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Saturday, 31 August 2013

‘A Killing of Angels’ by Kate Rhodes

Published by Mulholland Books,
4th July 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-444-73878-0

Like many books these days, this book starts with a prologue. I generally don’t find them interesting. Usually they are about an unknown person being killed, and as as you don’t know who the person is, and therefore have no real feeling about them, the point of a prologue generally escapes me.  However, regardless of any knowledge of the person involved, this is a gripping prologue for the sheer strength of the writing which descriptive powers had me there, on that underground.

This is the second in the series featuring psychologist Alice Quinn. Following the death of one of the senior executives of Angel Bank one of London’s most successful investment banks she is asked by DI Don Burns to work with him to build a profile of the killer.  Alice had not been too enamoured of DI Burns the last time they worked together but he seems somewhat changed since she last saw him so she agrees. To get a handle on the case and the world of banking Alice attends a bankers do at ‘the oldest gentlemen’s club in town’. And here she meets Andrew Piernan.

The discovery of a second body, also associated with Angel Bank, together with a postcard of an angel from the National Gallery, and a handful of white feathers seems to signify that they have a serial killer taking out employees of Angel bank.

Alice leads a complicated life, her drug-addicted brother Will has sort of moved into her riverside flat, although he retains his dilapidated van which he often retires to when things don’t go his way. Her mother is a nightmare, and Darren, one of her schizophrenic patient’s is stalking her.  But her friend Lola is a sweetie.

As Alice and DI Burns investigate in London’s hottest summer on record, her only respite seems to be the growing attachment she has to Andrew Piernan, but Alice is terrified to commit herself, after the violence of her last relationship. (see Crossbones Yard).

When Alice is attacked one night she assumes the ‘Angel’ killer has her in his sights but where was Darren?  The tempo steps up as the killer’s campaign continues with the chief target being Max Kingsmith, Director of the Angel Bank. Alice suspects that Poppy Beckwith, London’s highest paid prostitute is implicated in the killings, but no one takes her seriously.

If you have read Kate Rhodes first book Crossbones Yard you will be aware that Kate is clearly a talented writer.  And A Killing of Angels only her second book puts her up there with the best in crime friction today.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Kate Rhodes was born in London. She has a PhD in modern American literature and has taught English at British and American universities. She spent several years working in the southern states of America, first in Texas, then at a liberal arts college in Florida. Kate’s first collection of poems Reversal was published in 2005, her second collection, The Alice Trap was published in 2008. The Guardian described her poems as “pared back and fast-moving, the short lines full of an energetic lightness of touch”. Kate has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship, and her poems have been shortlisted and won prizes in a number of competitions including the Bridport Prize and the Forward Prize. Kate is currently writing full-time and lives in Cambridge with her husband Dave Pescod, a writer and film maker. Crossbones Yard was Kate’s first crime novel. The second novel in the Alice Quentin series, A Killing of Angels was published July 2013.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

‘Blind Justice’ by Anne Perry

Published by Headline,   
11 April 2013. 
ISBN: 978-0-7553-9714-3

Hester Monk is now happily married, but this has not dimmed her determination to aid those in need and to fight the injustice that is prevalent in Victorian society. Josephine Raleigh, a nurse at Hester's clinic for sick and injured prostitutes tells Hester that her father has been driven to the brink of destitution and despair by being persuaded by Abel Taft, a charismatic minister, to give more than he could afford, in order to help the Church's charity for the needy. Hester feels immediate empathy for this, as her own father had committed suicide after an error of judgment resulted in the loss of his livelihood. Hester is determined to investigate a minister that is capable of causing such suffering and awakening in his congregation such feelings of guilt that they will give more than they have. She accepts that her husband, William, cannot help her in the way he once could when he was a Private Investigator. Now William Monk is a police officer and Taft's church is not in his jurisdiction. Accompanied by their adopted son, Scuff, an urchin rescued from danger and degradation, Hester attends Taft's church and starts her investigation.

When Hester uncovers evidence of fraud, the case comes before a recently appointed judge, Oliver Rathbone, who is a close friend of William and Hester. Rathbone is a man of integrity and ambition but, halfway through the case, when things are going badly for the prosecution, he realises that he possesses evidence that will turn the case around. In order to serve the cause of Justice, Rathbone will have to break the Law and the consequences to himself will be catastrophic.

