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Book Chat Issue #53
A terrific page-turner and a crunchy salad
Hello reading friends
I received an email today that began “I know your inbox is full, so thank you for opening this newsletter” and it reminded me how privileged I am to have a space in your busy lives. I’m very thrilled that you’re here and hope you enjoy reading this newsletter as much as I enjoy putting it together.
If you’re new around here, welcome. There are lots of reading recommendations and recipes in the archive, if you’d like to check it out.
If you have any questions or comments or just want to say hi, please do. I’d love to hear from you.
What I’ve been reading
Regular readers will know that I’m fond of detective novels, especially those featuring complex female characters and twisty story lines, so I was really keen to read In the Blink of an Eye by debut author Jo Callaghan. I’d heard good things about it and it didn’t disappoint.
You’re probably familiar with books where the seasoned detective has to break in a new recruit and show him (or her) how policing works in the real world. The senior detective is often bitter from being passed over for promotion, or traumatised by an incident in which they (or a loved one) have been badly wounded. They usually find it frustrating to work with the shiny new constable, fresh out of the police academy and full of ideas about how things should be done.
Callaghan takes this trope and turns it on it’s head by making the new recruit a hologram, powered by AI (artificial intelligence) and handsome to boot. DCS Kat Frank has just returned to work after having lost her husband to cancer, and she’s asked to work with the hologram on some cold cases where young men have mysteriously disappeared. She’s wary of the new detective (AIDE Locke), but he’s able to read thousands of documents in a few seconds and make predictions based on evidence, which is kind of helpful. AIDE Locke doesn’t understand ‘gut feelings’ and is critical of decisions based on emotions. But even though he’s very, very smart, he also makes mistakes. He tells the parents of a missing child that their son is likely to be dead, because statistically, this is the most likely scenario.
DCS Kat Frank is furious and tries to explain that sometimes honesty isn’t the best policy. The back and forth between them is often funny and it explores some interesting questions around racism, sexism and technology.
This is a really fresh and inventive novel. A genuine page-turner.
What I’ve been eating
I also follow some great Instagram accounts, including Alexandra Cooks. I especially like watching the little videos because they give you a great idea of what the dish is supposed to look like. Alexandra recently posted a video involving fresh asparagus, so I decided to make my own version of her salad. Who knew that raw asparagus could be so delicious?
Take a handful of raw asparagus spears and slice very thinly at an angle.
Add some walnuts (chopped roughly) and some breadcrumbs (I used Panko) but you could use gluten free breadcrumbs. Toast or fry in a little bit of olive oil and garlic.
Combine with some finely chopped mint, some dates (also finely sliced) and some crumbled goats cheese (or some grated parmesan).
Mix together and dress with a sharp lemony salad dressing and season with salt and pepper.
Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends over there as well. You can find me here.
Book Chat Book Club
Did you know we have a book club? We currently meet four times a year (via video link). The next meeting will be in June and the book is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I’ll post more info closer to the date, but in the meantime, get a copy from your local library or independent bookshop and start reading. The book club is free, as is this newsletter, so please feel free to share this with a reading friend.
Until next time, happy reading.