There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slithery, Slippery, Snaky
In Love You Dead, the twelfth book of the Roy Grace series, popular crime writer Peter James, creates a heroine/vamp for whom you can’t help having a grudging admiration, even though she is a ruthless killer.
As a child, Jodie Danforth was the ugly duckling of her family, constantly being compared to her pretty sister, Cassie. The sister dies in a mysterious fall off a cliff. And with this sly murder, Jodie embarks on a life in the pursuit of wealth. Plastic surgery takes care of her looks, and her already devious brain does the rest.
When the book begins, she cleverly kills her elderly husband on a ski slope, making it look like an accident. Her modus operandi is to look for rich lonely old men on the net, ensnare them with her beauty and then kill them. At her secluded home, she has a hidden room full of deadly reptiles and insects; these creatures that would frighten the bravest, are her hobby.
Detective Inspector Roy Grace, is at a relatively peaceful stage of his life with loving wife Cleo and infant son, Noah, when his nemesis, a serial killer, Ed Crisp escapes from prison. To add to his woes, his ex-wife Sandy, who had walked out on him years ago, surfaces in a hospital in Berlin, in battered condition.
Meanwhile as Jodie kills husband number three with snake venom and plans the next hit, a British assassin called Tooth, working for a brutal Russian gang is on her trail, because she stole money and a memory drive from a gangster. The drive contains secrets that cannot fall into the wrong hands, and Jodie does not know that her life is in danger.
When a petty burglar and car thief dies with symptoms that look like snake poison, Roy Grace is called in to investigate and the various strands of the story start coming together. Grace makes a plan to trap Jodie, which involves the kind of subterfuge that would beat even her Machiavellian plots.
The subplots are not too interesting, and tie up rather too neatly, but the book is readable because of the smart and fearless Jodie; this femme fatale makes Roy Grace look like a rather tepid hero, as he plods away at his investigation and copes with the emotional turbulence in his life.
Love You Dead
By Peter James
Excerpt of Love You Dead
The two lovers peered out of the hotel bedroom window, smiling with glee, but each for a very different reason.
The heavy snowfall that had been forecast for almost a week had finally arrived overnight, and fat, thick flakes of the white stuff were still tumbling down this morning. A few cars, chains clanking, slithered up the narrow mountain road, and others, parked outside the hotels, were now large white mounds.
Everyone in the smart French ski resort of Courchevel 1850 was relieved – the resort managers, the hoteliers, the restaurateurs, the seasonnaires, the ski-rental shops, the lift companies, and all the others who relied on the ski season for much of their livelihood. And, most importantly of all, the winter-sporters themselves. After days of blue skies, searing sunshine and melting snow, which meant treacherous ice in the mornings and slush and exposed rocks in the afternoons, finally the skiers and snowboarders, who had paid top money for their precious annual few days on the slopes, now had great conditions to look forward to.
As Jodie Bentley and her elderly American fiancé, Walt, put on their skis outside the boot-room entrance of the Chabichou Hotel, the falling snow tickled exposed parts of their faces beneath their helmets and visors.
Although a seasoned skier and powder hound, this was the financier’s first time skiing in Europe and he had been relying all week on his much younger fiancée, who seemed to know the resort like the back of her hand, to guide him.
They skied down carefully in the poor visibility to the Biollay lift, just a couple of minutes below the hotel, went through the electronic turnstiles, and joined the short queue to the chairlift. A couple of minutes later, clutching their ski poles, the wide chair scooped them up and forward.
Walt pulled down the safety bar, then they settled back, snug in their cosy outfits, for the seven minutes it took for the lift to carry them to the top. As they alighted, the wind was blowing fiercely, and without hanging around, Jodie led the way down an easy red then blue run to the Croisette, the central lift station for the resort.
They removed their skis, and Walt, despite suffering from a prolapsed disc, insisted on carrying Jodie’s skis as well as his own up the ramp to the lift. As a red eight-seater gondola came slowly round, he jammed their skis into two of the outside holders, then followed Jodie in. They sat down and pushed up their visors. They were followed by another couple and, moments later, just before the doors closed, a short man in his fifties clambered in after them, wearing a smart Spyder ski outfit and a flashy leather helmet with a mirrored visor.
‘Bonjour!’ he said in a bad French accent. Then added, ‘Hope you don’t mind my joining you?’ He settled down opposite them as the gondola lurched forward.
‘Not at all,’ Walt said.
