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A daughter seeks revenge, an aviation pioneer and gangsters in the Costa Blanca

Short reviews of books by Dervla McTiernan, Maggie Shipstead, Morgan Cry and Timothy Snyder

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Dervla McTiernan, author of The Murder Rule. Photo by Julia Dunin

Dervla McTiernan, author of The Murder Rule. Photo by Julia Dunin

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Six Wounds by Morgan Cry

Six Wounds by Morgan Cry

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

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Dervla McTiernan, author of The Murder Rule. Photo by Julia Dunin

Thriller: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan HarperCollins, 304 pages, hardcover €13.99; e-book £2.99

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The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

When the third-year law student arrives in Virginia, she must get herself assigned to the only case she is interested in, that of Michael Dandridge. He has been a death row inmate for 11 years, convicted of a brutal rape and murder. Hannah is determined to avenge a terrible wrong suffered by Laura, her alcoholic and desperately unhappy mother when she was a 19-year-old, an event she detailed in a secret diary that Hannah has discovered. Laura wrote that she was convinced that Dandridge had killed her wealthy student boyfriend and Hannah’s father, whose death by drowning was ruled an accident.

Hannah will do anything, legal or illegal, to make sure Dandridge stays where he is until he is executed. But she discovers that everything she knows is not as clear-cut as she has been led to believe.

Irish-born Dervla McTiernan, a former lawyer now living in Australia, enters the legal thriller world dominated by the likes of John Grisham with panache and her creation of such an unsympathetic main character is brilliant.
Myles McWeeney

Fiction: Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Penguin, 668 pages, paperback €10.99; e-book £5.99

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Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

The Booker-shortlisted door-stopper tells the stories of two women in tandem. One is a fictional pioneering pilot, Marian Graves, who attempts to fly around the world, traversing both North and South Poles — hence the title — but disappears in the Antarctic.

The other is Hadley Baxter, a contemporary Hollywood movie star, determined to play Graves in what she hopes will be a career-saving biopic. Shipstead, who won acclaim for her debut, Seating Arrangements, paints a detailed portrait of two very different women and the time they find themselves in. Much of the praise centres on her evocation of the aviator’s world, of the early days of flying and the privations of the Great Depression.
John Meagher

Thriller: Six Wounds by Morgan Cry
Polygon, 288 pages, paperback €12.59; e-book £2.84

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Six Wounds by Morgan Cry

Six Wounds by Morgan Cry

Six Wounds by Morgan Cry

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After Daniella Coulstoun’s estranged mother Effie suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack, she found herself the owner of one of the seedier bars in Spain’s Costa Blanca. She now runs it with the help of six of her mother’s shifty ex-pat friends, who include former pop star Zia, now her boyfriend. When the body of one of the area’s more colourful and dangerous residents, a former London gangster, is found in the bar’s cellar, she finds herself the number one suspect.

As her supposed friends turn on her and a suave psychotic rival to the dead man moves to take her bar, Daniella must hustle to clear her name. Deft entertainment, but the Byzantine plot stretches credulity considerably.
Myles McWeeney

History: Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder
Basic Books, 592 pages, paperback €15.40; e-book £1.99

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Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

Subtitled Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, this book was originally published in 2012, but has been updated due to contemporary events. The historian’s focus is on the area between Germany and Russia — Poland, the Baltic region and, yes, Ukraine — and the horrors perpetrated by both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler and their vicious armies.

It’s a reminder that the enormous trauma that Ukraine’s people are experiencing now is a grim mirror to the past. The sheer scale of the savagery and the killings during World War II is hard to fathom — millions perished thanks to Stalin and Hitler’s blood lust — and Snyder’s book delivers the sort of forensic detail of one who has worked assiduously to uncover what happened in an area destroyed by war.
John Meagher


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