The Woman In The Woods: a darkening descent

Many readers typically discuss the darker, arcane side of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series but – as the 16th book brilliantly demonstrates – there’s a solid private detective story at the core of this convoluted story. So while a dark cabal plots the end of everything and the rise of apocalyptic gods, social issues and…

A Game Of Ghosts: Live, die, repeat

If you’re enjoying something immensely, why would you ever want it to stop? That’s the nub of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series of supernatural crime-thrillers. The author and his audience certainly seem to relish Charlie’s annual appearance in which he confronts the latest cult of ancient evil to come crawling out of the undergrowth. But…

Since We Fell: squandered skill

In a moment of total muppetry, I didn’t actually read the blurb before ordering this book. I mean, why wouldn’t I just hit the button as soon as I saw a new Dennis Lehane crime thriller? He’s never let me down before, not since 1994 when ‘A Drink Before The War’ started the stunning Kenzie…

Environmentally Friendly: man against nature

Author Elias Zanbaka crams a stack of action into precious few pages in this rapid-fire short story, which turns out to be the perfect length for a coffee break. He breaks almost every writing convention and hurls the reader into a non-stop heart-pumping pursuit through the crowded streets of Los Angeles. The writing is raw…

Real Tigers: second rate spies save the day

There’s no doubt about it: Mick Herron blows the bloody doors off with the opening chapters of Real Tigers. This is stand-out, showboat, top rank writing, honed close to perfection with all the skill and dedication of an artisan craftsman. Mind you, people who haven’t read the two earlier novels in the ‘Slough House’ trilogy…

Kill Devil Falls: trailer trash terror

Kill Devil Falls isn’t somewhere you’d want to end up stranded. A ruined wreck of rust belt Americana in the Sierra Nevada region, it has no main road. No mains power. No cellphone signal. It has an incompetent, possibly corrupt local police force. It has a single criminal incarcerated in its ramshackle jailhouse. It has…

The Ice Lands: literary weirdness

  Any attempt to categorise The Ice Lands is pretty much doomed. It’s a skilfully written exercise in edgy ambiguity, tantalisingly open to interpretation. It’s not ‘horror’ of the stereotypical rip / rend / spatter style, yet there’s plenty of blood spilled using most unpleasant methods. It draws on the melancholic mystery and the stark…

Dark Heart, Heavy Soul: a rogue Russian

Konstantin is a killer. Ex-KGB, ex-FSB, now skulking in the shadows in the run-down seaside towns of Kent, of all places. He dresses like a tramp, bears a bitter grudge from his past life, always checks over his shoulder and rarely fights fair. He’s an excellent operations planner and is known in the worst kind…

A Time Of Torment:

The Cut is both a place and its insular inhabitants. It’s an isolated rural community, feared and avoided by the normal folk who live on its borders. People go missing near The Cut. People get hurt by The Cut. It’s the very essence of backwoods noir; the nasty place deep in the hills where strong…

The Corruption Of Chastity

To begin at the end: when you approach the final chapters of this intricate, entangled and absorbing philosophical investigation, it’s best to batten down the hatches and settle in for the long haul. You’ll reach a point where JJ Stoner, the semi-retired ex-soldier and almost-ex-assassin (but not quite: killing people is a habit which dies…