July 12 2014

It’s not in the least unusual for crime writers to write under pseudonyms – JK Rowling is probably still twitching in annoyance at being outed as Robert Galbraith. But if you’re on Twitter, you might have spotted the #whoissamalexander hashtags.

It turned out to be good fun trying to guess which current crime writer had written Carnal Acts under another name. Read Sharon Wheeler’s review to find out who it is. She didn’t guess correctly, but says the book is dark and a page-turner.

If you want noir this week, you’re in the right place. Chris Roberts says Tom Vater’s The Man With the Golden Mind, which takes German detective Maier from Hamburg to Vietnam, really isn’t a bundle of laughs. David Mark’s Original Skin features a main character who John Cleal likens to a 21st century George Dixon. If you have a strong stomach, you’ll enjoy this clever but grim book, says John. In fact, he had a bloodthirsty selection this week, but says that Greg Iles’s Natchez Burning, set in America’s deep south, where secrets resurface, is a brilliant piece of work.

Also on the American front, Sylvia Wilson says Chevy Stevens’s Always Watching is gripping and well-written, as a psychiatrist unlocks unpleasant memories from her past in a commune. Julee Sanderson whispers sheepishly that she doesn’t like Sookie Stackhouse – but she’s hooked by Charlaine Harris’s new series. Midnight Crossroad has a great blend of human, not so human and supernatural characters  - and of course there’s a vampire!

A crime novel translated from Irish to English is a new one on Sharon Wheeler. She reckons Anna Sweeney’s Deadly Intent has lots of possibilities for a new series set near picturesque Beara, but the book suffers from meanderings and wavering points of view.

Among the long-running series this week, Tom Thorne is back on the murder squad in Mark Billingham’s The Bones Beneath – and Linda Wilson was reading from behind the safety of the sofa! And Linda enjoyed the latest addition to M R Hall’s series featuring a coroner with personal problems – and she says all the characters seem real in The Burning.

Two of our reviewers ventured into lurrrrrrve territory this time out! Sylvia Maughan admired the characterisation in Karen Rose’s Watch Your Back, the latest in a crime/romance series. John Cleal says that you know what you get with Karen Robards’ books – Jilly Cooper meets Tom Cain, with plenty of steamy sex and violence. Shiver conforms to this with its action and fantasy romance world.

Elsewhere, Chris Roberts praises Jason Webster’s Blood Med, set amidst the financial and political unrest in Spain and featuring Detective Chief Inspector Max Camera. And also further afield, Chris enjoyed Parker Bilal’s The Ghost Runner, which features an Egyptian PI whose investigations take him to an oasis town.

M J Arlidge’s Eeny Meeny has a really cunning kill or be killed central premise, says Linda Wilson, although it’s rather let down by the hackneyed flawed cop. When it comes to rock-solid plotting, Arnold Taylor says that Mick Herron’s Slow Horses, with its team of disgraced spooks, is subtle, detailed and utterly convincing.

On the young adult front, Linda Wilson was reeled in rapidly by Bali Rai’s Web of Darkness, a sinister tale of internet stalking.

In the Countdown hot seat this week is Meg Gardiner, who clearly has impeccable taste – at least one of your editors agrees that more films need Idris Elba in!

We'll back in a fortnight with 16 new reviews and an interview with a top author. In the meantime, we hope you'll visit our good friends at Reviewing the Evidence to catch up on the American and Canadian releases.
And if you're not following us on Twitter, find us at .

Linda and Sharon

Countdown with
Meg Gardiner

Meg Gardiner was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School, and practised law in Los Angeles. She also taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. After living in the UK for many years, she recently moved back to the US.


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