Movie Monday: strange superheroes

You might believe that Joker was the first big-bucks movie to focus on a supervillain. Not so. M Night Shyamalan got there before, with Split in 2019 starring James McAvoy. But Split, we soon learned, wasn’t actually a standalone story – instead it was a sequel to one of Shyamalan’s much earlier films which starred…

Hammer To Fall: a superb spy story

Where has author John Lawton been hiding all my life? This is, quite simply, the best spy story I’ve read for years. It’s been compared to Le Carre and Alan Furst – but those references aren’t entirely accurate. Hammer To Fall is far more fluid and a lot less pompous than Le Carre’s recent work.…

Two Lives: challenging criminal literature

The seven short stories in this anthology almost defy classification. Their plots might hinge on a sudden moment of criminal madness – theft, murder, rape – but each of these self-contained stories is about something far more subtle, the brutalisation of the soul, perhaps; the subjugation of the self. The author was a police officer…

Freebie Friday! Win a crime-thriller

We’re giving away a paperback copy of the brilliant new crime-thriller DEEP DARK NIGHT by Steph Broadribb. Fearless Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson travels to Chicago to trap the head of a notorious crime family, in a high-stakes, nail-biting mission that sees her trapped in one of the city’s tallest buildings during a blackout… Just hop…

Victim 2117: Scandi crime on the world stage

After the simply brilliant events of the previous Dept Q Scandi thriller (The Scarred Woman), I was a mite dubious that this long-running series could sustain its momentum with another five-star yarn. Oh, me of little faith. Once author Olsen sets the scene, he lets loose a monstrous snowball of a plot that becomes an…

Black River: that difficult second album

It’s a total cliché that the sequel to an astonishing debut is often disappointing. Author Will Dean deftly sidestepped that situation with his Tuva Moodyson series; the second book (Red Snow) was every bit as good as the first (Dark Pines). But this third venture into the depth of the northern Swedish forest doesn’t quite…

The Coldest Warrior: a spook story from the 1970s

‘The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.’ That’s how a CIA manual from the early 1950s instructed its agents in the ultimate sanction. And that’s what happened in 1953 to a scientist who may have been involved in MK-ULTRA, the American bio-warfare project…