E-book and audiobook reviews: Peter May, Tess Gerritsen, and a new James Bond

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 9:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 9:04pm

by Peter May
(read by Peter Forbes)

There's a real story lurking behind Peter May's new novel, Runaway. He may be best known in Hong Kong for his "China" novels, which have earned him an honorary place in the Chinese Crime Writers' Association, but the Glasgow-born writer once dreamed of rock stardom. Almost half a century ago, he "ran away" from his hometown to London. Armed only with his ambition and best friend Stephen, he busked, failed to become famous and finally returned to Scotland. Both the journey and time periods are the foundation for May's 20th novel. Shuttling between 1965 and the present day, we follow five friends who also move to London hoping to be the next Beatles. The first of two tragic events forces three of the band to return home. Fifty years later a brutal murder brings them together again and forces them to confront the dark "musical differences" that split them up. Peter Forbes reads May's stately, rather melancholy prose with gravitas. I would wish you a happy 2015, but this effective crime novel with few bright moments will make it nicely miserable.


Die Again
by Tess Gerritsen
(read by Tanya Eby)
Brilliance Audio

Tess Gerritsen, the daughter of Chinese parents who settled in San Francisco, made her literary start in the torrid world of medical romance, but her stories always hinted of the mysterious. Her series starring Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr Maura Isles earned her a wide global readership and an equally popular television series. In their 11th instalment, Rizzoli and Isles investigate the murder of big game hunter Leon Gott. The question remains: who - or what - got Gott? His body has been mauled chewed, and mounted as if by the wild beasts whose heads are trophies on his walls. The chase for the all-too human killer leads the pair to Botswana in search of clues to killings past and, they fear, future. Tanya Eby reads Gerritsen's female leads well enough, but her male characters leave a little to the imagination. Eby's faux gruff guy-voices not only make everyone not female sound eerily similar, they give the impression that they are all suffering a heavy dose of flu. The tense end in the African bush is worth the wait, however.


The Man with the Red Tattoo
by Raymond Benson
(read by Simon Vance)
Brilliance Audio

Raymond Benson is one of an ever-expanding group of writers who has continued the life and adventures of James Bond beyond the death of his creator, Ian Fleming. Benson stands out, in part because he was an American addition to an English tradition, but also because his first Bond novel, Zero Minus Ten, was set in Hong Kong. The Man with the Red Tattoo was his last Bond novel, if one discounts the novelisation of Die Another Day. It follows Bond as he investigates an outbreak of West Nile disease in Japan. The agent suspects that the deaths, first of Kyoko McMahon on a flight from Tokyo to London and then her Japanese-Scottish family, are no accident. The perpetrator is Goro Yoshida, a ruthless yakuza boss who covets the McMahon corporation. Only Kyoko's sister, Mayumi, has escaped his clutches. Bond's mission is simple: save Mayumi, save the world. Audiobook god Simon Vance reads with his usual authority, although even he can't invest the long explanations of the McMahon company and Japanese culture with much drama.