This tag is associated with 43 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

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

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

The McBainiad, Book 11: ‘Give the Boys a Great Big Hand’ (1960)

‘If you are a cop, you know that death is seldom pretty, that it is in fact the ugliest and most frightening event that can overtake a human being.’ Book titles are a continuum. At one end are those descriptive, unobtrusive ones which just plainly describe what you can find inside the covers. Here you’ll … 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

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

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

Paul Kingsnorth, ‘The Wake’ (2014)

Picture the scene: an alien world is invaded by a marauding army. There is a battle and the natives are crushed; the incomers then use their vastly superior technology and weaponry to keep them oppressed. Despite this a resistance movement grows amongst the locals people, and heroes begin to emerge who vow to free their … Continue reading

Danny Rhodes, ‘Fan’ (2014)

Reviewing a book you really enjoyed can be difficult because there’s so much to talk about. You fall under the spell not just of the language, the plot or the characters, but the whole package. So it is with Danny Rhodes’ Fan, a remarkable evocation of the pre-Premiership era of English football. This is a … Continue reading