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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Bartram, Connolly & Hall

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THE TANGO SCHOOL MYSTERY by Peter Bartram

PBWelcome to Brighton, England – where they do like to murder beside the seaside…Want to know what it’s like when a quiet romantic dinner ends in murder? Ace reporter Colin Crampton and his feisty girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith are tucking into their meal when Shirley discovers more blood on her rare steak than she’d expected.

And once again Colin is on the trail of a big story that can only end in more murder. Colin reckons he’s cracked the story when he uncovers a plot involving a sinister figure from the past. A Tango Academy seems to lie at the heart of the conspiracy.

But nothing is quite what it seems as Colin peels away the layers of the mystery. He tangles with a cast of memorable characters including a professor of witchcraft, the former commander of an army mobile latrine unit, and a tango instructor with two left feet. Join Colin and Shirley for another madcap mystery in Swinging Sixties’ Brighton, where the laughs are never far from the action. The Tango School Mystery is out now, and a full review will be posted on https://fullybooked2017.com very soon.

THE WOMAN in the WOODS by John Connolly

JCCharlie Parker – crime fiction’s most haunted private investigator – is back. As fans of the Portland, Maine detective know, death isn’t just part of the his natural human life cycle – it often assumes corporal form and walks alongside the living. The remains of a young woman are uncovered when a tree is uprooted, and when the body is examined, it is discovered that she had given birth shortly before her death. A Star of David has been carved in the bark of a tree, and Parker is hired by a Jewish lawyer to learn if the death has any anti-semitic overtones.

A mysterious – and  deadly – man named Quayle is also keen to learn more about the dead woman, but even more anxious to discover what became of the new-born child. Along with his companion – a creature named Mors who is truly from hell – Quayle’s path is destined to cross that of Parker. Charlie’s deadly pals Louis and Angel are in attendance, but Angel is there in spirit only, as he is recovering from an operation to remove a deadly tumour. Louis cannot comprehend why his partner has been chosen by the Cancer God, and his incomprehension turns to anger, which he vents on a young man who is unwise enough to have Confederate flags flying from his truck. The Woman In The Woods is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is out now.

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY by Araminta Hall

AHObsession, deception, emotional perversion, sexual mania, psychological sadism…? Yes, indeed. Araminta Hall ticks all of those toxic boxes in her eagerly awaited new thriller, which tells the tale of Mike and Verity. At the very heart of their unusual relationship is a game of seduction and danger, but with Verity’s impending marriage, the game has to end. At least it would in any normal relationship, but of all the adjectives that could be applied to what Mike and Verity get up to, the word ‘normal’ comes way, way, way down the list. So, what happens? Death is what has to happen, but the Grim Reaper seldom walks alone.

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Our Kind of Cruelty is published by Century; it will be available as a Kindle on 19th April, in hardback on 3rd may, and in January 2019 as a paperback.

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PHILIP KERR . . . 1956 – 2018

philip-kerrDUE TO THE AWFUL NEWS that Philip Kerr has died, the current prize draw for a copy of Greeks Bearing Gifts will be suspended for the time being. I will be writing a tribute to Philip, one of our finest writers, in due course. The competition will be re-run later in the year. People who have already entered will have their names carried forward.

ON MY SHELF . . . James, Turner & Pattison

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IN FOR THE KILL by ED James

ed-jamesEast London cop DI Steve Fenchurch makes a welcome return for the fourth book in this popular series by Ed James (left). It is part of urban folklore that attractive female students are sometimes tempted to use their charms to attract Sugar Daddies who will help with their fees and living costs. When one such young woman is found strangled in her bedroom, Fenchurch soon discovers that she was in the pay of a notorious city gangster. With his superiors poised to pounce on him at the first sign of a professional mistake, and his family in mortal danger, Fenchurch is faced with a no-win dilemma. If he persists in finding out who killed the young woman, he will attract incoming fire from very powerful people. If he just keeps his head down and allows the investigation to drift into the ‘unsolved’ file, his bosses will have him clearing his desk and locker before he can utter the word ‘sacked’. In For The Kill is published by Thomas & Mercer and will be available from 19 April in Kindle, paperback and MP3 CD.

ROGUE by JB Turner

TurnerThis is first in what promises to be a popular series with readers who love their novels spiced with the double-dealing and other shenanigans which are part and parcel of the work of American intelligence organisations.  Nathan Stone is a former CIA covert operative who has been critically wounded, and thought to be dead. But behind closed doors, he has been rehabilitated by a highly secretive government organization known as the Commission, given a new identity and appearance, and remoulded into a lethal assassin. His brief: to execute kill orders drawn up by the Commission, all in the name of national security. Turner (right) provides enough thrills to keep even the most jaded reader on their toes. Rogue is published by  Thomas & Mercer, and will be available in June.

