November 30 2013
The Cuckoo's Calling turns out to be a thoroughly delightful read, says Sharon Wheeler, who hopes the Harry Potter author will bring back PI hero Cormoran Strike in future books. Journalist-turned-screenwriter Terry Hayes has now turned his attention to thriller writing, and John Cleal reckons I Am Pilgrim, which focuses on a sinister plot to destroy America, has Hollywood blockbuster stamped all over it.
Colette MacBeth's Precious Thing is told in the form of a narrative addressed to the leading character's best friend. Linda Wilson says it's a competent and assured debut novel. Rob Gittens's Gimme Shelter has an unusual central character in the form of witness protection officer Ros Gilet. Linda says it's a brutal book, but if you have a strong stomach, it's worth reading for the unusual angle and tension.
Also a bit different is Nick Greaves's debut Death of a Diplomat, set in the Bahamas. It appears to be 'did anyone do anything at all' rather than a whodunit, says Arnold Taylor. And he praises the author's relaxed self-assurance in his storytelling. John Cleal says that Stephen Talty's Black Irish, set amongst a close-knit Irish community in New York, is a cop thriller that ignores the formulaic mould.
On the Eurocrime scene, we're spared blood and guts in Jason Webster's The Anarchist Detective, set in Spain. Chris Roberts admires the characterisation and the sub-plot about the Spanish Civil War, but says the ending is far too rushed. Chris had a double European dose this week with Conor Fitzgerald's The Memory Key, a police procedural set in Rome. He describes as a clever and complex book. And Linda Wilson welcomes Death At the Clos Du Lac, the latest in Adrian Magson's police procedural series set in 1960s France, and says it's well-grounded in time and place. On the Scandi front this week, Leif Persson's Another Time, Another Life is clever and quirky, but rather leisurely, according to Sharon Wheeler.
Onto the well-established series, and Jonathan Kellerman is a long way down the line with psychologist Alex Delaware. Sylvia Wilson says Victims is pretty gory, but has its reflective side as Alex discovers links to his past. And Lawrence Block's Hit Me features a morally ambivalent hero who happens to be the kind of bloke you'd like to have a drink with. John Cleal says the book is cleverly crafted and humorous.
Elsewhere, Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach wins this week's award for the most off-beat title. Colin Cottterill's novel set in Thailand and featuring a sometime journalist in the shape of Jimm Juree is off-the-wall and funny, according to Sylvia Maughan. And Maddy Marsh praises an inventive plot and well-crafted characters in Gregg Hurwitz's Tell No Lies - but grinds her teeth at the predictable ending.
This week's Countdown victim is Martin Walker, author of the Bruno Courrèges series, set in rural France. He is a man after the editors' own hearts, with a love of dogs and a dislike of Ryanair!
We'll be back in a fortnight. In the meantime, make sure you've checked out American and Canadian reviews over at Reviewing the Evidence.
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Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...
Writing, writing, writing: essays, then news articles, books, now novels.
Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...
My basset hound
My tennis racquet
One of my wife’s paintings
Bottle of my own home-made vin de noix
Ripe tomatoes in my vegetable garden
Two pears just plucked from tree.
Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?
Omelette aux truffes with petit pois, fresh baguette and a bottle of Chateau de Tiregand, 2005.