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Georges Simenon, ‘The Stain on the Snow’ (1948)

If you’re a fan of the Maigret novels, I’d advise caution approaching The Stain in the Snow (originally published as La Neige etait Sale). Whilst Simenon’s policiers have the detective as a steady, (literally) weighty presence at their centre, this novel is altogether more unstable. Simenon described this and some of his other non-Maigret works as romans dur – hard … Continue reading

An Evening with Mark Z. Danielewski

‘This is not for you.’ These five words begin Mark Z. Danielewski’s singular House of Leaves. What follows is a gripping, challenging, sometimes baffling but never predictable novel about a haunted house a quarter of an inch bigger on the inside than the outside, and which contains a labyrinth powerful enough to extend beyond the page, … Continue reading

Six things I learnt from my blog

Improbable as it may seem, ‘What Are You Reading For?’ is one year old – cue streamers, balloons and champagne all round. It’s certainly been busy – I’ve written 61 posts (including this one), welcomed visitors from 68 different countries, and gathered 694 followers. All this would be reward enough, but I’ve also learnt a … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 4: ‘The Con Man’ (1957)

‘Everybody has a right to earn a living.‘ McBain was certainly doing that at the beginning of his epic 87th Precinct series, one that documents almost 50 years of American history. I’m still somewhat staggered to recall that he wrote and published the first three novels in the space of a year – although by … Continue reading

Pierre Lemaitre, ‘Irene’ (2006)

I was blown away by Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex (you can read what I thought of it right here), so naturally had high hopes for the sequel. Or rather, prequel – Irene is Lemaitre’s first novel, but for some reason the English versions were published the other way round. Why was Alex translated first? Perhaps because it’s … Continue reading