John Maytham's Book Reviews

John Maytham's books: Russian murders to a Cameroonian immigrant in the USA

Read John Maytham's weekly book reviews:

A Climate of Fear (Commissaire Adamsberg 9) by Fred Vargas

A woman is found murdered in her bathtub, and the murder made to look like a suicide. A strange symbol is found near the body.

Then a second victim is discovered, who was also part of a group of tourists on a doomed expedition to Iceland ten years earlier.

How are these deaths, and rumours of an Icelandic demon, linked to the secretive Association for the Study of the Writings of Maximilien Robespierre? And what does the mysterious symbol signify?

Commissaire Adamsberg is about to find out.

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

From the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, comes the first English translation of her latest work, an oral history of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia.

Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive documentary style, Secondhand Time is a monument to the collapse of the USSR, charting the decline of Soviet culture and speculating on what will rise from the ashes of Communism.

As in all her books, Alexievich gives voice to women and men whose stories are lost in the official narratives of nation-states, creating a powerful alternative history from the personal and private stories of individuals.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please.

Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice


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John Maytham's book reviews: Mystery, marriage and childbirth

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John Maytham's Book Reviews: Murderers, weed dealers, social justice activists

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John Maytham's Book Reviews: Killers, poets, public servants and ingrates

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