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Doug Johnstone, ‘The Dead Beat’ (2014)

‘Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.’ There’s a pleasing whiff of nostalgia about Doug Johnstone’s latest book The Dead Beat, which is set both in the present day and twenty years ago. The modern day story sees student Martha Fluke begin a placement at ailing Edinburgh newspaper The Standard. This is in the wake … Continue reading

Olivia Laing, ‘The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink’ (2013)

‘All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.’ F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 -1940) There are so many pleasures in Olivia Laing’s The Trip to Echo Spring that I’m not sure which one to start with. Even before reading it, I was intrigued by the overall conceit – namely to look at why writers are … Continue reading

Ariel S. Winter, ‘The Twenty Year Death’ (2012)

What’s more difficult than writing a crime novel? How about writing three of them, each one in the style of a different master of the genre. This is the challenge Ariel S. Winter set himself in The Twenty Year Death, and the literary ventriloquism he displays is astounding. This 600-pager is split into three linked sections, … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 5: ‘Killer’s Choice’ (1957)

In Killer’s Choice, Ed McBain’s ambition to write a series about ‘a conglomerate hero in a mythical city’ is again brought to life by the ebb and flow of the squad room. A detective is killed in the line of duty (a move also seen in the first book, Cop Hater), whilst new recruit Cotton … Continue reading

All Due Respect Issue #3

Issue 3 of All Due Respect is now available here (for you ebook junkies) and here (step forward, paper-worshipping luddites). I’m pleased to once again play a supporting role – my reviews of David James Keaton’s Fish Bites Cop (an anthology of surreal, crime flavoured short stories) and Donald E. Westlake’s The Comedy is Finished (the master’s recently rediscovered ‘lost’ 70s … Continue reading

Picture Book: Rue Jacob, 1910

This mesmerising photo has been doing the rounds on Twitter recently. Captioned ‘library books floating down a street during the Great Flood of Paris, 1910′, I was immediately struck by its eeriness, and wanted to know more. Where was it taken? Where did all those books come from? Or, indeed, the water? Well, Wikipedia informs … Continue reading