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fullybooked2017

A retired Assistant Head Teacher, mad keen on guitars. Four grown-up sons, one delightful grandchild. Enjoys shooting at targets, not living things. Determined not to go gently into that good night.

THE MOSUL LEGACY . . . Between the covers

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The Mosul Legacy
by Christopher Lowery
puts us firmly into the mid-teens of the 21st century. We have four narrative anchors. Ibrahim is a devout but deluded Muslim living in Koln, Germany. He is an Iraqi exile, his father has been killed while serving with ISIL, and he is determined to ‘do his bit’ to establish The Caliphate. Karl is a battle-hardened and indisputably brave ISIL soldier. He has seen his forces capture the ancient city of Mosul against tremendous odds, but now, courtesy of Western firepower, his men are about to be overwhelmed. Faqir-al-Douri is a restaurant owner in Mosul. He and his family are, unfortunately for them, Christians. He has traded food, accomodation and money with the ISIL conquerors. Their part of the bargain? They let him live. Max Kellerman is a German police officer with particular responsibility for preventing or – in the worst case, finding those responsible for – acts of terror.

Mosul009Lowery sets out his narrative stall with those four threads which will eventually weave together to powerful effect. Ibrahim, his puppet strings pulled from afar courtesy of the internet, plans a terrorist bomb attack which goes spectacularly wrong and he goes on the run. A revered and respected fighter, Karl, has to watch in frustration while his ISIL soldiers are outgunned and overwhelmed by coalition forces, and his position is undermined by over-promoted jobsworths in his own organisation. Faqir has finally had enough of living in the shell-torn morgue that Mosul has become, and gathers together his hard-earned savings and is determined to find a better life for his family. Battling German privacy laws which prevent him from publishing photos of his suspect, Kellerman presses on and is determined to bring his man to justice.

Understandably, the geographical action involving Faqir and Ibrahim darts about like a firefly, while the doomed Karl and the determined Kellerman, fight on their own ground, be it of their own choosing or not. Of course, the various strands of the book are fated to converge, but just how, when and where is not for me to reveal.

Christopher_Lowery-745x1024This is a big, sprawling novel – nearly 450 pages – but it is grimly readable. I say ‘grimly’ because it goes behind bland newspaper headlines and ten-second TV news video clips, to reveal the whole Iraq – Syria situation as the ruinous, depressing and insoluble shambles it has become. It would be impossible to write a novel like this with it being political, but I don’t think Lowery (right)  allows himself to become partisan. For sure, he pulls no punches in his scathing depiction of the social intolerance of many Muslim communities, and the genocidal fanaticism of ISIL which is as close to mental illness as makes no difference. He is, however, just as clear sighted in his scepticism about the real reasons why America and its allies – most pointedly Britain – became involved in Iraq in the first place.

Sometimes the ironies in the novel are cruel in the extreme, most pointedly as we watch the deluded zealot Ibrahim waltz through Europe unimpeded, thanks to the Schengen Agreement and his German passport, while Faqir and his family have to creep across borders at the dead of night, pay off unscrupulous traffickers at every turn, and suffer harrowing mental and physical torment caused, principally, by people such as Ibrahim and Karl.

Novels dealing with large scale political and military cruelty don’t have a duty to explain why men commit the evil deeds they do. Despite the brilliant writing of Philip Kerr in his Bernie Gunther novels I am no clearer now as to why Heydrich and Goebbels acted as they did. Lowery has written a deeply disturbing account of Islam’s revenge on ‘infidel’ Europe, but my understanding of the motives of his characters remains a blur. I can see that Karl does what he does because he believes ‘x’. Why does he believe ‘x’? Next question, please.

