No Evil (DCI Jack Callum #1)  by Maynard Sims 

No Evil (DCI Jack Callum #1)  by Maynard Sims 

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No Evil (DCI Jack Callum #1)

by Maynard Sims

CI Jack Callum investigates the murder of 14 year old Frances Anderton found with her eyes and lips sewn shut and her ears filled with candle wax. A letter is left showing a drawing of the three monkeys (hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil), and the murders continue, all victims are young and innocent but no link between them can otherwise be found. In short, the police hasn’t got a single lead.
It’s 1958, methods of investigation as well as people’s views and conduct are quite old fashioned, and Jack is an old fashion guy, but with a liberal mind.

The scenery and imagery are appealing, it’s an old fashioned town, back in old fashioned England. It’s fun. The characters are believable and likable, even though they sometimes engage in very flat conversations. The Plot of the thriller is a bit lacking: sure you want to find out who has done it and once the perpetrator is discovered you are invested in it as much as Jack (i.e. I really wanted to see the bastard pay). However, in general the plot is also kind of “flat”, the motive is far-fetched and even the way the police gained a lead that brings them closed to the conclusion, is by a mere chance, you would expect something a bit smarter there as well.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book, I did, it’s a light read in general and is well written, it’s just that the plot and the conclusion did not convince me, and then, at the end of the day, I rather do something else with my time than reading about dead mutilated teenagers… I found the link to Cullum’s family (no spoilers don’t worry) a ploy to get us further emotionally invested in the fa-fetched script, and wasn’t impressed.
In conclusion – it’s an okay read. Literary wise very accomplished, story-wise, could have been much better in my humble opinion.

 
The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

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The Fire Child

by S.K. Tremayne

The Fire Child is the second book of Sean Thomas (Tom Knox) writing as S K Tremayne. This, I guess, is to distinguish his new thrillers series, all so far revolving around children that suffered a personal trauma, from his earlier works.

In The Fire Child we meet a similar desolated surrounding as we did in the ICE TWINS; this time a mansion house in Cornwall called Carnhallow, home of David Kerthen a successful Lawyer and a descendant of a long line of English aristocrats, who used to own mines in gloomy Cornwall back in the days when mining there was profitable.
David and his son Jamie had suffered a major tragedy when the wife and mother, Nina, had fallen down a mine shaft on Christmas two years before our story takes place, and died – her body never to be found.
To that scenario enters Rachel Daley – David’s new wife, who is forced to juggle between her new status as the lady of Carnhallow, her loneliness in Cornwall and an impossible grieving step-son who is convinced that his mummy is still alive. Is he right? Is there a ghost dwelling in Carnhallow? or is Rachel, who has a dark past as well, growing slowly insane?

The book is gripping, the writing is flawing and superb as always. The setting is just what a thriller needs, although not much different than the isolated Scottish isle of the ICE TWINS story… The reason this novel got only 3.5 stars for me is the fact that the climax was less than i expected. The answer to the twists and clues in the plot was well.. disappointing, especially after the ICE TWINS’ ending which was so surprising in my opinion. The truth about Rachel (don’t worry no spoiler here) could have been deeper, and even the process of her alleged insanity, was too flat and one dimensional. As if the writer wanted to “wrap things up”.
Still this is a decent read and I’d recommend it. The author is extremely talented, and the desolated England imagery – makes you want to pack up and visit the place he is writing on.

 
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

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Here I Am

by Jonathan Safran Foer

I have been given the opportunity to preview & review Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest critically acclaimed book “Here I am”.
I have never read Safran Foer’s previous book so have thus faced this novel with a “tabula rasa” – blank page.There is an old Israeli song in Hebrew by Haim Hefer, performed by Yehuram Gaon which is also called “Here I Am”, in which the singer exclaims his longing to a woman. He is confident and sure of himself: “I am here like a rock, like a well … I am the man who always comes back, Back!”.
In Safran’s book, the (anti)hero is Jacob Bloch, an American Jew, whose self-confidence is far from Hefer’s protagonist a million light years.
Bloch, a father to three boys, struggles through his own midlife crisis; his deteriorating relationship with his wife “Jewish mama does all” Julia; his eldest son Sam’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony which is in jeopardy due to a hateful note he had written in school; his old grandfather holocaust survivor Isaac who lost the will to live as well as his old dog who is dying and suffering. This all amplifies by Jacob’s own insecurity and the feeling of lack of any real achievement in life.The other plot-line which is important (and used to reflect on Jacob’s own selfishness) is Israel’s destruction. Israel is facing a humanitarian crisis and a war to end all wars in the Middle East, while his cousin (and long friend and instigator) Tamir is “stuck” in Washington with his young son, visiting for the Bar Mitzvah. Tamir’s other son, Noam, is a soldier in the Israeli army when hell breaks loose, and while Jacob’s struggles with his own oh so Jewish triviality – the macho Tamir has to struggle with his home and universe crumbling down, and being helpless to help.
In an interview I have read with Safran in the British Times, he had said something like the book was a journey, a struggle to write hence took him so long. Well, it was the same to read… While I expected something new, I found on more than one occasion an attempt to be a new-age Philip Roth which did not succeed in my opinion, due to overly crowded pages in Jewish schmaltz: Wailing Wall included, Jacob is handling every Jewish stereotypical problem available. It was just too much.
However, on the occasions where Safran let himself run loose of the Jewish author shackles – the novel was a joy to read.In a sense, Jacob’s Via Dolorosa is the reader’s too: Some parts are too long, some chapters are extended beyond what is needed, but always the redemption (the conclusion) is in sight.
“The destruction of Israel” comes in the middle of the book, giving it a needed “kick in the shin” and to Jacob as well – stirring the plot line faster. A much needed event.

I did not suffer as much as Jacob does, reading this book. I thought the Safran’s characters are intriguing and deep (albeit the overly exaggerated Israeli cartoon-like cousin). I think better editing was in order. Brave editing would have gotten Safran to omit a large part of the final act which does not provide any life changing conclusions, not to Jacob – nor to the reader. This fact has kept this a 3 stars book for me, though a recommended read to any Jew in the diaspora or to anyone who wants to understand one.