SAVAGE LIBERTY by Eliot Pattison

Pattison-2I first came across Pattison (left) and his Revolutionary Wars hero Duncan McCallum when I was writing for Crime Fiction Lover. I reviewed Blood Of The Oak in March 2016, and you can read the piece by following the blue link. More recently, wearing my Fully Booked hat, I enjoyed Pattison’s Skeleton God, set in Tibet, light years away both in time and context from eighteenth century America. Savage Liberty brings us a further chapter in the eventful life of Duncan McCallum. The action begins in 1768. We are in Boston, where a ship from London has exploded, leaving the body parts of its crew and passengers scattered like flotsam in the cold waters. McCallum is a trained physician and his analytical mind soon detects the work of French secret agents. His investigations bring him onto extreme peril, however, and he finds himself in a jail cell accused of treason, with the hangman’s rope just days away. McCallum realises that his only hope is to escape and bring the true villains to justice. Savage Liberty is published by Counterpoint, and will be available in June

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WELCOME TO CAMP NIGHTINGALE . . . but the birds aren’t singing

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SUMMER CAMP – that particularly American institution which, for those of us in our dotage, evokes memories of Allan Sherman’s letter home from Camp Granada.

 

Camp Nightingale017RILEY SAGER (aka Todd Ritter) however takes a darker view. When Emma goes to Camp Nightingale, it is her first summer away from home. She learns how to play games, but she also learns a more sinister skill – how to lie. That golden summer dream becomes a twisted and feverish nightmare when three of Emma’s new-found friends set off to explore the woods, but are never seen again. It is inevitable that he subsequent furore spells the end for Camp Nightingale as a safe holiday destination for teenage girls. But times change. memories fade. Years after the terrible events of that summer, Emma is asked to return to the newly reopened camp. Will her return lay old ghosts to rest, or wake the spirits of the dead and rip away the veil of innocence to reveal a much darker truth?

LAST TIME I LIED  is published by Ebury Press/Penguin Random House, and will be available later this year. To find out more about Riley Sager, you can follow these links.

https://www.rileysagerbooks.com/

@riley_sager

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . FUDGEGATE!

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The Death of Mrs Westaway will be published in hardback and Kindle by Harvill Secker/Vintage Digital in June 2018.

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler

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Have you ever heard of Chip Taylor? No, me neither until I researched this post. He is still with us, and was born James Wesley Voight in 1940 and, yes, he is the brother of John and uncle to the fragrant Angelina Jolie. His claim to fame? He penned the immortal line (if you’re a fan of The Troggs, that is)

“Wild Thing – you make my heart sing..”

 Some things, wild or otherwise, do make my heart sing. For example, in no particular order, the first heady sip from a glass of the luxury single malt, Lagavulin. Hearing, via Test Match Special, the unique subdued hum of thousands of spectators at Lords. Fishing on my favourite water in the tiny French hamlet of Aizelles, and feeling the line scream off the reel as a fat carp takes my bait. Snuggling in an armchair with my little granddaughter as we watch yet another re-run of a classic Tom and Jerry cartoon. And – this one is special – opening a parcel to reveal a new Bryant & May book by one of my favourite authors – Christopher Fowler.

HOMThe dust jackets of the Bryant & May novels are a work of art in themselves, but between the covers is where the true genius lies. Arthur Bryant and John May are detectives working for the Peculiar Crimes Unit, an imaginary department of London’s Metropolitan Police. Their adventures take them mostly to curious and forgotten corners of London where the past is just below the modern surface. Fowler has many talents as a writer, not least of which is his comedic talent. He is a direct descendant of English humourists such as George and Weedon Grossmith and HV Morton, and the jokes come thick and fast amid the serious business of solving murders or strange crimes.

The new book? It’s called Hall of Mirrors, and takes us back to 1969. Our intrepid pair are sent to Tavistock Hall to investigate dark deeds on a country house weekend. I’ve already started to read the book, so look out for a full review very soon. The publicist, in full alliteration mode, warns us to expect ‘murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion,’ but me? I’m looking forward to meeting the one-armed brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf!

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Acts of Vanishing by Fredrik T Olsson

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AOV LEFTYounger readers, please bear with me for a moment. People of my generation will need no introduction to the wonderful world of HM Bateman, a satirical cartoonist whose brilliance often matched that of Gillray and Hogarth. He was prolific and, like many cartoonists before and since, was a sublime draughtsman. One of his most popular series was ‘The Man Who ….” – and each featured someone who has committed a terrible social faux pas and provoked expressions of disdain, anger and astonishment on the faces of other characters in the picture. My personal solecism is that I remain lukewarm about much crime fiction which has its origins in Scandinavia. Not because I doubt the worth of the original, but more because of the insertion of a third party – the translator – into the relationship between reader and author. Yes, I know that puts me on shaky ground in many people’s opinions regarding writers such as Simenon and Vargas, but my stance is what it is, and I will happily defend my stance at another time and in another place.

OlssonThat lengthy preamble is by way of an introduction to the latest book to be passed from my postman into my grateful hand. Acts of Vanishing by Fredrik T Olsson came out in Kindle in August 2017, but Sphere are publishing the paperback version in just a couple of days – 8th March – and those who love hardback editions will be able to buy it from Little Brown in April. Olsson (right) hails from the Swedish city of Gothenberg and is not only a successful novelist, screenwriter and director, but also a stand-up comedian.