Blind Justice is the nineteenth book in the William Monk series and it is an absolute page turner. William, Hester, Rathbone and Scuff are all characters to whom the reader can relate and for whom one can feel liking and respect. Both the investigation and the courtroom scenes are riveting. It explores the many injustices and hypocrisies in the Victorian social and legal system and leaves us with an uncomfortable feeling that too little has changed in the last hundred and fifty years.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Anne Perry was born in Blackheath, London England in October 1938.  Anne had various jobs but there was never anything she seriously wished to do except write. Her publishing career began with The Cater Street Hangman. Published in 1979, this was the first book in the series to feature the Victorian policeman Thomas Pitt and his well-born wife Charlotte. It was filmed and broadcast on ITV featuring a young Keely Hawes. Midnight At Marble Arch is the latest in the series, released September 2012. In 1990, Anne started a second series of detective novels with The Face of a Stranger. These are set about 35 years before and feature the private detective William Monk and volatile nurse Hester Latterly. The most recent of these (18th in the series) is Blind Justice (April 2013). Anne won an Edgar award in 2000 with her short story "Heroes". The main character in the story features in an ambitious five-book series set during the First World War. The last of these was recently published, in Autumn 2007. Anne’s most recent stand-alone is The Sheen on the Silk, set in the exotic and dangerous world of the Byzantine Empire, and is a critical success.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times, and her Scene of Crimes novel The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published July 2013.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

‘The Beautiful Mystery’ By Louise Penny

Published by Minotaur Books,
July, 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-250-03112-9

This newest in the Armand Gamache series takes place far from the latter’s usual territory.  Gamache, Chief Inspector for the Surete du Quebec, and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his second in command for more than a decade, have been called to a “near mythical monastery. . .  which is home to two dozen cloistered, contemplative monks.  Who had built their abbey as far from civilization as they could get.”  After four centuries, no one not among those two dozen had entered there, until the murder of one of their own brings the outside world in. 

The Gilbertines were an order of monks until recently thought by the world [including the Vatican] to be extinct, whose members had taken vows of silence, poverty and isolation.
What had changed that perception was a recording of the millennia-old chants sung, several times a day, by these monks, the result of which was a clamor for more information about them, and the unexpected success of the recording.  This in turn had caused a rift among the monks, about half of them aligned with the abbot, who wanted their existence to continue as it had, and those who favoured the suspension of their vow of silence, and the wealth that would surely come to the monastery in the aftermath of a second recording.  Somehow that divide had led to murder.  The dead man was the choir director, described by all as a genius, a brilliant musician with a glorious voice [as were all the others, though to a lesser degree].

The two detectives come to gain some insight into each of the monks:  How they came to be here, in this remote place, with no link to the outside world, but men not unlike themselves.   Jean-Guy, finds that one of the monks in particular is so like him that they are like opposite sides of the same coin.  The rift in the monastery is mirrored by the one inside the Surete itself, with its roots going back some time, exacerbated by horrific events described in an earlier book in the series, its effects, both physical and emotional, still felt by both Gamache and Beauvoir.  Those effects are again explored at some length, as are the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists.

About the title:  The author summed it up in her Acknowledgements better than I ever could.  It deals with the effects of music on our brains, in this case the majesty of the Gregorian chants:  “I wanted to explore this beautiful mystery.  How just a few notes can take us to a different time and place.  Can conjure a person, an event, a feeling.  Can inspire great courage, and reduce us to tears.  And in the case of this book, I wanted to explore the power of ancient chants, Gregorian chants.  On those who sing them, and those who hear them.”  And in this aim, the author has wholly succeeded.  The reader too can, just for a moment, merely reading about the effects on those who sing them and hear them, get a glimpse of what that must be like.  It’s been a very long time since I heard a Gregorian chant, but its memory was still very strong in my mind’s ear, if you will.  The book, while slowing down somewhat in the middle, contains such consistently charming prose that this is a minor quibble, and the book is highly recommended
Reviewer: Gloria Felt
The latest book in the series How the Light Gets In, will be published in August)

