July 18 2015

It’s not often you can say that crime fiction is bang up to the minute topical – but Philip Kerr’s Hand of God nails the present chaos in Greece, and is also a rattling good story set in the world of international football, says sports fan Sharon Wheeler.
Come to think of it, we get around a fair bit this week – never say we just send you to Blackpool with 50p for some candy floss! Chris Roberts was a bit unsure about the literary style in Silver Bullets by Elmer Mendoza, set in Mexico, but liked the sympathetic cop hero. Over in Brazil, Edney Silvestre’s Happiness is Easy shines a relentless spotlight onto the political realities and characters’ lives, says Chris. And John Cleal really admired the portrayal of time and place in a fading Aussie outback town in Stephen Orr’s One Boy Missing.

If you’re looking for a light and fluffy read, you may wish to give Helsinki Noir, edited by James Thompson, a miss. Chris Roberts says the stories tend to be unremittingly gloomy. And on that score, we usually keep John Cleal away from Scandi noir, as he grumbles like hell about it, but Cecilia Eckback seems to be the exception that proves the rule! She’s of Lapp, Canadian and Swedish stock – and John says Wolf Winter, her debut novel, has a touch of the supernatural, but the horror is quite natural. Sylvia Wilson, meanwhile, says there are some unlikely coincidences in Elisabeth Elo’s North of Boston, but that it’s an impressive first novel, set in the Canadian arctic.

Arnold Taylor has been working his way through the reissues of Georges Simenon’s classic crime fiction. He says that The Shadow Puppet plays to the author’s considerable strengths of making us look at ourselves as well as others. The action in Karen Perry’s The Boy That Never Was moves from Tangiers to Dublin, and Linda Wilson found it to be a haunting psychological thriller with every parent’s worst fears at the heart.

On home soil, Sharon Wheeler was totally charmed by the latest outing for Anya Lipska’s London-based Polish fixer in A Devil Under the Skin – and she got to practise her Polish swear words again! Linda Wilson, though, veered between irritation and intrigue at DD Johnston’s The Secret Baby Room, and had to be restrained from writing ‘show, not tell’ across it in red pen!

John Cleal has been frequenting the streets of Victorian London. He says that Kate Griffin’s Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill-Fortune cleverly combines the music hall and an action adventure set amidst the squalor. And Lauren Owen’s The Quick is likely to polarise opinion, he says, although John found it one of those books best not read last thing at night!

Elsewhere, Linda Wilson is very fond of Alan Bradley’s series featuring 12-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce – and says As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is a delight. And if you fancy some action, then Zoe Sharp’s Absence of Light and other Charlie Fox stories is one for you. Linda says it’s a great interim fix until the next novel featuring the tough gal bodyguard comes along. Sylvia Maughan, meanwhile, praises the dialogue in Karen Rose’s Closer Than You Think, but says the author’s regular readers might want a bit more subtlety and variation in their action romance diet.

This week it’s Elly Griffiths with the Countdown light shining in her eyes – and we reckon we’ll be sticking close to her in lieu of a four-leaved clover, given her luck. And her drinking companions should make for an entertaining evening.

We'll be back in a fortnight with 16 new reviews and an interview with a top author. In the meantime, please visit our friends at Reviewing the Evidence who have news on what’s been released in the US, Canada and Down Under.
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Linda and Sharon

Countdown with
Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths was born in London, studied English at King's College London and worked in publishing for 15 years. She wrote four books (under her real name Domenica de Rosa) before her husband’s career change inspired her to write about forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. Her agent told her she needed a 'crime name' so she became Elly Griffiths. The first Ruth book, The Crossing Places, won the Mary Higgins Clark award. The seventh book, The Ghost Fields, was published in March 2015 and The Zig Zag Girl, the first in a new series, in 2014. Elly lives near Brighton with her husband and two children.

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

Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, work.

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

Sea, cat, garden, books, lucky pebbles, card with a stripy horse on it, broken filing cabinet, photos, mess.

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

Scrambled egg and marmite on toast.