Rapid reviews: six of the best

What have you been reading during lockdown? We’ve gone for a classic espionage thriller, a smattering of short sharp stabs, an angry, radical thriller and a masterclass in modern American literature. All of them turned out to be four- or five-star high fliers. Take your pick… SS-GB by Len Deighton This may be in the…

The Mist: the last shall be first

In the true tradition of The Bridge, that cornerstone of Nordic noir, the final part of the Hidden Iceland trilogy brilliantly demonstrates that… everything goes back to the beginning. It was a bold choice by author Ragnar Jónasson to tell his story in reverse order, starting with the bitter end of Hulda Hermannsdóttir’s career as…

I May Kill You: an entirely English serial killer

A genteel seaside town on England’s south coast isn’t the usual setting for a homicidal maniac to start stalking his prey – but then, this killer is more than a little unusual. For a start, he sends his intended victims a letter which explains his peculiar personality – thus simultaneously providing the police with potential…

Hitler’s Peace: an alternative war story

Fans of Philip Kerr’s Berlin noir series might be surprised by this standalone story – it’s most definitely not a Bernie Gunther-style thriller. It’s a rigorously researched historical novel with a fictional intrigue woven around actual events and real people; the military men and global leaders whose actions proved pivotal during WW2. You shouldn’t expect…

Neon Prey: an American manhunt

This is the umpteenth book in the long-running Prey series, which started back in 1989 and is still romping along. Over the years, lawman / lothario Lucas Davenport has aged gracefully – and even adopted monogamy – while author John Sandford has covered almost every aspect of ‘this time it’s personal’ serial killer territory. In…

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.…