Louise Penny was born in Toronton in 1958 and became a journalist and radio host with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, specializing in hard news and current affairs. My first job was in Toronto and then moved to Thunder Bay at the far tip of Lake Superior, in Ontario. It was a great place to learn the art and craft of radio and interviewing, and listening. Since I was a child I've dreamed of writing and now I am. Beyond my wildest dreams (and I can dream pretty wild) the Chief Inspector Gamache books have found a world-wide audience, won awards and ended up on bestseller lists including the New York Times. Even more satisfying, I have found a group of friends in the writing community. Other authors, booksellers, readers - who have become important parts of our lives. I thought writing might provide me with an income - I had no idea the real riches were more precious but less substantial. Friendships. Louise lives with her husband Michael in a small village

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

‘Stolen’ by Rebecca Muddiman

Published by Moth Publishing,
27 March 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-901888-86-7

This is Muddiman's debut novel, and it bodes well for the author's future.  She scarcely puts a foot wrong as she guides us through the intricate plot of Stolen, which begins with a violent assault and the abduction of a baby.  Abby Henshaw, the grieving mother, never gives up hope of one day being reunited with her lost daughter.  There are numerous twists in this story; just as you've grasped the consequences of one betrayal, another one occurs, tying the plot ever-tighter in a convoluted cat's-cradle of events.  Realistic characters and an engaging Detective Inspector who is determined not to give up on the search for the missing child make this an intriguing and enjoyable read.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Rebecca Muddiman  was born and raised in Redcar where she still lives. She has a degree in Film and Media from the University of Sunderland and an MA in Creative Writing from Teesside University.  She also has qualifications in Film and TV Production and Music Management, and done several short courses including Crime Scene Investigation and Criminology. She has lived and worked in Holland and London, and in 2002 travelled around the USA on  Greyhound bus. Stolen is her first novel, she is currently working on the follow-up, Gone.

Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume  of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writer's Association, served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers, and was elected to the prestigious Detection Club. Susan Moody has given numerous courses on writing crime fiction and continues to teach creative writing in England, France, Australia, the USA and Denmark.  In addition to her many stand alone books, Susan has written two series, on featuring PI Penny Wanawake (seven books) and a series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

‘All I Did Was Shoot My Man’ by Walter Mosley

Published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson,
 4 April 2013.
 ISBN: 978-1-7802-2096-3

Leonid Trotter (“LT”) McGill is a 55-year-old African-American man, a former boxer, con man, fixer and over-all reprobate turned [relatively honest] PI is one of the more unusual characters in mystery fiction. Married, he has little if anything to do with his wife.  As far as his three children are concerned, he acknowledges that two are not his, but he loves and nurtures all.  His collection of friends and associates are as unconventional as he is.  And so are the books in the series, all somewhat bizarre but very enjoyable.

The plots of the series books, while intricate and complicated, tend to be odd.  And the present installment is no different.  In the past, LT framed a young woman who shot her boyfriend three times, when she came home to find him in bed with her best friend.  Since she was destined to go to jail anyway, he planted evidence in her locker of complicity in a $548 million heist from an insurance company.  Some years later, LT finds the “false” information that led to her conviction following which his lawyer gets her released from prison. As a result, a number of events take place, including an attempt on LT’s life, along with the murders of several others.  Of course, it’s up to him to solve the case.

Written in a style that sometimes defies belief, the complexity and insight of the novel and, especially, the LT character, are overwhelming.  With each book, development of LT as a person deepens, and the reader gains substantial knowledge of the man.
Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Ted Feit
Walter Mosley is one of America's most celebrated and beloved writers. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into more than twenty languages. Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, including national bestsellers Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, and Bad Boy Brawly Brown; the Fearless Jones series, including Fearless Jones, Fear Itself, and Fear of the Dark; the novels Blue Light and RL's Dream; and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and Walkin' the Dog. He lives in New York City.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

Monday, 26 August 2013

August Bank Holiday Monday

Not sure what you are all up to.  But I am siting here in the garden in brilliant sunshine working away on the Mystery People September issue with a glass of chilled Prosecco. My lovely partner is firing up the BBQ, and while it heats up he is making a salad - what more could a girl ask for.  OK a good book and here is a review by Joanna Leigh of The Stolen Ones by Richard Montanari.

