Book Reviews – October 2018
by Elizabeth Kay
Elizabeth Kay offers Sussex Living readers her thoughts on recent reads that have caught her attention. She gives her views on a selection of books from different genres which may capture your interest
THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ
by Heather Morris
This is the true story of a Slovakian Jew, Lale, incarcerated in Birkenau and Auschwitz, and what he has to do to survive. Those who helped the Nazis in any way were regarded as collaborators, even if they had little choice about what they did, so you have no idea what will happen to Lale if he manages to survive. He is the man who tattoos newcomers, after an inmate has been tattooed the guards only identify internees by their numbers, not their names. It’s a dehumanising process. Lale is kept apart from the rest, and he tries to use his privileged position to buy food and medicines for those in need. He falls in love with a young woman, Gita, and their relationship develops throughout the book. Some appalling incidents and ghastly atrocities are described, but in a sensitive way. Every so often your heart is in your mouth and little humanity is shown by the guards, even when they are dealing with children. It is a good example of how continual exposure to the unthinkable hardens some people for good, whilst others retain their principles There are a lot of good books about the Holocaust, and this is one of them.
NO SECOND CHANCE
by Harlan Coben
Dr Marc Siedman wakes up in hospital, having been in a coma for ten days, only to discover that his wife has been murdered and his baby daughter Tara has been kidnapped. Suspecting the husband/father is always the first line of enquiry, but gradually other suspects emerge and Marc starts to investigate what actually happened, and whether Tara is indeed still alive. Has she been kidnapped or tracked – then murdered as well? When a ransom demand comes, four million dollars of Marc’s ex father-in-law’s money are spent in attempting to get Tara back. Rachel, Marc’s former girlfriend and ex-FBI agent, also becomes involved as, after all, Marc is an ordinary guy with no special ops training! I had no idea how this was going to end, and it’s so well-written and fast-paced that you keep turning the pages until you get to the end – which isn’t what you expect, with twists galore. The plot is excellent, and doesn’t lose you in reams of infuriating detail. Some of the characters are truly terrifying with backgrounds to explain their behaviour. A very engrossing read.
by Anthony Horowitz
This is the sixth in the 11-book series about Alex Rider, a teenage boy who is employed by MI6, the CIA and other spy organisations to reach the parts adults can’t. In this book, Alex – recovering in a private hospital from a bullet-wound, finds himself in the next room to another boy, Paul, who is the son of a very wealthy man with a dubious past. Before long Paul is the target of a kidnap attempt and Alex is in the thick of it, dodging bullets, scuba diving, living on his wits, his remarkably robust constitution and delivering dry one-liners. He can’t keep away from trouble, and although seems reluctant now and again he always acquiesces in the end. It’s good escapist stuff, very well-written, and will appeal to those who like a fast-paced read. It’s all totally impossible, but every so often Alex dredges up a piece of useful information he’s picked up in a physics lesson, so there are hints that perhaps it’s best to pay attention in class. Some of the detail is fairly gruesome, but in an age when zombie books are regulation reading for teenagers, it’s comparatively mild.