Just finished the latest Bernie Gunther novel by Philip Kerr, having now read all ten. The Lady From Zagreb. Literally couldn’t put it down. A tremendous conclusion to my 3-week nano-sabbatical. Delighted to read in Kerr’s end note that the next in the series, The Other Side Of Silence, will be out next year.
As I was finishing The Lady From Zagreb, sitting on the deck in front of the summerhouse in the setting sun, and reflecting on just how little I had known in 1970 (when we Landrovered through, being fired upon at one interesting point) of what is now the former Yugoslavia’s vicious WWII history, my mind turned to gentler things. I wondered whether there were any swifts around.
It occurred that I hadn’t been looking up much as I drove through the book like a truffle-hound. Goebbels is central to the book and prides himself on his love of wildlife. But a prerequisite for seeing wildlife – as in when I spotted a bedraggled heron sitting in a raft-alike structure on one of the lakes in Richmond Park this morning – is to get out into nature and to look about you.
Was struck by the number of coupling damselflies in the Park today – and by the way one big blue dragonfly became obsessed with the violet-blue pair of glasses Elaine was dangling from her hand.
So, some 40 pages from the end of the book, I paused and looked up, watching as a piece of thistledown drifted overhead, illuminated by the sun, like something out of the forest scenes in James Cameron’s film, Avatar. Then I almost cheered as four or five swifts raced by overhead, westwards.
Reading books like Ghost Fleet and The Lady From Zagreb in recent days has been an uncomfortable reminder of how just how rough our future could turn out to be. But I return to Volans feeling that there is much that we can do to accentuate and drive positive trajectories in the wider world.