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Christmas Holiday Reading List

Home > Sydney > Christmas | Books and Writing | Literary
by Tim Falk (subscribe)
A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published December 15th 2011
If you're looking forward to a lazy summer spent lost in the pages of a few good books, here's my guide to the five books you should read these Christmas holidays. Action, adventure, crime, mystery, intrigue, and maybe even a little bit of romance (or maybe not) - there's something here to suit whatever mood you're in.

Never Go Back, Robert Goddard

This is the first Robert Goddard book I ever read and one of his best. Goddard is one of the best mystery writers going around, known for his intricate plotting, intriguing characters and exquisite prose.

He's got a stack of novels worth reading but this one is my favourite. It centres around Harry Barnett (who also features in two previous Goddard books), one of a group of RAF veterans gathering at a hotel in Northeast Scotland for a reunion. The hotel is the same place where the group were stationed in the war and took part in a military experiment.

But on the way to the reunion, members of the group develop a nasty habit of turning up dead. Suspicion falls on Harry and his former business partner Barry, who have to team up to try and sort out what it was about their wartime experiment that is having fatal consequences.

It's one of those books that you can plough through in a day if you're not careful.

Making History, Stephen Fry

Is there nothing Stephen Fry can't do? Apparently not. Wikipedia lists him as an "actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club".

I didn't know of any of his written work until I stumbled across Making History in my local library. The plot's a bit too complex to go into here but it centres around one question: if you had the power to alter the course of history, what would you do?

As you'd expect from Fry, it's witty, intelligent and will make you feel a little bit smarter after reading it.

Heat Lightning, John Sandford

A good crime novel has a place in any summer holiday suitcase, and John Sandford is one bloke who knows how to write a good crime novel. I know some people like to turn their nose up at crime series, but Sandford's work is so much better than the majority of other stuff you'll come across in the crime fiction category.

This is the second novel in the series of books that centres on investigator Virgil Flowers. There's few crime fiction characters more well-crafted and likeable than Flowers, and this book sees him take on his most confusing case yet. What starts out as a couple of local murders soon grows into a much bigger conspiracy, adding a touch of international intrigue.

Full of suspense and a whole lot of plot twists, this is a cut above the standard crime novel.

Chindi, Jack McDevitt

I've always hated sci-fi with a passion. I never knew the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek and, to be perfectly honest, was always quite proud of that fact.

But then one day I picked up a copy of this book and, intrigued by the blurb on the back, decided to give it a try. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.

As the blurb reads, "The universe has been explored - and humanity has all but given up on finding other intelligent life. Then an alien satellite orbiting a distant star sends out an unreadable signal. Is it the final programmed gasp of an ancient, long-dead race? Or the first greeting of an undiscovered life form?"

Ambitious and thought-provoking, Chindi makes a great summer read.

Angels of Vengeance, John Birmingham

The last book on the list is one I haven't actually read yet. I've been eagerly awaiting the third and final instalment in the "Disappearance Trilogy" for some time, but haven't yet had a chance to sit down and read it.

If you haven't read the first two books in the series - Without Warning and After America - these holidays are the perfect time to sit down and read them.

I've read a couple of good reviews for Angels of Vengeance so I'm hopeful it'll live up to the excellent tone set in the first two novels. If anyone's looking for me over the Christmas period, you'll find me with my head buried in this book.
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