Young-Philby-by-Robert-Littell

Young Philby: the secret origin of an infamous spy

Ambiguity is all-important in this absorbing insight into Kim Philby’s early activities; entirely fitting for an exploration into the intrigue of international espionage. This slim novel is narrated like a kiss-n-tell unauthorised biography, with events being revealed through the words and deeds of Philby’s contemporaries. Many of the episodes and escapades have the ring of…

ThreeJkts

‘Charity’ makes the 2014 Best Independent Books list

The debut crime-thriller novel from Frank Westworth received significant critical approval on publication last autumn. ‘A Last Act Of Charity’ was chosen by crime genre guru Maxim Jakubowski, as a recommended read in his end-of-year selection. Jakubowski described the book as: ‘A fast-paced, high-powered thriller featuring a Jack Reacher with balls of added steel character…

MagiciansLand

The Magician’s Land: an ultimately unfulfilling finale

There are some book series where you can join the narrative part-way through, but Lev Grossman’s Magician trilogy isn’t one of them. If you’ve not already journeyed to Fillory, a childhood land of mythical creatures which bears an uncanny resemblance to Narnia, then don’t start here. Go back to the first book, The Magicians, and…

GoodLife

The Good Life: hard-boiled modern American noir

This is one of my personal Best Books of 2014 and Frank Wheeler Jr, in the space of just two novels, has become one of my favourite authors. Here he delivers another vicious and vivid slice of American noir, exposing hard-faced truths which hide behind the acceptable apple-pie façade. Wheeler creates an authentic, bitter and…

All that matters is past

Freebie Friday: top-class Eurocrime DVDs up for grabs

We’re giving away two terrific crime-thriller flicks on DVD this week. EL NINO is intelligent Eurocrime; a stylish slice of modern Spanish movie-making about narcotic smuggling in the Med. Here’s our full review. ALL THAT MATTERS IS PAST is a disconcerting Scandinavian psychodrama featuring murder, a tangled love-triangle, sibling rivalry and sexual violence. Here’s all…

SlowHorses

Slow Horses: espionage in the post-ironic era

What would you do with the British intelligence operatives who weren’t quite bad enough to sack, who didn’t get themselves killed, but who couldn’t be trusted with proper work, with state secrets? Welcome to Slough House, home of the Slow Horses: the almost-incompetent, the not-quite-good-enough, the politically incorrect out of favour has-beens of MI5. This…

DT ls

Dark Tourist: small story, big impact

For a film obviously produced with few resources and on a tight budget, DT convincingly delivers a menacing, occasionally savage depiction of the corruption of the human psyche. However, it starts so slowly that you’ll be tempted to put the kettle on in the first twenty minutes, and as it’s only a short film –…