Another catch-up with some of the books I’ve been reading recently…

Anya Lipska, Where the Devil Can’t Go (2013). At last, a mainstream UK publication for the crime novel set among East London’s Polish community that I reviewed on here a couple of years ago. The new edition has been re-edited, but is much as I remember it – which is to say that it’s a fine book, and you ought to read it.

John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963). I’ve never read much spy fiction – not for any particular reason, just that I haven’t really felt inclined to. But I do like to try different kinds of book, so I went with this tale of Alec Leamas, a spy sent on one final mission. Le Carré’s writing is clean and cool – so much so that it becomes impossible to be sure of Leamas’s true motivations. Ultimately, I don’t think the book was for me (again, no real reason; just one of those things), but I’m glad I tried it.

Hilary Mantel, Fludd (1989). I wanted to read something by Mantel, but preferred to leave her Cromwell trilogy until it’s complete. So I tried this tale of an isolated English mill village, some time in the 20th century, which gains a mysterious new curate. I appreciate its portrait of pragmatism – for example, the village priest is an atheist, but resistant to change, because his job is part of what holds the fabric of village life together – but the novel hasn’t stayed with me.

Sarah Butler, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love (2013). Alice returns to London to reunite with her family as her father is dying of cancer. What she doesn’t know is that her real father, Daniel, has been living on the streets for years, and has never met her. The events of the novel bring them together… and the rest is not for synopsising. This is a very nicely written debut, and Butler gains real effect from not focusing on the back story – she lets the present speak for itself.

Eugene Salomon, Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver (2013). A New York cab driver for more than thirty years, Eugene Salomon has plenty of stories. He’s kept a blog of them, Cabs Are For Kissing, for six years; now here’s a book of them. Salomon is quite the raconteur as he takes us through the many facets of life in his job – perfect reading for those moments when you want to cut loose and relax.