Devolution:  social commentary (and sasquatch)

What a monster romp this is – in every respect. It’s described as a ‘horror’ story by some reviewers which is massively over-stating things… perhaps because the author is best known for his zombie-apocalypse World War Z story. But Devolution is a different type of cautionary tale, leaning more towards time-honoured sci-fi like The Day…

Indie Week! British mysteries and crime-thrillers

We began our exploration of new titles and recommended reads with exotic adventures overseas from small publishers and independent authors. This time we’re staying closer to home with a selection of stories based in and around the United Kingdom – but not necessarily told by British writers. You may be unfamiliar with some of these…

Indie week! Recent releases and recommended reads

Feel like a fresh start? Perhaps you’ve gotten tired of long-running series which seem to go in circles. Maybe you’re so familiar with established authors that you know exactly which rabbit they’re going to pull out of a pork-pie hat. Or perhaps you’ve read enough domestic noir right now, and would like to try a…

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.…

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…

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…

A Deadly Divide: Canada’s cultural schism

I’m a fan of ‘international crime’ in general and of Canadian thrillers in particular, and of novels which use this genre to get to grips with difficult issues. So although this was my first encounter with Detective Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, the situation – a small Quebecois community – grabbed me straight away. So…