“Biggles: The Camels Are Coming” and “Biggles of the Fighter Squadron” by Captain W.E. Johns (published by Canelo)

Chocks away, indeed: Biggles stands test of time in new hardbacks

Biggles flies north (to Canada)! Biggles flies east (to Palestine)! Flies south (to the African desert)! Flies west (to South America)! Biggles in France, Borneo, Australia, Spain, Mexico, the South Seas. Biggles of the Camel Squadron in World War One, in Spitfires in World War Two. Biggles about to be lynched. Biggles in front of a firing squad, locked up in a medieval castle, shot down in flames! Kidnapped! Believed dead! (To be continued… )

"The Chinese Gold Murders” by Robert van Gulik (published by Penguin Books)

A fascinating world opens, in far-off places

This one is full of eastern promise. Robert van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat who lived most of his 57 years in the Far East, becoming an authority on Chinese history and culture, a sinologist. How he came to learn about an 18th-century Chinese ...

“From The Moment They Met it Was Murder: Double Indemnity and the Rise of Film Noir” by Alain Silver and James Ursini (published by Running Press)

Examining a film classic in its 80th year

By now, any true cinephile must know the true meaning of film noir. There’s been long enough to get it right, after all it’s supreme period is generally thought of as about 1940 to 1959, and since then we occasionally have neo-noir. Any old ...

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''The Deadly Percheron” by John Franklin Bardin (published by Penguin Books)

Saddle up for some curious killings

William Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965, who knew how to spin a yarn, used to say that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end – a trusty formula; none of that overly fancy stuff. John Franklin Bardin, crime writer, 1916-81, had his ...

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson (published by Penguin Books)

Murder, hate and more in a tale of horror and mystery

Chapter 1 – Mary Katherine Blackwood, 18, goes unwillingly into the village twice a week for groceries and library books, unwillingly because “The people of the village have always hated us”. And she wishes they were all dead. “I would have liked to come ...

“The Underground Man” by Ross Macdonald (published by Penguin Books)

Digging up the dirt

Published in 1971, this is remarkably prescient about 2024’s calamitous climate changes in southern California. Just like today, when the Golden State regularly blazes in what victims often unimaginatively describe as “apocalyptic”, so in 1971 “Sparks and embers were blowing down the canyon, plunging ...

“The Labyrinth Makers” by Anthony Price (published by Penguin Books)

Buried treasure in the ground, in the back pages

This is the riddle that lies herein – what was it that was of such great interest for the Russians to seize in defeated Germany in 1945, was attractive enough for a private individual to steal it from them and fly it to Britain, ...

“I Married a Dead Man” by Cornell Woolrich (published by Penguin Books)

Never too late to discover a master of crime

Now, how can you go past a title like that – “I Married a Dead Man”? Ditto a tantalising blurb we saw somewhere – “A chance encounter leads a pregnant woman to assume the identity of a deceased woman, only to become embroiled in ...

“France On Trial. The Case of Marshal Pétain” by Julian Jackson (published by allen lane)

From hero of Verdun to turncoat of Vichy

In July 1945, five years after the French Head of State, Marshall Philippe Pétain, shocked his compatriots by shaking the hand of the nation’s conqueror, German Führer Adolf Hitler, Pétain faced a specially created High Court over his questionable conduct from the signing of ...

“The Secret Life of John Le Carré” by Adam Sisman (published by Profile Books)

Tinker, tailor, shagger, liar and serial philanderer

When Sisman published “John Le Carré, The Biography” in 2015, it was after the novelist placed constraints on him, leading to the omission of unflattering revelations. Now, with the death of le Carré in December 2020 Sisman is back for a second bite, this ...

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“I Married a Dead Man” by Cornell Woolrich (published by Penguin Books)

Never too late to discover a master of crime

Now, how can you go past a title like that – “I Married a Dead Man”? Ditto a tantalising blurb we saw somewhere – “A chance encounter leads a pregnant woman to assume the identity of a deceased woman, only to become embroiled in ...

“The Labyrinth Makers” by Anthony Price (published by Penguin Books)

Buried treasure in the ground, in the back pages

This is the riddle that lies herein – what was it that was of such great interest for the Russians to seize in defeated Germany in 1945, was attractive enough for a private individual to steal it from them and fly it to Britain, ...

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson (published by Penguin Books)

Murder, hate and more in a tale of horror and mystery

Chapter 1 – Mary Katherine Blackwood, 18, goes unwillingly into the village twice a week for groceries and library books, unwillingly because “The people of the village have always hated us”. And she wishes they were all dead. “I would have liked to come ...

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“A Promenade in Parc Munkácsy” by Alexander York (published by Austin Macauley)

Colourful characters twist and turn in crime caper

Debut novelist Alexander York has seemingly gone for filmic atmosphere rather than minor style issues such as crossing the “t”s and dotting the “i”s, and Hungarians can be along for the scenic ride as the action sets out from England and passes numerous Magyarország ...

“Greyhound” by C.S. Forester (published by Penguin Books)

Dogged by death in the deep

C.S. Forester died in 1966 and he is not forgotten in The Budapest Times office, where we have a nice little collection of 18 of his books. But they don’t include “Greyhound”, and in fact we were a bit puzzled when it was published ...

“Born on the Fourth of July” by Ron Kovic (published by Canongate)

52 years in a wheelchair, so far

The Vietnam War was an American disaster. Iggy Pop, who performed in Budapest last year, avoided it by acting crazy at his draft hearing. Creedence Clearwater Revival sang about the “Fortunate Son”s of senators who were assigned at home instead of fighting in the ...