Books I reviewed in March (and some I didn’t)

OK, so it’s well late for this, but I been busy, OK? Here are the books I reviewed in March, a mixed bag, to be sure.

Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees (William Heinemann) – Reviewed for The Scotsman. A great coming-of-age story set in the poorest part of Glasgow, about two sisters whose parents die in the opening chapter. That sounds bleak, right? But it’s actually very funny in places.

George Dyson, Turing’s Cathedral (Allen Lane) – Reviewed for Scotland on Sunday. A kind of strangely lopsided book about the invention of the modern computer, which was big on boring detail but not so good at seeing the bigger picture.

Dan Rhodes, This is Life (Canongate) – Reviewed for the Big Issue. A new Dan Rhodes is always a welcome treat. This is a nice, offbeat love story set in Paris and full of delightfully weird scenarios and some truly fantastic deadpan comic writing.

Walter Mosley, All I Did Was Shoot My Man (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – Reviewed for the Big Issue. Just look at that title. That’s a motherfucking book title, huh? The book very nearly lived up to it. I love Mosley’s stuff.

Jo Nesbo, Phantom (Harvill Secker) – Reviewed for The Independent on Sunday. I read lots of reader reviews saying this was fast-paced. Really? Felt slow to me in places. Good plot later on, but it’s basically Jason Bourne in Oslo. Some of the prose is dire.

Ron Rash, The Cove (Canongate) – Reviewed for The Independent on Sunday. Wonderful book, set in the rural badlands of America, about a seemingly cursed family and their woes, in the wake of paranoia about wartime German spies. Lyrical and moving. Seek it out.

Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Death in the Family (Harvill Secker) – Reviewed for the Big Issue. A novel-as-memoir sensation from Norway, it’s full of beautiful, brave, honest writing about a truly fucked up family.

Tim Weiner, Enemies (Allen Lane) – Reviewed for the Big Issue. The history of the FBI. Author is a veteran reporter on this stuff for a lifetime, and it shows, a really comprehensive guide to accompany his history of the CIA which came a couple of years before.

Aaaaaand, as per usual, the list of books-to-be-read gets longer and longer. This month, these little beauties were added to the top of the teetering pile:

John Lanchester, Capital (Faber)
Joe R. Lansdale, Edge of Dark Water (Mulholland)
Chris Pavone, The Expats (Faber)
Mark Leyner, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack (Little Brown)

If you’ve read any of these titles, gimme a shout, whydontcha?

Aye so, only two weeks till April’s books round up.

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About doug johnstone

I like whisky
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2 Responses to Books I reviewed in March (and some I didn’t)

  1. l1sm says:

    Mosley book sounds amazing.

    Have you been following the marketing campaign for Lanchester’s Capital? You can sign up online and every day they’ll send you a question and themed piece of writing following ten years of life on the street the book centres on. It’s such a shame that his writing is as tedious as Nesbo’s, because the idea is so impressive.

  2. doug johnstone says:

    That’s interesting re: Lanchester campaign, will check it out, ta.

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