‘The Stolen Ones’ by Richard Montanari
Published by Sphere,
18 July 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-4929-4
Written by American Richard Montanari, this story combines the pace and comforting cliches of a traditional US crime thriller with the sophisticated psychological twists and turns more associated with recent Nordic murder mysteries. It is not hard to see why Montanari's novels have been published in more than twenty-five languages. Although it took a while to get into, it then became un-put-down-able.

In the very first chapter, the reader encounters the murderer, although his identity is not revealed until much later. However, as Philadelphia Detective Jessica Balzano and her partner Kevin Byrne quickly realise, this is not so much a whodunnit as a why-dunnit. The crimes are so extravagant and symbolic that opportunism is quickly dismissed. The question, then, is what connects the victims with each other, and with the disparate and unusual ways in which they meet their ends.

And murder is not the only crime committed in this novel; child abuse and abduction also feature, making this not a novel for the squeamish. Skirting the line between gruesome and disturbing, the graphic details are, thankfully, few and far between - and the novel is far more eerie for relying on what is implied.

Even as Jessica and Kevin make the connections they need to break the case, the murderer becomes ever more audacious and, despite their best efforts, he seems able to fade into the shadows and avoid the police at every turn. Pressure on Jessica and Kevin grows and, supported by some pleasingly detailed police procedural activities (although hindered by the ruthless elimination of witnesses), they try to close the net.

It would be giving too much away to say whether they are successful or not: tragedy is certainly part of the denouement. The twists and turns will keep you guessing right to the last page, and for this reader, it was a thought provoking ending that stays with you long after the book is done.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh
Earlier books are: The Violet Hour (1998), Kiss of Evil (2001), The Rosary Girls (2005), The Skin Gods (2006), Merciless (2007), Badlands (2008), The Devil’s Garden (2009), and The Echo Man (2011). 
Richard Montanari was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the scion of a traditional Italian-American family, which means he learned two things very early in life. One: ravioli tastes much better than baby formula. Two: if you don't get to the table on time, there is no ravioli. After an undistinguished academic career, Richard traveled Europe extensively, living in London for a time, where he sold clothing in Chelsea, and foreign language encyclopedias door-to-door in Hampstead Heath.  Needless to say, he hawked a few more ties than tomes, but neither job paid enough to keep him in beer and skittles. So, he returned to the States and joined his family's construction firm.  Five years and a hundred smashed thumbs later, he decided that writing might be a better job. After working as a freelance writer for years, during which time he was published in more than two hundred publications -- including The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, and many others -- Richard wrote three pages of what was to become the first chapter of  Deviant Way.  He was immediately signed to a New York agency. When he finished the book, Michael Korda signed him to a two-book deal at Simon & Schuster. In 1996 Deviant won the OLMA for Best First Mystery. 
Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.

Friday, 23 August 2013

‘Alex’ by Pierre Lemaitre

Published by Quercus,
14 February 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-85705-187-5

Wow! And wow again! This is an absolutely gripping thriller-cum-crime-novel, one of the darkest and most grisly books I have ever read.  A girl is brutally kidnapped on a late-night Paris street, and driven  away to be stripped by her abductor and locked  into a wooden cage he has built, too small for her to stretch or sit or lie.  There are rats.  It's totally horrific.
Meanwhile, there has been a series of gruesome murders involving sulphuric acid, which is occupying the Paris police at the same time as they try to discover where the kidnap victim has been taken.  The book becomes a straightforward police procedurl  as  they to uncover the two quite separate crimes.  Of the two main policemen, one has private means and dresses like a GQ model, the other is a dwarf.  Despite this, the cops are all entirely realistic, which makes it all the more compelling to read. 
As the story develops, the twists and turns grow ever more jaw-dropping, though still entirely believable.  The dark and hideous denouement comes as a complete surprise. Totally unforgettable.

A mention should be made of Frank Wynne, the translator.  At no point does this read like a work-in-translation, none of that slight distancing which books originally written in a foreign language so often have.  Wynne deserves a prize … along with Monsieur Lemaitre.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Pierre Lemaitre was born in Paris in 1956. He worked for many years as a teacher of literature and now devotes his time to writing novels and screenplays.

Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume  of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writer's Association, served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers, and was elected to the prestigious Detection Club. Susan Moody has given numerous courses on writing crime fiction and continues to teach creative writing in England, France, Australia, the USA and Denmark.  In addition to her many stand alone books, Susan has written two series, on featuring PI Penny Wanawake (seven books) and a series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

‘Deadly Deceit’ by Mari Hannah

Published by Pan, 11 April 2013.

Discovering a new series character to seek out is one of the pleasures the readerholic looks forward to, and I think I’ve found one in Mari Hannah’s DCI Kate Daniels.
Deadly Deceit is the third in the series, and it’s plain from the outset that the protagonist has history and ongoing issues, as do several of the supporting characters.

One of Hannah’s strengths is a strong visual sense, possibly fostered by earlier forays into TV scriptwriting. A devastating motorway pile-up, a busy murder investigation room, an elegant apartment, a downmarket terrace and an enormous airbus are just a few of the locations which form a colourful background to the fast-paced narrative – though some of the description may be a tad on the graphic side for some tastes.

The plot is a classic: in the early part of the book a psychopathic serial killer sees off lover, old lady and child in two apparently unconnected incidents, then the body count rises as the villain – damaged in childhood, of course – stays one step ahead of the police right up to the final dramatic take-down. 

What brought the narrative to life for me, and raised it a notch above the average police procedural, was Hannah’s knack for giving the reader enough of the backstory from the previous series titles to bring the characters to life, and whet the appetite for them without giving away too much of the plots. Using a deft hand with character, she sketches in bereavement, a rocky marriage, relationships and failings, all of which happened before the book begins but still impact on who and where the characters are now. There are cross-currents and frictions in the investigation team, and the workload and pressures they are under come over loud and clear. Real-life policemen often claim that crime fiction bears little resemblance to what actually goes on; it would be interesting to get their take on this book.

Kate Daniels herself is a tough cookie with a soft centre, whose ambition is potentially thwarted by her sexual preferences; it seems it still isn’t wholly acceptable to be lesbian in the police service. Not that it’s a major plot point, but does play a major role in who Daniels is, which is a key factor in building a series. And this is a series well worth watching.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Mari Hannah was born in London and moved north as a child. Sponsored by the Home Office, she graduated from Teesside University before becoming a Probation Officer, a career cut short when she was injured while on duty. Thereafter, she spent several years working as a film/television scriptwriter. During that time she created and developed a number of projects, most notably a feature length film and the pilot episode of a crime series for television based on the characters in her book, the latter as part of a BBC drama development scheme. She lives in Northumberland with her partner, an ex-murder detective. In 2010, she won the Northern Writers' Award. Mari is the author of the Kate Daniels series.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

‘The Swedish Girl’ by Alex Gray

Published by Sphere,
7 March 2013.
ISBN: 978-184744-566-7

Scandinavian blue eyes, silver blond hair, wealthy and gorgeous, Eva Magnusson is the golden girl – the one the girls want to be like, and the boys want to bed.  When Kirsty Wilson gains a place in the luxury flat owed by Eva she cannot believe her good fortune. The other flatmates are three guys Gary, Colin and Rodge

The story starts in July when Eva views the flat with her father Henrik Magnusson. We then learn of the lives of the four flat mates as they take up residence at the start of the university term in September. But in December when Kirsty returns to the flat one evening she finds Eva dead.

Detective Superintendent Lorrimer is called to the incident and finds his friend pathologist Dr Rosie Fergusson  is the on-duty pathologist.  Eventually the police charge one of the male flatmates, but Kirsty doesn’t believe that he is guilty and tells her father Detective Sergeant Alistair Wilson of Strathclyde police, but he is unconvinced. Can she persuade Lorrimer that they have the wrong man.

There are many undertones to this book. What exactly was Henrik Magnusson relationship with his daughter?  And why did he select three young males as her flat mates, along with home-making Kirsty, no match for a girl like Eva. And elderly neighbour Derek McCubbin trying to avoid living with his daughter – what does he know?

Although not convinced by Kirsty Wilson’s stoic belief in the innocence of her flatmate Lorrimer calls on his friend Solly Brightman, to help him find the truth behind the enigmatic Eva.

