December 27 2014

Welcome to our last issue in 2014. If you can’t possibly manage even a wafer-thin mint after the festive blow-out, then you have a good excuse to lounge on the sofa, watch Where Eagles Dare for the 15th time and catch up with our latest reviews.

Sharon Wheeler felt like she’d been at a feast after reading CJ Sansom’s superlative Lamentation – although one or two of the more gruesome bits from Tudor England may well give you indigestion. Elsewhere on the historical front, Chris Roberts says Edward Marston’s Peril on the Royal Train is straightforward reading, although he reckons the conventional characters get old a bit fast. Eoin McNamee’s Blue is the Night is more recent history, set in Ulster prior to the Troubles. John Cleal says it comes across as almost Gothic horror.

We’ve got a couple of unusual police procedurals this week. John Cleal is still in a darkened room after Wonny Lee’s rather bizarre Jack-Knifed which shows that noir and cosy don’t mix. He had better luck, though, with Ben Cheetham’s Angel of Death with its hero cop who seems determined to self-destruct as he tries to bring down a criminal gang. Sharon Wheeler loved Anya Lipska’s Death Can’t Take a Joke, with its Polish fixer hero – although she promises not to try out her new-found Polish swearwords on her postman! And Fergus McNeill does his best to make sure property prices in parts of Bristol continue to fall. Linda Wilson, who may soon be looking nervously at her own part of town, enjoyed Cut Out.

There’s a good batch of US books, according to the reviewing gang. Chris Roberts was amused by the sharp dialogue and character portrayals in Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey. And he was very taken with Easy Rawlins, the hero of veteran writer Walter Mosley’s Rose Gold, who calls on a wide circle of family and friends to help him out of scrapes. Race is also at the heart of David Stout’s Carolina Skeletons, set in 1944 and then 40 years later. John Cleal praises it highly, saying it encompasses both the best and worst of America. You know what you get with Harlan Coben – missing people who aren’t quite what they seem and dark secrets from the past. Linda Wilson says Missing You is chilling, and follows a winning formula.

On the thriller front, Linda Wilson says Scott Mariani’s The Nemesis Program trots along decently enough, even if it is a touch heavy on tell rather than show. She enjoyed Chris Ryan’s Hunter Killer which, she says, is fast, dark and hard-hitting. Arnold Taylor observes that there are very few sympathetic characters in Terry Stiastny’s Acts of Omission, although he says it’s a well-conceived political thriller.

It was quiet on Euro releases this week. Maddy Marsh was thoroughly engrossed by Ursula P Archer’s Five, set in Germany amidst the world of geocaching – not a common crime fiction setting!

And of course we haven’t forgotten it’s the festive season. Sylvia Maughan settled down very happily with Anne Perry’s A Christmas Hope.

In the Countdown hot seat this week is Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, author of the Bill Slider mysteries. We might just have to tag along when she runs away, as she has some beautiful destinations in mind.

Thank you so much for your support during 2014, and we wish you a happy and peaceful New Year. Thanks for your support of the site this year. We'll be back in a fortnight with 16 new reviews and an interview with a top author. In the meantime, do visit our good friends at Reviewing the Evidence to catch up with their festive issue.
And if you're not following us on Twitter, we’re chatting away happily at .

See you in January!

Linda and Sharon

Countdown with
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd's Bush in London and studied at Edinburgh University and University College London. She had a number of jobs in the commercial world while writing in her spare time, before becoming a full-time writer in 1979. Among her 80 published novels are the Bill Slider mysteries and Morland Dynasty series. She is married and still lives in London, and her passions are music, horses, architecture, wine and the English countryside.


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

Rejection, perseverance, good luck, hard work, long hours, lovely fans.

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

Sky, trees, rooftops, two blackbirds, a wall of books, rocking chair, Siamese cat, half-pint mug of tea.

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

Fried tomatoes on toast.