Bite-Sized Book Reviews

A gripping mystery, philosophical cartoonists, Hillary Clinton and a war on journalism are on the menu for this month’s bite-sized book reviews.

Sleeping in the Ground

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Author: Peter Robinson
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

This is Peter Robinson at his best. A cracking mystery novel, rich in characterisation with a plot both weird and gripping. A sniper kills the bride and groom as they emerge from a Yorkshire Dales church, and continues shooting into the wedding party, leaving five dead and four wounded. The weapon is traced to a well-liked retired dentist and local gun club member and nobody who knew him believes in his guilt. Nevertheless the gun is found in his cellar near his body, an apparent suicide. Case closed? Not hardly! The autopsy surgeon has a second look – and the hunt is on!

Book review by Roger Hainsworth

The Animators

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Author: Kayla Rae Whitaker
Publisher: Scribe

Mel and Sharon are two young cartoonists whose avant-garde film, an animated retelling of Mel’s troubled childhood, has captured the attention and admiration of the art world. Having secured a prestigious grant, the pressure is on to produce a work equal to their acclaimed debut. The question is: can the best artistic work be nurtured by only the deepest tragedy? The animators are torn: are there lines that can’t be crossed? Is anything from “real life” off limits in art? What are the consequences when the creative gets out of control ? Funny, yet desperately sad, The Animators is a vivid debut novel from a talented new writer.

Book review by Ilona Wallace

The First Casualty: From the Front Lines of the Global War on Journalism

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Author: Peter Greste
Publisher: Penguin

Part prison memoir, part account of his time reporting from some of the world’s most hostile places, Greste’s memoir The First Casualty details his foreign journalism experience to illustrate how journalism became the enemy after 9/11. Greste writes how groups such as the Taliban refused to engage with journalists after the New York attacks, instead viewing them as “agents of Western liberal thought”, a precursor to ISIS kidnapping and beheading journalists while democracies such as the US created a ‘with us or against us’ culture with the media to disastrous results. With trust in media at an all-time low, Greste’s memoir highlights the importance of a free, independent press not only at home but across the globe.

Book review by David Knight

What Happened

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Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Clinton Rules: “any relatively commonplace political or activity takes a mysterious dark energy when any Clinton is involved,” explained Charles Pierce in Esquire. This along with misogyny fuelled some of the criticism that plagued Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Despite some hokey passages about hope, family and faith, Clinton’s account of her failed presidential bid is a sobering read that excels when it details the dangerous Russian hacks, the horrific fake news articles as well as the attacks on her from the left and right for being the establishment candidate. She admits mistakes but the press receives the most pointed criticism for hounding her over the email scandal while being sidelined by the Trump reality show. “There has never been a man or a woman … more qualified,” Obama said of Clinton. Indeed. What Happened serves as a warning to democracies across the globe when you focus on the sideshow instead of the main event.

Book review by David Knight 

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