BOOK REVIEWS BY DEBRA HAMEL SINCE 2003.
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About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)







Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


« Book Notices | The Ghost Writer by John Harwood / Half Broken Things by Morag Joss / High Crimes by Joseph Finder | Main

Book Notices | The Man on Table Ten by Luke Smitherd / Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson / A Dangerous Thing by Josh Lanyon / The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

Luke Smitherd, The Man on Table Ten

  Amazon  

Luke Smitherd's novella The Man on Table Ten poses an interesting question: What would you do to ensure your survival if the fate of the world depended on it? Smitherd's story is told from the perspective of an old man who has had to answer just that question. The man who sits at table ten in the restaurant that serves as this story's setting tells his tale to a waitress, fully expecting that she won't believe him. And that's really it: The story is mostly his narrative, with a bit of drama thrown in at the very end, and then the novella ends abruptly. On my Kindle, the ending seemed even more abrupt, because it ended when I was only 50% through the file, so I'd expected a lot more. (The remaining 50% was an author's note and a book preview.) So, overall, the story is fine, and it's built on a neat idea, but I think more could have been done with it.

Robert Kurson, Shadow Divers

  Amazon  

Amazon tells me that I bought this book in June of 2005. It's sat on my shelf for 15 years, just waiting for its time in the sun. Happily, that time finally came. I've never been interested in deep wreck diving, but, man, as Robert Kurson tells it, the subject is absolutely fascinating. Kurson brings readers into this alien (for most of us) world with detailed discussions that are always edifying and often poetic. I love it when nonfiction authors unpack unfamiliar subjects and make technical details easy for readers to understand. So what have I learned in this one? Fishermen jealously guard the geographic coordinates of secret shipwrecks because that's where the good fishing is. A two-hour deep dive may require a decompression period—the diver's ascent to the surface along an anchor line—of some nine hours. If divers stay down too long, their judgment can become impaired enough by nitrogen narcosis that they'll make stupid decisions that will get them killed. Or they may become paranoid enough to kill a diving partner. Who knew? And all that's before the author even gets to the juicy stuff, his meticulously researched real-life account of his subjects' discovery and exploration of one fisherman's secret wreck, which turned out to be a German U-boat sunk 60 miles off the New Jersey shore. Its discovery in 1991 was followed by years of trying to identify the boat, which was made especially difficult because there was no historical record of any U-boat in the vicinity in which this one was found. Shadow Divers is nonfiction at its finest. It's beautifully written—by which I mean that the sentences themselves are often lovely—and written in precise language. It teaches readers a lot. And beyond that, it's a great story.

Josh Lanyon, A Dangerous Thing

  Amazon  

Twelve years ago TO THE DAY (it's August 14, 2020 as I write), I reviewed the third book in Josh Lanyon's Adrien English series, The Hell You Say. I was quite taken by it and had meant to come back to the books, but, well, time flies and life happens. A Dangerous Thing is the second book in the series—not sure why I'm going backwards in steps here. Adrien is a likable protagonist, a mystery writer and bookstore owner whose love interest—Jake the studly cop—hasn't fully embraced his homosexuality yet. In this outing, Adrien drives off to his grandmother's old house, which he's inherited, to get away from things, and he quickly stumbles across a corpse. The ensuing story finds him investigating the unusual history of his property. It's an okay but ultimately forgettable read with a strangely abrupt ending. I'm not recommending against it, but it didn't impress me as much as Lanyon's third installment.

Alexander McCall Smith, The Sunday Philosophy Club

  Amazon  

I've been a fan of Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana books for years and have read a great number of them, but I'm new to his Sunday Philosophy Club series, of which The Sunday Philosophy Club is the first installment. Isabel Dalhousie is a moral philosopher, the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. She is middle-aged and unmarried but has a beloved niece nearby in Edinburgh. Her life is civilized—tea and crosswords and lectures and concerts—but she evidently has a knack for insinuating herself in other people's affairs. And so, in this outing, she winds up looking into the death of a young man she saw falling from the balcony of a concert hall one evening.

Isabel Dalhousie is not completely unlike Precious Ramotswe, the protagonist of the author's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. But Precious's wisdom is homespun, and she is herself the salt of the earth. Isabel's insights come from Cambridge lectures and philosophy treatises. Not my cup of tea, and so the observations in this book appeal to me less than Precious Ramotswe's lower-brow offerings. I'm torn as to whether I'll read more in this series. I enjoyed the read, and I liked Isabel Dalhousie, but I did not love her.

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