Dear God, I hate the winter and all its dismal,dripping, dank, defeated dreariness. (enough alliteration already! – Editor) In my youth, distant though it now is, I was a great fan of the stories of Billy Bunter, written by the wonderful Frank Richards, aka Charles Hamilton. The tales were strewn with classical and biblical references which, in those days, most of us understood. One of my favourites was used whenever Bunter was at low point in life, but then, miraculously, found a forgotten toffee in his pocket, or perhaps an unguarded slice of chocolate cake in the common room. Richards would say, “but for Bunter, there was Balm in Gilead.” This meant, of course, that the woes of the world inhabited by The Fat Owl of The Remove were, temporarily, eased. Gilead is a hilly region in modern day Jordan, and the balm was a herbal medicine known to the inhabitants in biblical times.
My ‘Balm In Gilead’, particularly at this time of year, could be described as deliverance by delivery. ( Fret ye not, I have exhausted the ‘d’ page of my Bloggers Dictionary) Three lovely books arrived this week. One has been out for a while, but by the time the other two are available, Spring will hopefully have sprung. So, after the lengthy preamble, to the books.
David R Ewens (right) lives and works in Kent, and Fifth Column is the fourth book featuring PI Frank Sterling. We are in the world of international skullduggery, but it isn’t all first class lounges and dangerous blondes. Sterling says:
“People wonder what a PI gets up to. Most of the time, the work is really tedious. It means a lot of hanging around and getting involved in some of the more sordid aspects of human behaviour. It can be really dangerous too – like the time I got banged up in a cellar in a Flanders farmhouse and tortured with a cigarette. But sometimes it’s interesting and exciting. And one of the best things about it is that I can pretty much do as I damn well please, and that wasn’t the case when I was on the job and had a sergeant or inspector breathing down my neck. One thing is certain. I was never a team player so how I currently earn my living suits me just fine…”
Now, the former police officer is entrusted with foiling an impending terrorist atrocity, and so we can assume that his days of hanging around and doing nothing particular are – temporarily – over. The books is already available, and you can check out buying options here. It is worth saying that the paperback edition is beautifully printed and bound and has a very classy feel to it. Fifth Column is published by Grosvenor House Publishing.
“April, come she will,
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain.”
So sang Paul Simon in 1966, and most of you will have to wait until then to read the latest book from Emma Kavanagh. We reviewed – and loved – her previous book, and you can read why it was so good by clicking the link to The Missing Hours Now, we travel north from Herefordshire to the rugged grandeur of Northumberland, and Hadrians Wall. Emma Kavanagh (below) is a professional forensic psychologist, and she has put this experience to good use by relating the story of Isla Bell, a specialist who is trained to get into the minds of serial killers. She has a very special expertise, though. As a teenager, she found three bodies propped up against the crumbling remains of the great Roman defensive rampart. The killer was eventually found and convicted, but for Isla, years on from that trauma. there are more deaths, and she has to face the prospect that the killer has returned. The Killer On The Wall is published by Arrow, and will be out on 20th April.
DC Max Wolfe has become established in the crime fiction firmament, thanks to his creator, Tony Parsons (left). Of the previous book in the series, The Hanging Club, I wrote:
“I am a sucker for a good London setting, and Parsons doesn’t disappoint. Wolfe’s little rooftop flat within sight and sound of St Paul’s Cathedral is a delight, and the eventual location of the hangings is a complete surprise. I finished The Hanging Club in just a couple of long sessions, such was its grip.”
One of the reasons I admire Tony Parsons as a writer is that he is not afraid to get to grips with the undoubted problems in many of our big cities caused by foreign gangs, imported criminal networks, and the resuscitation of an abomination that we thought we had seen the back of in the nineteenth century – slavery. Parsons doesn’t flinch from portraying evil for what it is, but neither does he preach. Wolfe’s latest case starts when a refrigerated lorry is found abandoned in London’s Chinatown. Inside are twelve women. Twelve corpses – frozen to death. But in the cab of the lorry are thirteen passports. Where is the missing woman? Max Wolfe’s determination to solve this conundrum takes him to darker places than even his world-weary soul could ever have imagined. Die Last is published by Century, and will be available on 6th April.