Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

There’s two thing that I like about these new James Bond books over the movies.

  1. They’re set in the past, which gives them a nice nostalgic feel: the heroes smoked pipes and cigarettes, the villains were stereotypically Russians, and the women were … not always the helpless creatures that writers of the time made them out to be.
  2. Getting inside Bond’s head you get to see that he’s actually a bit of a dick.

Trigger Mortis takes us back to the late 1950s. Naval war hero and British Secret Service agent, James Bond has returned from the successful completion of the Goldfinger assignment with the svelte innuendo that is Pussy Galore in tow. He hardly has time to start sniffing around for a new bedmate when his country has need of him yet again, this time to foil a sinister plot involving race cars, Russians and rockets.

Okay, there’s not going to be any surprises plot-wise: the villains are stereotypical for the age it’s set (Horowitz picks the Russians and a Korean) and Bond is … well, he’s Bond. The story is extremely well placed: Horowitz captures the feel and the attitudes of the time so well that the misogyny and occasional Gay-bashing just slots straight in. This is a good thing. Things were a lot different in those days, and Bond’s letching over women and mistrust of homosexuals was pretty much the norm.

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Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

This is the second book in the Rivers of London series which is a sort of Harry Potter meets Scott & Bailey.

Imagine, if you will, a secretive, well-funded branch of the Metropolitan Police, tasked with dealing with cases involving magic and the supernatural. Well, calling them a ‘branch’ might be overstating it; there’s just the two of them: Peter Grant, police constable and wizard-in-training; and his mentor, Thomas Nightingale, a detective inspector who seems to have been alive since the nineteenth century.

It’s by no means an original concept, but I don’t think I’ve come across an urban fantasy novel (or is it magic realism?) that’s so well-written. The sense of place you get is extraordinary; Aaronovitch has mapped London to destruction, giving himself a rich environment in which to explore this magical world of vampires, witches and river gods.

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Book review: Logan’s Run

Yup, I’m getting to this one really late. The movie was a sci-fi classic, the TV series … not so much. Having seen both when I was a kid, I didn’t think there was much point in reading the book, until it won the Alternative Booker Prize held by the Reading Writers Group. I’d made one of those private vows you see: to read every entry before Christmas. The first one was Perfume, and now, Logan’s Run …

The story is set in the distant future. After an uprising by the world’s youth, the old order finds itself overthrown, and in most cases, executed. Recognising that they still need to tackle the problem of overpopulation, the teenagers running the planet hit on a rather novel solution: there is enough for everyone, as long as no one lives past the age of twenty-one.

And so we meet Logan. Logan is a Sandman, and his job is to hunt down ‘runners’: that despised section of the population who don’t agree with being put to sleep before they’ve even lived, and so try to escape to a place called Sanctuary.

Logan’s very good at his job, right up until the day he hits twenty-one …

Now those of you who’ve seen the film may be thinking, ‘Twenty-one? I thought LastDay came when you hit thirty.’

Yes, that was for the movies, and there was a reason why the studios changed it.

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