Jodie smiled politely. The other two strangers, both busy texting on their phones, said nothing.
‘Ah bien, vous parlez Anglais!’ The stranger unclipped his helmet and removed it for an instant to scratch the top of his bald head. ‘American?’ he said, pulling off his gloves, then removing a tissue from his pocket and starting to wipe his glasses. ‘I’m from California, but my fiancée’s a Brit,’ Walt said, amicably.
‘Jolly good! Beastly weather but the powder at the top should be to die for,’ the man said.
Jodie smiled politely again. ‘Where are you from?’ she asked.
‘The south – Brighton,’ the stranger replied.
‘Good lord, what a coincidence! So am I!’ Jodie said.
‘Small world,’ he muttered, and suddenly looked uncomfortable.
‘So what line of business are you in?’ Walt asked him.
‘Oh, in the medical world. Just recently retired and moved to France. And yourselves?’
‘I have a group of investment trusts,’ the American replied.
‘I was a legal secretary,’ Jodie said.
As the small gondola climbed, rocked by the wind, the snow was turning into a blizzard and the visibility deteriorating by the minute. Walt put his arm round Jodie and hugged her. ‘Maybe we shouldn’t go too high this morning, hon, it’s going to be very windy at the top,’ he said.
‘The powder’s going to be awesome up there,’ she replied, ‘and there won’t be too many people this early. There are some really fabulous runs, trust me!’
‘Well, OK,’ he said, peering dubiously through the misted-up windows.
‘Oh, absolutely,’ the Englishman said. ‘Trust your beautiful young lady – and the forecast is improving!’ As the gondola reached the first stage, he waited politely for them to alight first. ‘Nice meeting you,’ he said. ‘Bye for now.’
The other couple, still texting, remained on the gondola.
With Walt again insisting on carrying Jodie’s skis, they trudged the short distance to the cable car. Normally jam-packed with skiers squashed together like sardines, this morning the huge cabin was three-quarters empty. Along with themselves there were just a few die-hards. Several boarders in their baggy outfits, two rugged-looking, bearded men in bobble hats, wearing rucksacks, who were sharing swigs from a hip flask, and a small assortment of other skiers, one wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet. Walt raised his visor and smiled at Jodie. She raised hers and smiled back.
He removed a glove, jamming it between his skis, produced a chocolate bar from his breast pocket and offered it to Jodie.
‘I’m fine, thanks, still stuffed from breakfast!’
‘You hardly ate anything!’ He broke a piece off, put the bar back in his pocket and zipped it shut, then chewed, peering out anxiously. The cable car rocked in the wind, then swayed alarmingly, causing everyone to shriek, some out of fear, others for fun. He put an arm round Jodie again and she snuggled up against him. ‘Maybe we should get a coffee at the top and wait to see if the visibility improves?’ he said.
‘Let’s do a couple of runs first, my love,’ she replied. ‘We’ll find some fresh powder before it gets ruined by other skiers.’
He shrugged. ‘OK.’ But he didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic. He stared at her for some moments. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘you’re incredible. Not many people can look beautiful in a helmet and visor, but you do.’
‘And you look every inch my handsome prince!’ she replied.
When all diet advise exhorts the weight watcher to cut out fat, Dr Mark Hyman makes strong case for eating fat for good health. It’s not an easy weight loss book, but full of sound advice on what to eat and what to avoid—which is as much science as it is common sense.
The synopsis states: “For decades we've been told that the fat we eat turns to fat in the body, contributing to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and generally poor health. And yet, even with all our low-fat products, we're fatter and sicker than ever before. What's going on? Could it be that the most feared food group is actually...the most helpful?
As 'Pegan Plan' creator and author Dr Mark Hyman explains in Eat Fat Get Thin, a growing body of research is revealing the immense health and weight-loss benefits of a high-fat diet rich in eggs, nuts, oils, avocados, coconut oil, and other delicious superfoods. That's right - as it turns out, the key to losing weight, increasing overall energy, and achieving optimum wellness is eating more fat, not less. Dr Hyman debunks some of our most persistent fat-phobic myths and clearly explains the science behind fat's health benefits. In addition to learning why fat is good and which fats are best, you'll learn how to apply that knowledge to your day-to-day life. With easy-to-follow advice, simple and flavourful recipes, shopping lists, and more, Eat Fat Get Thin will help you lose weight and stay healthy for life.”
Eat Fat Get Thin
By Dr Mark Hyman