March Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Roz Watkins’s first novel, The Devil’s Dice, was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger award and introduces DI Meg Dalton of the Peak District. She is an appealing character, although her lack of physical fitness would seem to make her an unlikely police officer. She worries about her size and unhealthy diet, her beleaguered and incompetent mother and bedridden grandmother, and, of course, her work, which is made even harder by the presence of a misogynist and mocking colleague [Read more...] in Reviews

Soviet Milk

Nora Ikstena

Reviewed by Rachel Hore

Although the oppression of life under Communism infuses this tender tale, Soviet Milk is principally a story about individual character, not politics. There’s no doubt that the mother is a wounded soul, who struggles and fails to be happy, but the author offers no pat answers about why. She is so delicately and warmly evoked, however, that the reader is stirred to empathy rather than impatience [Read more...] in Reviews

Hotel Silence

Auour Ava Olafsdottir

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

Icelandic author Olafsdottir’s prose is pleasingly, engagingly spare as she allows things to be left unsaid between the various characters and in the narrative as a whole, leaving gaps that readers must fill in for themselves. Considering the initial subject matter – suicide – this novel is by no means a glum or depressing read. The author has gifted Jonas with a dry wit and an often funny, matter-of-fact attitude to ending his life [Read more...] in Reviews


Aminatta Forna

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

This is a story of wide and significant scope that spans continents and decades, even though it unspools itself mainly in the UK in the twenty-first century. And there’s more to it than mammals or birds, or wildlife or gardens. This is also a book about war and trauma, about refugees and immigrants, survival and the unexpected by-products of suffering. And last, but far from least, it’s a love story. [Read more...] in Reviews

Making a Noise

John Tusa

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

Tusa rose through the hidebound hierarchy to take charge of the BBC World Service. In this job, as in all those that followed, he was a reformer, uncompromising about the standards he rightly expected, and often at odds with his notional superiors. He is trenchantly critical of the changes made in the BBC under John Birt (Director General) and Marmaduke Hussey (Chairman of Governors,) particularly of the introduction of authoritarian management to an organization whose values were liberal, humanist and pluralist [Read more...] in Reviews

Girls Burn Brighter

Shobha Rao

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Devastating is hardly an adequate adjective to describe the horrors visited on the two central characters of Rao’s scorching debut, and by extension uncounted numbers of actual impoverished women and female children in India, some of whose suffering occasionally appears in stories in our newspapers. This saga of cruelty, subjugation, sexual abuse, marital oppression, prostitution and pain of other heart-wrenching kinds also, of course, comes perfectly timed to ride the current wave of female outrage animating voices of resistance in many countries [Read more...] in Reviews

Monsieur Ka

Vesna Goldsworthy

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Goldsworthy deftly creates a dark, chilly and foreign world as viewed by the outsider. Alienated both in England and in her very British marriage, Albertine, a richer figure than at first seen, emerges as a loner and a nonconformist. Her intensifying involvement with the Carr family ranges from keeping a written record of M. Ka’s memories of nineteenth-century Russia and escaping the revolution, to a different involvement with his son [Read more...] in Reviews