October 18 2013
This week we've had a brief scare featuring our Scandi cynic John Cleal who's found some Nordic noir that he likes. Mons Kallentoft's Savage Spring is, he says, both moving and shocking. Don't worry - we took his temperature and then sent him off to lie down in a darkened room with a pile of historicals!
We've definitely got a multicultural batch of books this week. Linda Wilson is determined to read all the books by Xavier-Marie Bonnot, which feature Marseilles cop Commandant Michel de Palma. The Voice of the Spirits, she says, is written with skill and intelligence, and interweaves past and present with consummate ease. Chris Roberts, meanwhile, says that you will need to have few illusions about human nature to enjoy 21:37 by Polish writer Mariusz Czubaj, which features criminal profiler Rudolf Heinz.
Paul Johnston's PI series set in Greece harks back to the past as well, as the main character tracks down a man thought to have been killed in the Holocaust. Anthea Hawdon enjoyed The Black Life, with reservations. Also on the PI front, we meet unusual investigators Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim in Barbara Nadel's An Act of Kindness. East London is John Cleal's old beat, and he says Nadel captures perfectly a side that the politicians don't want you to see around Olympic Park.
We've also got additions to a number of long-running series. Children of the Revolution is the 21st in Peter Robinson's DCI Alan Banks series. Sharon Wheeler says it's slow-moving, but has an air of quiet melancholy as it harks back to secrets of the 1960s. Meanwhile, Linda Wilson has come late to Stephen Booth's Peak District books. In Already Dead, she praises the writing - particular the vivid descriptions of the hills and moors, and the cast of minor characters. And Sharon found Zoe Sharp's Die Easy, featuring tough-gal bodyguard Charlie Fox, to be the audiobook version of a page-turner - but was bugged by one small detail. John Cleal is full of praise for Denise Mina's The Red Road which is, he says, a modern morality tale disguised as crime fiction, minus the usual genre clichés.
Elsewhere, John Lescroart's courtroom drama The Ophelia Cut kept Chris Roberts's attention to the end, despite the fact it needed more disciplined plotting. Neil White's Next to Die, the first for his new publishers, attracted praise from Linda Wilson for his accurate portrayal of the legal system. One brother captures criminals, the other defends them. And on the spy front, Mick Herron's Dead Lions caught Arnold Taylor's attention for its excellent characterisation and unforced wit and humour.
In the interview hot-seat this week is Steven Dunne, who has a cunning plan for a quick and balanced meal - and an inventive range of favourite words!
We'll be back in a fortnight for our fourth issue. In the meantime, make sure you check out the reviews from the other side of the Pond on Reviewing the Evidence.
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Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...
Underpaid, overworked, headline, glamour, excitement, travel, fame, wealth, alarm-clock, underpaid...
Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...
1) Polish phrase book (See next novel).
2) Golf clubs - I don’t get out much.
3) Piles of books to be read, thrown out or given away.
4) An apple tree chock-full of red apples ready to smash open on the patio because I’m too busy to harvest.
5) Sleeping cat. What a life. Apart from the ball-licking. Then again if I want to get a national review...
6) Box of 600 packets of Dreamies, crack-cocaine for cats. See above.
7) Framed poster for Latchmere Theatre’s award-winning Christmas production of Hansel and Gretel in 1988-89. My first ever paying writing job.
8) Tea towels drying on the radiator. A man’s work is never delegated.
9) Wine catalogue. Enough said.
Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?
Cold takeaway curry straight from the foil carton for breakfast – the spicier the better. The eight minutes is to make fresh coffee and squeeze some orange juice - for a healthy balance.