Rapid Reviews: criminal thrills and weird mysteries

This month’s selection of recommended reads includes a couple of slightly supernatural stories, a BritCrime police procedural with an intriguing central character, an atmospheric Alaskan adventure with the Aleut, snappy short stories, soulful investigations – and, as usual, one book which we rather wish we’d not bothered with. We’ll come to that a little later.…

It’s Dark In London: graphic noir

Don’t imagine for a moment that this illustrated anthology of short stories is kid’s stuff, simply because it’s in comic book format. This is a graphic novel; graphic in both style and substance. It’s absolutely 18-rated for adult audiences only; partly because the artwork and language spare absolutely no blushes but also due to the…

Rapid Reviews: the weird and the wonderful

This week’s selection of criminal encounters goes beyond the usual police procedurals to uncover murder in the desert and monsters on the movie lot; eugenics in tomorrow’s world and courtroom dramas from yesteryear, and an assassin who kills for kindness… THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael ConnellyIt may be a touch long in the tooth –…

The Conviction: vigilante action

This would make a great movie. In fact, The Conviction strongly reminds me of a sci-fi flick from the late 1990s, Cube, in which a group of strangers navigate their way through a sequence of lethal puzzles trying to discover why they’ve been abducted. The Conviction features a similar theme, with locked rooms containing potentially…

Free ebook: start a killer thriller series

If you’re still shielding or possibly just have some time on your hands, then now might be the perfect moment to begin a new thriller series. Let us introduce you to JJ Stoner, a complicated contract killer, via First Contract which is free until midnight on 17 July 2020. Go grab it now so you…

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap & Leonard lite

This collection compiles five short stories from the formative years of Joe R Lansdale’s unconventional scoundrels, right at the time when they’re forming the solid bond that stands them in good stead in later life. Like several other memorable pairings in crime fiction – Angel and Louis, Spenser and Hawk, Stoner and Stretch – Hap…

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…

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…