March 04 2017

If there’s a willy-waving thriller to be had, you won’t see one of our editors for dust (clue: not Sharon). So Linda Wilson was in her element this week with Shadow Kill by Chris Ryan. She says it’s searingly brutal, but never gratuitous. Ewa Sherman reckons you need a stronger stomach than hers for Mark Raabe’s Cut, but she says the plot is full of twists.

There’s plenty to keep your adrenaline pumping. Linda Wilson praised Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead. She says this debut novel featuring a female bounty hunter is tough, stylish and absorbing. Chris Roberts enjoyed Sirens by Joseph Knox, describing it as an impressive urban noir debut set in Manchester and featuring a dodgy cop who’s been tampering with evidence. John Cleal is a huge fan of Max Allan Collins’s Quarry series, and says Quarry’s Deal, featuring a Vietnam veteran-turned-killer for hire is pulp fiction at its best. Jim Beaman, meanwhile, reckons Pendulum by Adam Hamdy is a fast-paced thriller where the former war photographer hero has more lives than a cat.

On the American front, John Cleal says that Brighton by Michael Harvey is a great insight into working class American life. Chris Roberts enjoyed Smoke Over Malibu by Tim Walker and says the story of an expat Englishman in LA boasts a light touch and is a joy to read. The Prometheus Man by Scott Reardon is the tale of a CIA agent out to revenge himself on the people who killed his brother. John Barnbrook warns that it’s rather difficult to follow, but is worth the effort as you won’t guess the ending.

We’ve kept our history buff John Cleal busy this week. Rory Clements leaps forward 400 years with Corpus to 1936, and John says the author can seemingly turn his hand to any historical period. If you’re a fan of dark fantasy/Gothic horror, given Lawless and the Flowers of Sin by William Sutton a go. John says its depiction of Victorian life and times is fearless. In John’s opinion, Robert Ryan is the best of the wave of Sherlock Holmes imitators currently flooding the shelves. He enjoyed The Sign of Fear, which gives Dr Watson a leading role. Elsewhere, Sylvia Maughan felt that even though it was categorised as crime fiction, The Penny Heart by Martine Bailey reads like an 18th century tale in the style of Dickens or Eliot.

If you fancy some travelling, Arnold Taylor is happily working his way through Penguin’s reissues of Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels. He says Maigret’s First Case shows how the detective’s thinking has progressed. And there’s an unusual main character in The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew, who writes a newspaper advice column and is an expert on sauces. Chris Roberts says this South African-based book is a charming tale. There’s a third outing in The Killing Room for Peter May’s Chinese detective and American pathologist protagonists. Chris says there’s barely a dull moment. And we’ve even got some travel of a different sort. Linda Wilson is usually a sucker for time travel fiction, but says Robert Dickinson’s The Tourist, a tale of visitors from 2345 returning to a 21st century shopping mall, never quite delivers.

Elsewhere, Kati Barr-Taylor had mixed luck. She says Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst is one of those cracking debut novels where you hope the author doesn’t go back to her day job. Kati usually devours serial killer novels, but was unconvinced by Alex Lake’s Killing Kate, reckoning that it had more conveniences than Glastonbury festival!

On the YA front, Linda Wilson adored Urban Outlaws: Counterstrike by Peter Jay Black. She says she’d happily keep reading this rollercoaster series which is drawing to a close.

In the Countdown hot seat this week is Aussie thriller writer Matthew Reilly who has cool taste in books – and knows some enticing places to run away to.

We’ll be back in a fortnight with 20 new reviews and an interview with a top name on the crime fiction scene. If you have a moment, see what our friends at Reviewing the Evidence think about new releases in the US, Canada and Australia.

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Linda and Sharon


Countdown with
Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly was born in Sydney in 1974. He is the author of over a dozen novels and novellas. Following rejections from all the major publishers. Matthew self-published Contest in 1996, printing 1000 copies. It was spotted by a commissioning editor for Pan Macmillan, who tracked Matthew down through his contact details in the front of the book – and signed him for a two-book deal. Those original self-published editions have become collectors’ items –one recently sold on eBay for $1200!

Matthew's books are published in 20 twenty languages and have sold nearly seven-and-a-half million copies worldwide. In addition, Walt Disney Pictures have optioned the movie rights to his children's book, Hover Car Racer, and the Jack West Jr series was recently optioned by Fox.

When not writing or working on a film script, Matthew can be found on the golf course. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

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

I still can’t believe I get paid to do this.

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

I’m in my office so: three movie posters (Die Hard, RoboCop, Jurassic Park), two Back to the Future items, three spaceship toys and one Star Wars helmet.

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

Peanut butter on toast.