Vladimir P and three more quick reads this week

The Travelers by Chris PavoneThe Travelers by Chris Pavone
The Travelers by Chris Pavone
The Travelers by Chris Pavone. Faber & Faber, £12.99 (ebook £5.03). Review by Catherine Small

Will Rhodes lives in New York and works as a writer for The Travelers magazine. On a trip to the wine-growing regions of Argentina, he is seduced by an Australian journalist called Elle. Except she’s not Australian and she’s not a journalist. She’s an American CIA agent. Or so she says. She recruits Will as a spy and soon he’s travelling the world, identifying “targets”. As he is drawn further and further into a web of international intrigue, it all goes a bit James Bond. It’s a stretch to believe that Will, an experienced journalist, could really be so gullible and not see that he’s being set up, and the outcome is fairly predictable, but this is nevertheless an entertaining yarn.

Love Like Salt: A Memoir by Helen Stevenson. Virago, £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Review by Liz Ryan

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“The child will soon die whose brow tastes salty when kissed,” warned an ancient medical textbook. Nowadays we know this to be the genetic condition cystic fibrosis, which prevents salt passing easily from one cell to the next. The life expectancy of such children is improving all the time, but it’s still a diagnosis to drive a dagger into a parent’s heart. Helen Stevenson’s memoir of raising a daughter with cystic fibrosis in rural France – whilst simultaneously dealing with her mother’s dementia – is far from being a sisterly, accessible account. Stick with it: this is a beautiful love letter to her family from an intelligent woman who has had to dig deep just to survive.

The Bee Book, DK, £16.99. Review by Katie Wright

By now everyone knows that bee populations are declining and that’s a very bad thing. But did you know there’s a bee species that has a tongue twice the length of its body? Or that bees can produce blue honey? All these and hundreds more fascinating facts can be found in The Bee Book, so whether you’re a casual admirer or a bee obsessive, there’s lots to learn. But this is more than just an entomological encyclopaedia. The second half of the beautifully illustrated tome details how you can play your part in helping the ailing species by planting appealing plants or making a little house to harbour honeymakers.

Nice Work (If You Can Get It) by Celia Imrie. Bloomsbury, £12.99 (ebook £6.17). Review by Jade Craddock

Theresa, Carol, William and Benjamin have all escaped to Bellevue-Sur-Mer, a picturesque town in the French Riviera. But instead of sitting back and taking life easy, they decide to open a restaurant. And when Carol hears about an old property that’s just become available, she bites off the owner’s hand. Best known as an Olivier Award-winning actress, Celia Imrie certainly brings her dramatist’s eye for plot to this uproarious caper. Whilst the high drama sometimes descends into farce and the characters are more caricatures, it’s a fun jaunt into the ex-pat experience gone wild. Drugs, celebrities, Sardinian mobsters, welcome to Bellevue-Sur Mer!

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