TBR Thursday 359 – The People’s Choice…

Episode 359

(A reminder of The People’s Choice plan. Once a month, I shall list the four oldest books on the TBR, then the next four, and so on, and each time you will select the one you think I should read, either because you’ve read and enjoyed it, or because you think the blurb looks good. And I will read the one you pick within three months! If I begin to fall behind, I’ll have a gap till I catch up again. In the event of a tie, I’ll have the casting vote.)

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OK, People, time for another batch of four – ending 2020 and moving into 2021. At this stage I was obviously making a determined effort to stop adding random books on a whim, so most of these are books I’m really keen to read. I like to run three months ahead with these polls, so the winner will be a February read. I’ve read lots of Robert Harris and loved most of them, so added Archangel to my list. With John le Carré, I’ve only read one before, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, and also loved it, so added Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I haven’t read any James Robertson which is a real omission since he’s one of the major contemporary Scottish authors. I’ve acquired a couple of his books, and Joseph Knight is the first. Over Her Dead Body is the exception – I don’t know AB Morgan at all and can’t remember why I added this one. Perhaps it was a Kindle deal? Sounds like it could be fun though.

I’m intrigued to see which one you pick…


Archangel by Robert Harris

Added 1st December 2020. 10,773 ratings on Goodreads, with a 3.81 average rating. 438 pages.

The Blurb says: Deadly secrets lurk beneath the Russian ice.

Historian Fluke Kelso is in Moscow, attending a conference on recently unclassified Soviet papers, when an old veteran of the Soviet secret police visits his hotel room in the dead of night. He tells Kelso about a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin, stolen on the night of his death.

Though Kelso expects little, he agrees to investigate. But in the new Russia, swirling with dark money and falling into the grip of anonymous oligarchs, a man seeking the truth is a dangerous quantity. Eyes are turning his way.

Kelso must survive the violent political intrigue and decadence of Moscow before he can venture to the icy north. There, in the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, Kelso’s quest soon becomes a terrifying encounter with Russia’s unburied past – and Stalin’s last secret.

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Spy Fiction

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré

Added 12th December 2020. 86,643 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.05 average. 416 pages.

The Blurb says: The first part of John le Carré’s acclaimed Karla Trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sees the beginning of the stealthy Cold War cat-and-mouse game between the taciturn, dogged George Smiley and his wily Soviet counterpart.

A mole, implanted by Moscow Centre, has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process. And so former spymaster George Smiley has been brought out of retirement in order to hunt down the traitor at the very heart of the Circus – even though it may be one of those closest to him.

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Historical Fiction

Joseph Knight by James Robertson

Added 29th December 2020. 417 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.07 average. 372 pages.

The Blurb says: Exiled to Jamaica after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Sir John Wedderburn made a fortune, alongside his three brothers, as a faux surgeon and sugar planter. In the 1770s, he returned to Scotland to marry and re-establish the family name. He brought with him Joseph Knight, a black slave and a token of his years in the Caribbean.

Now, in 1802, Sir John Wedderburn is settling his estate, and has hired a solicitor’s agent, Archibald Jamieson, to search for his former slave. The past has haunted Wedderburn ever since Culloden, and ever since he last saw Knight, in court twenty-four years ago, in a case that went to the heart of Scottish society, pitting master against slave, white against black, and rich against poor.

As long as Knight is missing, Wedderburn will never be able to escape the past. Yet what will he do if Jamieson’s search is successful? And what effect will this re-opening of old wounds have on those around him? Meanwhile, as Jamieson tries to unravel the true story of Joseph Knight he begins to question his own motivation. How can he possibly find a man who does not want to be found?

James Robertson’s second novel is a tour de force, the gripping story of a search for a life that stretches over sixty years and moves from battlefields to the plantations of Jamaica, from Enlightenment Edinburgh to the back streets of Dundee. It is a moving narrative of history, identity and ideas, that dramatically retells a fascinating but forgotten episode of Scottish history.

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Mystery Thriller

Over Her Dead Body by AB Morgan

Added 6th January 2021. 101 ratings on Goodreads, with a 4.40 average. 356 pages. 

The Blurb says: Gabby Dixon is dead. That’s news to her…

Recently divorced and bereaved, Gabby Dixon is trying to start a new chapter in her life. As her new life begins, it ends. On paper at least. But Gabby is still very much alive. As a woman who likes to be in control, this situation is deeply unsettling.

She has two crucial questions: who would want her dead, and why?

Enter Peddyr and Connie Quirk. husband-and-wife private investigators. Gabby needs their help to find out who is behind her sudden death.

The truth is a lot more sinister than a simple case of stolen identity.

Over Her Dead Body is a ‘what if’ tale full of brilliantly drawn characters, quirky humour and dark plot twists.

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads or Amazon UK.

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(Click on title and then remember to also click on Vote, or your vote won’t count!)

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43 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 359 – The People’s Choice…

  1. Tricky choice this week – all of them sound tempting (except maybe Over Her Dead Body), but in the end I’ve gone for Archangel, on the grounds that my mum recommended it to me but her book choices aren’t always reliable. If you like it too though I’ll take her up on the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, your poor mum! 😉 Good choice, though it looks unlikely to win. But I’ll be trying to read it sometime soon-ish anyway. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lots of Robert Harris’ books, although there have been a few duds along the way too. The blurb of this one makes it sound like one of the ones I’m likely to enjoy…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve gone for Over Her Dead Body as well because it sounds a bit silly and hopefully it will be fun and if not you can give up early give yourself a large tick and move on, all round winner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, given that I’ve just abandoned yet another so-called thriller today, that may well be prophetic! But I do think it sounds as if it has the potential to be fun and it’s been well received on Goodreads… 😀


    • I know what you mean about Le Carré – I certainly have to be in the mood for that kind of bleakness, though when I am I really enjoy it. Archangel does sound interesting – good choice! Yes, I think it must have simply been the appealing blurb that made me buy Over Her Dead Body, and it looks like it’s been well received by Goodreads reviewers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a very hard choice this time. I don’t know which I’d pick myself, which is really unusual – generally I have a secret favourite I’m hoping will win, but not this month. If I had time I’d read all of them straight away! It’s looking quite positive for TTSP at the moment…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I like the sound of Over Her Dead Body too and it seems to have been quite well received by Goodreads reviewers. I don’t think it’s going to win but I’m hoping to get to all of these sometime in the not-too-distant future anyway – next year!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the atmosphere of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, though I have to be in the right frame of mind for that level of bleakness. It’s looking hopeful for Tinker, Tailor at the moment – it’s building up a little lead… 😀


  3. I voted for Archangel as it’s the only one of the four that I’ve read and I remember enjoying it, although it’s not my favourite by Robert Harris. Joseph Knight sounds good as well, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to win.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archangel sounds good and I’d be quite happy if it wins – I usually enjoy Harris, though there have been one or two that didn’t work for me. Joseph Knight does sound interesting – it’s definitely not going to win, but I hope to get to it sometime next year anyway!


  4. I voted for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy because I read it after watching the TV series years ago – with Alec Guinness as Smiley, which I loved and this year I’ve read The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People – great books. But Joseph Knight sounds good too. I bought Archangel a while back but still haven’t read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For some reason I didn’t watch the TV series – can’t imagine why not! I’d really like to read more of him, having loved The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, so I’ll be quite happy if Tinker, Tailor wins. But both Joseph Knight and Archangel look good too – it’s a hard choice this month, I think! Hopefully I’ll get to read them all before another decade passes… 😉


  5. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré is a classic, if you like spy fiction. It‘s been a while since I read Le Carré—his plots don‘t tend to move evyr fast, so be prepared for expositon and build-up!

    I just watched Slow Horses on apple TV and it has a very similar feel. I haven‘t read the book by Mike Herron yet, so I am not sure if it is the story of the fact that Gary Oldman palys a leading role in both TV adaptations 😝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, that comparison would worry me but happily I loved The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, so I have high hopes for Tinker, Tailor. Which is lucky considering it has built up a substantial lead… 😀


  6. I almost went with Archangel because I loved his other books I’ve read, but ultimately decided Over Her Dead Body might be the most fun. Doesn’t look like either will win, though.


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