A few pages into this I realised I had made the classic mistake of buying the second in a series, the first book of which I had not read. I was close to abandoning it, but it seemed to me a fairly self contained book with only passing references to the first one. Fortunately, that proved a good move I think. I might now go back and read the first as this was a thoroughly enjoyable spy book. 

It follows an agent dropped onto Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic to pick up where a murdered colleague left off. All while his handler deals with all the office stuff back in MI6 HQ. Think wire tapping, informants, deep cover agents and secret government organisations. 

Well crafted and detailed in the ways of spy craft with lots of internal MI6 politics, drama and an ever-expanding plot that moves at just the right pace. The setting is unique and the characters, though a little generic, are entertaining enough.

It was a little predictable towards the end but that didn’t put me off. Really enjoyed this. I’ll be looking up other stuff from this chap. 

A House of Ghosts

A good one to have read over Christmas. As one of the reviewers has put quite aptly, this is perfect fireside reading. 

Set in the early 20th Century, during WWI, it’s a classic closed setting murder mystery with a paranormal twist to it. But, unlike others that might foot that bill (I’m looking at you Stephen King), this enhances it rather than detracts from it. Furthermore, the supernatural elements are not an excuse for lazy writing (I’m looking at you Stephen King). The mystery the reader must unravel is there with or without the ghosts. The spooky haunted house feel justmeans this is a cosy read. It helps that it is written well and that it keeps you guessing. It has some good layering to the mystery behind it so is not too simplistic. 

One caveat. The ending seems to be teeing things up for an ongoing series. Not so sure that’s a good plan. This works better as a one off I think. The premise that I suspect will be the basis of the series is not the main draw. Leave it there I say. 

One Week

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have a bit of a restless mind. As a result, I have accumulated a long list of ideas and projects over the years, most of which will never come to fruition. Featuring fairly consistently on that list for a long time has been a rather vague idea for some sort of ‘blitz’ week. Loosely speaking, the idea stemmed from an ongoing thought about how effective a large number of people could be if they were all doing one thing all at the same time. 

Having read a lot about impressive feats of human ingenuity, namely the codebreakers during WW2 and of course the events surrounding the evacuation from Dunkirk (which gave rise to the phrase ‘Dunkirk Spirit’), it struck me that these all took place out of a collective necessity and did so via hard work and sacrifice, again on a collective scale. 

With all the problems we face these days, it struck me that it would be kind of cool if everyone in the country could be mobilised and co-ordinated to do something positive. A lot of the problems we face both economically and environmentally are driven and amplified by the untapped potential that sits with all of us. 

Energy is the best way to demonstrate this and, as I began to think more and more that this was quite a good idea, despite the indifference I faced from whoever I pitched it to, I calculated how much energy could be saved if one light bulb per household was switched off for 4 hours longer than usual each day for seven days. It was the equivalent of more than 55,000 barrels of oil. At a time when oil was becoming a real issue, I decided I had to follow this through and so, I made a website, had a logo created, then a video and am now trying to spread the word and make something out of this. 

It’s a bit of a win win – I can’t really see a downside to it and of course, if people were to really buy into the no energy for a week, it’s my hope that people will save money, find it fun and maybe a bit exciting (think cosy nights with the family round a candle) and above all foster a bit more of a sense of cohesion and community that we have been lacking for a while now. 

If successful, it can stand as an example to the rest of the world and there’s no reason to think it can’t be bigger than just a national endeavour focusing not just on energy but on other pressing matters that affect us all. 

Lots of work to do then and it will probably start out as a local thing for now but you never know. It is what we all make of it.


Instagram: One_Week_UK

Walking The Amazon

Big fan of Ed Stafford. I have often watched some of his more recent TV programmes in which he attempts to live off the land with nothing more than one set of clothes (sometimes not even that). I’ve been aware of this story for a while (he sets out to walk the entire length of the Amazon from source to sea and in doing so, over the course of two years starts in the pacific and ends in the Atlantic) and have meant to read about it long before now. Only just got round to it and I’m pleased to say it’s a good read. Honest, gritty and inspiring. 


Interesting little book this. One that can be read in a morning or an afternoon (or an evening, whatever floats your boat). It paints a gentle and reflective picture of how relationships within family and community might cope under the stresses of a natural disaster (not so much a disaster in this case, more a fundamental change in the order of things due to the UK freezing over!). Didn’t bowl me over but I suppose I enjoyed it. Well written and very descriptive and assured. 

The Paris Apartment

Another impulse buy based on the cover. It’s a good example of what makes a good cover for the genre. A key covered in blood – somehow that just spoke to me! I suspect, what with it being a posh-looking key, it drew me in with that implied promise of glamour and intrigue that posh keys tend to give off. Either way, not bad. Aside from the slightly unimaginative title (to be fair, it does take place in and around a Paris Apartment), it’s a good book. Well written, plotted and the twists and turns are not all completely predictable. Nice easy page turner. Good for a holiday book.