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Jack Reacher

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Neary, Muir and Child

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Annemarie Neary_Annemarie Neary (left) is an Irish-born novelist and short story writer. She studied literature at Trinity College Dublin before qualifying as a lawyer and moving to London. Her two previous full length novels are A Parachute In The Lime Tree (2012) and Siren (2016). The Orphans tells the tale of two children, Jess and Ro, brother and sister, whose parents mysteriously disappear while the family are staying on the island of Goa. Years later, the two children have gone in different directions. Jess has become a successful lawyer, and is married with NEARY020children of her own. Her brother Ro (short for his nickname Sparrow) has spent his adult life searching for his missing mother, and this obsession has taken him all over Europe, including their old home town in Ireland. The last thing Jess needs is for Ro to reappear in her life, armed with a renewed conviction that their mother is still alive out there somewhere. But this is precisely what he does, and it triggers a dramatic and dangerous downturn in their lives – and the lives and well being of those around them. The Orphans is published by Hutchinson, and will be out in July.

 

 

Scottish police procedurals are many and varied these days, and they tend to be fiercely local affairs. John Rebus patrols Edinburgh and Fife, as do James Oswald’s Tony McLean and Quintin Jardine’s Bob Skinner. The Granite City of Aberdeen is home to Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae, Frank-Muirwhile Alex Gray’s Bill Lorimer has the Glasgow beat. Not to be outdone, TF Muir (left) has put the university town of St Andrews firmly on the crime fiction map with his series featuring DCI Andy Gilchrist. The Killing Connection is the seventh of these, and Gilchrist is investigating the death of an unknown woman washed up on the rocks near the castle ruins. When another woman comes forward with information about the death, Gilchrist breathes a sigh of relief. His sense of well-being is short lived, however. His would be informant disappears, and then she, too, turns up dead. The Killing Connection is published by Constable and will be available early in June.

Fans of the invincible former military policeman will want to get their mitts on this new piece of Reacherabilia, which is the complete collection of short stories featuring the big guy. The stories range in length and location, but two in particular stood out for me. High Heat is set in a steamy New York City on the night Wednesday July 13th, 1977. Why so precise? That night in the real world, a lightning induced power outage affected over 9 CHILD019million New Yorkers, and was the backdrop – or maybe blackdrop – to over 26 hours of looting. Returning to the story, we have an extremely young Jack Reacher, just a few weeks short of his seventeenth birthday, out on the town. In addition to helping a suspended FBI agent take out a top mafioso, the young man also manages to point the authorities in the direction of David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam killer.

In Maybe They Have A Tradition our man, now much older, dates a KLM air stewardess and blags a free flight to Amsterdam, but instead gets diverted to England because of snow. It is Christmas Eve, and in the closest Reacher will ever come to a Golden Age mystery, he invites himself to an isolated country mansion, helps deliver a baby, and solves an apparent jewel heist.

The full provenance of the twelve stories is as follows. Everyone Talks appeared in Esquire magazine in 2012, Maybe They Have A Tradition was published in Country Life in 2016. No Room At The Motel appeared in Stylist in 2014, while The Picture Of The Lonely Diner was part of a 2016 collection called Manhattan Mayhem. Second Son (2011), High Heat (2013), Deep Down (2012, Small Wars (2015) and Not A Drill (2014) were all exclusive eBooks. Too Much Time is published here for the first time. No Middle Name is published by Bantam on 18th May. Full details available here.

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DAZZLING DEBUTS … Chosen by Rachel Amphlett

rachel-amphlettSome authors save the best for last. Others, like Joseph Heller with Catch 22, produce such a devastatingly good first novel that the rest of their lives are spent trying to better it. Rachel Amphlett has a new novel out – watch out for our review of Scared To Death – but she has taken time out of her hectic schedule to look at a few brilliant ‘first in series’ crime novels.

We’re getting ready to move house in the New Year, which means at some point I’m going to have to box up all eight bookshelves of crime and thriller books that are currently lining the walls of one of the rooms downstairs.

After sorting out which books would have to go to the charity shop – unless scientists work out a way to clone me in the next fifty years, there’s a very good chance I’ll never get to these a second time around – I was left with some of the crime series that have stayed with me for years, and that I’ll be hanging onto for a long time yet.

This got me thinking: what is it about these first in series novels that still capture my imagination after all this time? And what is it about these books that influence my own writing?

the-black-echoMichael Connelly – The Black Echo (Harry Bosch #1)

Connelly captures so much about his famous detective Harry Bosch in this first novel in the series, but does so without making you feel bombarded by information.

Once a “tunnel rat” in the Vietnam jungle, and now a police detective with the LAPD, Harry Bosch isn’t what I’d call a dynamic character, but he is compelling. It’s his careful consideration of each case that crosses his desk, and the way in which he cares about every single victim no matter their background.

Equally as compelling as Harry Bosch is Connelly’s descriptions of the cityscape within which the stories are based; each location is described in such a way that, for example, by the time you read about Harry heading home of an evening in the latest book in the series, you almost know which CD track he’s going to put on to listen to. What have I learned from reading the Harry Bosch books? Setting is as important as character.

dead-simplePeter James – Dead Simple (Roy Grace #1)

Maybe not a book to give to your fiancée before his stag night…

The first chapter of this book has to be one of the most memorable introductions to a detective series I’ve ever come across, and I won’t spoil it here by telling if you if you haven’t yet read it. At the end of the first chapter, you’re left in total shock and dying to know what happens next. Told from several points of view, the whole story is turned on its head about two-thirds of the way through and then it’s a fast-paced page-turning read to the end.

What have I learned from reading the Roy Grace books? The books may be named after Roy Grace, but there’s a great ensemble cast, and this is something that felt natural to me as I wrote the first in the Kay Hunter series. I wanted those co-stars to be considered just as important as Kay. After all, no police detective works alone, and there are myriad experts on hand to help solve the case.

silent-screamAngela Marsons – Silent Scream (Kim Stone #1)

Angela’s Kim Stone books are modern twisty thrillers that bring the genre bang up to date into the twenty-first century and I’ve no doubt this series will endure for a long time yet.

I remember when the first in the series, Silent Scream, was published – everyone was utterly blown away by the story and I recall seeing the book cover everywhere online. In Silent Scream we meet Kim Stone for the first time and quickly realise that if she is to stop a sadistic killer, she’s going to have to confront some very dark memories of her own. Kim Stone is ruthless in her quest for justice for the victims in these novels, and her investigations lead her into dangerous physical and emotional places.

What have I learned from reading the Kim Stone series? The modern detective story has evolved for the twenty-first century, and so have female protagonists.

Lee Child – Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1)

I remember picking up a second hand copy of Killing Floor about three years after it was first published, and it really was the first time I’d ever heard of this strange lone wolf character by the name of Jack Reacher.

What have I learned from reading the Jack Reacher books? Use short sentences to keep the action moving along. You don’t often see long sweeping sentences in Lee Child’s novels – they’re punchy, to the point, and don’t waste time. A bit like Jack Reacher, you might say…

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