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This category contains 84 posts

H.G. Wells, ‘The Invisible Man’ (1897)

I’ve had a long relationship with Griffin, the invisible protagonist of H.G. Wells’ science fiction classic, even though I’ve only now come round to reading the novella itself. When I was 10, I vividly remember watching the BBC’s version of The Invisible Man, a series that was originally planned to be shown in the tea-time ‘classic serials’ … Continue reading

Matt Haig, ‘How to Stop Time’ (2017)

We own a tortoise called Rocket but have no idea how old he is. He was inherited last summer from my elderly aunt; she acquired him when her son (now pushing sixty) was a teenager – so Rocket is probably close to fifty himself. When we took him to the vet – who also couldn’t … Continue reading

Philip Kerr, ‘Prussian Blue’ (2017)

I can’t think of many fictional characters who have thrilled and entertained me as much as Bernie Gunther. Inspired to create him after wondering what Raymond Chandler’s detective novels would be like if he’d lived not in Los Angeles but 1930s Berlin, Philip Kerr wrote fourteen Gunther novels, of which Prussian Blue is the twelfth. … Continue reading

Bernadette Murphy, ‘Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story’ (2016)

Whilst I’m now a teacher, prior to changing careers in 2015 I worked for nearly twenty years in local government, specifically in the management of archive and local studies collections. One job came with the title ‘City Archivist’ which one colleague – who shared the same name as me – assumed was a fictional role … Continue reading

Ian McGuire, ‘The North Water’ (2016)

‘The air is filled with the foetid air of butchery and excrement. Drax feels pleasure at this work, arousal, a craftsman’s sense of pride. Death, he believes, is a kind of making, a kind of building up. What was one thing, he thinks, is become something else.’ Ian McGuire’s second novel The North Water is centred on … Continue reading

Iain Banks, ‘The Wasp Factory’ (1984)

I first read The Wasp Factory when I was 18. I’d never heard of Banks; but in 1992 he visited a local bookshop to promote his novel The Crow Road. The write-up in the local paper included something about Banks’ popularity with students, which pricked my curiosity. After a year out, I was moving to Liverpool to start … Continue reading

Kathy Reichs, ‘The Bone Collection’ (2016)

My own interest in forensics goes back to Monday nights 30 years ago, watching Jack Klugman in Quincy M.E. growl his way through another moider. So it’s surprising that I haven’t read any of Kathy Reichs’ work until now, but she’s certainly an author I’ll be coming back to. Since 1997 Reichs has written 18 novels featuring … Continue reading

Nicolas Freeling, ‘The King of the Rainy Country’ (1966)

‘I am like the King of a Rainy Country, Rich, but powerless; young, yet feeling wintry; no longer flattered by the obsequious bow; Bored by my dogs and by every other creature now, Nothing brightens my day, not the Hunt, not falconry, Not the dying people below my balcony.’ Not many crime novels take their … Continue reading

Richard Price, ‘The Whites’ (2015)

There’s an enormous amount to love about Richard Price’s crime novel The Whites, enough to make it difficult to know where to start. The title is a reference to Moby-Dick – the white whale that haunts Herman Melville’s novel, and which is hunted mercilessly through its pages but ultimately escapes. In Price’s book, the ‘Whites’ are … Continue reading

Gavin Francis, ‘Adventures in Human Being’ (2016)

‘People tend to think of brain surgeons as being very dextrous,’ the neurosurgeon replied, ‘but it’s the plastic surgeons and microvascular surgeons who do that meticulous stuff… The rest of us just go gardening.’ When I was at university 20 years ago the best parties were thrown by the medical students. This was not just … Continue reading