This category contains 9 posts

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

Summer Reading 2016

The six week school holiday is coming to an end, and on Thursday I go back to work. Although, that’s not strictly true; I’ve been getting ready for the new term for the last fortnight – lesson plans and seating layouts and all the rest of it. But I’ve still had a clear three weeks … Continue reading

Para One: Derek Raymond, ‘He Died With His Eyes Open’ (1984)

These are the opening lines of He Died With His Eyes Open, the first in Derek Raymond’s celebrated, five-book ‘Factory’ series.  As so often in the crime genre the book begins with a corpse; but there is much more here to savour. Raymond is precise in putting his body into context, and in describing a London … Continue reading

Reading matter 2015: Part 3

Last lap: here’s the final ten books in my list of reading material for the previous 12 months. Bon appetit! Pierre Lemaitre, Camille – Last book in Lemaitre’s Camille Verhoeven trilogy, and for my taste the least successful of the three books. Having said that, Lemaitre is always worth reading, and the twists when they come are dramatic, … Continue reading

Reading matter 2015: Part 2

Stand by for part 2 of my list of everything (well, nearly everything) I’ve read over the last 12 months. Here come books 11 to 20: Pascal Garnier, The Islanders – Garnier is a rare talent, but not suitable for everyone. His books have a queasy inevitability about them, and none more so than this short tale which describes a … Continue reading

Reading matter 2015: Part 1

I haven’t kept this kind of record since I was a teenager, but over the next three posts I’ll be listing – in chronological order – all the books I’ve read during 2015. There are 30 in all, slightly more than one a fortnight – not a bad average for someone with a full-full-time job … Continue reading

On the Mavericks vs. the Grafters

Good to see DCI John Luther back on television screens in a new (albeit brief, 2-part) series. Idris Elba is the maverick detective par excellence, a man fiercely protective of his colleagues whilst also willing to take enormous personal risks. It’s certainly a crowded market; even before Luther came along crime fiction was filled with rule-breaking … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 10: ‘King’s Ransom’ (1959)

Confession time: King’s Ransom is the first of the 87th Precinct books that (since I started re-reading them) I put to one side without finishing. This may be because the book goes against the author’s usual technique, which was to start with a corpse. King’s Ransom doesn’t have McBain’s snappiest opening; several scenes at the beginning don’t feature the … Continue reading

Linwood Barclay, ‘A Tap on the Window’ (2013)

This is the first of Linwood Barclay’s novels that I’ve read, although I was familiar with the name; I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of A Tap on the Window from Graeme Williams at Orion, who publish the book next month. At close to 500 pages, I was initially concerned that it was over-long. … Continue reading