Conclave by Robert Harris (2016)

‘No emotion, Ray,’ warned Lomeli. ‘We need to think very clearly.’ (p.330) The Pope dies in the middle of the night. Heart attack, according to the Vatican doctors. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Jacopo Baldassare Lomeli, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, is woken in the early hours to come see the body and set in […]

Munich by Robert Harris (2017)

Both men fell silent, watching him, and Legat had a peculiar sense of – what was it, he wondered afterwards? – not of déjà vu exactly, but of inevitability: that he had always known Munich was not done with him; that however far he might travel from that place and time he was forever caught in […]

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (2013)

At some point I seem to have ceased to be an army officer and become a detective. I pound pavements. I interview witnesses. I collect evidence. (p.185) The Dreyfus Affair In December 1894 the French Jewish army officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was tried and found guilty of passing French military secrets to the Germans and […]

The Fear Index by Robert Harris (2011)

As most of you will be aware, the Chicago Board of Exchange operates what is known as the S and P 500 Volatility Index, or VIX. this has been running, in one form or another, for seventeen years. It’s a ticker, for want of a better word, tracking the price of options – calls and […]

The Ghost by Robert Harris (2007)

This is a cracking thriller, exciting, intelligent and insightful about a range of contemporary issues. Harris and Blair The unnamed narrator is a ghost writer ie he co-writes the memoirs of sportsmen, entertainers, celebrities, people in the public eye who have a life story to tell but can’t write. Out of the blue he is […]

Archangel by Robert Harris (1998)

Go back to New York, Dr Kelso, and play your games of history in somebody else’s country, because this isn’t England or America, the past isn’t safely dead here. In Russia, the past carries razors and a pair of handcuffs.’ (p.167) Dr Christopher ‘Fluke’ Kelso is a historian of modern Russia. Described by one Sunday […]

Enigma by Robert Harris (1995)

His hand paused on the ignition key. ‘Do you think, Miss Wallace,’ he said, hesitantly, ‘in view of the circumstances, we might now risk first-name terms.’ She gave him a faint smile. ‘Hester.’ ‘Tom.’ They shook hands. (p.249) The man wih the nervous breakdown This is a thriller about a mentally disturbed man, Tom Jericho. […]

Fatherland by Robert Harris (1992)

‘What do you do,’ he said, ‘if you devote your life to discovering criminals, and it gradually occurs to you that the real criminals are the people you work for? What do you do when everyone tells you not to worry, you can’t do anything about it, it was a long time ago?’ (p.213) Robert […]

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (1990)

In the soothing reek of his tobacconist’s quiet stockroom, at the corner of Chancery Lane and Carey Street, Oliphant held the corner of the blue flimsy above the concise jet of a bronze cigar-lighter in the shape of a turbanned Turk. (p.338) This is a really absorbing, intelligent and often mind-blowing book. We are in […]

Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (2003)

I went back to my apartment from which no policeman could evict me now. There was no one home, and finally I was able to weep freely. To weep for my husband, who perished in the cellars of the Lubyanka, when he was thirty-seven years old, at the height of his powers and talent; for […]