I love the expression “dog days”. Apparently it has its origins in astrology, and refers to the position of Sirius, the Dog Star. The dog days of summer are round about now, when everything seems to slow down, schools are out, parliament is in recess, and newspapers struggle to find newsworthy headlines. There are no dog days in crime publishing though, and I have three intriguing novels to highlight.
SHAMUS DUST by Janet Roger
This has the best subtitle ever – “HARD WINTER, COLD WAR, COOL MURDER” A well-earned bonus for whichever PR person thought that one up. If it lives up to the cover description – “A British Big Sleep” – then it will be bloody good! It’s 1947, and an expat American PI called Newman is hired to solve a series of killings.
Shamus Dust will be published by Matador on 28th October. Keep an eye open for the Fully Booked review nearer the time.
THE ROOKS DIE SCREAMING by Clive Tuckett
More historical crime fiction here, but we are in Cornwall in the 1920s. The normally placid and peaceful residents of Bodmin are bolting their doors early of nights, as a determined killer picks off members of a local organisation one by one. Enter Inspector Edwards, who author Tuckett introduced in his 2018 novel The Woman With The Red Hair. Edwards’ latest case is published by Book Guild and will be available from 28th August.
THE MAN IN THE DARK by Jonathan Whitelaw
In most crime fiction books, the Devil is a metaphor, but Jonathan Whitelaw has decided that the Evil One is far too interesting a character to just float around at the edge of people’s consciousness. In Hellcorp (2018) the chap with the horns and the scaly tail advanced beyond the metaphysical and was set the task of solving an ancient crime. Now, he returns to help the cops in London solve the mystery of a terrorist kidnapping. The Man In The Dark will be published by Urbane Publications on 26th September.
In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics.
Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances. Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced.
Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the IWM library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says:
“Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve”.
Each story reflects the IWM remit to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. Each author has a fascinating back story. These are Second World War novels about the truth of war written by those who were actually there.
FROM THE CITY, FROM THE PLOUGH by Alexander Baron
This is a vivid and moving account of preparations for D- Day and the advance into Normandy. Published in the 75th anniversary year of the D-Day landings, this is based on the author’s first-hand experience of D-Day and has been described by Antony Beevor as:
“undoubtedly one of the very greatest British novels of the Second World War.”
Alexander Baron was a widely acclaimed author and screenwriter and his London novels have a wide following. This was his first novel.
TRIAL BY BATTLE by David Piper
This quietly shattering and searingly authentic depiction of the claustrophobia of jungle warfare in Malaya was described by William Boyd as:
“A tremendous rediscovery of a brilliant novel. Extremely well-written, its effects are both sophisticated and visceral.”
VS Naipaul described the novel as:
“one of the most absorbing and painful books about jungle warfare that I have read”
David Piper was best known as director of the National Portrait Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The novel is based on his time serving with the Indian Army in Malaya where he was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as a POW. His son, Tom Piper, was the designer of the hugely successful Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the First World War Centenary.
EIGHT HOURS FROM ENGLAND by Anthony Quayle
Anthony Quayle was a renowned Shakespearean actor, director and film star and this is his candid account of SOE operations in occupied Europe. Historian and journalist Andrew Roberts said:
“As well as being one of our greatest actors, Anthony Quayle was an intrepid war hero and his autobiographical novel is one of the greatest adventure stories of the Second World War. Beautifully written and full of pathos and authenticity, it brings alive the terrible moral decisions that have to be taken by soldiers under unimaginable pressures in wartime.”
PLENTY UNDER THE COUNTER by Kathleen Hewitt
This murder mystery about opportunism and the black market is set against the backdrop of London during the Blitz.
‘With a dead body on the first page and a debonair RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists – it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more.“
Kathleen Hewitt was a British author and playwright who wrote more than 20 novels in her lifetime. She was part of an artistic set in 1930’s London which included Olga Lehman and the poet Roy Campbell.
A full review of each novel will appear on the Fully Booked site in September.
o, it’s not the headed notepaper of a firm of dodgy solicitors, but the names of five authors whose latest books have been brought to FullyBooked Towers just in time for the holidays. OK, I’m only kidding, I’m always on holiday, but the books look pretty special.