Sometimes, novels entertain in a transitory and peripheral sense. We enjoy the language, shiver at the thrills and bite our nails at the suspense, and then say to ourselves, “Well that was fun – thank goodness it’s only fiction.” This is a book which lies heavy on the soul, to be honest, because it takes no liberties with reality. We gaze into an abyss which has been created by our own governments, and has engulfed real people. Don’t read The Mosul Legacy as a holiday diversion or an imagined escape from whatever world enfolds you. This is now. This what we have created. The Mosul Legacy is published by Urbane Publications and will be available on 27th September.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Leigh & Lowery

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A HOLIDAY TO DIE FOR by Marion Leigh

Marion LeighBorn and educated in the United Kingdom, Marion Leigh (left) has lived in France, Germany, Indonesia, Canada, the USA and, latterly, Spain. She has also spent time in Australia and the Far East, India, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Her debut novel, The Politician’s Daughter, was the first in a series of adventure thrillers featuring feisty globetrotting Petra Minx of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Dead Man’s Legacy followed, but now Petra is in South Africa, accompanying her buddy, Carlo, to his cousin’s wedding. She becomes involved in the hunt for the attacker of two teenage girls in Cape Town and finds among her foes, in no particular order, a wicked step-brother, a phony priest, and a reluctant bride. This is out now, from Troubador Publishing. To find out more about Marion, you can visit her website.

THE MOSUL LEGACY by Christopher Lowery

The author is best known for his trilogy of best-selling thrillers set against the turbulent background of the African diamond industry.

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Christopher_Lowery-745x1024Here, though, Lowery (right) turns his attention to an equally violent centre of rage and recrimination – post-Sadam Iraq. This hard hitting and meticulously researched thriller focuses on two contrasting pairs of Iraqis. The first pair are bitter and vengeful jihadists who travel west determined to wreak havoc with bomb and bullet on a world they blame for the destruction of their homeland and an assault on their religion. The other two. a married couple – Hema and Faqir Al-Douri – flee the Mosul death trap with only one intention –  to find peace and safety in Western Europe. The Mosul Legacy is published by Urbane Publications and will be out on 27th September.

THE BREAK LINE . . . Between the covers

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coverOne of my sons was, in his teens, an avid fan of the Andy McNab books and acquired several signed copies of the SAS man’s adventures, and even had a couple of autographed photos of the great man (complete with the obligatory black rectangle across his features, naturally). I have to confess that I didn’t share his enthusiasm, and military thrillers are not normally high on my TBR pile. When the publicists at Michael Joseph sent me a copy of The Break Line by James Brabazon two things aroused my interest. The first was the frankly terrifying background of the author, a documentary film maker and journalist who has been to some of the darkest and most dangerous spots in the world and lived to tell the tale. Second was my admiration for the team at Michael Joseph and my awareness that they don’t, in my experience, publish bad books. If The Break Line had convinced their editorial team, then maybe I should take a closer look?

They were not wrong, and neither was I. This is a breathtaking journey through a world where brave but damaged men are sent into deserts, putrid slums and disease-ridden jungles to do terrible things – mostly to other people who have, for one reason or another, become irrelevant, irritating or downright dangerous.
Who sends them? Why, the dark-suited gentlemen in Whitehall or others in the monolithic 1990s building at 85 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall which houses British intelligence services.

Max McLean is, in all senses, an orphan. Literally, because after his father was killed in a plane crash while engaged in some secret diplomatic mission, his mother cured her grief by filling her pockets with stones and wading out into a deep Irish lake. Metaphorically, because McLean has no anchors, no reference points, no comfort blankets and no safe spaces in the day-to-day world which most of us inhabit. A soldier since he was sixteen, his only family has been The Regiment and, when he bothers to think about it, he could cut his loneliness with a knife.

McLean screws up an assassination assignment through a mixture of conscience and raging hormones, and his penance is to to be sent into the anarchic trou de merde of Sierra Leone. Someone – or something – is disturbing the already fragile equilibrium of that benighted country. McLean is shown a morgue where the corpses have been literally torn apart. This is not cholera, or the dreaded ebola. This is not the work of wild animals, or even drug-crazed teenage Revolutionary United Front rebels with all the moral compass and conscience of a snake.

