

As I met people from Afghanistan in the 90ties when I worked with refugees I was really interested in the cultural background of the story. But the author is a blessed storyteller as well. Miriam really seems real. And you hope nothing bad will happen to her. The mentioning of Dumfries made me smile. Not many people around where I live will know that small Scottish town but I have a friend who lives there and I guess she might even know the writer.

AMAZON writes: "Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather."

Someone else wrote a review on Amazon stating: (and I agree)
" on July 15, 2016

At first, what struck me most about this highly descriptive, lyrically written, “No More Mulberries,” was the author’s ability to completely transport me back to the faraway country of 1990s Afghanistan, not only geographically, but also culturally, and ideologically. It’s a country where ‘saving face’ is the order of the day, where its population is rapidly falling victim to the Taliban, and where primitive beliefs are so pervasive, that a child with leprosy is almost drowned by his father, in order to ‘kill’ the disease. In addition, Smith shows us––through the eyes of the ‘outsider’ widow Miriam from Scotland, her second Afghani husband, and their children––that there’s another side to this land; how the people are so gracious and hospitable that offering one’s home and food to strangers is a given, and not accepting a dinner invitation is tantamount to receiving a slap in the face.

But ultimately, what held me captive was the slow, unwinding mystery being played out of how Miriam’s first husband died, and what brought her to her second husband. Although the clash of cultures is often painful, confusing, and palpable, Smith confirms that in the end, no matter where we’re from, no matter the hardships in where we’ve landed, if we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves, the rest will undoubtedly fall into place. Definitely recommend!"

Here for sale at AMAZON: