The Wreckage by Michael Robotham read by Sean Barrett

The perfect voice for a down and out in London and Iraq crime novel, with an entry quote by Orwell. Always a good sign, Orwell. Imagine a classic sting by a pretty girl and her boyfriend: girl alone at bar gets hit by her bruiser boyfriend. Retired police detective comes to the rescue, takes girl home. Girl slips him a mickey, empties his wallet, and splits.

But this is more than a crime novel; listen:

The old man blinks at him.

“You are not an Arab?


“What is your religion?”

“I don’t have one.”

“Who is your god?”

“I have no God.”

“What sort of man has no god? What  does he believe in? Why does he live?”

“He lives because he is a man.”

“You are American?”

“I was born there. My mother is Iraqi.”

“I like George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenneger.”






Meet the Giants: An Interview with Ziad Abdelnour

Schumpeter once wrote that the Stock market is a poor substitute for the holy grail. In other words, capitalism is more or less incapable of producing belief in itself. And yet, there are people who do believe in it. Ziad Abdelnour is one of them.

For Ziad, business is war. And what is at stake in this war is the creation and destruction of worlds.

“The lifeblood of capitalism are the entrepreneurs, the financiers who make things happen.”

The drive to make things happen is not inherited, is not taught, is not capable of being transmitted by a propaganda machine. “It has to be in your DNA” says Ziad. Because of this, the profile of Blackhawk Partners has not changed for years:

I don’t back industries. I don’t back ideas. I back people.

These people — these capitalists, the billionaires who change the world — are rebels. Only by backing rebels, can you re-create the world.

This is what Ziad’s capital does: it empowers the rebels (re-bellare) to start the war all over again .

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker read by Robert Ian MacKenzie

An intimate look at the arrangements, organization and order of small town French village life, through the eyes of the jovial, wise and well fed chief of police, for “…not  a single pig made it to market without some part of it being offered as part tribute part toll to Bruno…”.

He put the grill close to the coals, arranged the steaks, and then under his breath sang the Marsellaise, which he knew from long practice took him exactly 45 seconds. He turned the steaks, dribbled some of the marinade on top of the charred side, and sang it again. Then he turned the steaks for 10 seconds, pouring on more of the marinade, and then another ten seconds. Now he took them off the coals and put them on the plates he’d left to warm on the bricks he’d left to warm on the side of the grill.

The strolling investigator offers up an amiable mix of local types, of those who “evidently conformed to the English stereotype of bizarre affection for animals dressed in gleaming black boots, cream jodhpurs,” of the prissy European officers of hygiene who threatened the taste of the local cheese, of old men who had not spoken to each other since the war.

The reader sometimes sounds as if he’s sucking on bubbles, a kind of terrible English mumbling.

The Chameleon’s Shadow by Minette Walters read by Simon Vance

Forget Harley Street. The latest design in shrinks is a six foot 250 pound lesbian weight lifter who runs a pub with her bosomy girlfriend, and offers bed, morning after breakfast, and laundry service. This is what the 21st century male patient wants: a powerful, intuitive M.D. who can hoist him effortlessly over her shoulder, tuck him into bed without sexual threat or expectation, wash the blood off his shirt and serve up bacon and egg for breakfast.

Such a shrink, and only such a shrink can handle what the Iraq, the national health service and the Metropolitan police have brewed in ex-Lieutenant Charles Acland, now of London, hateful and harijan: untouchable.

The Race by Richard North Patterson Narrated by Michael Boatman

Slow, cloddish, cumbersome and overcooked dialogue stretches across this morality play about an ugly presidential election. Add the ‘aching sadness’ and ‘fatal failures’ and ‘eyes shining with tears’ of flat white characters, but read on. Hear the slimy campaign advise of slimy campaign managers:

“Girlfriend is bad. Black girlfriend is worse. Black actress girlfriend is the fucking trifecta.”

Yep, the divorced war hero candidate couples with a beautiful black actress in the middle of the campaign. Guess what happens?

The Afghan::Frederick Forsyth read by Robert Powell

As good as reading a short history of the rise and rise of the garden variety jihadist.
A retired SAS agent is mending the roof of his medieval barn when he is summoned to a final counter-terrorist mission. The medieval political system also needs mending. So begins a story about the “new cold war”:

The end of the cold war in 1991 led to the asinine presumption among politicians on both sides of the Atlantic that peace had come at last and come to stay. That was precisely the moment that the new cold war, silent and hidden in the depths of Islam, was experiencing birth pangs.

On one side there are computers; on the other are fanatics, and somewhere in between are a handful of men navigating oceans of terror. Occasionally a Predator drops in like Athena. Occasionally, a god loses his agent. It is never the other way around.

Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile read by Christopher Lane

Imagine overhearing the comments of secretaries, girlfriends, GS-11s, GS-18s, CIA heads of station, assistants to CIA heads of station, busty, born-again Texan society matrons, outrageously charming right-wing politicians with more friends than God, superstitious immigrants and sons of immigrants, Muj(ahadeen) terrorists, Afghani torturers, Pakistani tyrants, Egyptian defense ministers turned mule and donkey merchants, so that you can actually see the pieces of history being pushed into place, so that a cult of personalities and a war become cause and effect. Almost. Because things are not so simple….

It is the genius of Crile, ace reporter, that manages these unmanageable personalities and tracks one mad Texan after another, one fanatic after another across the Washington political stage, quoting all the way.

“Now [Avracatos] was forced to recognize that without Charlie he would still be roaming the halls of the CIA without purpose….The man who tried to pretend nothing could hurt him discovered he actually loved Charlie Wilson.”

He risked an awful lot for us. He was unique. He ran with the CIA instead of hitting us from the outside. How many fucking Congressman in the last 40 years have gone to bat publically to get the CIA more money? …Even in the heyday of Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles when the cold war was one big fucking goat fuck, noone was publically calling for more money for the CIA to use in Guatamela or Cuba or anywhere.

This is not just a text read out loud. This is not a written momento of what was written about guns, mules, Afghanis. It is a tale of what was said, who said it to whom and how, with what kind of accent, and what they were wearing when they said it and who was looking at them when they said it and who wanted to fuck them because they said it …. and how they were fucked. Short, hard, telegrammic statements that moved men and things and boundaries. What Sartre would have called: the gossip, the rumours, the news. Told, and told again because it was originally told, this story which when read is re-heard, again. But differently.


The book offers us not one but a series of possible enemies, possible stories, possible plugs for the black hole in intelligence that lies beyond September 11, 2001.

Put on ten pounds, dirty sneakers, and a baseball cap, bomb the 14th street bridge, the Dallas-Ft Worth Airport, any School, Synagogue or Office Building anytime anywhere anyhow. Welcome to America, stay as long as you want, come back anytime.

Your average everyday Mohammedan maniac made in Iran, or Iraq, or Kuwait, or Kabul, trained by his friendly neighbourhood terrorist, the Egyptian, Serbian, Palestinian, Pakistani, Senegalese, mobilized to kidnap, sabotage, assassinate.