TIME FOR THE DEAD by Lin Anderson
Is Tartan Noir a thing? Publicists say it is, so let’s go along with it for now. The investigations of forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod have proved hugely popular since her debut in 2003 with Driftnet, and now she returns for hr fifteenth outing in Time For The Dead. Readers and publishers obviously love a title which contains the ‘D’ word, and this is the seventh title in a row for Ms MacLeod which taps into this. Although Anderson was born in Greenock and now lives in Edinburgh, she loves the rugged possibilities of Scotland’s wilder places. On the Isle of Skye, it seems as though a group of army Afghanistan veterans may have gone rogue in the dark shadow of The Cuillin. A series of brutal killings – and the vanished army unit – make for Rhona’s most challenging case yet. Time For The Dead is published by Macmillan and will be on sale from 8th August.
THE BIG HOUSE by Larche Davies
Larche Davies lives in Cardiff and is a former journalist and lawyer who specialised in covering the dark deeds of corporate law. She wrote The Father’s House in 2015, and this is the sequel. Perhaps the dangerous world of quasi-religious personality-led cults was more of a 1970s thing, but Davies brings it to horrific life here. A group of teenagers have been rescued from a murderous organisation led by someone called The Magnifico. While the criminal case unfolds, they are sent away on a virtual witness protection scheme, where they are to stay in an ostensibly mundane home in Wales, where they will be looked after by a foster mother. They soon learn, however, that ‘far away’ does not equal ‘safe’ and they are forced to live on their wits to stay beyond the reach of The Magnifico’s agents. Available now, The Big House is published by Troubador.
APPETITE FOR RISK by Jack Leavers
Never forget that the ability to get pleasure from books is a tremendous gift. In the world of CriFi and thrillers some like nothing better than a gritty police procedural which could be happening right on their doorstep, while others yearn for something which takes them away from the daily grind into a world which they can only imagine. Jack Leavers does just that in his tale of a former Royal Marine who has found that his particular skill-set is not much in demand at home. Instead, he goes back to the blood-soaked sands of Iraq and becomes involved in a fight to the death. This is nothing new to the battle-hardened John Pierce, but his world is turned on its head when he realises exactly who his enemies are. If you fancy this, you only have a day to wait as Book Guild Publishing will be putting it on sale on 28th July.
HOW THE DEAD SPEAK by Val McDermid
I hope we don’t take Val McDermid for granted. She has millions of fans worldwide and has the gift of writing novel after novel, each one of which unfailingly hits the spot. This may be genius, but it’s also the result of bloody hard work and a refusal to accept second best. Like many other readers, I first came to her work via the edgy and distinctly discordant partnership of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. Both are damaged, and both need something more than each other, but together they make a compelling CriFi partnership. This is the eleventh in the series, and begins when human remains are found in the grounds of a former convent. Apologies in advance to devout Catholics, but for me, Convents are always deeply sinister places, even without dead bodies. In order to find the truth about what appears to be a vile series of murders, Hill and Jordan are left with no alternative but to interrogate and give voice to the dead themselves. This will be available from the usual places on 22nd August and is published by Macmillan.
NOTHING ELSE REMAINS by Robert Scragg
Scragg’s debut novel What Falls Beneath The Cracks introduced us to Detective Inspector Jake Porter and Sergeant Nick Styles. You can click on this link to read the review of that novel, but the pair return in Nothing Else Remains. Max Brennan’s estranged father and then his own girlfriend go missing in quick succession, so Brennan turns to his old friend Detective Jake Porter for help. When Max is then attacked in his own home and the prime suspect in the case is found dead Porter and Styles, each with his own set of personal demons to fight, have their backs up against the wall.You can get your hands on a copy of this novel, published by Allison & Busby now.
To adapt, abuse and assault the beautiful words of Elizabeth Browning, née Barrett:
he creative folk at Penguin Random House are certainly pushing the boat out in support of Gone, a new psychological thriller and the debut novel by former police psychologist Leona Deakin.
This intriguing pack has just arrived, and although the digital version of Gone will not be available until August, and the print version way after that in October, it’s never to early to set people’s curiosity on fire. There’s clearly some kind of mystery behind the mystery, so here are the clues.
