Metropolis by Philip Kerr

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Swan Song (For A City) Stephen King once wrote of the ‘Grey Havens’ as a kind of afterlife where fictional characters can relax after their authors die or finish their stories. I had the idea that he got this from Tolkien, but a Wiki search brings up the place as a…

I am Dynamite! : A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Alpha males in print tend to be omega males in real life. Friedrich Nietzsche was not rich during his lifetime. He had one job, at the University of Basel, teaching a subject he disliked. The books that he considered his real work went out on small publishers at a return of…

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Why Everything Old Is New Again If I had to recommend a historian on the twentieth century terrors to someone who was coming new to it, I would probably choose Timothy Snyder. His Bloodlands is a masterful study of how the Nazis and Communists half destroyed Europe. The follow up, Black Earth, was derided on…

The Good Mothers by Alex Perry

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Operation Shame Nowadays, when we think of the mafia, it’s with a sense of nostalgia. David Chase captured the feel in classic mob drama The Sopranos. New Jersey don Tony Soprano is very much the modern crime boss. He’s real and frightening, the threat he poses is palpable, but his finances…

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Command the Mermaid Speak Last year a monster emerged from London’s sewers. The ‘fatberg’ – as the city’s waste disposal experts called it – was a giant composite of body waste, disposable nappies, antiseptic wipes, pet gravel, shopping trolleys and God knows what else that ends up in the tunnels underneath the…

American War by Omar el Akkad

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Altered States of America  Joan Didion’s recently released notebooks capture the feeling of the American South as it must have been as she drove through it in the summer of 1970: a fatalism I would come to recognise as endemic to the particular tone of New Orleans life. Bananas would rot,…

Nightshade Upon Magic: Craig Brown’s Ma’am Darling

Reviewed by Max Dunbar The online OED defines starstruck as ‘Fascinated or greatly impressed by famous people, especially those connected with the cinema or the theatre.’ There are variations – in the HBO Western Deadwood, hardass bar-keep Al Swearengen uses an expression ‘c***struck’ to describe, I think, a man lost in love or lust. A…