Saturday, July 02, 2016

2016 books, #46-50

Missing you, by Harlan Coben [audiobook]. Read by Kerry Shale. Rearsby, Leics.: Clipper, 2014.

Detective Kat Donovan is signed up for an online dating site by her friend Stacey.  Out of curiosity, she logs in and finds the profile of her ex-fiancĂ©, a man she hasn't seen for 18 years. But when Kat gets in touch, she realises all isn't as it seems.  And then the son of another woman hacks into the site, and enlists her help in trying to trace his mother... A classic Harlen Coben standalone, where nothing is as it seems; tightly plotted and terrifying on occasion, with a twist in the tail.

Faster: the obsession, science and luck behind the world's fastest cyclists, by Michael Hutchinson. London: Bloomsbury Sport, 2015.

I was a little bit dubious about this one, but I'd massively enjoyed Michael Hutchinson (or @Doctor_Hutch)'s previous book The Hour; this is all about the somewhat arcane discipline of the individual time-trial, and the physiology and psychology of speed.  It explains why Mark Cavendish is a completely different racer from Hutchinson, or from Froome; it explains that you can have a huge pair of lungs, but if you have the wrong kind of muscles, you can't take full advantage of it.  Hutchinson talks to people at the top of UK sport, as well as sports scientists, aerodynamics experts and dietitians to explore the notion of the world's fastest riders.  And he makes learning about DNA and wind-tunnels fascinating, and funny.

The hangman's song, by James Oswald. London: Penguin, 2014.

An Inspector McLean novel.  McLean's hated boss Duguid AKA Dagwood has seconded him to the Sexual Crimes unit, but he also answers his phone one night and ends up at a hanging.  When a second body is found in similar circumstances, McLean investigates much to Duguid's dismay.  And at the same time, McLean's domestic life is complicated by Emma Baird, newly out of a long coma and seemingly haunted by her experience.  Quite literally - one of the things I'm less keen on in these books is the presence of the supernatural; I keep reading them, but there is a lot of what the Americans would call "woo" in these books...

The redeemed, by M R Hall [audiobook]. Read by Sian Thomas. Bath: AudioGO, [n.d.].

Jenny Cooper's another with a complicated domestic life; she really can't decide whether to throw in her lot with Steve, and her son's now living with his father.  Among all this, she's dealing with an inquiest on Eva Donaldson, a former porn star, now Christian and seeking to eliminate pornography through a house church movement which is sponsoring a private members' bill on the subject.  Alongside this, there's also the case of  Alan Jacobs, a psychiatric nurse found in a graveyard with a cross carved into his chest and forensic evidence of very recent gay sex.  The cases seem very separate, but it's never that straightforward, and the politics around the bill leads to a great deal of pressure being put on Jenny by her masters in Whitehall.

Hillsborough: the truth, by Phil Scraton. 20th anniversary edition. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 2006.

Having recently seen the documentary based on this book, I didn't learn a huge amount more; this is such a dreadful example of misconduct and a total lack of sympathy for the bereaved families that it makes hard reading.  I've had a fascination for the tragedy because friends should have been at that end of the ground that day, but had a non-life-threatening car crash on the M1 coming up from London that morning.  One of the best things about this book is the sheer tenacity of the families who refused to be fobbed off and carried on fighting for a full exposition of what had happened.  It's a horror that it took 27 years.