Rellik: criminally brilliant

This is the crime drama of the year for me, and the BBC deserve considerable kudos for bringing a concept this challenging to our screens. It proves that intelligent and gripping thrillers aren’t the sole preserve of ScandiLand, and Rellik is every bit as good as the best Nordic noir. The six-part drama isn’t just…

Chance: existential peril

Plenty of people aren’t going to like Chance. It’s ambitious and provocative, complex in construction and in its prose. Superficially it treads the same neurotic waters as Jonathan Kellerman’s trick-cyclist investigations, where the reader is given psychological insights into the mechanisms of the unravelling mind. But author Kem Nunn takes many more risks than Kellerman…

Nail’s Crossing: native American noir

This rural American police investigation is a sheer delight, conjouring characters as credible and a situation as intriguing as you’ll find in James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series. Here the hook is somewhat different: we follow Detective Maytubby of the ‘first people’ Chickasaw Nation as he plunges barefoot into a rough and tumble murder manhunt…

Purple Kitty: far from cute n cuddly

Purple Kitty’s title sorta suggests cuddly, fluffy, giggle a minute, girl’s night in, pink pyjamas, comedy crime*. That couldn’t be further from the reality of this dystopian private eye investigation, set in an oppressive future a few decades down the line. Gumshoe Serena McKay isn’t your typical ‘strong female protagonist’, either. Normally, the average crime-solving…

The Needle House: meet DS Lasser

  In the end he ran, simply because it was the only sane thing left to do. When Kyle had suggested they pile into his beaten-up Fiat and drive to the woods, Billy had groaned. Half an hour sandwiched on the back seat, littered with old burger wrappers and empty beer cans was a grim…

The Scarred Woman: a perfect payoff

After leading us down the garden path and round the mulberry bush for several Department Q novels, Jussi Adler-Olsen finally pulls all the threads together in this absurdly clever and extremely convoluted investigation. Finally we discover what’s been going on with the detective’s assistant, Rose, for all these years… but not at the expense of…

The Stoner Stories: a killer cast of characters

Meet JJ Stoner: musician, motorcyclist… and murderer. For years, Stoner has used sharp blades, blunt instruments and his innate persuasiveness to discreetly resolve tricky situations for the British government. During Stoner’s military days his kills were government-sanctioned. As a mercenary they were privately contracted. Some times, they were entirely off the books… ‘When the fighting…