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…

Hitler’s Peace: an alternative war story

Fans of Philip Kerr’s Berlin noir series might be surprised by this standalone story – it’s most definitely not a Bernie Gunther-style thriller. It’s a rigorously researched historical novel with a fictional intrigue woven around actual events and real people; the military men and global leaders whose actions proved pivotal during WW2. You shouldn’t expect…

Timberwolf: through a glass, darkly

This is a beast of a book. A substantial, meticulously crafted alternate reality, populated with a fully-fledged society and acres of exhaustive backstory. Think American Gods meets Bernie Gunther with overtones of Orwell, a collision between myriad strands of mythology and the hard-bitten cynicism of an under-dog who struggles to survive the grinding oppression of…

Ungentlemanly Warfare: a WW2 spy story

Despite what the title suggests, this is an entirely gentlemanly novel of behind-the-lines, undercover activity in occupied France during WW2. It’s an old-school espionage adventure which cleverly captures the classic vibe of films like The Great Escape. I almost expected Dickie Attenborough and Kenneth Moore to appear as character cameos… …and in fact Howard Linskey,…

Criminal Activity: new books and recent releases

Serial killers, cosy crime and Nordic noir: it’s all in our selection of murder and mystery featuring top-flight writers, exciting indie authors and a few new names you should definitely get to know. The action tracks between gritty BritCrime, the Russian mafia, Los Angeles in wartime, a typically English mystery, Weimar Berlin and small-town Sweden.…

Metropolis: a goodbye to Bernie

Long before it was fashionable to write detective fiction set in Nazi Germany, Philip Kerr created his Berlin Noir trilogy. That series established an entire genre and inspired a generation of crime writers to set their stories not in Agatha Christie’s golden age of the English upper class but instead in Berlin’s sleazy backstreets. Unlike…

Witness Statement: author Jan Edwards

Welcome to author Jan Edwards, whose new wartime mystery novel In Her Defence has just hit the shelves. Heroine Bunch Courtney – who we met in Winter Downs two years ago – first witnesses the death of a Dutch refugee in a quiet English market town. Just days later she learns of a similar murder…