November 16 2013

The big hitters seem to be out in force this week, with new books from John Grisham and Dean Kootz, and a re-release of Gerald Seymour's seminal Harry's Game.

John Cleal was rather grumpy about John Grisham's The Racketeer in our previous issue, but says that the master of the legal thriller is back to his absolute best in Sycamore Row, the sequel to A Time to Kill. And Sylvia Wilson welcomes Deeply Odd, the latest from Dean Koontz, particularly the appearance of a feisty new character who she hopes to see more of. Arnold Taylor says Harry's Game stands up excellently to a re-read and deserves its tag of the thriller par excellence.

There was a very unseemly tussle between your editors for who got to read Phil Rickman's The Magus of Hay first. Linda Wilson won, beamed from ear to ear, then assures us it's a cracker, with DI Frannie Bliss to the fore. Linda had a good batch this time, including Martin Walker's The Resistance Man. She praises the ongoing series premise of a policeman in rural France, but says Walker's handling of the gay themes in the plot is rather clumsy. And she was quickly won over by the tenacious 11-year-old sleuth in Alan Bradley's Speaking From Among the Bones, which boasts a twisty and turny plot.

And speaking of the off-beat, Chris Roberts wasn't entirely convinced by the bizarre style elements in Don Winslow's The Kings of Cool, but says the book provides a  valid look at the drugs scene from the 1960s to the present day. On the other side of the legal fence, former judge and district attorney Jeanine Pirro's Clever Fox, starring assistant DA Dani Fox,  shows an interesting insight into the US legal system, says Chris.

Sharon Wheeler recalls Boris Starling's sprawling Messiah very fondly. Starling's other hat is that of Daniel Blake, whose series hero is FBI agent Franco Patrese. White Death has an unusual and engrossing mix of threads, with chess at the forefront. And Canadian actor William Hope does a solid job with the audiobook version.

On the historical front, there's an intriguing look at the 1850s where religion and science meet in D E Meredith's Devoured. Maddy Marsh says the plot is beautifully-drawn, but that the main characters are rather insubstantial. John Cleal, meanwhile, says that Andrew Taylor's The Scent of Death is a superb period piece, but doesn’t quite grip as a crime novel.

John was bowled over, though, by The Silent Wife, a psychological thriller by the late A S A Harrison, which shows a relationship heading for the rocks. He says that for once, the label 'must read' is fully deserved.

In the interview hot-seat this time is Michael Harvey, who's moved from journalism to documentaries to novels - and who's clearly a film buff, based on who he'd take for a drink.

We'll be back in a fortnight. In the meantime, make sure you've checked out American and Canadian reviews over at Reviewing the Evidence.
If you're not following us on Twitter, you can find us here and if you'd like to be added to our email distribution list for our fortnightly site updates, please contact us with your details and we'll include you.

Linda and Sharon

Countdown with
Michael Harvey

US thriller writer, Michael Harvey, was born and raised in Boston and gradated from Boston Latin School. He's the proud possessor of more degrees than most people, namely a law degree, a master's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in classical languages and is a writer, journalist, documentary producer and the owner of a bar. He is the co-creator, writer and executive producer of the Prime Time Emmy-nominated television series Cold Case Files™ and a former investigative producer for CBS in Chicago. His work as a documentary producer and journalist has won numerous national and international awards, including multiple Emmys and an Academy Award nomination for the Holocaust documentary Eyewitness.

Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...

From journalism to documentaries to novels, I’m a storyteller.

Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...

My dog, Maggie. My other dog, Tipper.
My TV playing the Big Bang Theory. (Sheldon is talking about Schrödinger’s Cat.)
A picture of myself and a couple of my colleagues shooting in front of the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.
The very top of the bleachers deck in Wrigley Field.
My iPhone. (Finally upgraded from a flip phone. Progress? Jury’s still out.)
A manuscript for my next book. No title and no details yet. Still working on it.
A copy of The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (master class in crime writing)
A copy of A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (amazing good debut novel

Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?

Scrambled eggs with bacon, toast and a cup of tea.