October 29 2016

Halloween is nearly here and our reviewers have already had a few brushes with things that go bump in the night.

Linda Wilson ended up cowering behind the sofa in a brightly lit room whilst reading Jeremy de Quidt’s creepy teen tales, The Wrong Train. She’s also hooked on James Oswald’s intriguing mix of police procedural and the supernatural and enjoyed beleaguered copper Inspector Maclean’s latest outing in The Damage Done and says the series is going from strength to strength. But she wasn’t quite so taken with Dance with the Dead by James Nally and demands a bit more from her supernatural thrillers than the occasional rattling of spectral chains. Despite that, she hasn’t quite lost hope for this mix of woo-woo and police procedural.

Anthea Hawdon enjoyed her encounter with the paranormal in modern day London in Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? by Paul Cornell. She says the series is now getting into its stride but recommends that you start at the beginning. Missing You is the final book in Meg Cabot’s Lightning Girl series, engagingly narrated by Johanna Parker, where the lead character has the psychic ability to find missing people. Linda Wilson liked it a lot.

John Cleal has had a busy time recently on the historical front. In Apothecary Melchior and the Ghost of Rataskaevo Street by Indrek Hargla, John takes a trip back in time to early 15th century Tallinn, in Estonia, where superstition leads to a series of deaths being attributed to supernatural events, but apothecary and assistant bailiff Melchior Wakenstede thinks there’s a more prosaic answer. John also enjoyed Vaughn Entwistle’s The Angel of Highgate and says this prequel to The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, the first of The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle series, is a full-blooded Victorian melodrama that also works quite brilliantly as a standalone story. He stayed mired in the fogs of Victorian London for The Secrets of Gaslight Lane by MRC Kasasian and says you need stamina to be a fan of obnoxious but entertaining private detective Sidney Grice although he praises the mesmerising characters.

Passage of Arms by Eric Ambler was originally published in 1959 but Jim Beaman says it has certainly stood the test of time and describes it as an atmospheric and elegant thriller. Arnold Taylor says ex-CIA man Jason Matthews has used his inside knowledge to good effect in Palace of Treason. He says it’s an accomplished read although it didn’t make him want to sample too much Russian food! Linda Wilson enjoyed the latest archaeological high jinks with husband and wife team Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase in The Midas Legacy. She says that, as ever with a thriller by Andy McDermott, it’s fast, furious and fun. Meanwhile, Ewa Sherman popped over to Sweden for Anders de la Motte’s gripping thriller MemoRandom where the main characters are just pawns in a deadly game of mistrust and corruption.

John Cleal delved into the murky world of political strife in Dublin in Blind Arrows by Anthony J Quinn and describes the book as a superb depiction of the human side of conflict. He was also very taken with Michelle Pretorius’ thought-provoking debut The Monster’s Daughter set amidst the brutalities of past and present South Africa. Chris Roberts says A Cold Death by Antonio Manzini makes some serious points in this story of an Italian police chief who has some serious problems with authority. Chris also spent time in Japan, starting with unusual police procedural The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda. He says steel yourself for some gore. Keigo Higashino’s A Midsummer’s Equation will provide lovers of whodunits with satisfying opportunities to exercise their skills will enjoy this unusual mystery.

Chris Smart was impressed by The Unravelling from Thorne Moore. He describes it as a multi-layered and gripping psychological thriller. The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah might on the surface seem to be a slow tale but Sylvia Maughan says it’s strangely addictive and she enjoyed the return of Simon Waterhouse and his police team. In Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, John Barnbrook was unsettled but completely hooked by the story of a man who wakes from a vicious attack to an alternative world where his life took a very different path.

In the Countdown hot seat this week is Kathy Reichs. Your editors certainly don’t disagree with the two words that make her rant!

We’ll be back in a fortnight with 20 new reviews and an interview with a top name on the crime fiction scene. If you have a moment, see what our friends at Reviewing the Evidence think about new releases in the US, Canada and Australia.

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Linda and Sharon

Countdown with
Kathy Reichs

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her forensic thrillers.

For years she consulted for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Kathy has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. She has aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Kathy also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

She is the author of the Temperance Brennan series, and also co-authors the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. Kathy is also a producer of the Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

Kathy is a native of Chicago, where she received her PhD. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

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

Always diverging. Academia, forensics, crime fiction, television producing and writing.

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

McGill University clock. Calendar with photos of grandkids. Jo Malone candles. Framed diplomas and certificate of ABFA board certification. Books. Crime Writers Association Bestseller Dagger Award. Crime Writers Association International Hall of Fame Award. Canvas chair back marked with my name from the set of Bones. Pair of arm-strengthening dumbbells. Unused.

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

Pasta tossed with whatever is available – olive oil, feta, capers, tomatoes, basil. And a salad.