There will be more to come, no doubt, on this puzzle. Let’s see if we can work out exactly what is going on!
Okay, so this was the ePostman rather than the local Royal Mail employee, but US writer Gary Corbin has a new book out, and his stuff is always worth a mention.
Valorie Dawes is a rookie cop in a the small Connecticut town where she grew up. Few of the people from her childhood realise that she suffered, largely in silence, the trauma of child abuse. When a serial child molester called Richard Harkins appears to be making a fool of the law, Valorie makes it a personal mission to take him off the streets. In doing so, however, she makes enemies not only of the predatory Harkins, but fellow members of the local Police Department who see her as an embittered loser and an embarrassment.
Her simmering rage at the treatment she received as a child – and the impotence of the authorities to punish the perpetrators – puts her on a collision course with both the local authorities and own family.
Gary Corbin is a writer, editor, playwright, and actor in Camas, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Previous books include Lying in Judgment (2016), Lying in Vengeance (2017) and The Mountain Man trilogy (2016-18) He earned his BA in Political Science and Economics at Louisiana State University and his Ph.D. at Indiana University, writing his dissertation on the politics of acid rain (1988).
A Woman of Valor is published by Double Diamond Publishing and will be out in all formats later in June.
A MISCHIEVOUS BOOK PERSON on Twitter last week sought suggestions on trigger words in CriFi book titles which induce an automatic sinking feeling in the prospective reader. I weighed in with ‘Papers‘, ‘Code‘, ‘Conspiracy‘, ‘Legacy‘, ‘Ultimatum‘ and, worst of all, the one which will have me reaching for the nearest box set of DVDs or even checking out the backlog of Peppa Pig episodes I record for my granddaughter, the dreaded four-letter word ‘Girl‘. Happily, those fateful words are missing from a bumper crop of new books on my shelf.
KEEP YOU CLOSE by Karen Cleveland
A writer who spent years working for the CIA and the FBI – as well as graduating from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard – is going to be an author to be reckoned with. Karen Cleveland’s 2018 best-seller Need To Know hit all the right buttons for readers who like psychological anxiety, tension and that delicious schadenfreude that washes over us when we watch someone’s domestic bliss unravel. Cleveland taps into her FBI background with her latest thriller, as FBI analyst Steph discovers something in her teenage son’s bedroom which turns her world on its head. This is out in Kindle on 13th June, in hardback on 27th of the month, and is published by Bantam Press.
CLEAR MY NAME by Paula Daly
Carrie Kamara languishes in prison, sent down after an open-and-shut investigation and trial where she was convicted of murdering her husband’s mistress in a cold blooded attack fueled by humiliation and jealousy. The evidence? DNA. Conclusive, isn’t it? Or is it? Tess Gilroy is a tireless campaigner for Innocence UK, a charity which exists to overturn miscarriages of justice. When she takes on Carrie’s case she is initially swept along by her burning desire to establish the truth, but as she mines down into the detail of the case, she realises, to her horror, that she will be forced to confront some very uncomfortable issues of her own if she is to secure Carrie’s freedom. Again, this is from Bantam Press but you will have to wait until 8th August to get your hands on a copy.
ONE WAY OUT by AA Dhand
The issue of Muslims in Britain, and the extent to which they do – or don’t – integrate with mainstream non Islamic communities is a source of continuous political and social media debate where, as a rule, more heat than light is generated. Dhand has established his Bradford-based copper D.I. Harry Virdee with three previous novels, Streets of Darkness (2016), Girl Zero (2017) and City of Sinners (2018). Now, Virdee becomes personally involves in a campaign by an extreme right wing group who are targeting Muslims in the Yorkshire city of Bradford. The Patriots have one specified target, the leaders of a group of Islamic extremists known as Almukhtaroon. Virdee has to make decisions which threaten not only his own life, but the lives of his family – and the future well-being of thousands of fellow Bradford citizens. I promise I am not it the pay of Bantam Press, but this is one of theirs, too, and it will be available from 27th June.
