East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Violent Femmes, part deux

What is with top-tier criminals and antique bookshops?
It’s a sort of cliché, the international man (or woman) of mystery that in their everyday life manage an antique book shop somewhere cool and elegant.
In the case of Anna, the character portrayed by Meggie Q in The Protégé, the antique book shop is in London. And as it usually happens in this sort of movies, it will be thoroughly thrashed sometime around the end of the first reel.

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Thirty-five years after: Subway (1985)

For the next episode of Paura & Delirio, the podcast I co-host with my friend Lucy, we’re going to discuss Nosferatu, both the Murnau original and the Werner Herzog remake. As we usually do for our podcast, we are re-watching the movies to freshen up out impressions.

And as I was watching the Herzog movie, I remembered I saw it first in late 1985 or early 1986, and I checked the movie out for one reason alone – it features Isabelle Adjani, that I had first seen a few weeks before in a completely different movie: Luc Besson’s stylish thriller, Subway.

And so I stopped Nosferatu, and dug out Subway – because while I’ve seen the Herzog movie quitre a few times since 1985, it’s been thirty-five years since I last went town in the underground with Isabelle Adjani.

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Hard Boiled & Pulp: Kiss Me When I’m Dead

Yesterday I finished my final revision of my non fiction book (yeah, I know,I told you that already) and I sold a pitch for another book (I am waiting to sign the contract, so it’s still very hush-hush). So to celebrate I went and bought me a few books, and because sometimes the Amazon algorithm is your friend, I ended up with a Kindle-full of (mostly free) books.
Nice and smooth.

On top of that, I got a bout of insomnia, and so spent the whole night reading, going cover-to-cover through Kiss me when I’m dead, Dominic Piper’s first book in the PI Daniel Beckett series.
And it was quite fun.

Set in contemporary London, the novel follows the former insurance investigator Daniel Becket as he’s hired by an arms dealer to track down his missing daughter, a girl that has a history of drugs and dangerous liaisons.
It won’t be an easy job.

The general set-up is very classic and very pulp-style – Beckett is an ultra-competent guy that pulls all the chicks and kicks ass with the best, and if the tone of the first-person narration is halfway between The Rockford Files and Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole novels, the mood is very much Mickey Spillane, and in terms of action and feats, we are dangerously close to Remo Williams‘ territory.

But Piper manages to pull it, with the simple expedient of making his main character strangely mysterious. Beckett has something to hide, some sort of secret history that colors his background and justifies his exceptional skills without ever explaining anything.
Indeed, we are dragged along the story more by the curiosity of finding out who’s really Beckett than by the actual mystery – that is somewhat easy to patch together.

All in all a solid hard boiled read, with enough stylish violence for those that like that sort of thing, and an entertaining, intriguing main character.

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The Rose of Tibet

As expected, the effect of Christopher Fowler’s The Book of Forgotten Authors is making itself felt, causing my reading list to explode as I discover writers I have so far ignored.
First it was Margery Allingham, and now it’s the turn of Lionel Davidson.

A writer that was highly praised by Graham Greene and often compared to Eric Ambler, Lionel Davidson had three Gold Dagger Awards and was considered for a while a highly favoured contender, if an outsider, for the title of best British thriller writer.
One of his books was even made into a TV series by the BBC and his last book, published in 1994, received rave reviews.
But then for some reason he fell out of sight.

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The 2018 Christmas Book Haul, a gallery

Is there anything better than receiving a few Amazon Gift Credits for Christmas? Well, yes, there’s the fact that a few publishers are doing a massive holiday sale on their ebooks. And so one can indulge in that most decadent of pleasures–browse the Amazon shelves and just throw stuff in the shopping basket, without a care in the world.
Add the books that friends and family give you for Christmas, and you end up with a HUGE book haul.

So, why not put up a gallery?

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