Rapid Reviews: strong female protagonists

The female of the species might be a police detective, a contract killer, a lawyer in the DA’s office or an analyst at MI6. But in modern crime fiction she’s likely to be smart, skilled and assertive, as these four thrillers demonstrate in fine style… The Late Show by Michael Connelly If you’ve somehow swerved…

Cold Malice: a mature Icelandic saga

This series of Icelandic investigations has reached that ‘mature’ stage in its evolution – the point where regular readers are intimately acquainted with the core characters and eagerly anticipate catching up with them in a new instalment. Officer Gunnhildur’s fans definitely won’t be disappointed this time around. After an atypical assignment in the preceding book,…

Cold Malice: sneak preview!

There’s a new Icelandic murder mystery out this week – in which one man comes back from the dead, a dead man reveals the truth about a suspicious accident, and a spur of the moment act of revenge has unforeseen consequences. Officer Gunnhildur returns to piece together this peculiar puzzle, never pulling her punches or…

Ramus: gritty British crime debut

This unpredictable debut novel is massively informed by the author’s first-hand experience of every day British policing. Tony Ryan brings immense depth and detail of actual hands-on police work to his tale, down to every minor detail. Like the officers who illicitly smoke in a squad car and stink it up; the intricacy of the…

Motive X: a mid-season Scandi thriller

Motive X is most definitely a story which starts in the middle. Amid the multiple plotlines there lurks a self-contained mystery of grisly killings, but that plot is almost overwhelmed by the series’ ongoing themes: the catastrophic domestic situation of police detective Fabian Risk and his dysfunctional family; the catastrophic personal life of his boss…

Eighteen Below: a twist at every turn

Although it’s set in Sweden, this ripping thriller has more in common with mainstream American crime-fiction than the typical thoughtful, slow-burn Scandi crime. It’s all about the action and less about atmosphere – a fast-paced ensemble investigation, not a moody, windswept sonnet to the isolated solitude of the Nordic spirit. It’s certainly a lot more…

A Book Of Bones: 21st century gothic

This gargantuan beast of a book concludes a story arc which began some six volumes ago in The Wolf In Winter. Far from being bare bones, A Book Of Bones is an extended, immersive and intense reading experience which delightfully disrupts commercial publishing conventions. For one thing, this is a 700 page epic – a…

Lucifer Falls: a killer concept (but not much more)

This book had me at the title. Lucifer Falls. The suggestion of a biblical / supernatural scenario lured me to the line. Then the blurb set the hook: a serial killer in London, twisting Catholicism to his own psychopathy, making grisly martyrs from genuinely good people. Sign me up! And Lucifer Falls delivers all that…