Book Review: The General’s Daughter, Nelson DeMille

It’s always a pleasure to find a Nelson DeMille in the charity bookshop, and this one was excellent. The main characters are Paul Brenner and Cynthia Sunhill, who are military investigators (the former for homicide, the latter for rape). Their back-story includes an affair in Zurich when they last met and the love/hate relationship resulting from that continues throughout the book.

There are many serious issues raised by this book (such as the role of women in the army and the cover-up of crime in order to avoid bringing the army into disrepute). The author gives Paul Brenner most of the narrative, though, and he is arguably not a character to investigate those bigger issues. His own concern is to find the guilty party and extricate himself and his career from the scene. As ever with books by DeMille, Brenner’s sense of humour and character have much in common with his regular hero, John Corey.

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Book Review: Burning Angels, Bear Grylls

This is a Will Jaeger thriller, in which he battles to prevent the release of a deadly toxin that threatens global calamity, as well as continuing a long search to find his kidnapped wife and son. I haven’t read the first book in this series (Ghost Flight), but the story held together pretty well all the same.

The book had some exciting passages and was an enjoyable read, particularly the battles in the depths of the jungle and the heroics of Jaeger and his team – all areas where Grylls brings his expertise from the SAS to bear. Unfortunately, the climax to the story fell pretty flat for me. On the one hand, I’m willing to believe that a handful of special forces operatives can win a gun fight against a small army of mercenaries (!). On the other, I can’t believe that a source of immunity against a plague can be isolated from a blood specimen, turned into a vaccine, and mass-produced at world scale in just a small number of days/weeks. That incredible feat of bio-engineering certainly deserves more than seven lines in the epilogue (and that’s in a large font)!
Three stars

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Book Review: Two Kinds of Truth, Michael Connelly

This is another excellent thriller in Connelly’s Harry Bosch series – it also features his half-brother Micky Haller.

We follow two storylines. In the first, Bosch is haunted by a murder case that is under review. The convicted killer now claims that a vital piece of evidence, a necklace belonging to the deceased, was planted in his apartment by Bosch. In the second, Bosch is part of an investigation into a ‘live’ murder case of father and son pharmacists. A gang are organising wholesale distribution of prescription drugs, sending addicts to fraudulently obtain the drugs with the necessary paperwork provided by unscrupulous medics. Someone must infiltrate the gang by going undercover – but Bosch is torn because he also needs the time to clear his name for the case under review.
Four stars

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Rambling: Helvellyn including Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, Lake District

Lake District

Despite many hiking holidays in the Lake District, and at least two previous walks up Helvellyn via less challenging  routes, I had never crossed Striding Edge before.  The weather was perfect during this holiday, so I took the opportunity to tick this item off my bucket list.

I followed the route from the Pathfinder Guide, which starts at “Helvellyn Base Camp” in Glenridding, climbs up the side of Grisedale then circles around the beautiful Red Tarn.  Striding Edge is accurately described in the book as “positively hair-raising”, particularly because you have to scramble over fairly severe crags at the beginning and end of the ridge.  Whilst there is a narrow path just below the ridge, that has a vertical drop to the side and still requires some scrambling – so this isn’t a walk for novices.

After the exhilaration of crossing Swirral Edge, I didn’t want to drop below the peak of Catstye Cam without climbing that too.  The path down from the end of that descent, though, does not coincide with the path back to the “Hole-in-the-Wall”, so it was necessary to improvise a route across rocks in Red Tarn Beck and climb back up to the official path.

This walk was booked as 8.5 miles and my phone recorded 25000 steps and 267 floors climbed that day.


View back across Striding Edge

Swirral Edge

Swirral Edge from Catstye Cam


Hole-in-the-Wall crossroads

Striding Edge

Red Tarn

View across Red Tarn to Ullswater


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Rambling: Loughrigg Tarn, Lake District

Lake District
This was a short, family walk starting from Skelwith Bridge. We parked on the road near the Skelwith Bridge Hotel and roughly followed the route to Loughrigg Tarn from the Jarrold Lake District Short Walks book.  After a short ascent through a holiday park of wooden chalets, the route around the tarn is quite clear and largely flat.  There is a small stream into the tarn which can be jumped or crossed by stepping stones.

The circuit is under 3 miles, so is a handy short walk if you need to fill in an hour or so.

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Tech Book: Effective Java, 3rd Edition, Joshua Bloch

Effective Java, 3rd EditionI’ve just finished reading this technical book on Java. It’s widely recommended if you’re going to work on a Java codebase and provides best practice guidelines on:

  1. Creating and Destroying Objects
  2. Methods Common to all Objects (such as hashCode and toString)
  3. Classes and Interfaces
  4. Generics
  5. Enums and Annotations
  6. Lambdas and Streams
  7. Exceptions
  8. Concurrency
  9. Serialization

Although there isn’t the humour that I’d associate with the Scott Meyer’s Effective C++ series, I’ll definitely refer to this one in the future.

Java Fundamentals, Jim WilsonThis book isn’t the starting place for learning Java though (and doesn’t intend to be). For that, it’s worth turning to a more basic set of materials. I worked through a PluralSight course, Java Fundamentals.

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Book Review: Line of Fire, Andy McNab

LineOfFireThis book is a sequel to Cold Blood, which I hadn’t read. That meant I had little understanding about why the main character, Nick Stone, and his team were being hunted by the mysterious “Owl” and what intelligence they were hiding as leverage to keep themselves safe.

In my view, the editor of this book should have aggressively trimmed the preliminary material and jumped straight to the subject of this novel. That concerned a team of Soviet spies intent on intercepting digital information following through Cornwall, England, into the rest of Europe. Nick and his team are tasked with kidnapping Yulia, a key hacker in the Soviet team. They also need to take revenge on cyber criminals who stole thousands of pounds from Jack, one of their own team.

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