Books, TV and Films, December 2021

My Inspector Rebus reading journey has arrived at The Hanging Garden, originally published in 1998. The main plot line concerns an ugly turf war between rival gangsters. Hello again, ‘Big Ger’. One of the great things about following the Rebus trail is the cast of recurring characters. Big Ger is still doing time and his ascendancy is threatened by the not-at-all-pleasant Tommy Telford. Rankin takes us to even uglier places than usual (and not in a sightseeing sense) and the book doesn’t pull its punches in its portrayal of graphic violence, including the torture of Rebus himself. There is also a nice Brian de Palma, Untouchables-esque set piece involving a planned armed raid on a top-secret pharmaceutical factory.

Books, TV and Films, November 2021

Steve Hackett played guitar in the ‘classic’ Genesis line-up of the Seventies, of course. These days I count myself as a huge fan of his solo work too. I bought his (excellent) third album, Spectral Mornings, way back when it was first released in 1979, having been enchanted by the song Every Day. But I have only really got to know his solo stuff in the last few years, taking a chance on a 2017 album, The Night Siren, after which I picked up a cheap collection of five of his mid-career releases. His recent output — in terms of both quantity and quality — is phenomenal. In fact, unlike most late-in-their-career artists, he is currently producing the best music of his life.

Books, TV and Films, October 2021

From the Queen of Detective Fiction (Agatha Christie, as sort of described by AJP Taylor) to the latest pretender to the crime-writing throne — Richard Osman, sales of whose debut novel, The Thursday Murder Club, have been sensational.

I am not normally a fan of ‘celebrity’ writers — or indeed celebrity anything else. Football managers, for example. There’s more than a whiff of unfairness in the air, a sense that their name brings with it massive advantages not available to ‘ordinary’ folk who may well be toiling in the background unnoticed for years and hoping against hope for a lucky break. However, I was intrigued after reading an interview with Osman in the Guardian to promote his follow-up. And besides, there are some great puff quotes on the cover.

Books, TV and Films, September 2021

3 September As I become more and more disillusioned with day-to-day politics — whether it is the rigidity and staleness of politicians constantly reciting ‘the party line’ or the rise of political lying as an art form and the failure of both parliament and…

Books, TV and Films, August 2021

Books, TV and Films, August 2021

Books, TV and Films, July 2021

Books, TV & Films, July 2021

Books, TV and Films, May 2021

Thoughts on Volume II of Isaac Deutscher’s biography of Trotsky, another Rebus novel and The Wind in the Willows; also the films Ray & Liz and Rambo: Last Blood; and the TV dramas Too Close and Innocent.

Books, TV and Films, April 2021

3 April I avoid opening Amazon’s emails telling me what their omniscient algorithms think I should be buying and I never even look at the latest fiction and non-fiction charts so, other than skimming the Guardian’s Review magazine on Saturdays, I am always rather…

Books, TV and Films, February 2021

1 February Age of Empire 1875–1914 is the final part of Eric Hobsbawm’s trilogy about what he called ‘the long nineteenth century’, beginning with the French Revolution in 1789 and ending with the outbreak of war in 1914. I bought this book at university…

Books, TV and Films, January 2021

2 January A fantastic way to kick off the new year — Bring Up the Bodies, the second volume of Hilary Mantel’s fictional account of the later life of Thomas Cromwell, the architect of much that went on in the name of Henry VIII…