Read this book for: canon-Holmes style, short stories, Victorian English mysteries, Sherlock Holmes
Quick Review: A lovely collection of short stories that feels completely at home within the Holmes canon, while including some very interesting perspectives.
Once again, famous associates of the Great Detective – clients, colleagues and, of course, villains – tell their own stories in this collection of brand-new adventures. Meet Lucy Hebron years after Holmes’s only ever failed deduction; follow your nose down the streets of London with Toby the Dog; join Mrs Hudson on her first ever case; greet an ambassador from Mars alongside Lord Holdhurst; and confess your sins to your cellmate, Professor James Moriarty…
Read this book for: history connections, prose and poetry well written, terrorist plot, Canadian setting, thriller, murder mystery
Quick Review: A superb follow-up to the first novel in the series, perfectly balancing lyrical prose with intense thriller pacing for a brilliantly-handled, must-read novel.
Detective Esa Khattak heads up Canada’s Community Policing Section, which handles minority-sensitive cases across all levels of law enforcement. Khattak is still under scrutiny for his last case, so he’s surprised when INSET, Canada’s national security team, calls him in on another politically sensitive issue. For months, INSET has been investigating a local terrorist cell which is planning an attack on New Year’s Day but their undercover informant, Mohsin Dar, has been murdered. Khattak used to know Mohsin, and he can’t let this murder slide, so he sends his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, undercover into the unsuspecting mosque which houses the terrorist cell. As Rachel tentatively reaches out into the unfamiliar world of Islam, and begins developing relationships with the people of the mosque and the terrorist cell within it, the potential reasons for Mohsin’s murder only seem to multiply, from the political and ideological to the intensely personal. Continue reading REVIEW: The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan (Getty & Khattak #2)→
Read this book for: psychological thriller, multiple personalities, partially unreliable narrator, California mystery, domestic mystery
Quick Review: A fascinating, spiralling, yet sympathetic descent into something near madness taken by a neuropsychiatrist.
Dr. Eldon Chance, a neuropsychiatrist, is a man primed for spectacular ruin. Into Dr. Chance’s blighted life walks Jaclyn Blackstone, the abused, attractive wife of an Oakland homicide detective, a violent and jealous man. Jaclyn appears to be suffering from a dissociative identity disorder. In time, Chance will fall into bed with her—or is it with her alter ego, the voracious and volatile Jackie Black? The not-so-good doctor, despite his professional training, isn’t quite sure and soon finds himself up against her husband, Raymond, a formidable and dangerous adversary. Meanwhile, Chance also meets a young man named D, a self-styled, streetwise philosopher skilled in the art of the blade. It is around this trio of unique and dangerous individuals that long-guarded secrets begin to unravel, obsessions grow, and the doctor’s carefully arranged life comes to the brink of implosion.
Read this book for: haunting read, psychological thriller, dreamy/lyrical writing, serial killer, idyllic setting, North American (Canada/US) setting
Quick Review: Atmospheric and brooding psychological thriller that holds you spellbound. A beautifully-written must-read!
It’s the summer of 1967. The sun shines brightly over Boundary lake, a holiday haven on the US – Canadian border. Families relax in the heat, happy and carefree. Course tick away to the sound of radios playing ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds; and ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. Children run along the beach as the heady smell of barbecues fills the air. Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan, with their long, tanned legs and silky hair, relish their growing reputation as the red and blonde Lolitas. Life seems idyllic. But then Zaza disappears, and the skies begin to cloud over…
Read this book for: suspense, thriller, horror, supernatural elements, unreliable narrator, mental illness, amateur investigation
Quick Review: Not your typical haunted house story – a page-turner driven by the underlying mystery that brings a refreshing take on some well-loved narratives.
Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman… Continue reading REVIEW: House of Spines by Michael J Malone→
Read this book for: non-fiction, London crime, gang crime, violence
Quick Review: A very fact-based account of a surprisingly robust gang active in 60s London; fascinating access and details.
The classic, bestselling account of the infamous Kray twins, now a major film, LEGEND, starring Tom Hardy.
Reggie and Ronald Kray ruled London’s gangland during the 1960s with a ruthlessness and viciousness that shocks even now. Building an empire of organised crime such as nobody has done before or since, the brothers swindled, intimidated, terrorised, extorted and brutally murdered. John Pearson explores the strange relationship that bound the twins together, and charts their gruesome career to their downfall and imprisonment for life in 1969.
To live in interesting times may be good for journalists and media punters, but it’s bloody hard to get a novel written.
Every novelist has a secret shame. The thing they compulsively procrastinate when they should be writing: that is, when you turn on your computer and think, “Now I absolutely have to get some writing done,” this is what you turn to to blot out the pain and fear. One playwright friend told me of his journey through the levels of Lara Croft Tomb Raider IV while he was meant to be writing his first Corrie script.
I was relieved to see, just the other day on Twitter, Margaret Atwood admitting the fear. This may be Twitter’s most useful gift to writers: to see that everyone feels it. But what Twitter gives with the right click, it takes away with the left.
We all get that itch. When you’re trying to focus, but you haven’t quite got there; and your addictive brain says, “Oh, isn’t there something interesting you could be looking at? Rather than just sitting there.” But it’s just whatever is there available on your desk, or your desktop, or your blasted phone.
(Hollow laugh at the idea these are phones: they are software developers’ evil way of sneaking compulsive procrastinating computer devices into all our pockets, on the pretext of ‘keeping in touch’.)
Why has Twitter got me this time around? Well, as I started the full draft of Lawless & the House of Electricity, the US was just rejecting Bernie Sanders, bringing criminal charges to ruin Hillary’s campaign, and then electing a machiavellian numbskull.
The moment the edits were sent through to me, the May-bot U-turned to declare a snap election. (Novelist Anna Mazzola was the one who alerted me to the danger first: “Political omnishambles disturbing work,” she tweeted.)
My Top Five Things that Delayed me Most in Writing This Novel
Political omnishambles via Twitter
Our bay tree needs continual spraying to control pest – always seems terrible
Andy Murray at Wimbledon
Next door’s dinosaur that roars (I’m guessing dinosaur: originally thought it was the child himself roaring)
Amazon: “Amazon recommends” has become so entertaining
Inactivity – a walk to the sea is always an inspiration
And I only got this blog written because I was writing in the car, with no internet access, as my wife drove us to Scotland.