Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Nostradamus Prophecies - Mario Reading

The Nostradamus Prophecies by Mario Reading is based on the surmise that Nostradamus wrote a thousand prophecies but that only 942 have survived to the present day. The action starts when a gypsy named Babel Samana is trying to raise money by selling a manuscript containing missing verses of Nostradamus; the problem he has is that he doesn't actually have the manuscript but only some clues as to its whereabouts. Unfortunately for Babel one of the prospective buyers that he attracted was Achor Bale, a man who is a member of a secret society that is sworn to support the 'Three Antichrists' predicted by Nostradamus - Napoleon, Hitler and one still to come. And Achor Bale is also a cruel, ruthless man who will kill and torture mercilessly to achieve his objectives.

The other bidder is American writer, Adam Sabir who is just looking for a boost to his writing career. Samana entangles Sabir by binding him by blood in a cafe and giving him a couple of clues, before he meets his grisly end at the hands of Bale.

Sabir suddenly finds himself on the run, suspected of the murder of Samana, and following the clues he finds himself entwined in the lives of the gypsies, as the blood brother and new protector of the fiery Yola and her cousin Alexi. The trio must then try to interpret the clues they find and follow the trail to the missing Nostradamus prophecies, always trying to outwit the merciless, indefatigable Bale, and stay one step ahead of the police in the form of Calque and Macron.

Sabir has to immerse himself in gypsy cultures and learn their customs and their history to survive. The plot is very fast moving and moves through France and Spain, and is fairly violent, courtesy of the merciless Achor Bale.

Will Sabir and the gypsies manage to stay one step ahead of Bale, or will they suffer the same painful fate as Babel? Good read for the plane or by a pool - try a white wine spritzer and a ham salad on white!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Man In The Moss - Phil Rickman

The village of Bridelow has always been an isolated, wind swept place; a place where the old beliefs and the newer Christian beliefs have been woven together. The only way to get to Bridelow is across a primeval peat bog known as 'The Moss'.

When an ancient body is discovered in the peat and taken away to be investigated by the archaeologists, perfectly preserved after thousands of years, the villagers know what they have to do to preserve the balance between light and dark in their town. They must get the body back, and put it back where it belongs. The body in the peatbog had been an ancient sacrifice, and the sacrificial victim had died the triple death.

Bridelow is also a village that draws back the people who left; and musician Matt Castle buys the village pub, after the local independent brewery is sold. Matt who plays the Pennine Pipes to appease the Moss.

Drawn into this circle of gathering darkness are folk singer Moira Cairns, American film Director Mungo Macbeth and the fundamentalist vicar Joel Beard. But one of Bridelow's own is using the energy in the town for his own ends. Having once been banished, he has now found a way to return and work his black magic.

But Bridelow has guardians; a group of women who have retained the old knowledge and pass it down from generation to generation. As people are killed and disaster threatens to destroy the village, can the remnants of the Mother's Union do enough to save Bridelow and it's inhabitants?

Set in the dark, wet weeks around Halloween - ancient Samhain - this is one to read with a big bowl of hot chilli, a baked potato and a pint of real ale!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Skin Tight - Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen books are definitely an acquired taste and you most certainly need to be in possession of a very sick sense of humour to enjoy them. Fortunately I do and I find his satirical, humorous novels set in South Florida totally hysterical.

Skin Tight delves into the murkier realms of cosmetic surgery among the rich and famous in Florida. An area where expensive surgeons are not all they seem and are apt to make mistakes, even fatal ones. The emergence of one of these carefully buried mistakes and the ruthlessness of those who want it to stay hidden, cause investigator Mick Stranahan to have several bad days, where he is compelled to kill some people, who for some reason all of a sudden seem to want to kill him.

The first one - Tony the Eel - is quickly and efficiently dispatched with the spear-like snout of a Marlin, but the others who follow like Chemo, the abnormally tall psycho with an unfortunate skin condition and a weed strimmer as a prosthesis on one arm and the crooked cops Salazar and Murdock are harder to get rid of.

Stranahan has to pick through a web of lies and distortions to find out who and why someone suddenly wants him dead. Dealing with black-mailing nurses, ego-maniac TV presenters, crooked County Commissioners and good cops and bad cops, he has to try and stay alive and uncover the truth.

A more eclectic and outrageous set of characters you could never wish to find between the covers of a book. And as always Hiaassen comes up with some very original ways to be maimed or murdered!

A rollicking, laugh-out-loud read that pokes a sly finger into the underbelly of modern society. Order a cold American beer and a side of fried clams and prawn!