I read quite a few books during 2014 (not as many as I would’ve liked, admittedly) and I would like to share them with you, along with my thoughts on each of them.
3. The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith (the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)
The sequel to the highly successful ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’, which hit the headlines about halfway through 2013 due to it being the work of acclaimed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
This novel is set a few months after the conclusion of the first, and the main character, Cormoran Strike, a private detective, is inundated with rich clients, many of whom have petty cases (e.g. they suspect their husband has been having an affair).
One day, a woman by the name of Leonora Quine walks into Strike’s office and tells him that her husband Owen, a published novelist, has been missing for a few days, and insists he investigates the case. It soon becomes clear that this is not one of his getaway trips and he continues investigating. Strike soon finds out that Quine had recently finished writing a novel which badmouths almost everyone in his life, leading to a pool of suspects, from his wife to his mistress, his rival to his editor.
This book deals not only with criminal investigations but with personal relationships, and confronts the relationship between Strike’s personal assistant come protégé and her fiancée Matthew, who dislikes Strike and harbours disrespect for his profession. In this book, Strike and Matthew meet properly and the animosity between them is instantly recognisable, with Matthew making snide remarks about Strike while he is away from the table.
Meanwhile, on the case, Strike has been led to a house that Owen Quine inherited years previously from a friend who died from AIDS. Here, he finds the corpse of Quine, and discovers that his intestinal tract has been removed, both emulating the way by which a character in his book was killed and inciting the Metropolitan Police to arrest his wife, who used to work as a butcher and thus has a relatively good knowledge of how to cleanly remove an intestinal tract.
The book is well written and includes surprises and suspense, and is great for building upon the main characters from the first book. I hope and cannot wait for the third book in this compelling detective series.
2. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson
The second publication by Jonas Jonasson, a Swedish author, this book starts of in a deprived area of Africa, detailing the childhood of a girl called Nombeko, an illiterate girl who is a young mathematical prodigy. This humorous novel is viewed from many perspectives and looks at theft, hating monarchy, potato farming, and relationships.
1. I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes
My favourite book of the year by far is I Am Pilgrim, a thrilling spy novel by Terry Hayes. Set over the last couple of decades, it covers the life of a boy who grew up to become an incredibly intelligent individual and one of the most extraordinary intelligence agents to ever live. Quickly rising through the ranks at The Division, a covert intelligence agency within the United States, Scott Murdoch, adopted as a child by wealthy adoptive parents, becomes the Director of The Division, known as ‘The Rider of the Blue’. After a mission in Eastern Asia, Murdoch steps down and The Division is disbanded. Murdoch releases a book under the name of a recently deceased FBI agent, and essentially retires to Paris. Before long, he has been tracked down by an NYPD detective who became obsessed with his book and the author who wrote it (whom, he claims to have known, was to brilliant to have been an FBI agent) and tracks him down in Paris. Fearing that his cover has been blown, Murdoch attempts to escape but is ‘caught’ by the NYPD detective, Ben Bradley. Returning to New York so that he can cover his tracks and erase all aspects of his previous identity, he discovers that Bradley was involved in saving a man in a wheelchair in one of the World Trade Centre buildings during the events of 9/11 by carrying him down numerous flights of stairs. Upon discovering this, Murdoch agrees to speak at a seminar Bradley is hosting for forensic specialists around the world. Here he is tracked down by men working within the intelligence services of the United States and is taken to meet someone high up within National Security. Here he is told that remains were found in Afghanistan and that three people had died from being injected with a deadly virus by a man who is a Muslim extremist. This book follows both Murdoch and the Muslim extremist throughout their paths from childhood to adulthood, detailing the events of their lives that have led them to become the men they are today.
This book is truly fabulous and one for which I am yet to find another book which is similar. A great book for advanced readers who used to enjoy the Alex Rider series (as I did!) or any other detective/spy novels written for youngsters.