A week before I head off for my great expedition to Orkney and Shetland I’ve been giving thought to what my holiday reading is going to be.
These titles are under consideration. Have you any others I ought to be checking out?
Return of the Killer Midges by Cal MacBrayne. Utterly convincing action-thriller about what happens when a top secret scientific experiment goes horribly wrong and a resort is attacked by these giant marauding creatures. The heroine, feisty blonde tour rep Marion, teams up with troubled, sensitive bar waiter John to fight off the attack. The scene in which all the sun-loungers collapse simultaneously is expertly handled.
No Orange Future by Umbria Soltan. The first novel by this promising young newcomer follows five friends just down from St Andrews as they go pony trekking in Moldova and are soon forced drastically to re-assess their lives and their relationships when they realise to their horror that there is no mobile phone signal. The effect on the group is truly gruesome. Contains some mild cannibalism.
The Ryanair Bumper Fun Book. A low-cost, no-frills easy read for the beach. Totally undemanding – except that you have to collect your own copy from the printers in Bicester. Allow three hours for queuing and make sure you are in the right queue. Take proof of age, plus two forms of identity, such as a utility bill and a driving licence. You must be prepared to cut the pages yourself. Some copies are incomplete. No refunds.
A Hundred and One Worst Bidet Jokes. Could while away a few hours as you are stuck on the Paris périphérique and might even bring a smile to your lips. A sequel to the fairly hilarious Footprints in the Gents.
What’s Bugging Montezuma? by Professor Alistair Imodium. An absorbing and scholarly study of the reign of the Aztec emperor Montezuma II, from 1502 to 1520. It gives the most detailed account so far of his betrayal by the Spanish and does not spare us in listing his grievances against Europeans. One is left with the strong feeling that these crimes, even today, cry out for revenge. It’s a long book (566 pages) but just the thing if you are stuck in your hotel room for five or six days.
Sleeps Six by Cole d’Cottage. This really is your run-of-the-mill detective yarn. Serial killer brutally slays the holidaying occupants (so what else is new?) of delightful traditional Hebridean blackhouse on South Uist and the chief suspect (yawn, yawn) is the handsome young man who comes every day to skim the drowned midges off the swimming pool (which no-one uses anyway). It’s drearily predictable, right down to the mundane details like the strong winds and the three-day power cut. Still, it’s all worth it, because every page has been steeped in Avon’s Skin So Soft.
You Absolute Bastards, by Edward Sunblock. An indictment of all air travellers, showing how every one of us is responsible for the carbon emissions that are destroying the environment. Anybody who cares about the planet should pack this book in his or her hand luggage.
Last Call for Stornoway by Cynthia Pedalo. A superbly detailed portrait of five generations of people waiting at Departure Gate 5 at Glasgow Airport. It traces the upheavals that have occurred over this period, the subtle shifts in culture and attitudes and the ups and downs of all the families. A remarkable document of our recent history.
Delsey by Sue Villa. These are essentially poems of desolation and loss by one of our leading exponents on these themes. The one which gives the volume its title, Delsey, is a lament, written in baggage reclaim, for a much loved suitcase, as the lingering hope that it may yet appear on the carousel is finally crushed. I also admired EU Citizen, in which she has a last glimpse of her lover before losing him for ever, because she has joined the slower queue at Passport Control.