J SS BACH by Martin Goodman
The author is a distinguished British academic who has written extensively on Roman and Jewish history. There are no Romans in his latest book – a work of fiction – but the fate of European Jews in the late 1930s is examined here in painful detail. Otto Schalmik and his family are dragged from their Vienna home and sent first to Dachau, and then to Birkenau. Due to his consummate skill as a cellist, and the intense love of Bach displayed by the camp commandant and his wife, Otto survives. Years later, when he is an internationally revered artist, his world and that of the commandant’s wife and granddaughter collide, with unexpected personal consequences. Published by Wrecking Ball Press, Martin Goodman’s novel is available now.
A KILLING SIN by KH Irvine
Irvine’s novel, like One Way Out, visits the fraught and potentially explosive world of relations between British Muslims and their host country. Islam. Is it a religion? Certainly. Is it a race? Well. clearly not, as the faith bestrides many nationalities. Is Islam immune from criticism? Here lies the rub, explored in painful detail in this startling debut from an author who grew up in Scotland and now lives near London. The book was her 50th birthday gift to herself, believing you are never too old to try something new. Her day job has taken her to board rooms, universities and governments all over the world and has included up close and personal access to special forces. In A Killing Sin, three women from across the religious, political and racial divide in modern Britain find that their lives mesh together against the backdrop of a national political and social emergency. A Killing Sin will be published by Urbane Publications on 4th July.
THE BOY WHO FELL by Jo Spain
Jo Spain has a dazzling ability to write stand-alone crime novels which hit the spot every time, but she is also canny enough to know that most crime readers like a good series, and hers is right at the top of the ‘unmissable’ list of modern police procedurals. In his latest case, Dublin copper Tom Reynolds has just been promoted, but he is asked to take an interest in an uncomfortable case which is well below his new pay grade. A teenager appears to have been pushed to his death from the window of an abandoned house. The case has extra spice because the house was the scene of a savage domestic murder years earlier and the dead boy is judged by the pathologist to have been the victim of a homosexual rape shortly before his death. Reynolds takes on the case as a favour to a fellow Garda Síochána officer who is related to the mixed race teenager suspected of the rape and murder. Quercus will be publishing this latest episode in the casebook of Tom Reynolds on 27th June. For more on Jo Spain and to discover why I am a huge fan of her writing, click this link.
STRANGE AFFAIRS, GINGER HAIRS by Arthur Grimestead
Currently lengths ahead in the Strangest Title of The Year contest, this novel is by an author who describes it, “Like the King James Bible, Strange Affairs, Ginger Hairs is a wedge of enthralling made up shit.” Set in 1990s Hull, it is the tale of an apparently mediocre northern city and an equally mediocre teenage resident, the titular Ginger, whose escape from mundanity, like that of Bilbo Baggins, is afforded by possession of a gold ring. Ginger’s ring, however, doesn’t draw him into an epic battle with Sauron and his Orcs. Rather closer to home, Ginger’s enemies are some of the meanest and most violent men Humberside has to offer. Arthur Grimestead’s novel is published by Matador and is available now. Arthur has his own website, complete with music – and endorsements from Boris Yeltsin and Marie Curie.
COME BACK FOR ME by Heidi Perks
Perks is the best-selling author of Now You See Her (2018) and she follows her debut with this chilling mystery set on an island off the Dorset coast of southern England. Islands and their inhabitants tend to be, well, insular, and prone to strange happenings and dark secrets. Stella Harvey was brought up on Evergreen Island. Her family fled that home a quarter of a century ago, but when a body – long dead – is discovered in the garden of the family home, Stella is compelled to return and solve the grisly mystery. The warm and fondly remembered island atmosphere of her childhood is, however, just that, and she finds that her youthful illusions are shattered by a grim and uncompromising present. Published by Century, Come Back For Me will be out on 1st June as an eBook and in hardback on 11th July.
