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Reviews

This category contains 80 posts

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

James Shapiro, ‘1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear’ (2015)

‘How can ordinary people attempt such horrible and unthinkable crimes? In doing so, what kind of lies or stories must they tell themselves and others? Does this evil come from satanic forces or from within us? What binds us together – be it a family or a marriage or a country – and what destroys … Continue reading

Marlon James, ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ (2014)

‘Gun weight is a different kind of weight. Or maybe it be something else, a feeling that whenever you hold a gun is really the gun holding you.’ The deliberate application of violence – for political, criminal or psychopathic reasons – is one of the many themes swirling through Marlon James’ third novel. The title … Continue reading

James Sallis, ‘The Long-Legged Fly’ (1992)

‘In the darkness things always go away from you. Memory holds you down while regret and sorrow kick hell out of you.’ The Long Legged Fly is the first book in the Lew Griffin series; and whilst they’re often described as private detective novels, don’t come to them if you’re after a traditional investigation. Go elsewhere. … Continue reading

Pierre Lemaitre, ‘Camille’ (2015)

The three books in Pierre Lemaitre’s trilogy featuring police detective Commandant Camille Verhoeven share not only a protagonist but also an underlying warning: nothing is ever as it first appears. In Irene we meet a murderer who takes his inspiration from crime fiction, whilst in Alex a woman in peril transforms into a very different kind of character. … Continue reading