Archive for July, 2013

July 27, 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling: Robert Galbraith

by Andre

Robert Galbraith THE CUCKOO'S CALLINGThis debut novel by Robert Galbraith was published in the spring and attracted admiring notices from fellow crime writers Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. It’s since emerged that it’s J.K. Rowling using a pseudonym and there are certainly plenty of clues this is an author who might not be a fan of the tabloids (Rowling was a witness at the Leveson Inquiry). Her crime novel about the death of a supermodel begins with sardonic description of the media feeding frenzy in the days after Lulu Landry falls from her Mayfair balcony. Yet Rowling avoids striking a high moral tone by virtue of being wickedly funny. “So many columnists made allusion to Icarus that Private Eye ran a special column,” she writes of the coverage of the suspected suicide.

The first book in a new series introduces the gruff, ale-drinking, ex-army private detective Cormoran Strike and his young temp Robin, whose nascent ability for investigation contrasts with the burden of sensible career expectations she expects will consign her to an office “full of gossipy women… all engaged in activities that meant nothing to her”. But I suspect we’ll see more of this double act.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is an ingenious, evocative mystery that takes in London high-life and low-life and Rowling tackles celebrity and wealth with a sly wit. Her insight into football and media rights shows a less sure touch: somehow Strike manages to watch Spurs v Arsenal live on a Saturday afternoon on a portable TV he’s just installed in the Soho office where he’s been camping out since splitting with his girlfriend. And I’m almost pedantic enough to investigate the appearance of handstraps on the Bakerloo Line in Rowling’s novel, though it is set in 2010. A braver editor might have cut some of the descriptive passages but this is still a stylish reinvention of the classic whodunit and a gripping read that will keep you guessing until the end.

July 24, 2013

Booker Prize Longlist 2013

by Andre

The longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2013 is out although several of the selected books are not (update: publishers have rush released titles to meet demand). This year the judges have picked an unpredictable, international list of 13 books for the literary prize and we have them in stock here at the Riverside. Click on the images below for a gallery of the nominees and look out for The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, the final title published in September. The £50,000 prize is awarded on 15 October.

July 19, 2013

Jack Glass: Adam Roberts

by Andre

Adam Roberts JACK GLASSAdmirers of Adam Roberts have suggested his clever, playful prose might earn him a Booker Prize nomination if it wasn’t for the fact he writes science fiction. His latest book is a mash-up of SF and Golden Age detective fiction with the exuberance of Anthony Burgess and the self-aware intricacy of academic crime author Michael Innes. Teasingly, the novel is introduced with the revelation that Jack Glass is the murderer in each of its three ensuing mysteries, though his methods and ultimate culpability may be less clear-cut.

After that Dr Watson-style teeing up of our tale, the reader is propelled into a disturbing and ingenious narrative set on an asteroid that’s both prison drama and locked room mystery. As well as being a remarkable display of Roberts’s imaginative power and ironical tone, it also introduces some running themes: the burden or absence of gravity (try cleaning up blood in zero g), the meaning of murder when life is cheap, and a Marxian perspective on intergalactic economics that perhaps places Roberts somewhere to the left of Iain M. Banks. “We’re always the cheapest option, we’re losing absolute value with every generation,” is how humanity’s economic fate is summed up under the authoritarian, trade-obsessed Ulanov regime.

However, Jack Glass is ultimately a dazzling futuristic romp that adroitly negotiates theoretical concepts such as Faster Than Light travel alongside explosive action sequences and cunning crimes. Glass is a gnomic anti-hero with the steel-trap mind of Sherlock Holmes and sagacity of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In part two he comes to the aid of a teenage dignitary, who finds herself tasked with solving what is effectively a country house whodunit (with gravity a key part of the investigation). It’s another virtuoso novel by Roberts and a deserving winner of the John W Campbell Award in the US and the BSFA award in the UK.

July 12, 2013

Summer Reading 2013 – £2 off!

by Andre

We can help with all your summer reading requirements – and we’ve got £2 off dozens of selected paperback titles in fiction and non-fiction including novels by Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and A.M. Homes. The £2 discount applies while stocks last – and we’ll be adding new titles to our Summer Reading so come and have a browse. Click on the book covers below to view a gallery of just some of the books on offer.

July 12, 2013

Buy eBooks from the Riverside Bookshop

by Andre

The Indie eBook Shop banner

Readers still love real books. But we understand that for some of you there’s also a time and place for reading on a screen. So we’ve partnered with The Indie eBook Shop to enable you to purchase eBooks from a website that supports independent bookshops.

The Indie eBook Shop is an online store you can trust – it’s managed by the people behind National Book Tokens – and you can even purchase eBooks with your Book Tokens. We also sell eBook Cards from National Book Tokens in our shop if you’re looking for a gift for someone you know is dedicated to digital reading (the cards are still valid for physical books in bookshops nationwide if they do want to try the real thing).

There are a few rules with The Indie eBook Shop – the main one being that it does not support the Kindle, which is a ‘closed’ device limited to its own online store. Otherwise, The Indie eBook Shop allows you to browse by genre or search by title for eBooks that will work across many tablets, eReaders, phones, PCs and Macs. Click on the banner above to start browsing and check out this page for any queries. We may not be able to answer any technical queries in store – but we do know quite a lot about books.

July 6, 2013

A Shed of One’s Own: Marcus Berkmann

by Andre

Marcus Berkmann A SHED OF ONE'S OWNNicholas Lezard BITTER EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT MEMarcus Berkmann’s one of those eminently amusing writers I’ve been stumbling across for a couple of decades. So opening his latest comic memoir, A Shed of One’s Own: Midlife Without the Crisis, feels a bit like finding a familiar face in a reassuringly fusty pub where you’ve both retreated to escape the vicissitudes of modern life. He’s a little older, a little more resigned to greengrocers’ misplaced apostrophes and the decline of personal ambition but essentially the same amiable humourist.

Berkmann’s chronicled his cricketing obsession in multiple volumes and featured in the late Harry Thompson’s marvellous Penguins Stopped Play about village cricketers on a quixotic tour of seven continents; he’s a Private Eye regular; and he used to review TV in the Daily Mail back in the early Nineties, which was actually just a few months ago (that’s according to Berkmann’s theory of Decade Erosion among the middle aged). As I recall, he once had a ponytail, and indeed he addresses this hair episode in a chapter called ‘Mutton’, which also features the World’s Oldest Punk and such seismic sartorial shifts as the expunging of slacks and the “universally distressing phenomenon” of the T-Shirt on the Fat Man.

Berkmann wears his wisdom lightly in an engaging read that knows its (crumbling) audience without ever feeling cynical. Yes, he will make you guffaw on public transport but there are also moving passages about the mid-lifer’s filial duties, as well as a philosophical enquiry into the plight of the middle-aged hermit, tucked away in his shed and nurturing an obsession with facts (news websites, military history, true crime) in place of people. In the acknowledgements, Berkmann thanks Nicholas Lezard, a fellow mid-life memoirist whose new book Bitter Experience Has Taught Me promises more of the same –  creaky cricket, excessive amounts of red wine, a glimmer of Wodehousian wit – but with added penury.