Book talk: A movie star, hackers and a long night in Paris


This week, Jeff Popple reviews three books about a forgotten movie star, hackers and a long night in Paris. You can find more of Jeff’s book reviews on his blog

Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Hachette, $32.99

Mary Maguire, Australia’s first teenage movie star and Hollywood actress, is now largely forgotten. She enjoyed huge success in Australia in the 1930s before moving to Hollywood in 1938 and then England. She featured in several movies, of mixed quality, and appeared alongside stars such as Ronald Reagan and George Sanders. Poor health, an unwise marriage to Robert Gordon-Canning, a British Fascist who was interned in 1940, and the death of her child, held back her and, despite attempts to revive her movie career, she never acted again after 1942. Respected journalist Michael Adams has produced a creative non-fiction account of Mary’s life that is lively, entertaining and, ultimately, sad.

Breaking and Entering by Jeremy N. Smith

Scribe, $32.99

Jeremy Smith’s novelistic biography of the famous female hacker known only as Alien reads like a fictional thriller. In a very readable and engaging manner, Smith tracks Alien’s life from studying and hacking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to her work helping companies and governments defend themselves against hackers like her. Combining technical expertise and on-the-ground trespassing skills, she has broken into various secure areas and now uses her skills to track down other hackers. This is a fascinating, well told story that will have you looking nervously at your ‘smart watch’, and even your baby monitor.

A Long Night in Paris by Dov Alfon

MacLehose, $32.99

Former Israeli Intelligence officer, Dov Alfon, makes a sparkling thriller debut with a quirky, fast-paced novel that will appeal to fans of popular British writer Mick Herron. When an Israeli technology entrepreneur is kidnapped from Charles de Gaulle Airport, it seems like a criminal matter, until things escalate and more bodies start turning up. As the French and Israeli authorities desperately try to work out what is happening, a covert Chinese commando unit stalks Paris with deadly results. Smoothly translated from Hebrew, this is a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable piece of mature and witty spy fiction.

For more: