Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Podcast News: Simon Mayo's Books of the Year

I used to download the podcasts for Simon Mayo's book group back when he was on Radio 5. I missed out on the Radio 2 book club,  which has now disappeared.

Simon Mayo and Matt Williams, have set up an independent podcast, called Simon Mayo's Books of the Year. It's been running for a few months and has included appearances from crime writers, Lynda La Plante, DB John and Manda Scott.

I'm enjoying it though I would like to see more women writers on the show, currently twice as many men have appeared.

You can download it via iTunes and I have been using the Acast app to listen to it on my android phone. Here's the Acast website listing all the episodes so far. The author interviews are every fortnight with a teaser episode in the gap. Also on twitter: @BooksOfTheYear.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward

I'm very pleased to have been invited onto the blog tour for Sarah Ward's latest book, The Shrouded Path. I've reviewed the previous three: In Bitter Chill,  A Deadly Thaw and A Patient Fury.

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward (September 2018, Faber & Faber, ISBN: 0571332412)

THE SHROUDED PATH opens with a chilling premise. Six schoolgirls enter a railway tunnel but only five emerge. This event is witnessed by a younger girl and it haunts her for a lifetime.

Sixty years later, DC Connie Childs is looking into the unexpected death of a woman in her seventies. Her boss DI Sadler is on leave and whilst out walking in the nearby Peaks he meets a woman called Mina whose mother, also in her seventies, is currently dying in hospital of cancer.

Mina's mother has been agitated of late. She says she's seen “Valerie” but that she can't of as she killed her. Mina, understandably shocked by this revelation, promises to find Valerie and makes sure that she's well.

Sadler is called back to work when there is a suspicious death at the hospital and Mina sets off to find out about Valerie armed with an old photograph of five girls, her mother's school-friends.

Connie and Sadler's investigations draw closer over the book as they unearth a decades-old wrongdoing which is still reverberating in the present day. Tragedy ensues for innocent and guilty alike and the Bampton police team will be deeply affected.

From its atmospheric cover to the final page, THE SHROUDED PATH hooks the reader in and keeps them there. It sounds a deceptively simple premise however things are not what they seem and it is a knotted tale indeed. As with earlier books the narrative is told both by the professionals: Connie and Sadler, but also by a civilian, in this case Mina, a professional gardener with the excellent logo of 'The Land Girl'.

This is the fourth book in the quartet and it ends satisfactorily for the detectives we've enjoyed reading about but I do hope that they will return.

Karen Meek, September 2018. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018

New Releases - September 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in September 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). September and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Adams, Jane - Kith and Kin #3 Detective Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone, 1928
• Arlidge, M J - Down to the Woods #8 Helen Grace, Southampton Police
• Benn, James R - Solemn Graves #13 Billy Boyle, WW2
• Bonner, Hilary - Wheel of Fire #2 DI David Vogel, Bristol
• Broadfoot, Neil - No Man's Land #1 Connor Fraser, Stirling
• Buchanan, Tracy - The Lost Sister
• Camilleri, Andrea - Death at Sea #2 Inspector Montalbano short stories
• Carlsson, Christoffer - The Thin Blue Line #4 Leo Junker, Police Officer
• Carofiglio, Gianrico - The Cold Summer #1 Maresciallo Pietro Fenogli, 1992
• Carrington, Sam - One Little Lie
• Cleeves, Ann - Wild Fire #8 Detective Jimmy Perez, Shetlands
• Conway, Aidan - A Cold Flame #2 Detective Michael Rossi, Rome
• Corbin, Julie - Her Watchful Eye
• De Cataldo, Giancarlo - The Night of Rome (written with Carlo Bonini)
• Diamond, Katerina - The Promise #4 DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles
• Duckworth, Charlotte - The Rival
• Edwards, Martin - Gallows Court #1 Jacob Flint, Journalist, 1930
• Ellis, J R - The Murder at Redmire Hall #3 Detective Chief Inspector Oldroyd, Yorkshire
• Eriksson, Caroline - The Watcher
• Forsyth, Frederick - The Fox
• Frances, Michelle - The Temp
• Francis, Dick - Crisis (by Felix Francis)
• Galbraith, Robert - Lethal White #4 Cormoran Strike
• Green, Cass - Don't You Cry
• Harrison, Cora - Murder at the Queen's Old Castle #6 Reverend Mother Aquinas, Cork, 1920s
• Haynes, Elizabeth - The Murder of Harriet Monckton
• Hazel, James - The Ash Doll #2 Charlie Priest, Lawyer
• Higashino, Keigo - Newcomer #8 Detective Kaga
• Hilton, Matt - Marked for Death #12 Joe Hunter
• Jansson, Susanne - The Forbidden Place
• Lemaitre, Pierre - Inhuman Resources
• Macmillan, Gilly - I Know You Know
• Maitland, Karen - A Gathering of Ghosts
• Malone, Michael J - After He Died
• McDermott, Andy - The Spear of Atlantis #14 Archaeologist Nina Wilde & ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase
• Meyrick, Denzil - The Relentless Tide #6 DCI Daley
• Mitchell, Caroline - Truth and Lies #1 Detective Amy Winter
• Nickson, Chris - The Hanging Psalm #1 Simon Westow, Thief-taker, Regency Leeds
• Noreback, Elisabeth - Tell Me You're Mine
• Perry, Anne - Triple Jeopardy #2 Daniel Pitt, Barrister,1910
• Perry, S W - The Angel's Mark #1 Nicholas Shelby, Elizabethan Era
• Powell, E M - The Monastery Murders #2 Stanton and Barling
• Purcell, Laura - The Corset
• Raabe, Melanie - The Stranger Upstairs
• Redondo, Dolores - All This I Will Give to You
• Ridpath, Michael - The Wanderer #5 Magnus Jonson, homicide detective, Iceland
• Rimington, Stella - The Moscow Sleepers #10 Liz Carlyle, MI5 officer
• Ryan, Chris - Head Hunters #6 Danny Black
• Shaw, Alex - Cold Blood #1 Aidan Snow SAS
• Smith, Alexander McCall - The Colours of all the Cattle #19 Mma Ramotswe, PI, Botswana
• Southey, Roz - Scorcher
• Sten, Viveca - In the Heat of the Moment #5 Sandhamn Murders
• Tokarczuk, Olga - Drive your Plough over the Bones of the Dead
• Ward, Sarah - The Shrouded Path #4 DC Childs, Bampton, Derbyshire
• Weaver, Ashley - An Act of Villainy #5 Amory Ames
• Wood, Michael - The Hangman's Hold #4 DCI Matilda Darke

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: Zen and the Art of Murder by Oliver Bottini tr. Jamie Bulloch

Zen and the Art of Murder by Oliver Bottini translated by Jamie Bulloch, August 2018, 384 pages, MacLehose Press, ISBN: 0857057367

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

She leaped up. “I don’t booze, for Christ’s sake!” The sentence resonated in her head, just as the footsteps crunching in the snow had echoed the night before. I don’t booze.

Saturday morning, Liebau, Germany.
It’s snowing. Hollerer glances out of his kitchen window just as a shaven-headed monk, dressed only in dark robe and sandals, appears out of the driving snow and makes his way along the street. A vision sent by my wife, Hollerer thinks. Some time later he recalls that the monk had been bruised about the head – perhaps not a vision. He buttons his police uniform over his paunch, fetches his service weapon from the bedside table and sets out to find the monk. At the steps of the village church a crowd including the mayor are gathering around the young man sitting cross-legged and silent, his bowl in front of him. The villagers are unhappy and want him gone. No begging is allowed after all and he could be just a forerunner for other cult members to come. Hollerer buys food for the monk who, by gesture, insists on sharing it with him. For now, annoyed by the mayor’s insistence that he do something, Officer Hollerer retreats.

Saturday morning, Freiburg.
42-year-old Kripo detective Louise Boni wakes up to snow. She hates it. Everything bad that has happened to her has happened in the snow. Her boss rings to call her into work but she refuses. His next phone message threatens disciplinary action and Louise takes her time calling back. Something strange is happening in Liebau, no-one else is available so Louise must go and take a look. Too hungover to drive, she takes a taxi and by the time she arrives in Liebau the monk has left – with Officer Hollerer following him in a patrol car. A young patrolman, eager to display his own “rally-driver” skills, gives Louise a lift to where Hollerer is parked in a white wasteland watching a black dot moving slowly up a hill. Louise and Hollerer follow the monk on foot but soon the overweight policeman reaches his limit. Louise borrows his gun, continues alone and eventually catches up with the monk. They walk in silence and later, helped out by supplies of food and warm clothing ferried by Hollerer and the young patrolman, Louise and the monk enter the forest where they shelter for the night. She establishes that he is Japanese and can understand English but he remains largely silent. Louise, caught up in alcohol-fuelled thoughts and haunted by images of her dead brother, divorced husband and the man she killed, eventually sleeps – waking to the grey light of dawn and the sound of a man’s voice. The monk is wide-eyed with fear, gesturing for her to follow him. They hide until full daylight when the monk resumes his journey.

Louise hands over the task of following him to the day shift, Hollerer and a colleague from Freiburg. The young Liebau policeman drives her back to the Freiburg headquarters. The ensuing argument with her boss is fierce. Louise wants back-up, cars and a helicopter. He wants her on enforced sick leave, “rehab” and a planned return to a desk job. In fact he insists that calls for back-up and helicopters based on “the hallucinations of a piss-head and the wanderings of a half-naked foreigner” are out of the question. Louise returns to her desk and asks her new Liebau colleague to start compiling a list of the nearest Buddhist institutions. Her boss interrupts and orders her home: “You’re on sick leave”…

ZEN AND THE ART OF MURDER is the first novel in Bottini’s "Black Forest Investigation" series and won a Deutsche Krimi Preis when it was published in 2005. Full of psychology and a wry wit, this story deals in the dark matter of child trafficking and murder. Louise is shut out from the official investigation, but stubbornly continues to prise open the riddle surrounding the terrified monk and his pursuers. But not before another death in the snow has shattered her fragile state. In Louise Boni, Oliver Bottini has created a convincing anchor – a woman flailing around amidst the clink of empty bottles; keeping a desperate grip on her self and her career through gut instinct and persistence. In fact Louise’s interior life provides almost as much suspense as that of the hunt for the killers. Bottini’s well-written characters bring humanity to the events and the story reads smoothly in Jamie Bulloch’s translation. This edition includes a short story prequel which fills out the details of the previous case that still haunts Louise.

Greatly recommended, particularly for lovers of the uphill struggles of the lone detective. A classic Nordic Noir set in the snows of a German winter.

Lynn Harvey, August 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham

I'm focussing my reading/reviewing this summer on debuts - including first crime novels from authors known for a different genre. Mostly British but I have also reviewed one from New Zealand. My fourth entry in this feature, is Vicky Newham's Turn a Blind Eye.

Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham, April 2018, 368 pages, HQ, ISBN: 0008240671

I've been eagerly awaiting reading Vicky Newham's debut, having followed her progress via Facebook and in person at CrimeFest, and I'm pleased to report that it doesn't disappoint.

TURN A BLIND EYE introduces DI Maya Rahman, who is based in East London where she grew up after arriving from Bangladesh at a young age. The book opens with scenes in Bangladesh at the funeral of Maya and her sister's brother.

Returning to London, she is thrown into a murder case at the school she went to as a young girl. The headmistress has been killed and a cryptic message has been left. A message which indicates that there has been or will be more linked deaths.

Maya also has a new team member, a fast-tracked Australian, DS Dan Maguire, whose family is back in Australia. Chapters are told from the points of view of Maya and Dan with occasional chapters from the teacher who found the body.

TURN A BLIND EYE is a detailed and authentic feeling police procedural. The introduction of an outsider – Dan – gives Maya a natural opportunity to expand on the history, geography and background to the case and area that they're working in. Maya comes across as a serious, capable individual and there is a mystery in her childhood which could be resolved in one book or teased out over more. I'm looking forward to finding out which.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: Blue Night by Simone Buchholz tr. Rachel Ward

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz translated by Rachel Ward, February 2018, 276 pages, Orenda, ISBN: 1912374013

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

“Driving through the countryside alone is like eating sellotape.”

Public prosecutor Chastity Riley’s car coughs and dies somewhere near Mecklenburgh. Since she accused her boss of corruption and shot off a gangster’s family jewels with an unauthorised firearm, Chastity has been sidelined into witness protection – and protection is all she is allowed to do, no investigating. So this country-weekend thing has been an attempt to break the monotony. It hasn’t worked. Now she has to get back to Hamburg for a case and she really needs a lift. Faller, with his big, 1970s, mid-life crisis totem Pontiac, is the one she chooses (all of her other friends being asleep, driving-license free, or out of it). She calls Faller, takes her bag out of her car and sets off down the road in the direction of Hamburg. Later, in that city’s St Georg Hospital, she stares at her unconscious client. He is smashed up badly. Ribs, arms and legs broken and a missing index finger. She holds his huge paw of a hand until night-time then takes a taxi home. Klatsche is making cheese sandwiches to go with the beer. Lifesaver.

Summer of 1982:
Faller: “I still visit Minou’s grave. A girl from the red-light district who died because I wanted her.”
Riley: “Frankfurt glows gold, orange, pink. We ride bikes. I wear my Dad’s American Army shirts. I miss my Mum.”
Klatsche: “I haven’t been born yet.”
Joe: “Hey. Hamburg.”

Hamburg, present day:
Klatsche is out shopping, stocking up his bar “Blue Night”. Chastity returns to her flat to shower then on to forensics at Police Headquarters to examine her client’s clothes: a good made to measure suit, no label; British shirt, American shoes. Upstairs she visits her friend Calabretta who has been locked into himself since his girlfriend dumped him for a Swiss professor. But now, Chastity is thinking that the life is returning to his eyes. Next, to size up the place where her client was attacked. It must have been a gang, no way could it have been a one man job. That evening, whilst baby-sitting Calabretta at Carla and Rocco's cafe, an activity which involves a lot of booze, Calabretta remarks that he thinks Faller is up to something – maybe wanting to go after The Albanian again.

Faller: “Homicide Squad. I’m new here. A lot of death since coke hit the red-light district.”
Riley: “Why is everyone falling in love?”
Joe: “I mostly work in St Pauli, quick and quiet.”

Hamburg, present day:
The hospital calls Chastity at 5.30 am, the patient is awake. Chastity however is very hungover. The police guard outside her client’s room nods her through when she presents her pass. Her client stares at her. Chastity thinks he was more charming unconscious. When he does speak, his accent is Austrian. He says his name is Joe...

BLUE NIGHT is the first of prize-winning crime writer Simone Buchholz’ “Chastity Riley” series to be published in the UK. Its lively, true-feeling translation by Rachel Ward allows this tale of bars, beers and the nightlife of St Pauli in Hamburg to read well at a brisk pace. Chastity is the daughter of an American serviceman stationed in Germany, brought up by him after her mother left them. By the time of this book she is only just hanging on to her job as a public prosecutor after having exposed some inconvenient truths in the department. She is bored, persona non grata and barred from investigating. But she is also surrounded by a network of friends with equally chequered backgrounds to buoy her up – hence the bars, cafes and beers. It goes without saying that when landed with the job of “protecting” a badly beaten giant of an Austrian who is giving nothing away, Chastity cannot resist some of that forbidden investigating. Who attacked him and why? The investigation takes her to a new contact in the old East, in Leipzig, and a glimpse of the devastation caused by the latest cheap, virulent drug heading in Hamburg's direction.

Buchholz quickly establishes her characters and their individual voices: the ex-jailbird bar owner, a broken hearted cop, an ex-cop with a vengeful eye set on the local crime boss (now “retired” and untouchable) who killed his girlfriend years ago, and an injured Austrian stoic with a missing finger. But it goes without saying that the predominant voice in the story is that of unorthodox, street-savvy and very likeable Chastity. Written with a sense of place, a fresh voice, and a fast pace.

Absolutely recommended.

Lynn Harvey, August 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Foreign Bodies: Zygmunt Miloszewski's A Grain of Truth on Radio 4

The latest endeavour in Mark Lawson's Foreign Bodies series on Radio 4, is a two part adaptation (by Lawson) of Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski's A Grain of Truth (tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones).

The first part is avalable now to stream or download, and the second is on later today (at 3pm).
The Blood Painting
Foreign Bodies, Grain of Truth Episode 1 of 2

Taut crime thriller by leading Polish writer, Zygmunt Miloszewski, dramatised for radio by Mark Lawson. War time intrigue and modern politics mesh in a murder mystery.

The complexities and frustrations of the modern Polish legal system are the setting for this bestselling crime novel, featuring long suffering State Prosecutor Szacki who finds himself trapped in a limbo land of half-truths and secrets from post-Communist Poland. Will he prove himself to be a redoubtable seeker of the truth or will he compromise?

Episode 1: The Blood Painting
Szacki is finding small town Poland a little dull but a bizarre murder case soon throws him back into action. The crime scene is littered with grotesque clues suggesting that the murder is mirroring an infamous Jewish blood libel, drawing on historical anti-Semitism.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: Salt Lane by William Shaw

Salt Lane by William Shaw, May 2018, 464 pages, riverrun, ISBN: 1786486571

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Publisher's Blurb (copied from Amazon)


DS Alexandra Cupidi has done it again. She should have learnt to keep her big mouth shut, after the scandal that sent her packing - resentful teenager in tow - from the London Met to the lonely Kent coastline. Murder is different here, among the fens and stark beaches.


The man drowned in the slurry pit had been herded there like an animal. He was North African, like many of the fruit pickers that work the fields. The more Cupidi discovers, the more she wants to ask - but these people are suspicious of questions.


It will take an understanding of this strange place - its old ways and new crimes - to uncover the dark conspiracy behind the murder. Cupidi is not afraid to travel that road. But she should be. She should, by now, have learnt.

Salt Lane is the first in the new DS Alexandra Cupidi series. With his trademark characterisation and flair for social commentary, William Shaw has crafted a crime novel for our time that grips you, mind and heart.

After the huge success of the “Breen and Tozer” series of historical police procedural mystery books set in the 1960s ended (see my earlier reviews of A SONG FROM DEAD LIPS and A HOUSE OF KNIVES I was uncertain how the author would follow that initial writing success, but I should not have worried as the first book of the new series is absolutely superb. Set on the coast of Kent it describes the daily trials and tribulations of a former Metropolitan Police detective sergeant who after a love affair with a married colleague ended badly decided to transfer to another police force outside London.

DS Alexandra Cupidi and her teenage daughter have to get used to a completely different environment after the hustle and bustle of city life and the reintroduction of a more rural setting. But settle she does although Zoe her fifteen-year-old daughter has a harder time but become very interested in ornithology and spends a lot of time bird watching with binoculars from various hides along the coast.

When Cupidi and her colleague discover a North African fruit picker apparently drowned in cattle excreta a whole new investigation is started. A lot of difficult questions need to be asked and answered before the enquiry can proceed. The story continues on and a lot of her new colleagues become involved as the investigation becomes larger than originally considered. The story ends with a very dramatic conclusion.

This book was the best one that I have read by the author to date. I thought it marvellous and so well researched it was really very easy to imagine an isolated farming community in Kent.

This is a really superbly interesting, atmospheric and deftly plotted police procedural but unlike his previous books it is set in the present day. I look forward to reading more stories about Alexandra Cupidi and the other authentic characters that inhabit the gripping police procedurals from this very talented author in the future, as I enjoyed this exciting book so much. Very highly recommended.

Terry Halligan, August 2018.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cover Theme - Reflections

I've noticed an increasing number of covers featuring reflections, or pseudo-reflections or inversions. Here are a few examples. Have you spotted anymore?

and just in though this might not be the final cover...

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Review: The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and other stories by Teresa Solana tr. Peter Bush

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and other stories by Teresa Solana translated by Peter Bush, August 2018, 210 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 1912242079

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

I’d never been held up at gun-point before or seen anyone die (in real-life, that is), let alone like that. Bang-bang, a couple of shots and you’re on your way to the other side. You’ll soon see when I put the photos on Instagram …

THE FIRST PREHISTORIC SERIAL KILLER is a collection of short stories by Barcelona-born novelist and translator Teresa Solana. It’s a lively, bizarre, witty, cruel, crude and sometimes picaresque collection. The first five tales start with the story that gives the collection its name: three dead Neanderthals found with their heads bashed in with a rock, one after the other, prompt the weakling of the tribe to find out how they died (after all he has to keep his place in the group somehow). Be prepared for an anachronistic tale with a sharp eye for social status and a sly humour. The following four stories cover motifs such as domestic murder and a solution to corpse disposal, death and satire in the art world, ghosts in a quandary – and vampires in the era of sunblock. The remaining stories in the collection make up the prize-winning “Connections”; a kaleidoscopic collection of eight crime stories involving characters and events in and around Barcelona, all touched by a shooting in a Barcelona pharmacy.

This was my first foray into crime fiction in short story form and I was worried that I would grow tired of what I thought could become a predictable format. But Solana is not predictable and the outcome was that I enjoyed these stories hugely. Translated by Teresa Solana’s husband Peter Bush, this translation must be one of the closest matches to the writer’s voice and intentions possible. Solana’s earthy, dark wit; her ability to speak through varied characters; her satirical eye for the layers and workings of Barcelona society (which speak to everyone everywhere) and her finely crafted invention that knits together the stories in “Connections” mean that I shall definitely be on the hunt for a full length Teresa Solana novel.

Very highly recommended – for those with a taste for murder, the surreal, and possibly – the stories of Saki.

Lynn Harvey, August 2018

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Who is Jack Ford?

Jack Ford's second 'Thomas J Cooper' book, Dead Edge is out this month. The first book in the series, The Killing Grounds, is 99p on kindle at the moment.

*If* you want to know who Jack Ford is/what they've written before then take a look at these two pages: 1 and 2.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Review: The Intrusions by Stav Sherez

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez, February 2018, 352 pages, Faber & Faber, ISBN: 0571297277

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Amazon blurb:

When a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and 'claim her next', Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez's work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?

Stav Sherez's third published novel, A DARK REDEMPTION, which was the first in a London-based police procedural series, was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2013. The second in the "Jack Carrigan and Geneva Miller" series, ELEVEN DAYS, was published in 2013 and I was very impressed with it. THE INTRUSIONS, published in 2017, has recently won the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2018.

I was also very impressed by THE INTRUSIONS, the only problem I had with it was the difficulty in remembering all that had occurred in the previous book as Detective Inspector Jack Carrigan, is still having to undergo the indignity of being investigated for apparent breaches of procedure that occurred in the previous story.

However, that is a subplot that takes away from the main investigation into the murders that happened at the Bayswater hostel. As usual, Carrigan and Miller develop their own theories behind what they think happened and investigate the facts as they feel they lead. However, the head of the department, Superintendent Branch, believes the enquiry needs outside psychological help and therefore insists that a profiler be added to the team. Unfortunately, the one assigned is a person that Carrigan has a terrible personal history with.

Carrigan and Miller, separately pursue different leads to save resources and it is very intriguing how each fact in the case in unearthed and how apparently unconnected details do eventually come together. They explore a lot of data and I particularly enjoyed the forensic intensity of this, which is normally skirted around in other books. The interaction of Carrigan and Miller is also interesting and of course there are tensions there as the chemistry between the two who spend many hours in each other's company can be problematic. Still it all comes to a most satisfactory conclusion and all the loose ends are eventually tied up. This is a very cleverly plotted book which I found most enjoyable. It was one that once you start it is very difficult to put down.

I'm really disappointed that the author doesn't release his books with the frequency of other mystery authors as the quality of the research and detail and sheer readability of his stories is really to be envied by many other less gifted writers. I just could not put this really gripping story down. Please Stav, don't leave it four years before the next Carrigan and Miller story comes out. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Terry Halligan, August 2018.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Ngaio Marsh Awards Blog Tour: Review: Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley

Having been hooked on New Zealand's tv shows, 800 Words and The Brokenwood Mysteries, I was very pleased to be asked again to get involved in the blog tour for the Ngaio Marsh Awards which celebrate New Zealand's crime fiction.

As I've been focussing on debuts this summer I asked if I could review one of the shortlisted debut novels and I chose NOTHING BAD HAPPENS HERE by Nikki Crutchley which is available in the UK.

NOTHING BAD HAPPENS HERE is set in the fictional coastal town of Castle Bay in the Coromandal region of the North Island. The book opens with the murder of a young woman and chapter one is the discovery of her body a few months later by a hiker.

Sergeant Kahu, who moved to the small town ten years ago after time working in the big city, is able to identify the body as British tourist Bethany, who disappeared a few months ago whilst travelling round the world and was last seen in the bar in Castle Bay.

Kahu is shunted aside when the “more experienced” detectives show up as does the press… And in the first of several misdirections, the author switches the main point of view from Kahu to Miller, a journalist who is to write a feature on Bethany with a hope of securing a promotion. Miller is dependent on alcohol and grieving the recent death of her mother.

Due to her late arrival and no accommodation in town, Miller has to stay at the New Age-y Haven, a wellness retreat whose current residents include local queen bee Patricia, wife of the mayor and two other young women. Patricia and other locals keep insisting that their town is safe and nothing bad happens there.

Miller's writing project is slow and though she befriends Kahu he doesn't give her much publishable material. A tip-off seems to lead to a suspect and another woman goes missing. Is Bethany's murderer a local and not a passer-through as first thought?

NOTHING BAD HAPPENS HERE builds an oppressive picture of a small town where there are no secrets or at least your secrets aren't secret forever. Autumn is coming and the wild weather adds to the feeling of claustrophobia. There are several scenes which I read one way and when I got to the end of the book I realised I'd read them completely wrongly. The author conceals the true meaning whilst putting things in plain sight. I'm not sure whether this is the first in a series but I'd like to read more about either of the main characters, Kahu and Miller and what happens in their lives after this dramatic episode which leaves them both changed.

I found myself thinking about this book, the setting, and the plot long after I'd finished reading it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

New Releases - August 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in August 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). August and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Anthology - Prague Noir (ed. Pavel Mandys)
• Adler-Olsen, Jussi - The Washington Decree
• Anderson, Lin - Sins of the Dead #14 Rhona MacLeod, forensic scientist, Glasgow
• Askew, Claire - All the Hidden Truths #1 DI Helen Birch
• Baldwin, Jackie - Perfect Dead #2 DI Frank Farrell, Dumfries
• Booth, Stephen - Fall Down Dead #18 Detectives Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, Peak District
• Bottini, Oliver - A Summer of Murder #2 The Black Forest Investigations
• Bowen, Rhys - Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding #13 Lady Georgiana Rannoch ('Georgie'), 1930s Britain
• Bruni, Riccardo - The Hawthorne Season
• Callaghan, Tom - Autumn Hunting #4 Inspector Akyl Borubaev
• Calonego, Bernadette - The Stranger on the Ice
• Charles, Paul - A Day in the Life of Louis Bloom #2 Brendy McCusker
• Clannachan, Lezanne - The Colour of Lies
• Clark, Ray - Implant #3 Gardener and Reilly
• Conroy, Vivian - The Butterfly Conspiracy #1 Merriweather and Royston, Victorian Era
• Cookman, Lesley - Murder and the Glovemaker's Son #19 Libby Sarjeant, middle aged actress/investigator, Kent
• Cotterill, Colin - Don't Eat Me #13 Dr Siri Paiboun, Laos
• Cross, A J - Cold, Cold Heart #5 Dr Kate Hanson, forensic psychologist, West Midlands
• Curtis, Emma - When I Find You
• De Giovanni, Maurizio - Nameless Serenade #9 Commissario Ricciardi, Naples, 1930s
• Dibdin, Emma - Through His Eyes
• Douglas, Claire - Do Not Disturb
• Eldridge, Jim - Murder at the Fitzwilliam #1 Former Detective Inspector Daniel Wilson
• Empson, Clare - Him
• Fields, Helen - Perfect Silence #4 DI Luc Callanach, Edinburgh
• Finch, Paul - Kiss of Death #7 Detective Mark 'Heck' Heckenberg
• Flint, Sarah - Broken Dolls #4 DC 'Charlie' Stafford
• Forbes, Elena - A Bad, Bad Thing #1 Eve West
• Ford, Jack - Dead Edge #2 Thomas J Cooper
• Goodwin, Dawn - The Pupil
• Gregory, Susanna - Intrigue in Covent Garden #13 Thomas Chaloner, Restoration London
• Hall, Patricia - Playing with Fire #7 Kate O'Donnell, Photographer, 1960s
• Hannah, Sophie - The Mystery of Three Quarters #3 Hercule Poirot
• Horst, Jorn Lier - The Katharina Code #12 Chief Inspector William Wisting, Larvik
• James, Ed - Kill With Kindness #5 DI Fenchurch, London
• Jecks, Michael - A Missed Murder #3 Jack Blackjack, Tudor Era
• Jordan, Jack - Before Her Eyes
• Kent, Serena - Death in Provence #1 Penelope Kite
• Lehtolainen, Leena - Derailed #10 Detective Maria Kallio, Helsinki
• Lelic, Simon - The Liar's Room
• Lloyd, Frances - Murder in Disguise
• Lyle, H B - The Red Ribbon #2 Wiggins, 1909
• MacNeal, Susan Elia - The Prisoner in the Castle #8 Maggie Hope
• Magson, Adrian - Smart Moves
• Mancini, Ruth - In the Blood
• Mangos, Louise - Strangers On a Bridge
• Mascarenhas, Kate - The Psychology of Time Travel
• Masters, S R - The Killer You Know
• McDermid, Val - Broken Ground #5 Karen Pirie
• McDermott, Alan - Run and Hide #1 Eva Driscoll
• McIntyre, William - Stitch Up #9 Best Defense
• Miller, Danny - A Lethal Frost #5 Inspector Frost Prequel (see also James Henry)
• Moran, Eleanor - Too Close For Comfort
• Mosawi, Anthony - Trust No One
• Noreback, Elisabeth - Tell Me You're Mine
• Rademacher, Cay - The Forger #3 Inspector Stave, Hamburg, 1947
• Riel, Ane - Resin
• Ripley, Mike - Mr Campion's War #5 Albert Campion
• Robinson, Steve - Letters from the Dead #7 Jefferson Tayte
• Scott, Manda - A Treachery of Spies
• Skuse, C J - In Bloom #2 Sweetpea
• Starr, Melvin R - Prince Edward's Warrant #11 Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, 14thC England
• Theurillat, Michael - Death in Summer #1 Inspector Eschenbach
• Tremayne, S K - Just Before I Died
• White, Neil - The Darkness Around Her #2 Dan Grant, Lawyer
• Willocks, Tim - Memo from Turner
• Zur, Yigal - Death in Shangri-La #1 Dotan Naor

Monday, July 30, 2018

The continuation of Inspector Frost

The late R D Wingfield's Inspector Frost series, which spawned the much beloved and long-running tv series A Touch of Frost, ran to only six books:

• Frost at Christmas19891
• A Touch of Frost19902
Night Frost19923
Hard Frost19954
• Winter Frost19995
A Killing Frost20086

In recent years. a prequel series has been produced by two authors then one author under the name "James Henry":

DS Jack Frost, 1980s
First Frost   2011 1
Fatal Frost   2012 2
Morning Frost   2013 3
• Frost at Midnight   2017 4

And now, the prequel series is being continued by Danny Miller, in Lethal Frost published 9 August:

Denton, 1984. After a morning’s betting at the races, bookmaker George Price is found in his car, barely alive with a bullet in his head. As he’s rushed to hospital, Detective Inspector Jack Frost and the Denton police force start their hunt for the would-be murderer.

But with a long list of enemies who might want the bookie dead, the team have got their work cut out for them. And with a slew of other crimes hitting the area, from counterfeit goods to a violent drugs gangs swamping Denton with cheap heroin, the stakes have never been higher.

Will Frost find the answers he’s looking for before things go from bad to worse?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Review: The Prime of Ms Dolly Greene by E V Harte

I'm focussing my reading/reviewing this summer on debuts - including first crime novels from authors known for a different genre. Mostly British but I hope to throw in the occasional US or NZ author. My second entry in this feature, is E V Harte's The Prime of Ms Dolly Greene.

The Prime of Ms Dolly Greene by E V Harte, September 2017, 277 pages, Constable, ISBN: 1472124243

THE PRIME OF MS DOLLY GREENE is the first book in the Tarot Detective series and introduces the eponymous Dolly Greene. Dolly is scraping by after her divorce. She lives in a tiny one-bed terraced house along with her college-attending daughter, Pippa, and makes her living giving tarot card readings.

When she reads the cards for a young woman, Nikki, she foresees bad things for Nikki and even gets a vision of a bruised face. Nikki says she was recommended to Dolly by Dolly's older neighbour, Maurice but Maurice later denies this.

When the body of a woman is found in the nearby Thames, Dolly wonders if it is Nikki. Especially when she cannot get in touch with her.

It's only when there is a death on the street that Dolly starts to detect, with the assistance of a local and handsome police sergeant who is quite willing to keep Dolly up to date with the investigation(s).

The isolated nature of the street that Dolly lives in – with the properties fronting a cycle path – lends the story a village feel with all the residents knowing each other's business and their stories being quite entwined. The Tarot back ground is unusual and interesting and Dolly is a likeable character. The crime story, however, does take a while to get going and Dolly does little to find out if the dead body is Nikki until she is more directly affected. This has a traditional mystery feel to it, as indicated by the gorgeous cover, but it also contains some very modern language and sexual references/activities. The second book in the series, THE CASE OF THE FOOL, is out now.

E V Harte is the nom-de-plume of novelist Daisy Waugh.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Awards News: CWA Dagger Shortlists (2018)

The Longlists for the CWA's Daggers: Gold, Ian Fleming, John Creasey, International, Historical, Short Story and the Dagger in the Library were announced back in May and last night the Shortlists were announced. From the press release:

CWA Announce Shortlists for Prestigious Crime Writing Daggers

The Crime Writers’ Association announced the shortlists for the prestigious annual Dagger awards for crime writing at an evening reception at Daunt Books, Cheapside, London, on Wednesday 25 July.

The shortlists provide some interesting duplications. Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic appears on the shortlist for the CWA Gold Dagger and the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, while A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee is on the Gold and the CWA Historical shortlists. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is on both the Gold and the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger shortlists. London Rules by Mick Herron also appears on the Gold and the Ian Fleming Steel longlists – he won the Ian Fleming last year with Spook Street, just as Mukherjee won the Historical with A Rising Man. Also listed for the Historical Dagger is LC Tyler’s Fire and Stella Duffy’s completion of Ngaio Marsh’s Money in the Morgue.

For the CWA International Dagger, familiar names of Fred Vargas, Pierre Lemaître and Dolores Redondo appear alongside Henning Mankell.

Lee Child makes an appearance on the CWA Short Story Dagger shortlist, as does Christine Poulson with her story ‘Accounting for Murder’ from the CWA’s own anthology, Mystery Tour. Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA and president of the Detection Club, features on the Dagger in the Library shortlist. The CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction represents as an eclectic shortlist as ever, with Piu Marie Eatwell’s Black Dahlia Red Rose a notable title with its new take on an infamous murder case.

The CWA Daggers, which are the probably the awards crime authors and publishers alike most wish to win, are awarded every year in 10 categories. The Diamond Dagger, for a career’s outstanding contribution to crime fiction as nominated by CWA members, was announced earlier in the year and will be awarded to best-selling author Michael Connelly at the Dagger Awards event on October.

Here are the CWA Dagger shortlists for 2018.

The CWA Gold Dagger

Steve Cavanagh The Liar (Orion)

Mick Herron London Rules (John Murray)

Dennis Lehane Since We Fell (Little, Brown)

Attica Locke Bluebird, Bluebird (Serpent's Tail)

Abir Mukherjee A Necessary Evil (Harvill Secker)

Emma Viskic Resurrection Bay (Pushkin Vertigo)

T he CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Mick Herron London Rules (John Murray Publishers)
Emily Koch If I Die Before I Wake (Harvill Secker)
Attica Locke Bluebird, Bluebird (Serpent's Tail)
Colette McBeth An Act of Silence (Wildfire)
C J Tudor The Chalk Man (Michael Joseph)
Don Winslow The Force (HarperFiction)

The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

William Boyle Gravesend (No Exit Press)

Joe Ide I.Q. (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Danya Kukafka Girl in Snow (Picador)
Melissa Scrivner Love Lola (Point Blank)

Khurrum Rahman East of Hounslow (HQ)

Emma Viskic Resurrection Bay (Pushkin Vertigo)

T he CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

Piu Eatwell Black Dahlia Red Rose (Coronet)

David Grann Killers of the Flower Moon (Simon & Schuster)

Thomas Harding Blood on the Page (Heinemann)

Alexandria Mariano-Lesnevich The Fact of a Body (Macmillan)

T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong A False Report (Hutchinson)

Laura Thompson  Rex V Edith Thompson (Head of Zeus)

The CWA Historical Dagger

Abir Mukherjee A Necessary Evil (Harvill Secker)

L. C. Tyler  Fire (Constable)

Thomas Mullen Lightning Men (Little, Brown)

Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy Money in the Morgue (HarperCollins)

Nicola Upson Nine Lessons (Faber & Faber)

Rory Clements Nucleus (Zaffre Publishing)

The CWA International Dagger

Oliver Bottini, tr Jamie Bulloch Zen and the Art of Murder (MacLehose)

Pierre Lemaître tr Frank Wynne Three Days and a Life (MacLehose)

Henning Mankell, tr Marlaine Delargy After the Fire (Harvill Secker)

Jon Michelet, tr Don Bartlett The Frozen Woman (No Exit Press)

Dolores Redondo, tr Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garzía
Offering to the Storm (HarperCollins)

Fred Vargas, tr Sian Reynolds The Accordionist (Harvill Secker)

The CWA Short Story Dagger

‘The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle’ by Chris Brookmyre
Bloody Scotland (Historic Environment Scotland)

‘Second Son’ by Lee Child
No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories (Bantam Press)

‘Smoking Kills’ by Erin Kelly
“The Body” Killer Women Crime Club Anthology 2, Edited by Susan Opie (Killer Women Ltd)

‘Nemo Me Impune Lacessit’ by Denise Mina
Bloody Scotland (Historic Environment Scotland)

‘Accounting for Murder’ by Christine Poulson
Mystery Tour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories, Edited by Martin Edwards
(Orenda Books)

The CWA Dagger in the Library

Nominated by libraries.

Martin Edwards
Nicci French
Edward Marston
Peter May
Rebecca Tope
Simon Kernick
The winners of the CWA Daggers will be announced at the Dagger Awards dinner in London on 25 October, for which tickets are now available. Visit for more information or email .

Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Tall Order by Stephen Leather

Tall Order by Stephen Leather, July 2018, 400 pages, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN: 1473604176

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Amazon blurb:
He is one of the world's most ruthless terrorists, codenamed Saladin. He plans and executes devastating attacks and then, ghost-like, he disappears.

Ten years ago he blew a plane out of the sky above New York - and now he's killed dozens in a London strike.

But one of the latest victims is related to the acting head of MI5, who knows exactly who she wants on the case: Spider Shepherd.

Dean Martin, a psychologically damaged former Navy SEAL, is the only person in the world who can identify Saladin. But Martin was killed ten years ago - wasn't he?

Shepherd must find Martin and take him back to the killing fields on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Revenge on the world's most wanted terrorist is long overdue, and Shepherd is determined to be the one to deliver it . . .

The story is very violent and bloody and there are scenes of torture that may upset readers of a more sensitive nature but they had to be included because they were very necessary to the very detailed story. The tension between the different personalities and the excellent characterisation make this a highly enjoyable thriller.

This is the fifteenth book in the series about Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd and thirty-sixth overall of his titles but it could easily be the first as the author is so adept at his craft that there is a freshness to his writing which makes it truly exceptional. As a former journalist for ten years on newspapers such as The Times in London and The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong before becoming a novelist, the author is highly skilled in researching in depth before writing his stories and the authenticity of that highly detailed research is clearly shown in the meticulous descriptions and prose of his stories.

It is not a handicap to the new reader that this is Leather’s fifteenth book in the “Spider” Shepherd series as full explanations are given about all the characters and aspects of the plot.

Stephen Leather is one of the UK’s most successful thriller writers, an e-book and Sunday Times bestseller and author of the critically acclaimed Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd series and the Jack Nightingale supernatural detective novels. Born in Manchester, he has been writing full time since 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into fifteen languages and several of his novels have been turned into films. In 2011 alone he sold more than half a million e-books and was voted by 'The Bookseller' magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK publishing world.

This seasoned writer is at the top of his game and immersing yourself in his world is deeply rewarding as it is a spellbinding and quite brilliant read. TALL ORDER is an extremely enjoyable book and a rattling good read. It was well written and therefore easy to read, even though it is quite lengthy at 400 pages but it is very cleverly plotted and I was completely gripped until the final exciting paragraph. I believe that this was the author's best book so far.

Extremely well recommended.

Terry Halligan, July 2018.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

New books from Sara Blaedel (2)

I posted a few months ago about the new books coming soon from Sara Blaedel. I'm pleased to report that the first book in the Louise Rick series, The Midnight Witness, will be out in the US in October.

In August the US paperback edition of The Undertaker's Daughter, the first in the Ilka Nichols Jensen series, will be titled just The Daughter and will include a copy of The Night Women (apa Farewell to Freedom). The second book in the series, Her Father's Secret, will be out in March (US).

[I'm not sure who the translator is for these new books.]

In summary, the reading order is as follows:

Louise Rick

#1 The Midnight Witness
#2 Call Me Princess (apa Blue Blood (UK)) (apa The Silent Women (US, 2018))
#3 Only One Life (apa The Drowned Girl (US, 2018)
#4 Farewell to Freedom (apa The Night Women)
#5 The Running Girl
#6 The Stolen Angel
#7 The Forgotten Girls
#8 The Killing Forest
#9 The Lost Woman

Ilka Nichols Jensen

#1 The Undertaker's Daughter (apa The Daughter)
#2 Her Father's Secret

Friday, July 20, 2018

News x2: Jo Nesbo; Theakston Crime Novel of the Year 2018 Winner

Two very notable announcements yesterday. First up was the news of the new Harry Hole book from Jo Nesbo in 2019. I'm assuming the translator is Neil Smith who worked on The Thirst:

After the dramatic conclusion of #1 bestseller THE THIRST, KNIFE sees Harry waking up with a ferocious hangover, his hands and clothes covered in blood.

Not only is Harry about to come face to face with an old, deadly foe, but with his darkest personal challenge yet.

KNIFE, the twelfth instalment in Jo’s bestselling series featuring troubled Oslo detective Harry Hole, will be published in the UK on 11th July 2019.

Jo Nesbo will be launching his new Harry Hole thriller with a special guest event at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2019.

And sticking with Theakston, the winner of the 2018 Crime Novel of the Year was revealed to be...Stav Sherez for The Intrusions (Faber).
Also shortlisted were:

Spook Street by Mick Herron (John Murray)

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)

The Long Drop by Denise Mina (Vintage)

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)

Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner (The Borough Press)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire by M R C Kasasian

I'm delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire. I've been a huge fan of M R C Kasasian's books beginning with The Mangle Street Murders which introduced Sidney Grice and March Middleton in the first in the Gower Street Detective series. This new series begins in 1939, some forty years or so after the Gower Street series, but there is a link as you'll see from the extract below....

All my life I wanted to be a policeman. It wasn’t a family tradition. My father was a dentist, as his father was too; my maternal grandfather a publisher of what was then modern poetry; and the women of the family were just that – the women.

It wasn’t the uniform either. The Horse Guards looked far more dashing, I thought, and like every quite nice girl, I loved a sailor. But a young policeman gave me a piggyback over a flooded street when I was tiny. He got soaked up to his knees and didn’t seem to mind. At that moment I knew that I wanted to be like him, helping people. 

It did not occur to me until a teacher ridiculed these hopes that nature had thwarted my ambition. Neither of the Suffolk forces would even consider applications from my sex – the very idea was absurd – but I was not so easily discouraged. I moved to London and became what was, even there, still an oddity – some said an abomination – a policewoman.

I started well enough in the Metropolitan Constabulary, considering I was a curvaceous peg in a square hole. Police officers were supposed to be tall, and I was, but they were not supposed to have long blonde hair, and I did. I passed the training course with distinction and was stationed in Marylebone. This was the posting I had dreamed of, having spent many a childhood hour on my godmother March Middleton’s knee in 125 Gower Street thrilled by tales of Aunty M’s adventures with her guardian, the irascible personal detective Sidney Grice. It was nearly sixty years since she had gone to live with him and almost as many since she had started publishing her accounts of their investigations. 

It was after I caught Hay, the Alkaline Shower Murderer, that my name was put forward for a vacancy and, to my surprise and my colleagues’ outrage, at the age of twenty-eight I was made a sergeant – only the ninth woman in the country to reach that rank. And that should have been that but then I foolishly arrested the ringleaders of the Paper Chain Gang – a big mistake because it was hailed in the press as a triumph after it had been Chief Inspector Heartsease’s case for the previous five years.

I never wanted to make enemies – I only wanted to be a good copper – but being a successful woman is the best way to make enemies that I know of.

I was thirty-eight when I had my mishap, which meant, of course, that I would have to be invalided out. It was only after leaving hospital that I realised I had a choice: I could feel sorry for myself and do nothing, or feel sorry for myself and go to the one person in the world who might be able to help.

Many thanks to Head of Zeus for this extract.

Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire on
Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire on HoZ website
Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire on GoodReads

HoZ on Twitter: @HoZ_Books
HoZ on Instagram: @headofzeus
HoZ on Facebook: Head of Zeus

M. R. C. Kasasian on Twitter: @MRCKASASIAN

Monday, July 16, 2018

Little People, Big Dreams - Agatha Christie

This series of Little People, Big Dreams books is aimed at the younger reader (suggested age range 4 to 7) and included among the artists, writers, inventors, scientists and other trailblazers is one Agatha Christie.

Amazon blurb:
In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Agatha Christie, who taught herself to read at the age of five, on her journey to becoming the most famous crime writer of all time. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Agatha's life at the back.
This entry in the series is written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Elisa Munso and translated by Raquel Plitt and published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

I haven't come across this series before so I've pointed it out to my library manager.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins

I'm focussing my reading/reviewing this summer on debuts - including first crime novels from authors known for a different genre. Mostly British but I hope to throw in the occasional US or NZ author. I'm starting with Roz Watkins' very accomplished debut, The Devil's Dice:

The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins, March 2018, 368 pages, HQ, ISBN: 0008214611

THE DEVIL'S DICE introduces DI Meg Dalton who has moved back to Derbyshire from Manchester after some personal issues.

Meg is called out to the discovery of a body in a small, reputedly haunted cave. The body is that of a local, male, patent lawyer and it looks like poison is the killer. Investigations into the deceased reveal that his personality had changed over the last few months and so suicide can't be ruled out.

Meg and her sergeant, Jai, proceed to investigate further, interviewing relatives and work colleagues. Meg has trauma in her past and the nature of this is slowly revealed over the book. Her mum is a carer for Meg's bed-ridden gran and this is an added pressure when Meg is busy on a murder case.

THE DEVIL'S DICE, a debut, is an absorbing book full of many layers - both the mystery side of it, bringing in local legends and the landscape, and Meg's personal life both as a child and current. It builds to not one but two dramatic set pieces

I very much enjoyed this book. I really liked Meg, she is humorous and likeable, with a diet of choccy biscuits and a cat called Hamlet. Her sidekick seems quite fond of her too... The plot is unusual and not one that could be easily guessed. It's a real page-turner with Meg getting into regular, serious scrapes though she is not one of those energiser bunny types and it takes its toll. And of course there is a well evoked Derbyshire setting which includes real places such as Matlock, alongside a fictional town.

The sequel, DEAD MAN'S DAUGHTER, is out next April and I'm really looking forward to it.

It's not overt but I checked with the author and I have been able to add Meg to my short list of vegetarian sleuths.