Three thrillers: two hits, one miss

What have you been reading recently? These three novels all fall into the ‘crime fiction’ category, but they couldn’t be more dissimilar. A brilliantly bizarre British mystery which plumbs the dark depths that ‘Inspector Corner of the Yard’ would never dare explore; a breathless, twisting EuroCrime caper which aims to confuse and certainly succeeds, and…

Five Minds: one wild ride

Some high-concept sci-fi consists of a brilliant idea and little more. It might explore a thought-provoking theme of social significance, but the central conceit falls flat because the author can’t actually tell a good story or create convincing characters. Happily, Guy Morpuss anchors his not-too-distant future in an assembly of engaging personalities – five individuals…

Deity: throne of blood?

The ‘six stories’ series is near the top of my must-read list, and the opportunity to read a new one is set aside to be savoured at leisure. Wesolowski has refined his inventive format with each episode, gradually revealing his secrets from six intersecting perspectives. Every single one of these witness statements comes from an…

The Dark: Antarctic isolation

Imagine being marooned for many months with half a dozen strangers, in the harshest environment on earth, quite literally in the dark. That’s where doctor Kate goes, to an Antarctic research station, to over-winter with the skeleton crew. She’s hiding from a series of tragic mistakes she made in her personal and professional life –…

Evil at Lac La Mort: history mystery and spooky stuff

Although this is the second in the author’s ‘Friends of the Dead’ series, you don’t need to have read the first one to really enjoy this spooky story set in the Canadian wilderness. All you need to know is that archaeologists Steve and Theo have previously encountered a restless spirit from history, and were able…

The Sentinel: a new hope?

You must’ve been hiding under a very big rock if all the kerfuffle about Lee Child and Jack Reacher somehow failed to ping your radar. But here’s a recap: about 18 months ago, Lee announced that he felt he was getting on a bit, aged 65, for writing many more hard-hitting Reacher thrillers. Indeed, it’s…

The Dying Squad: unconvincing afterlife

Normally, I’m a sucker for a supernatural detective story, so figured this life-after-death investigation, in which a dead policeman must find his own murderer, would be straight up my street. It certainly started in five-star style, with the confused Detective Joe Lazarus (what else could he have been called, eh?) being confronted by his own…

Butcher Pen Road: running wild in the backwoods

A dead body found in a sleepy creek in rural Oklahoma – at first glance, this is a city-slicker fisherman, sneaking some fly-time out of season, who’s slipped on the rocks. But tribal policeman Bill Maytubby and country deputy Hannah Bond aren’t so easily fooled. The fish in dead man’s keep-net are all wrong for…

The Colours Of Death: EuroCrime with a telepathic twist

The idea of extra-sensory detectives has been successfully explored by several authors – check out Kay Hooper’s SCU series, Spencer Kope’s Special Tracking Unit, or Nik Morton’s psychic spy Tana Standish. The uber-abilities of the investigator are usually employed within a special psy-cop unit, but with The Colours Of Death author Patricia Marques takes a…

River Sing Out: bleak but beautiful

This bittersweet story of southern noir swims through familiar waters, with obvious echoes of modern classics like Winter’s Bone. In East Texas, a young lad reaches beyond the loveless boundaries of his white-trash background. But his initial exploration of the bigger world beyond the backwoods might turn out to be his last – he risks…