Rapid reviews: six of the best

What have you been reading during lockdown? We’ve gone for a classic espionage thriller, a smattering of short sharp stabs, an angry, radical thriller and a masterclass in modern American literature. All of them turned out to be four- or five-star high fliers. Take your pick… SS-GB by Len Deighton This may be in the…

I May Kill You: an entirely English serial killer

A genteel seaside town on England’s south coast isn’t the usual setting for a homicidal maniac to start stalking his prey – but then, this killer is more than a little unusual. For a start, he sends his intended victims a letter which explains his peculiar personality – thus simultaneously providing the police with potential…

Nocturne For Madness: hardboiled brilliance

In this, the first Thomas Haftmann book, we encounter the controlled madness of two men, one a former cop, the other a misfit and killer of women. Ex-homicide cop Thomas Haftmann is recently divorced and working as a PI. Barely surviving financially, and haunted by his own twin demons of gambling and alcohol, Haftmann gets…

Fade To Grey: BritCrime that keeps it real

It ain’t easy for an author writing British crime fiction to find that pivot-point between a realistic, believable situation and a genuinely gripping storyline. While the UK crime-rate is far from ideal, blazing gun battles, weird serial killings and helicopter chases aren’t exactly part of everyday life. So BritCrime thrillers tend to veer from one…

Northtown Eclipse: hardboiled and harrowing

Original and inventive, Northtown Eclipse takes the typical crime cliché of a seedy private eye and subverts the standard hardboiled detective story into something significantly more substantial. Author Robb White twists the tropes of the genre to tell a much more meaningful story, one which explores the human condition at its most personal – a…

The Mind’s Eye: a great start but slow progress

Van Veeteren is among the most famous of Swedish fictional detectives, but this was my first written encounter with the character. This book started off brilliantly with a mystifying mystery of the locked room tradition: a drowned wife in a locked bathroom, the husband so inebriated he could only remember their wild festivity of the…

Femme Fatale: a rollicking romp

It doesn’t matter if you’ve not read the two earlier encounters with Daniel Beckett, the Soho-based private investigator, raconteur, womaniser, fashionista, badass mofo and international man of mystery – you pretty much get the measure of the man in the opening three chapters of Femme Fatale. He flirts, fights, flirts some more, struts his peacock…