The discovery of a second body calls into question whether they do have the right man. Compulsive reading, as Lorrimer attempts to discover the truth behind Eva’s death.

This is a gripping entry in this acclaimed series, not just because the mystery is tantalisingly complex, but because for followers of this series, we again enjoy meeting with the personal aspect of Lorrimer’s life with his wife Maggie. This book is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Previous books are: Never Somewhere Else, A Small Weeping, Shadows of Sounds, The Riverman, Pitch Black, Glasgow Kiss, Five Ways to Kill a Man, Sleep Like the Dead, A Pound of Flesh.

Alex Gray born 27 May 1950, Glasgow, is a Scottish crime writer. She was brought up in the Craigbank area of Glasgow and attended Hutchesons' Grammar School. She studied English and Philosophy at Strathclyde University and worked for a period in the  Department of Heaklth & Social Security before training as an English teacher. In 1976 she lived in Rhodesia for three months, during which time she got married, and she and her husband returned to Scotland. She continued teaching until the 1990s, when she gave the profession up and began to write full-time. Alex is a member of the Femmes Fatales crime writing trio, together with Alanna Knight and Lin Anderson .She has published six novels, all set around Glasgow and featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer and his psychological profiler Solomon Brightman, the earlier novels being published by Canongate and later books by Little Brown. She has also written several magazine articles.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

‘Pilgrim Soul’ by Gordon Ferris

Published by Atlantic Books.
4 April 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-85789-760-

The third book in the series featuring Douglas Brodie, ex-policeman, turned journalist, find him living in Glasgow with Samantha Campbell in the winter of 1947- the worst winter in living memory.

Short of money, when a member of the Jewish community asks Brodie to solve the matter of a number of burglaries about which the police don’t seem to care, he accepts the job. He tracks down the perpetrator relatively easily. Then the thief is found dead, killed by the owner of house he was robbing. But it doesn’t stop there. Soon Brodie is aware that matters are escalating.  A second killing complicates everything.

The appearance of Danny McRae, from Brodie’s days on the police force, only adds to Brodie’s unrest. As Brodie digs deeper, he realises that this was never a case of simply burglaries, but something that dates back to the war. 

Incredibly atmospheric and gripping this book will keep you avidly turning pages, as the story takes unexpected twists.  The writing is marvelous with some wonderful descriptive turns of phrase  ‘Hogmanay rolled across Scotland like a minor Black Death, leaving bodies strewn in it’s wake.’  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Gordon Ferris was born and bred in Kilmarnock. After school where he enjoyed writing and rugby he took a job working for the Ministry of Defence, procuring guided missiles and a tactical nuclear weapons system, before moving to global accountancy firm Price Waterhouse, making partner in seven years. But something inside was calling him back to writing. On a long haul flight with a laptop and hours to kill, he began the internal journey that led to Truth Dare Kill and its sequel The Unquiet Heart. With the launch in early 2011 of the first 'Brodie' book - The Hanging Shed , which was followed by Bitter Water. Pilgrim Soul is his latest book

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Back from St Hilda's Crime and Mystery Conference.

Just back from St Hilda's and what a marvelous weekend we had. Absolutely terrific conference, wonderful speakers. My thanks to organisers Kate Charles and Eileen Roberts. I had such a wonderful time catching up with everyone. I say everyone, as always there were people I didn't get to speak to - isn't it always the way. The weekend just goes by so fast. St Hilda's is always wonderful but the food this year was the best. Photo shows Priscilla Masters relaxing, with Rebecca Tope behind her and Gillian Linscott preparing to punt them all up the river.  More photos later.
Book quickly for next year dates are 15-17 August 2014.

Friday, 16 August 2013

‘The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter’ By Malcolm MacKay

Publisher Mantle,
17 Jan 2013.

