October 4 2013
On the reviews front, we kept our historical expert John Cleal busy this week. He welcomes back his favourite heroine of last year, Joanna Stafford, a former novice nun who's caught up in a conspiracy against Henry VIII in Nancy Bilyeau's The Chalice. And he reckons that Kate Griffin's Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders will be the debut novel of the year, thanks to the way it captures the filth and stench of Victorian London, and to its unusual lead character, who's a trapeze artiste. And there's a hat-trick of strong historicals for John this week, with Phil Rickman's The Heresy of Dr Dee, where Queen Elizabeth's royal astronomer travels to Wales in search of a fabulous crystal with supernatural powers.
Sharon Wheeler reports mixed fortunes with two new additions to established series. Jim Kelly's excellent Nightrise, set in the Fens and featuring a journalist investigating the death of his father, really captures the atmosphere of eastern England. Felix Francis's Refusal, though, trots along amiably, but doesn't feature the Sid Halley that Sharon knows and loves from past books. Sylvia Wilson, meanwhile, enjoyed Linda Fairstein's Death Angel, the 15th in the Alexandra Cooper series which sees our intrepid attorney drawn into the more sinister areas of Central Park in New York. And Madeleine Marsh admires the impeccable plotting in The Black Box, the latest in Michael Connelly's long-running Harry Bosch series.
Onto the thrillers, and Linda Wilson found that the quality of the diving descriptions over-road a slow start and an annoying narrator in Howard Cunnell's The Sea on Fire. And she praises Matt Hilton's Rules of Honour for its action scenes and the dark and dangerous world of its hero. Arnold Taylor reports that John Le Carre's plotting is as gripping as ever and the characters immaculately drawn in A Delicate Truth.
Argentinian thriller A Crack in the Wall by Claudia Pineiro, featuring an architect, gets a thumbs-up from Chris Roberts for its credible story and amusing twist at the end. And he finds another unusual lead character this week in the shape of punk photographer Cass Neary, who's down on her luck, in the decidedly noir Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand.
In the interview hot-seat this week is Northern Irish writer Stuart Neville, who reveals his musical side. We've got lots more reviews and interviews coming up for you, so we hope you'll stay with us for the ride. We'll be back in a fortnight, and in the meantime you can check out Reviewing the Evidence for reviews from the other side of the Pond.
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Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...
Many jobs from musician to web developer, now a writer.
Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...
A replica Kramer 5150 mounted on the wall, one of my twenty-two guitars, most of which are in my office. The certificate for the LA Times Book Prize that I won in 2010. A corkboard with all the plot points for my new book pinned to it. A set of juggling balls that I’m trying to learn to use. A tool box full of things I use to tinker with my guitars. A photograph of me, James Ellroy, our agent Nat Sobel, and David Torrans outside his No Alibis bookstore in Belfast. A dog bed for when Sweeney, the family mutt, joins me in my office. The Star Wars Moleskine notebook my wife bought for me. A special edition CD of Slade Alive.
Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?
That’s just enough time to cook a good steak to medium-rare. That, some bread and a bit of salad. Done.