BrabazonExactly what it is that McLean faces will only be learned when you read the book. The instant you begin to read the first-person narrative, you will rightly assume that McLean survives his ordeal, as an action novel has yet to be written where the protagonist convincingly records his own death, but what happens between the first page and the last is a curious but utterly compelling mix of The Heart of Darkness, Indiana Jones, science fiction and visceral horror shot through with musings about the two great imponderables – life and death. Thriller fans will be able to fill their boots with the usual tropes; Le Carré style double and treble dealing at the highest level, fierce fire-fights, fascinating military detail, treacherous Russians and a cataclysmic body count. Brabazon (right) is not, however, simply ticking genre boxes. He shows an assured and convincing style of writing that puts him way above many of his contemporaries in the genre.

I mentioned at the outset that Brabazon is what used to be called, in colonial days, ‘an old Africa hand.’ He has seen the continent at its best and at its very, very worst – and it is the sheer immensity of the latter which casts a monstrous and baleful shadow over the narrative. The Break Line is published by Michael Joseph and was published in all formats on 26th July.

THE POLISH DETECTIVE . . . Between the covers

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FICTIONAL SCOTTISH COPPERS – rather like single malt whiskies – are spread the length and breadth of that fine country. Highlands, Lowlands, islands, stately university cities, gritty oil and gas ports, mistily romantic glens and litter-strewn council estates where hope goes to die. Chris Longmuir has set her DS Bill Murphy novels in Dundee, but she has by no means cornered the Tayside market, for now comes Hania Allen with the first in a series set in Dundee and featuring Polish-born DS Dania Gorska.

TPDDania Gorska has come to work in Dundee after starting her career in London with the Met. A divorce from husband Tony (watch out for the clever twist) has left her footloose and fancy free. Her exemplary record has meant she has enjoyed a swift and welcome transfer to Police Scotland. She lodges with her brother Marek, who is an investigative journalist.

The discovery, in a farmer’s field, of the body of a female academic displayed in the manner of a scarecrow sets in train a murder enquiry which takes Gorska and her colleagues down a twisty and circuitous road where they come across Druids, an eccentric Laird, two missing schoolgirls – and another girl obsessed with studying how dead creatures decay. As you might expect, the killer hasn’t finished and more corpses end up on the pathologist’s cutting table. Early on in the narrative, one of the characters comes across as a definite ‘wrong ‘un’, but Allen weaves the threads of the plot into a cunning riddle with a surprising and satisfying solution.

Hania-Allen_CarolineTrotter-Photography_2017The Polish Detective is in some ways a standard police procedural which chugs along nicely on its accustomed rails. All the usual characters are present and correct; no such story would be complete without a dyspeptic senior officer, the obligatory post mortem scene with a sarcastic medical professor wielding the bone saw, the male junior detective who thinks he’s Jack – or perhaps Jock – the Lad, and the mind numbing tedium of the door knocking and CCTV scanning that sits behind every brilliant solution to a murder mystery. What lifts this book above the average is the character of Dania Gorska herself, and in particular her musical passion for, naturally, her great countryman Frédéric François Chopin and his sublime piano music. Hania Allen (right) describes herself as a pianist who makes up in enthusiasm what she lacks in talent, but under the fingers of DS Gorska, the great man’s preludes and nocturnes shimmer and sparkle throughout the pages, and the darker notes of the Polish soul are never far away.

The events in The Polish Detective take place on the eve of the June 2016 EU referendum, the result of which I suspect Hania Allen disapproves, as she has her heroine declaring at one point, that Chopin was “ also a European, as we all are..” I live in a town full of lovely Polskie people who have come to Britain in the last fifteen years or so, and those that I know well are intensely proud – in the best way possible – of their nation and its culture. Dania Gorska’s claim, therefore, may be something of a leap of faith, but Hania Allen makes a serious point about the debt this country owes to Polish men and women stretching back to the dark days of WW2.

Politics aside, Hania Allen may be allowed self deprecation of her skills as a pianist, but on this evidence there is do doubt whatsoever about her skills as a crime novelist. The Polish Detective is tautly plotted, full of intriguing characters and settings, with a thoroughly engaging new central character. It is published by Constable and is out in paperback on 9th August.

Fans of Scottish crime fiction might like to see what Fully Booked has in the way of reviews and features centred on this popular genre. Click the blue link to see what’s on offer.