THE MADNESS LOCKER by EJ Russell
First off, it appears that EJ Russell is no relation to the EJ Russell who writes paranormal romances. This author appears to be a chap, his book is set in Australia, and is as far away from a romance as could be imagined. The story begins with the oft-told but ever horrific account of the Nazi’s attempt to cleanse their Thousand Year Reich of all undesirables, whether they be Jews, the disabled, homosexuals , Roma or those considered as of no worth to the state. A young girl survives Auschwitz – unlike her parents – but decades later seeks to avenge herself on the person she considers individually responsible for her harrowing journey into the jaws of death. Her search takes her to Australia where, in the late 1980s, the body of a widow was found dumped in a wheelie bin. Now, the police have consigned the death to their cold case files, but does the murder hold the key which will unlock Ruth’s search for the truth? The Madness Locker is out on 28th May from Matador.
THE SERPENT’S MARK by SW Perry
English politics? I write this at a time when the height of public disapproval seems to be typified by throwing eggs or milkshakes over people with apparently disagreeable views. Things were a little more harsh in 1591, however, and in the days of Good Queen Bess, a ‘wrong’ view was likely to result in a spell in The Tower, an unpleasant encounter in a torturer’s workshop or a sword thrust through your vitals. SW Perry returns to the turbulent London of heretics, Catholics, plotters and assorted Thames-side lowlife that he had such success with in The Angel’s Mark (2018), of which one reviewer wrote, “Wonderful! Beautiful writing, and Perry’s Elizabethan London is so skilfully evoked, so real that one can almost smell it”. Perry’s new book, once again features physician and reluctant spy Nicholas Shelby, and the all-too-real figure of the Queen’s devious spymaster Robert Cecil. The Serpent’s Mark is published by Corvus and will be available from 6th June
OF CRIME AND HUMANITY by Ma’on Shan
The profile of the Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi has taken something of a battering in recent times. From the being the tiny but graceful lady with a will of iron, heroine to all seekers of democracy, her ambivalence over the mistreatment of the Rohinga people has caused some commentators to tone down their eulogies. This book, however, puts ‘The Lady’ back in the context of the Myanmar freedom struggle, and is viewed through the eyes of a young girl who, through no wish of her own, is thrust into the bloody and violent guerilla battle against a brutal military dictatorship. ‘The Lady’ herself, under house arrest, is just too much of a worldwide public figure for the Myanmar generals to do away with, while far away in the jungle, her adherents brutalise others – and themselves – in search of a notional freedom. Ma’on Shan’s novel is published by Matador, and is out now.
oth of this week’s books are published by Matador, and they are both of the “what if?” variety. Ian James Krender’s book is actually set in the past – England in the 1980s – but an England that has been ruled by Nazi Germany since the end of WW2. Andrew Tudor’s premise is equally sinister, but we are in a a Britain of the future, and facing a rogue virus which threatens to engulf civilisation.
The author admits to being influenced by Robert Harris, Len Deighton, Philip K Dick, Frederick Forsyth and Stephen King. Region 6 is the bureaucratic name for conquered Britain, and the story begins on 21st June 1983 in the East End of London or, as the Germans call it, Ost Bereich 15. Fifteen year-old Tom and his parents are rounded up by the police and sent to a concentration camp where Tom witnesses his mother being shot in cold blood by a Nazi guard. When he finally returns to Stepney, he vows to join the resistance movement.
Another young man, Stephen, has nothing but praise for the government. They have treated his family well, he has graduated from Cambridge, and now has a job with the Gestapo. He says:
“It was during the 1980s that we enjoyed some of the greatest leaps in living standards thanks to the economic miracle engineered by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Hunger and poverty had been abolished. I remember feeling an innate optimism as a child.”
Fate sets these two young men on a political collision course, but their lives also become intertwined in a way which neither could have envisaged. Region 6 is out now.
ndrew Tudor is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of York. He was film critic for New Society from 1975 to 1982 and has been chairman of York Film Theatre for more than ten years. In his chilling vision of a future world where population growth has spiraled beyond control, and dystopia threatens, Alison MacGregor, a Scientific Liaison Officer for the Scottish government, discovers evidence that a scientist, angry and disillusioned at the failure of world rulers to get a grip of the situation, has released a genetically engineered virus capable of wiping out whole societies. Together with a senior scientist, a security expert and a young journalist, McGregor battles aginst overwhelming odds to prevent a catastrophe. The Zeno Effect is available now.