The Possession: supernatural stirrings

This is a 21st century ghost story, speculative fiction which muddies the waters in the semi-permeable membrane between worlds. Author Michael Rutger cleverly blends the deliciously creepy aspects of a golden-era gothic ghost story with the hard-nosed realities of modern lives lived online, the quiet personal tragedies of broken families, and the delicate balancing act…

The Crow Girl: Scandi s-l-o-w

A great lumbering beast of a book, this one failed to grab me and – unusually – I bailed out after the first instalment (it’s effectively a trilogy in one publication). I found it long-winded, fragmented and unrewarding, veering between explicitly described violence (which I don’t mind so much if it serves a purpose) and…

Twisted: convoluted and clichéd

I know that an unreliable narrator, cliffhanger endings to every chapter and gobsmacking plot twists are all the rage right now. But Twisted proves that you can definitely have too much of a good thing. While attempting to be utterly unpredictable it becomes entirely implausible. You know from the start that you can’t trust the…

Greasy Bend: backroads manhunt

Take a trip to the Chickasaw nation in rural Oklahoma, where mid-winter sleet strafes the washed-out wastelands and where the ancient mountains resemble sleeping bison on the horizon. Meet tribal detective Bill Maytubby and local police officer Hannah Bond, the yang and yin linchpins of this backwoods manhunt. Ostensibly, Greasy Bend is a murder-mystery, a…

Joe Country: English espionage

Brilliant but baffling. If you’re new to the Slough House series then that’s your likely reaction to this, the sixth in the sequence of modern-day spook stories. Joe Country is not one of those dip-in, dip-out, ‘can be read as a standalone’ novels. Each book in the Jackson Lamb series is a chapter in an…

The Stoner Stories: hardboiled humour

Frank Westworth’s Stoner Stories are so damn funny. Probably my favourite merging of genres is crime-comedy. Because of the colourful and dominating personalities in crime fiction, comedy slides in naturally, and when done well, it’s a great mix. Westworth does it well. There are many examples of the fast-paced and deliciously dry sense of humour…

Crime Time: new books and recommended reads

Ready to hit the beach? Don’t forget to take a stack of crime thrillers, espionage adventures and murder mysteries with you. Here’s the latest new publications from indie authors and bestselling big names, from hardboiled pulp fiction to Nordic noir, spy stories to high-tech thrillers, police procedurals and political conspiracies. Expect the unexpected! THE RUSSIAN…