PAST TIMES – OLD CRIMES . . . PB Yuill and Hazell

Yuill1Something we do all too rarely on Fully Booked, mea culpa, is to feature articles and reviews by guest writers. I am delighted that an old mate of mine, Stuart Radmore (we go back to the then-down-at-heel Melbourne suburbs of Carlton and Parkville in the 1970s, where he was a law student and I was teaching art at Wesley College) has written this feature on a writer who, as an individual, never actually existed. Stuart’s knowledge of crime fiction is immense, and so I will let him take up the story.

P.B Yuill was the transparent alias of Gordon Williams and Terry Venables, who in the early to mid 1970s wrote a number of novels together. Gordon Williams (1934-2017) and pictured below, started out as a straight novelist, but over time would turn his hand to almost anything literary – thrillers, SF screenplays, even ghosted footballer’s memoirs. Terry Venables (b. 1943) was at this time described as “top football star already worth over £150,000 in transfer fees”.

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Yuill3Their first joint outing (published under their own names) was They Used To Play On Grass (1971).   Described, not incorrectly, on the paperback cover as “the greatest soccer novel ever”, it’s still an enjoyable read, with each man’s contribution being pretty obvious.

Next up was The Bornless Keeper (1974), published under the name of PB Yuill.   A credible horror/thriller, set in modern times.

“Peacock Island lies just off the English south coast. But it could belong to an earlier century; its secret overgrown coverts, its strange historic legends are maintained and hidden by the rich old lady who lives there as a recluse.”.  

If the tale now seems overfamiliar – the moody locals, the over-inquisitive visiting film crew, the one person who won’t be told not to go out alone – it’s partly because these elements, perhaps corny even then, have been over-used in too many slasher movies since. Although credited to P.B Yuill, the setting and theme of the novel reads as the work of Gordon Williams alone

Now to Hazell. There are three Hazell novels, published by Macmillan in 1974, ’75 and ’76 – Hazell Plays Solomon, Hazell and the Three Card Trick, and Hazell and the Menacing Jester.

The premise of the first novel is original; James Hazell, ex-copper and self-described “biggest bastard who ever pushed your bell button” is hired by a London woman, now wealthy and living in the US, to confirm her suspicion that her child was switched for another shortly after its birth in an East London maternity hospital.   Clearly, there can be no happy ending to such enquiries, and the story leads to dark places and deep secrets.

The next two novels are a little lighter in tone, but still deal with the grittier side of London life.   In Three Card Trick a man has apparently suicided by jumping in front of a Tube train.   His widow doesn’t accept this – there is the insurance to consider – and hires Hazell to prove her right.

In Menacing Jester we are on slightly more familiar PI ground; a millionaire and his wife are apparently the victims of a practical joker. Or is there something more sinister behind it?

All three novels contain plenty of sex, violence and local colour – card sharps, clip joint hostesses, Soho drinking dens – and the authors were clearly familiar with the more picturesque aspects of the London underworld and portray these with energy and humour. Readers looking for evidence of the “casual racism/sexism/whatever” of the 1970s will not come away empty-handed.

terry-venables-bannerThe authors were keen to develop the Hazell character into a possible TV series, and the later two books seem to be written with this in mind. This duly came to pass, via Thames Television, and the first series was broadcast in 1978, starring Nicholas Ball as a youthful James Hazell.   Gordon Williams, with Venables (right) and other writers, was responsible for a number of the episodes (including ‘Hazell Plays Solomon’), and it remains a very watchable series. The second, and final, series broadcast in 1979/80 was not so successful. The hardness was gone, Hazell and Inspector ‘Choc’ Minty had become something of a double act and, while not outright comedy, it came close at times.   It’s not surprising to learn that Leon Griffiths, one of the second series screenwriters, went on to create and develop the very successful series Minder later that year.

And that was about it. But there was to be a last hurrah for Hazell in print. Two Hazell annuals, “based on the popular television series”, appeared in 1978 and 1979. The tales in these books are surprisingly tough, bearing in mind the intended teenage readership.   Hazell’s adventures are told via short stories and comic strips, and include strong-ish violence, blackmail and other criminality.   While the contribution of “P. B Yuill” was probably nil, the stories are true to the feel of the first series of the TV programme.

