Book reviews

Recent crime fiction

23 July 2011 12:00 am

John Lawton’s Inspector Troy series constantly surprises.


16 July 2011 10:00 am

I like books with weather and there’s plenty in this one, all bad, which is even better. Set in London during a cold winter, Blue Monday (Penguin, £12.99) is the first of a new series for Nicci French, the successful husband and wife author team.

Coolness under fire

25 June 2011 12:00 am

The early 19th century was the age of the dandy, and the essence of dandyism was cool self-control.

City of miracles

25 June 2011 12:00 am

A mysterious head injury left the young Ian Thomson unconscious in his flat in the Via Salaria. But decades later, his affection for Rome remains undiminished

Patience v. panache

18 June 2011 12:00 am

The square jaw and steely gaze are deceptive.

The great game

11 June 2011 12:00 am

Some of the best writing about sport in recent years has been done by journalists who tend their soil, so to speak, in another parish.

Deep, dark mysteries

4 June 2011 12:00 am

For Peter Ackroyd, the subterranean world holds a potent allure.

Recent crime fiction

4 June 2011 12:00 am

Mo Hayder has a considerable and well-deserved reputation as a writer of horrific crime novels that often revolve around the physical violence men do to women.

Vastly entertaining

28 May 2011 12:00 am

It may not be quite true that the next best thing to eating good food is reading about it, but undeniably food writing has its considerable pleasures.

A conflict of loyalty

21 May 2011 12:00 am

What was life like in Hitler’s Germany? This question has long fascinated authors and readers alike, as books like Alone in Berlin, The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief bear witness.

Wheels of fortune

14 May 2011 12:00 am

There are among us a churlish few who consider the term ‘sports personality’ to be an oxymoron.

Captain courageous

7 May 2011 12:00 am

The sum of hard biographical facts about Captain Cook never increases, nor is it expected to.

Doomed to disillusion

7 May 2011 12:00 am

The Forgotten Waltz is one of those densely recapitulative novels that seek to interpret emotional crack-up from the angle of its ground-down aftermath.

Jennie, Clemmie and Goosie too

23 April 2011 12:00 am

‘There never was a Churchill, from John of Marlborough down,’ wrote Gladstone, ‘that had either principles or morals.’ With the shining exception of Winston and his brother Jack, Churchill men have tended to be bad hats, but this makes them all the more interesting to read about.

Lancelot of the lake

23 April 2011 12:00 am

Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia offers two contrasting views on a ‘Capability’ Brown landscape at the imagined Sidley Park.

A certain tragic allure

23 April 2011 12:00 am

Towards Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1919–1980), the last or most recent Shah of Iran, there are two principal attitudes.

Random questions

23 April 2011 12:00 am

British writers who set their first novels in America are apt to come horribly unstuck.

One hap after another

23 April 2011 12:00 am

Nicola Shulman begins her rehabilitation of Thomas Wyatt by remarking that there is ‘an almost universal consensus that he can’t write’ — a consensus established within a generation of his death in 1542.

A fate worse than death

16 April 2011 12:00 am

Hugo Vickers has already produced a well-documented and balanced biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Slippery Jack

16 April 2011 12:00 am

A mad, muscular Sally Bercow cavorts on the Commons chair, diminutive husband on her knee, his features impish.

King of spin

16 April 2011 12:00 am

Draw two two-inch triangles, tip to tip, one on top of the other.

In Di’s guise

16 April 2011 12:00 am

What if Princess Diana hadn’t died, but, aided by her besotted press secretary, had faked her death and fled to America to live under an assumed identity? Is this an interesting question? Is a novelist justified in exploring such a supposition? I believe the answer to both questions is ‘no’.

Pet obsession

16 April 2011 12:00 am

I declare two interests. I own a dog, Lily, and I admire the New York Review of Books. What could go wrong?

An existential hero

16 April 2011 12:00 am

Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death

Bookends: The last laugh

9 April 2011 6:00 am

In July, the world’s most famous restaurant, elBulli, closes, to reopen in 2014 as a ‘creative centre’. Rough luck on the million-odd people who try for one of 8,000 reservations a year. It’s also a blow for the eponymous young cooks of Lisa Abend’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentices (Simon & Schuster, £18.99), the 45 stagiaires who labour in Ferran Adria’s kitchen for a season in the hope of sharing in the magic. Ferran, you see, is no mere cook. With him, ‘hot turns into cold, sweet into savoury, solid into liquid or air’.