After recently reviewing Barry Forshaw’s Brit Noir, which celebrates contemporary British crime fiction, it came to my attention that another recently published book also looks at crime fiction in the context of setting. Whereas Forshaw’s work concentrates on living crime writers John Martin’s Crime Scene Britain and Ireland looks at both contemporary and historic authors who wrote with a strong sense of place. He focuses on authors who write about ‘real’ settings or when the fictional place is specifically located, for example, Eastvale, Stephen Booth’s Peak District town.
The writing is authoritative and engaging and it’s as enjoyable to read of new-to-me authors as to study Martin’s views on old favourites. There is some duplication in entries as Martin wisely tries to ensure that writers such as SJ Bolton are covered in the various regions they use as settings. I particularly enjoyed reading the Midlands chapter and I’ve been left with a long reading list of authors I want to discover. At the end of each chapter there is a ‘Ten Recommended Reads’ which allows readers less familiar with the genre to discover for themselves new authors.
Crime Scene Britain and Ireland sits nicely alongside Brit Noir and I’d recommend fans of the genre to read both. It’s testimony to the strength of British crime fiction that there are such interesting reference books to dip into and savour.