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Tea-drinking introvert found either behind a book or within arm's reach of one. Book reviewer, and book sniffer. You may have seen me on W24, BooksLive, Aerodrome, Bark Magazine, CultNoise Magazine, or Expound Magazine.

11 Dec 2018

Review: Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

Detective Kaga has just been transferred to a small precinct in an area of Tokyo. However, he is interrupted in his attempts to get to know his new home by a murder investigation. A middle-aged woman was found dead in her home, the victim of strangulation, and the police have no leads as to the perpetrator. However, with his objective perspective and uncanny ability to piece together the smallest details, Kaga dedicates himself to finding the killer.

In the process of investigating the murder, he comes across various people with a link, however small and intangible, to the murder. Kaga does his best to acquire answers to questions these bystanders never thought to ask, and attempts to give them peace and solace in the place of grief.

Despite being an immensely fun whodunit, Newcomer is a surprisingly feel-good read, with a heart-warming plot and characters. Keigo Higashino cleverly illustrates that no man is an island, and that a community, like a family, needs each other, and is shaped by those around them. A violent action that taints a small town evolves under Higashino’s guide into a lesson of the importance of forgiveness, love, and peace, and the delicate thread which holds these aspects in a precarious balance.

Newcomer is an easy and thoroughly enjoyable read, and I doubt anyone will be surprised when they start it to discover that they cannot book the book down. A single sitting was all it took me to delve into the Kaga’s world, and I loved every minute. Higashino is a very talented storyteller who is rewriting the detective story, one thoughtful action at a time. In a world where there is so much darkness, his characters and their actions shed a hopeful light, and is is pure bliss to follow. Enjoyable is an understatement - this book will change the way you see crime drama, and most assuredly for the better. 

Newcomer by Keigo Higashino is published by Little, Brown Book Group, a Hachette Company, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.

9 Dec 2018

Review: The Witches of St Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Militza and Stana have been married off to Russians. The sisters, who hail from Montenegro, are victim to the culture of the times; they serve as links between their father’s country, and the wealth and influence of the Russian empire. Forced to marry for power, with no consideration for love, they do their best to be integrated into the society of Russia, despite the unsavory reception they receive. Shrouded in names and insults, allusions to their backwater homeland and suggested inferiority, the duo are at a loss in their new homes. Desperate to be included among the elite, they befriend the new Tsarina, who herself is an outcast and foreigner.

The Tsarina, apart from being foreign with patchy Russian, is also suffering the misfortune of not producing an heir. As girl after girl fills the home of the Tsar, the public and the Romanovs wait with bated breath for the arrival of a son. Militza and Stana, familiar with the occult, become dedicated to the mission of helping the Tsarina with her deepest wish – a son. Through a carousel of mystics, prophets, rituals and spells, they offer up their last hope to a new arrival – Grigory Rasputin.

Edwards-Jones weaves a glorious golden thread between fiction and history, knitting together a story that is all the more entrancing for the truth that lies at its heart. Rasputin is as infamous as he is mysterious, and to be afforded an insight – albeit embroidered and tweaked, is a treat to any fan of history or the occult. Edwards-Jones’ prose is hypnotizing and bewitching, casting a spell on the reader to follow every carefully selected word as a trail to a beautiful world long since past. The riches and excesses of the Romanov court shine brightly against the impending doom that awaits the family and the country. The Witches of St Petersburg is a delightful dive into another land and another time, being hypnotic in its ability to express such turmoil, angst and frustration against a background of shining palaces and dripping jewels. To read this book is to be transported into another world, and to thoroughly enjoy it.

The Witches of St Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones is published by Head of Zeus, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.