Calum Maclean is a hitman, young but one of the best: cool, cautious, highly intelligent, a pro through and through. He carries out 3 or 4 hits a year, enough to make a modest living, mostly for the Glasgow crime gang run by Peter Jamieson and his righthand man John Young. However, Calum is essentially a freelance, a loner with  no wish to be part of any organisation. But now Jamieson’s ‘staff’ hitman Frank Macleod is getting on; he is 60, he needs a new hip and his ‘hit’ days are clearly over. So Jamieson calls up Calum to deal with someone’s who’s becoming a bit of a problem. The mark is Lewis Winter, a small-time drug dealer who after 25 years is desperate to make the big time: he has a drink problem and his live-in girl friend, the beautiful and much younger Zara Cope has expensive tastes. So Lewis has even taken the risky step of becoming involved with a would-be rival of Jamieson so he has to go. But Zara, as the ex-mistress of hard man Nate Colgan and mother of their child, is not to be harmed: Winter’s death may be necessary but offending Colgan is not.

Calum sets about this new hit with his usual icy meticulousness. His planning is impeccable, but even so not all eventualities can be, or are, foreseen. After Lewis’s death, his killer is pursued by Detective Michael Fisher with much the same steely determination as that shown by Calum, but also by police constable Paul Greig who is street smart and knows when to turn a blind eye, usually for money . . . and when not.

This hard-boiled novel is the first of a trilogy set in Glasgow and the first by this new Scottish writer, with the prose in short, dramatic, staccato sentences. The characters  reveal themselves not just through dialogue but also interior monologue as they set in train, or react to, events. None is particularly sympathetic, apart from the hapless Lewis Winter, but they are interesting. I thought it was excellent.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Malcolm MacKay Malcolm Mackay was born and grew up in Stornoway where he still lives. The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter’ his debut, marks the beginning of the Glasgow Trilogy, set in the city's underworld. The series also features How A Gunman Says Goodbye And The Sudden Arrival Of Violence.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

‘Hit Me’ by Lawrence Block

Published by Orion Books,
28 February 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-2484-9

This is the latest in the series featuring Keller the Hit Man. Don’t let his profession put you off. He’s really a nice guy. It’s just that he kills people for a living in return for payment. Oh, and anyone else who might get in his way when he’s doing it. There’s no unnecessary blood and gore. No sadism. It’s just a job to be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Suffering isn’t on the agenda.

However, in Hit Me, Keller has in fact retired. He’s acquired a wife (Julia) and a baby (Jenny) and relocated from New York to New Orleans, post Katrina, where he’s found work as a builder. He even has a new name. Nicholas Edwards. But, out of the blue, he gets a call from his erstwhile agent, Dot. There is a little job in Dallas she would like him to clear up! He goes. Then there are trips to Denver to kill a monk, a cruise to the West Indies, a return New York (will someone recognise him in his old stamping ground?) and suddenly he is back in the game.

But then, in the last chapter sees him ordered to kill a 14 year old boy who is an ardent stamp collector and thereby is a snag.  You see, most of Keller’s time is taken up with his lifelong hobby - philately. It is a consuming interest for him which in most people’s eyes makes him a nerd. But the profession needs young blood so will he do it or will this dilemma finally put an end to his lawless career, whereby he swaps the Black Arts for a Penny Black?

There is so much humour in Lawrence Block’s books that you never want them to finish and this one is no exception. And if you are interested in stamp collecting yourself, you could learn a lot from this book. As for myself, I am waiting in the constant hope that he will resurrect his other favourite character, Matt Scudder.
Reviewer: Ron Ellis

Lawrence Block  was born June 24, 1938. An American crime  best known for two long-running  New York series, about the recovering alcoholic P.I. Matthew Scudder and gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr.  Block was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994.


Ron Ellis. Writer, Broadcaster and Photographer, Ron is the author of the popular series of crime novels set on Merseyside featuring Liverpool radio D.J./Private Eye, Johnny Ace.
He also writes the D.C.I. Glass mystery series. As well as his fiction titles, Ron has written 'Southport Faces' a social history of the town seen through the eyes of 48 of its best-known residents. His 'Journal of a Coffin Dodger', the hilarious adventures of an 84 year old playboy, has been serialised on BBC Radio and poems from his collection of poetry, 'Last of the Lake Poets', have won several nationwide competitions. During the 1980's, he conducted over 192 interviews with friends and relatives of John Lennon for Albert Goldman's biography, 'The Lives of John Lennon'.
Ron writes the football reports for the Southport Champion and is also their theatre and arts reviewer as well as being a regular contributor to magazines such as Lancashire Life.