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To conclude: English fictional private eyes are a rare breed, and fewer still can claim to have begun as a literary, rather than television, creation. Hazell is among the best of these. The three novels rightly remain in print, and are eminently readable.

There is a postscript. There was one last appearance of P.B Yuill.   In early 1981 ‘Arena’, a BBC2 documentary series, devoted a programme to the attempts of Williams and Venables to write a new Hazell adventure – tentatively entitled ‘Hazell and the Floating Voter’ – and it featured such worthies as John Bindon and Michael Elphick playing the part of Hazell. It’s never been broadcast since, and while it was pleasing to see the authors discussing the character of Hazell, in retrospect the programme seems like an excuse for a few days’ drinking on licence-payers’ money.

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MORTE POINT . . . Between the covers

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There is a hoary old cliché sometimes heard in football or rugby games, when the manager exhorts his team “to leave nothing in the changing room”. In plain English, he wants, to unearth another classic, “110% effort” from his lads. Robert Parker certainly leaves nothing behind on his keyboard, if I can extend the metaphor. As I noted in my review of his previous novel, Crook’s Hollow:

“If you are a fan of leisurely paced pastoral crime novels, complete with all the tropes – short-sighted vicars, inquisitive spinsters, toffs at the manor house with a dark secret – then maybe this book isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you want 200 pages of non-stop action …..”

Morte PointParker is on similar form here in Morte Point which, as Devonians know, is a rocky peninsula on the north west coast of that county. Rather than the bitterly feuding rural families in Crook’s Hollow, Mr P gives us a jailbird ex SAS soldier, a mysteriously beautiful Kosovan biochemist, a sunken plane wreck containing only the body of a woman (minus her head), a senior British government minister determined to engineer the biggest international shock since Hitler declared war and Stalin, a bloody shoot-out in London’s most prestigious hotel and – at the centre of the drama – a phial containing a synthesised botulism capable of killing millions.

Ben Bracken is the former SAS trooper who has fallen foul of The Regiment and ended up in jail. Escaping, but taking out an insurance policy by way of blackmail material on the governor, he is officially still “inside”. He is not far enough under the radar of a certain officer in the National Crime Agency, however, and Jeremiah Salix contacts Bracken with an offer he cannot (for various reasons) refuse.

An aircraft is due to land at a Devon Royal Marines airbase, but Salix tells Bracken that it will not reach its destination, but instead end up on the seabed. It will be carrying something of great interest to a certain group of individuals, but Bracken’s mission is to dive to the wreck and snatch that certain “something” before the bad guys arrive. Bracken does as he is bid, and despite being kept in the dark about the exact nature of what he was meant to retrieve, he is soon left in no doubt that the people who arrive just too late to prevent him from carrying out Salix’s orders are deadly serious.

robertparkerWhat follows is, to my mind, the best part of the book. Back in the day when the mysterious Andy McNab (and his ever-present black rectangle) was the media’s darling, survival skills, initiative in the wild and hiding in plain sight were familiar tropes in thrillers and on the screen, but Parker (right)  has revitalised the idea. Bracken manages to stay half a step – but no more – ahead of his pursuers as he travels rough on his way north to meet up with Salix. You might scoff, and say that rural Devon is hardly the Iraqi desert, but Bracken realises that he is Britain’s most hunted man and, in these days of 24 hour news coverage on a bewildering range of devices, he knows that he has no friends, and no ally except his own resources and awareness of nature. He comes unstuck, however, after a chance encounter with vipera berus, and from this point the story takes a very different direction.

With the caveat stated at the beginning, this thriller will not tick every CriFi box. Midsomer Murders it ain’t, but in Ben Bracken we have a dangerous and complex man who certainly has every reason to bear a grudge against society while not being entirely without a conscience. The spectacular conclusion in, of all places, a turkey rearing farm, may not be “bootiful”, but it is certainly high-octane drama. Morte Point is published by Endeavour Quill and will be available on 27th July.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Brabazon, Curtis & Heary

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THE BREAK LINE by James Brabazon

The Break LineIn his debut thriller, James Brabazon enlists that familiar but effective trope, the elusive and anonymous killer who does unpleasant things for his country’s government, despite the knowledge that he ever gets caught, his paymasters will, like the biblical Peter, deny him thrice. Max McLean is one such ‘invisible man’ but when his bravest and most reliable colleague falls foul of the official machine, Max tears up his contract and goes to the violent wastelands of Sierra Leone in search of the men who have destroyed his best friend. The Break Line is published by Michael Joseph/Penguin and will be available on 26th July.

