January 07 2017

Happy new year! We hope you had an enjoyable festive season. Can we offer you a wafer-thin mint as we bring you up to date with books from far and wide? We have a touch of the east this week – and that’s the far east as well as east London!

Chris Roberts says Annie Hauxwell is on firm ground in Wapping in House of Bones, but there’s a touch of the oriental hokum about the Chinese angle. The Borrowed by Chan Ho-kei features six stories detailing cases in the Hong King police force over 50 years. Chris says they’re a bit light on recreating the era. Tokyo Nights by Jim Douglas is an ode to Japan, says Chris.

John Cleal is back in his old east London haunts, and says Fifth Column by Mike Hollow is a good period mystery set amidst the Blitz. And John recommends The House of Smoke by Sam Christer which is set in London’s foul Newgate prison where the hero has just 17 days before being hanged for murder. And historical king John enjoyed Sons of the Blood by Robyn Young, an original take on Richard III.

Over we go to Ireland, where Linda Wilson enjoyed Are You Watching Me? by Sinead Crowley, a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, set in Dublin. Chris Roberts wasn’t so sure about Paul Charles’s St Ernan’s Blues, saying it’s a bit heavy on the Irish quirkiness. Sharon Wheeler was rather taken with the Gothic feel of Sarah Rayne’s Death Notes, set mainly in a small Irish village.

Among the American releases, John Cleal devoured Quarry’s List by Max Allan Collins, featuring a professional killer as an anti-hero. John says it’s a fresh as the day it was written. Jim Beaman says An Honorable Man by Paul Vidich is a quality spy novel, set amidst the McCarthy witch hunts. The River at Night by Erica Ferencik is an impressive first outing for Raven, Bloomsbury’s new crime imprint, says Linda Wilson, who’ll now be avoiding wilderness camping trips!

Our Scandi queen Ewa Sherman enjoyed The Dying Detective by Leif GW Persson where a policeman in fading health investigates a cold case.

Elsewhere, there’s a flesh-creeping serial killer in Fiona Cummins’ Rattle, says John Barnbrook. Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste is a missing person case with a twist, although it takes the cops a while to cotton on to the clues, adds Kati Barr Taylor. John Cleal has it on good authority that Pain Killer by NJ Fountain really captures what it’s really like to live with chronic pain. And Sharon Wheeler says Ian Rankin’s Rather Be the Devil is like a fine wine!

On the thriller front, Arnold Taylor describes Montecristo by Martin Suter as a complex tale of political and financial corruption.

If you still have turkey and mince pies to eat up, try Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens. Linda Wilson says it’s a delightful mix of boarding school romp and Agatha Christie. And Linda warns that you’ll need to have tissues handy for Dear Charlie by ND Gomes, which deals with the fallout from a school massacre.

In the Countdown hotseat this week is busy reviewer and commentator Ayo Onatade. We’ll be hiding in her luggage when it comes to the places to which she’d run away.

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.

If you’d like to be included on our fortnightly update email, drop us a line (the email address is on the site).
And if you're not following us on Twitter, you can find us chatting at .

Linda and Sharon

Countdown with
Ayo Onatade

Ayo Onatade commentates on all things crime fiction. She writes articles and gives papers on all aspects of the crime and mystery genre. She blogs at Shotsmag Confidential, writes articles for Shotsmag and Crimespree Magazine. She is the Chair for the CWA Short Story Dagger and a judge for the Nagio Marsh Award (New Zealand crime writers award). She is co-editor of the anthology Bodies in the Bookshop.  She is also a dissertation tutor for the MA in Publishing at Kingston University.

 When not doing all of the above she works at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom where she is the Head of Judicial Support and PA to two of the Justices, one of them being the Deputy President of the Supreme Court.

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

Eclectic, stimulating, bloody annoying. Not enough hours in the day

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

A vase of flowers, widescreen television, mug of coffee, computer screen, keyboard, telephone, iPad, Philadelphia Eagles Teddy Bear, and a bottle of Davidoff Freeze Me Cool Water for Woman perfume.

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

Marmite on toast, yoghurt washed down with a huge mug of coffee.