Translated by Michael Gallagher, Acts of Vanishing is the story of Sara Sandberg. The publicity tells us:

“It was ten past four on the afternoon of the third of December. Everything was darkness and ink, and the snow falling turned to water. Through it ran Sara Sandberg, the girl who was about to die, and somewhere in the cold, lead-grey hell that was Stockholm was a man who called himself her father. In her rucksack, she had a warning for him.Now whether he would receive it or not was all down to her.”

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THE TROY DOSSIER . . .

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BACK IN OCTOBER 2017 I reviewed the latest book in a series which, given the sheer hell of having to make a choice, would be by my side as, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Ben Gunn, I go slowly mad on my desert island. John Lawton has created the ultimate anti-hero in Frederick Troy. He is a brilliant copper, intelligent and fearless, but with the moral compass of a rattlesnake. The Troy novels bestride WWII and take us well into living memory (if you are as old as me, that is!)

FRIENDS AND TRAITORS didn’t disappoint, and Lawton’s portrait of the doomed, drunken and fatally flawed spy Guy Burgess was masterly. It seemed, however, that the novel came and went with little fanfare, but now Atlantic Books are re-releasing the novel with not so much a flourish of trumpets as an entire brass band. Their publicity people have been working overtime, and the pack which reached me is intriguing. My first reaction was to think that it’s about time that someone took John Lawton seriously, and recognised that he is one of a mere handful of living British writers who will, in the fullness of time, be considered ‘great.’

MY OCTOBER REVIEW is here, but if you want my feelings in a nutshell, then forgive me if I quote my own words.

“To put it simply, Lawton is a writer who transcends genre. His prose is subtle, stylish, pared back to the bone, but translucent, crystal clear. His portrayal of Britain and its place either side of WWII is masterly: he reflects the country’s disappointments, its uncertainties and how it seems to be stumbling, torchless, through a world of darkness quite beyond its comprehension. The Fred Troy novels lack the sequential timeline of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time cycle, but in every other sense they are its equal.”

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ON MY SHELF . . . February 2018

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I am writing this on a cold Friday evening in Fenland where hopes of a Spring just around the corner have been dashed by weather warnings of severe cold over the next few days. Despite this, publishers are coming out of their winter quarters to prepare for the Spring Offensive, and thus we have four tasty novels on offer here.

LOVE LIKE BLOOD by MARK BILLINGHAM

BillinghamThis is the paperback edition of the Tom Thorn novel which came out in June 2017 and was reviewed on Fully Booked here. Suffice to say that it tackles head on one of the most iniquitous so-called cultural practices prevalent in the diverse Britain of the Twenty First Century. It is hard to avoid using the grossly inappropriate term ‘honour killing’ but until someone comes up with something more fitting, it will have to do. Love Like Blood will be out on 8th March as a Sphere paperback, and will set you back £5.99. HOWEVER, we will be running a prize draw to win a copy, so watch out for alerts on Twitter and Facebook.

MUNICH (THE MAN WHO SAID NO)  by DAVID LAWS

David LawsIn this imaginative retelling of the now infamous events in the Bavarian capital in 1938, David Laws gives us a young present-day researcher trying to find out the truth about her grandfather’s part in a series of meetings which shaped history. What evidence did he have that Neville Chamberlain was being duped by Hitler? Why did he almost certainly give his life to prevent the deal going through? Emma Drake finds the answer not in dusty telegrams or carbon copied communiques, but in a present day forest just fifty miles from the site of the lasting testament to Nazi infamy – Oświęcim. Munich is published by Matador, is out now, and will cost you £8.99.

THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS  by DONNA LEON

DonnaLeonFrom the grim and silent testimony of a Polish forest to the bustling and utterly cosmopolitan world of Venice, courtesy of Donna Leon and her immensely popular Italian copper, Commissario Guido Brunetti. It seems barely credible that this is number twenty seven – no, that’s no misprint, 27 – in the series. While trying to discover the source of an information leak from within his own department, and investigating the savage attack on a family friend, Brunetti seeks solace – and a possible solution – from the pages of Sophocles’ Antigone. The Temptation of Forgiveness will be out on 5 April from William Heinemann/Cornerstone in Kindle and hardback. The paperback edition will be out in the autumn of 2018.

AMERICAN BY DAY by DEREK B MILLER

Derek B MillerMiller created quite a stir with his debut novel, Norwegian By Night, and now he aims to repeat the  achievement with the story of Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård who has to leave her native Norway and travel to America to find the truth behind her brother’s disappearance. In addition to apparently disappearing off the face of the earth, he is implicated in the death of a prominent African-American academic. And this is 2008, election year, nerves are in shreds, and across the political world innocent mistakes are treated as mortal insults. In addition to plying her police officer skills, Sigrid Ødegård needs to learn a whole new set of behavioural responses if she is to get the the bottom of her brother’s disappearance. American By Day is published by Transworld/Doubleday and will be available on 19 April.

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