 

WHEN I FIND YOU by Emma Curtis

WIFYThere is a bona fide medical condition called face blindness, and sufferers lack the vital mental ability to retain data about another person’s appearance in order to recognise them at a future meeting. Laura is one such, but she can relate people to clothing. When she wakes up, hungover after a woks Christmas bash, she remembers that she slept with a man in a pink shirt. Or did she? When she realises that the shirt on her bedroom floor is blue, her troubles are only just beginning. Transworld Digital publish the Kindle version of When I Find You, and the paperback, from Black Swan/Penguin will be available on 9th August.

THE CONCORDAT by Sean Heary

ConcordatCentral to the story is an all-powerful Russian President who sits like a spider at the centre of a web which is designed to snare unwary political and military flies across the world. Sounds familiar? Well, maybe, but this guy is called Alexander Volkov, and he plans to boost his power by revealing a potentially damaging historical pact between the Vatican and Hitler’s Germany. Lorenzo Rossi is the Head of the modern day Vatican police and his quest to limit Volkov’s malign intentions leads him into clear and present danger. If you are minded to grab this thriller, it is available now in paperback and as a Kindle, courtesy of Troubador Publishing.

 

 

A GENTLEMAN’S MURDER . . . Between the covers

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It is the autumn of 1924 and we are in London. London has always been – and will ever be – a city of contrasts but now, six years on from the Armistice that ended The Great War, the differences between the men who survived the conflict are marked. On the streets the less fortunate are selling matches, bootlaces, carrying placards asking for work, many of them reduced to displaying mutilated limbs, less as a badge of honour, more in a desperate attempt to provoke compassion and pity. Inside the Britannia Club, however, the members are known by their former military rank and it’s ‘Major’ this, ‘Lieutenant’ that and ‘Captain’ the other.

AGMEric Peterkin is one such and, although he carries his rank with pride, he is just a little different, and he is viewed with some disdain by certain fellow members and simply tolerated by others. Despite generations of military Peterkins looking down from their portraits in the club rooms, Eric is what is known, in the language of the time, a half-caste. His Chinese mother has bequeathed him more than enough of the characteristics of her race for the jibe, “I suppose you served in the Chinese Labour Corps?” to become commonplace.

Having served King and Country is a prerequisite for membership of the Britannia, so eyebrows are raised when Albert Benson appears as a new member. Benson, it transpires, was a conscientious objector but redeemed himself by service as a stretcher bearer until severe wounds sent him back to ‘Blighty’. When Benson is found dead in the club’s basement, with a paper knife projecting from his neck, Eric Peterkin is drawn into investigating his murder. All roads lead back to a Sussex military hospital where Benson – and several other of the club members – were treated during the war.

HuangChristopher Huang (right) was born and raised in Singapore where he served his two years of National Service as an Army Signaller. He moved to Canada where he studied Architecture at McGill University in Montreal. Huang currently lives in Montreal.. Judging by this, his debut novel, he also knows how to tell a story. He gives us a fascinating cast of gentleman club members, each of them worked into the narrative as a murder suspect. We have Mortimer Wolfe – “sleek, dapper and elegant, hair slicked down and gleaming like mahogany”, club President Edward Aldershott, “Tall, prematurely grey and with a habit of standing perfectly still …like a bespectacled stone lion,” and poor, haunted Patrick “Patch” Norris with his constant, desperate gaiety.

