I’ve been busy reading for various panels and events that I’m moderating over the coming weeks and also working hard on my own writing. Tomorrow, I’m off to Bristol for CrimeFest, the crime fiction convention which I always look forward to. On Saturday, we will announce the winner of the Petrona Award and more on this will appear on Crimepieces. In the meantime, below is summary of some the excellent books I’ve read over the last few weeks.
That Old Black Magic by Cathi Unswoth is the story of a spy ring during the second world war who use black magic in an attempt to destabilise Britain. Ross Spooner is the detective who is forced to enter a world of mediums and occultists to discover who is at the heart of the mischief. Unsworth cleverly weaves in the real life mystery of a woman found inside an ancient tree and there’s also a hint of Dennis Wheatly about the dark practices as enemy agents attempt to promote the Nazi cause. It’s a fascinating and unusual read.
Barry Forshaw turns his attention to historical crime fiction for his latest pocket essential guide. I’ve always admired the huge commitment to research that writing crime fiction set in the past demands and there are some giants of the genre in this book. My natural inclination is to go to the authors I have read and it was great to see substantial entries for Philip Kerr, Kate Griffin and Kate Ellis in Historical Noir. Presented in chronological order, Lindsey Davis opens the book and it ends with the less familiar Gaute Heivoll who writes about 1970s Norway. As always, Forshaw’s books are fascinating to read and provide a handy insight into new authors to try.
Mari Hannah, always a strong writer, has excelled herself with her new book The Lost. A woman returns from a holiday with her sister to discover that her young son has disappeared. Alex’s husband, her son’s stepfather, comes under suspicion but the police investigation reveals a more complex web of lies. Hannah is excellent at continually unsettling the reader and the ending was a genuine surprise. A great start to what promises to be an excellent new series.
MW Craven’s new book, The Puppet Show, has an atmospheric backdrop of the Cumbrian countryside. Police are hunting a serial killer known as the ‘immolation man’ who mutilates and burns his victims. When the name of disgraced detective, Washington Poe, appears carved into the chest of the latest corpse, Poe is brought back from suspension into the investigation. It’s a fascinating premise and Craven delivers a satisfyingly dark thriller.