Koch, Herman (2014) Summer House with Swimming Pool (Translated from the Dutch). Hogarth. GP, Dr Marc Sclosser has a healthy disregard for this high-profile patients, that is until famous actor Ralph Meier demands his attention and winds up dead. It all started the previous summer when Marc and his family were invited to spend a week at the Meiers summer retreat on the Mediterranean. A violent incident disrupts the idyll and darker motivations are revealed and the vacation turns into a nightmare. I struggled to get started with this novel because of my initial dislike for the protagonist, but then the disturbing reality of the novel made it compulsively readable. Powerful. Rating: 9.5/10.
Hunt, Laird (2014) Neverhome. Little Brown. Ash Thompson, aka Constance, donned the Union uniform and went off to soldier in the US Civil War, leaving behind her husband to tend the farm. In the brutality of war “Gallant Ash” becomes respectively a folk hero, a traitor, a madwoman, and a vigilante. The odyssey of an adventurous woman who chose to fight rather than stay at home. It is a tale of tragedy, loss, betrayal, patriotism, and love. This book is on a number of US best book lists for 2014, but I could not engage with hero-heroine. Rating: 7/10.
Liss, David (2014) The Day of Atonement. Random House. Sebastian Raposa was only 13 when his parents were imprisoned, never to be seen again, by the Portuguese Inquisition. After 10 years in exile, and now a violent bounty hunter, he returns to 1750s Lisbon in the guise of an English businessman, Sebastian Foxx. Angry and haunted by all he has lost he is determined to seek vengeance and stalks the ruthless Inquisitor priest Pedro Azinheiro. However Sebastian’s seemingly straightforward hunt-and-kill mission suddenly becomes a complicated affair. A tale persecution, treachery, greed, deception and mercy. Full of action but I failed to be gripped by the adventure. Rating: 7.5/10.
Albertine, Viv (2014) Clothes clothes clothes, music music music, boys boys boys. Faber. Viv Albertine knew she wanted to play in a band from the age of 16, and 7 years later she was the guitarist in the pioneering all-female punk band, the Slits. This candid feminist memoir is a tale of sheer determination, talent, fearlessness, rebellion and survival. She covers everything in lurid detail from art school, squatting, living in a female body, drugs, abortion, hanging out with Vivienne Westwood and Sid Vicious, and touring with the Clash, to her post-punk struggles and redemption. Raw, irreverent and strident. Rating: 8/10.