Book Reviews

 

Jack Reacher (One Shot)

Lee Child

Bantam

£7.99 less £1

Jack Reacher has been doing his best to live off the grid, but his past as a military policeman keeps coming back to bite him. This time the biter is a former Gulf War sniper accused of killing six civilians in an unnamed Heartland city. Despite mountains of evidence, the accused claims he’s innocent and says enigmatically, “Get Reacher.” But why?

Reacher’s arrival will change everything, about a case that isn’t what it seems, about lives tangled in baffling ways, about a killer who missed one shot, and by doing so give Jack Reacher one shot at the truth.

HHhH

Laurent Binet

Vintage

£8.99 less £1

Laurent Binet’s brilliantly translated debut deconstructs the process of fiction writing in the face of the brute reality of facts.

His subject is a daring assassination mission undertaken by two Czechoslovakian parachutists in 1942: Operation Anthropoid. Its target is Reinhard Heydrich, ‘the most dangerous man in the Third Reich’, according to Adolf Hitler. Heydrich is officially Himmler’s number two in the SS, but everyone in the organisation believes ‘Himmler’s Hirn heisst Heydrich’ (HHhH): Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.

This book recounts both the mission undertaken by Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis as they travel from France to Britain and then on to Prague and their fateful encounter with Heydrich, and also the mission undertaken by Binet as he tries to put together an accurate account of two men whom he admires so much but about whom he knows so little.

Life of Pi

Yann Martell

Canon Gate

£8.99 less £1

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behaviour and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them ‘the truth’. After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional, but is it more true?

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Rachel Joyce

Black Swan

£7.99 less £1

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in a hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie, who is 600 miles away, because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.
So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories, flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband.
Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband’s sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?