Tag: Vietnam

Thomas Harris – Black Sunday | Review

Title: Black Sunday

Author: Thomas Harris

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 320

Rating: 2.75/5

I was expecting good things from this, purely because I’ve read the Hannibal novels and so it had a lot to live up to. In fact, as far as I’m aware, this was the only Thomas Harris novel that I hadn’t read other than his most recent one.

This one was actually published way back in 1975 when Harris was in his thirties, and I have to say that it shows. He attempted to write a sort of fast-paced political thriller, but it doesn’t really work so well when you compare it to some of the newer novels to have hit the market in the last twenty years.

There’s also the fact that this deals with terrorism but was written over a quarter of a century before 9/11. Some of the stuff that he wrote is still relevant, but a lot of it has been superseded by events, and it definitely feels like a product of its time. The writing isn’t particularly good either, and nor is the plotting. In fact, it just comes across as a pretty generic book, something pretty forgettable as far as I’m concerned.

There is a saving grace though, and that’s the complex antagonist with his Vietnam flashbacks and his plot to blow up the Superbowl using an explosive-laden blimp. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that it was so dull considering the subject matter. It could have been awesome. It just wasn’t.

I’m not sure that I’d say that it’s a bad novel either, I just think that it’s very much a product of the time it was written and published in. I think it would have been good enough at the time, but I don’t think there’s much point reading it now. I would have given up if I hadn’t already read Harris’ other stuff.

Learn more about Black Sunday.

Lucy Cruickshanks – The Trader of Saigon | Review

Title: The Trader of Saigon

Author: Lucy Cruickshanks

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 336

Rating: 4*/5


Lucy Cruikshanks - The Trader of Saigon

Lucy Cruickshanks – The Trader of Saigon


I picked this book up because I’m running an indie readalong with my friend Todd the Librarian on BookTube, but I realised after I started reading this that it doesn’t really qualify. It’s published by Heron Books, an imprint of Quercus, and it’s quite clearly been professionally edited and put through rigorous quality checks before it’s made it out on to the market. It’s professionally done, and rightly so.

This is technically historical fiction, because it’s set in Vietnam at some point during the mid-to-late twentieth century. It’s after the war, but before the country’s had time to heal. As for the plot, it’s surprisingly hard to talk about that without giving away spoilers. What I will say is that it involves people trafficking amidst the paranoid backdrop of communist Vietnam, and a dude called Phuc makes some very bad decisions after finding a gambling den.

Cruickshanks’ writing style is accessible and easy to read which means that it’s the kind of book that can just wash over you. She’s also fantastic at creating a sense of place, and it really kicks in right from the opening pages. You can almost taste the food and smell the markets. Cruickshanks has spent some time in Vietnam, of course, but simply spending time somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean you can write about it. Lucy can, and that’s a talent.


Lucy Cruikshanks

Lucy Cruickshanks


Sure, there were bits here and there that dragged a little, but that happens with most books. But the good outweighs the bad, and I enjoyed this quite a lot overall. I might not remember the finer details in six months’ time, but it certainly kept me turning the pages right up to the end. When it comes to a book, what more can you ask for?

Will I read the next one? Maybe. There are so many books and so little time. But I’d like to.





Click here to buy The Trader of Saigon.