Huang writes in a style which is archaic in one sense, as he pays homage to the conventions and narrative style of books written nearly a century ago, but it is none the worse for that. He clearly has a huge empathy with the men and women who, while they may have survived the War physically more or less intact, they carry hidden scars and memories which we know, long after the event, were to stay with them until death. On more than one occasion, Huang strikes a particularly sonorous chord:

“Eric joined the sombre crowds at the Cenotaph on Whitehall for the service in remembrance of the War at eleven o’clock – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It began with two minutes of silence: one for the fallen and one for the survivors. After that would come wreaths and remembrances and men marching with grim salutes …boots on rain glossed pavements, artificial poppies blooming blood red on black lapels, tears in the eyes of men who never cried. But first, there were two minutes of silence. England held her breath.”

If you are a fan of the Golden Age, enjoy the challenge of a good locked room mystery and appreciate literate and thoughtful crime fiction, then A Gentleman’s Murder will not disappoint. It is published by Inkshares and will be available in paperback on 31st July.

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ON MY SHELF . . . Levine, McCauley & Perks

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BUM DEAL by Paul Levine

Bum Deal017Paul Levine is an American author of crime fiction, particularly legal thrillers. He has written two series, known generally by the names of the protagonists: Jake Lassiter and Solomon vs. Lord. In Bum Deal, published by Thomas & Mercer and out now  old football injuries, ostensibly healed, may have left Jake Lassister a terrifying legacy. He has begun to suffer crushing headaches and episodes of memory loss. Does Lassiter have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the fatal brain disease?

That’s the backdrop of Bum Deal in which Lassiter, after two decades as a criminal defence lawyer, switches teams and becomes a prosecutor. Why the move? Is he burned out?  Or is the reason he’s switching teams more alarming? Have all those concussions come back to haunt him? Dr. Melissa Gold, a neuropathologist, thinks so. She prescribes experimental treatments intended to stop, or at least slow, the progress of his traumatic brain injury.

Despite the health scare,  Lassiter is appointed to prosecute a prominent Miami surgeon for killing his wife. Only problem, there are no witnesses, no fingerprints, no DNA, no weapon, not even a body. How will Lassiter even prove that the missing woman is dead, much less that her husband killed her? Looming over Lassiter is a greater risk than merely losing a case. As the trial approaches, his symptoms become more severe and the jury’s verdict becomes the least of his worries.

THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT by Terrence McCauley

 

The Fairfax Incident016Terrence McCauley is an enthusiastic contributor to Thuglit, which describes itself thus:

..”the short fiction magazine that’s been kicking crime fiction’s ass since 2005. Offering eight punches to the gut, six times a year.”

Readers will not be surprised, then, to hear that McCauley’s latest novel is a violent thriller set in the maelstrom of prohibition era New York City. Charlie Doherty is a disgraced cop who has used his influence and street-smarts to set up a PI business. When a rich widow walks into his Manhattan office and asks him to prove that her husband’s suicide was actually murder, Doherty lifts his eyes to the heavens, thanks all the Irish saints he can remember, and dreams of the many ways he his going to enjoy the widow Fairfax’s fat cheque. Investigating the apparent suicide of Walter Fairfax, however, wipes the grin form Doherty’s face as he is forced to confront some of the most implacably evil men not just in New York, but much further afield.

The Fairfax Incident is published in paperback and as a Kindle by Polis Books

NIGHT DRIVER by Marcelle Perks

Night Driver015Marcelle Perks is no novice writer, but with earlier titles such as Incredible Orgasms: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Secrets of Porn Star Sex: Brilliant Ideas for No-holds Barred Pleasure, this thriller signals a temporary change of direction. Perks lives and works in Germany, and it is there that we meet Frannie, an English expat, heavily pregnant and with her marriage on the rocks. Having learnt to drive in a bid to boost her self esteem, she takes to deserted early-hours roads to build her confidence at the wheel. Fate takes a hand, however, and when her path crosses that of Lars Stigelegger, a homicidal truck driver, Frannie is drawn into a world of trafficking, prostitution and violence. Pre-publication comments suggest that Night Driver is:

♦ Tom’s Midnight Garden as a road movie with a serial killer thrown in.
♦ Duel for the post-Brexit age.
♦ A gripping Euro drama with a shocking twist.

The novel is based on the true crime case of Fritz Haarman, Germany’s most notorious serial killer. Night Driver is out on 2nd August from Urbane Publications.

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