Planepack books to read (on your phone)
If you’re flying or travelling soon, you might want to read a good book. I can recommend a few, selected from my own Kindle library.
Mick Herron - London Rules (A Jackson Lamb Thriller: No.5)
This highly entertaining series revolves around the spies relegated to Slough House, the so-called ‘Slow Horses’ of the first title in the series. This band of misfits are destined to counting paper clips instead of doing ‘real’ spy work. They’re all guilty of previous misdemeanours. Their actions might have been sacking offences, but are too embarrassing for the Secret Service to let them go. The slow horses spend their days trying to avoid each other and their troubled pasts. Until something like real spy work occurs.
Roddy Ho, one of their own has had an attempt made on his life - not that he would have noticed, plugged into video games most of the time. To protect the group, Slough House is under lockdown, overseen by Emma Flyte, the top Dog - an inhouse term for the Service’s own internal security service:
"Emma Flyte didn’t seem too enamoured of Slough House. She wasn’t actually running her finger over surfaces and tutting, but that might have been because she was trying to avoid touching anything. ‘I’m familiar with the phrase “office culture”,’ she’d said, on looking round. ‘But yours appears to involve actual spores.’"
This dirt is both metaphoric and literal: the slow horses operate out of their crumbling House, just managing to keep disaster out of the building but also trying to keep their own lives clean from alcohol, drugs, anger, anxiety and depression.
Overseen by the nefarious Jackson Lamb, the slow horses are once again drawn into circumstances that require them to face demons - both of their own making and those in the real world.
I love this series and have read all four previous titles and am now thoroughly enjoying no.5. The writing and dialogue is sharp, contemporary, very funny and clever. The characters are perfectly drawn, from the filthy Lamb - who follows his own code of conduct that usually involves drinking and sleeping on the job - to the corrupt politicians, calculating government officials and desperate criminals.
Janet Evanovich - Hardcore 24
Who hasn’t yet read a Janet Evanovich ‘Stephanie Plum’ novel? Evanovich wrote her first title in this series - One for the money - in 1994, when Stephanie Plum took off.
Stephanie is a sassy, talented bounty hunter, simultaneously tangling with criminals and love interests in New Jersey, aided by her hapless sidekick, Lula:
"If Lula was a pastry she’d be a big chocolate cupcake with a lot of frosting. I’d be more of a croissant with a ponytail. I have curly shoulder-length brown hair, blue eyes, and some people think I look like Julia Roberts on her day off."
Stephanie can’t help getting into trouble, whether with her crazy extended family or with New Jersey’s low life criminals. Somehow she always survives to return to her flat and her pet hamster, and no lack of admiring men - some more dangerous than others.
The writing is funny, laugh-out-loud dialogue that romps along, keeping pace with Stephanie and her band of supporters and detractors.
Carol Shields - Larry’s Party
Carol Shields writing is sublime. She won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for The Stone Diaries, which is gorgeous and well worth reading, but perhaps not on a plane. Larry’s Party, equally gorgeous, can be consumed in smaller sessions.
Larry goes to work for a florist, but his life is changed when he visits - on honeymoon - a series of British gardens. The building of his first maze results in the end of this marriage, but Larry’s prowess as a maze designer brings him acclaim and great satisfaction. Along the way, Larry marries again, is reconciled with his first wife, puzzles over his son and their relationship and generally lives a good life. The book culminates in the eponymous party he hosts for his friends.
This sensitive and insightful book gives us pause to reflect on what is a man, what is his role in the latter part of the 20th century and how our relationships colour our life and existence.
Susie Steiner - Missing, Presumed (A Manon Bradshaw Thriller: No.2)
If you like character-driven detective stories, this one is for you. The protagonist, Manon, is sad and lonely, but she's a driven police officer. Funny and observant, Manon will engage you with her observations. Here she muses after watching a Swedish film:
“The Swedes are a nation who appreciate morbidity, unlike the British, who are just as depressed as everyone else but who like to project their darker feelings, saying to people in the street, ‘Cheer up, it might never happen!’ Cat calls like that make her want to take out her Taser.”
The world Steiner writes about feels totally believable: we all have a sister or a colleague like Manon has. And there’s plenty of action to keep you engaged.
This excellent crime writing continues with Persons Unknown - although this time Manon is having to deal with her pregnancy as well as all the demand of being a detective. Hugely entertaining, fast-paced reading; I loved both books.
Martin Walker - Death in the Dordogne (Bruno, Chief of Police Mystery: No.1)
If you enjoy French culture, food and wine, you will love this detective series.
Bruno, the Chief of Police in a small rural French community has the ideal lifestyle. He lives in a handsomely renovated property where he grows his own produce. Everyone in the village knows and loves Bruno as he participates in the community, coaching the boys’ soccer team, enjoying coffee with the locals and occasionally turning a blind eye to village eccentricities.
But of course crime comes to this idyllic environment - and Bruno is ready for it.
Before Bruno can solve a murder, he is tested is many ways, facing past horrors, sidestepping temptations, and outwitting criminal minds.
Walker has written more titles in this series - and I’m sure you’ll keep going back to the Dordogne to discover what Bruno faces next.
About the author
I'm Slobodanka Graham, digital publisher, content entrepreneur, extreme light traveler and avid reader - on my iPhone and iPad.