A wanted man, by Lee Child [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2012.
Lee Child and Jeff Harding are pretty much the dream team as far as I'm concerned; but this is also a really gripping book. Reacher, still with the injuries incurred in The Affair, is hitching a lift to Virginia, hoping to meet the FBI agent he'd connected with during those events. After a long time, he's picked up by three strangers, ostensibly work colleagues on a marketing trip. But are they? And why have they picked up Reacher, whose facial injuries make him look even more dodgy than usual? Something is wrong, and by the time Reacher works out what it is, he's in it up to his neck. Classic Lee Child; not a word wasted (certainly not by Reacher, who characteristically "says nothing" many, many times) and gripping to the end.
LA confidentiel: les secrets de Lance Armstrong / Pierre Ballester et David Walsh. [Paris]: Editions de la Martinière, 2004.
This one took a while - my French cycling/drugs vocabulary needed a bit of brushing up - but definitely worth a read. Written in 2004, this book was the first journalistic exploration of Lance Armstrong's use of EPO and other banned substances, and interviews a selection of people including Frankie Andreu, Greg LeMond, and several other less famous cyclists whose careers were ended either by the side-effects of banned drugs, or the refusal to take them. Several interviews with Armstrong himself are included. Walsh has written since on this subject, but the fact that this book accelerated the investigation into Armstrong and the US Postal team makes it a powerful document.
I'll catch you, by Jesse Kellermann [audiobook]. Read by Adam Sims. Oxford: Isis, 2012.
The world's best-selling thriller writer, William de Vallée, disappears from his luxury yacht; his friend and fellow writer Arthur Pfefferkorn decides to pick up where Bill left off, and steals his manuscript (and leading man, Dick Stapp, a Reacher/Mitch Rapp hybrid). Pfefferkorn has no idea where this theft will lead him, and descends into more and more farcical adventures in East and West Zlavia, including several escapes, a brace of resurrected dictators and a lot of unlikely facial hair. This is an extremely funny parody of the hard-boiled spy novel, with the knowledge of thrillers picked up both from Kellermann's own previous novels but also those of his parents Faye and Jonathan; Lee Child meets Tom Sharpe in a picaresque adventure.
Village of secrets: defying the Nazis in Vichy France, by Caroline Moorehead. London: Chatto and Windus, 2014.
I heard an interview with Moorehead on the BBC History podcast and was intrigued by this book, which tells the story of the people of the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon and particularly the town of Chambon, who sheltered hundreds of Jewish children during the Vichy period and helped thousands more Jewish people to escape to Spain, Italy and Switzerland. Moorehead was intrigued both by the story of these ordinary people who, inspired by their Protestant faith, set out to protect vulnerable Jews, and who subsequently went unacknowledged for many years. It's a fast-paced, moving account of individuals in a terrible time; and while there has been a lot of argument in recent years as to the degree of collaboration and resistance which went on, the basic goodness of people who had very little themselves in quietly defying the authorities shines through.
At death's window, by Jim Kelly. London: Severn House, 2014.
A family out on a sand-bank discover the tethered body of a man; meanwhile burglaries with a political dimension have been happening to second homes all around the area. Initially, the murder looks like the act of gangs of rival samphire pickers, but Peter Shaw and George Valentine aren't so sure. Then a second body is discovered, and everything becomes, if anything, less clear. As ever, this is set on the North Norfolk coast; while this is a well-written, intriguing thriller with a genuinely good twist in the tail, Kelly's ability to describe the villages and skies of the coast is alone worth reading this book for.