Books for Autumn: Mikita Brottman and Syd Moore

Autumn always brings a new crop of crime fiction that I’m keen to read and it’s always great to discover new authors. I discovered these two books through slightly different means and it’s interesting how authors come to your attention through recommendations or marketing material. 

An Unexplained Death was given to me as a proof by Richard Fortey, the Independent Alliance rep as he thought I’d like it. I don’t read huge amounts of true crime but it’s always wonderful to discover a well written, personal response to a particular incident. An Unexpected Death is a discursive account of the death of Rey Rivera. The author, Mikita Brottman, first hears of Rey when she sees posters reporting him missing. His body is discovered after a week or so in the apartment block where she lives. The Belvedere was once a famous hotel and, when Rey’s death is deemed a suicide, it prompts Brottman to consider all the deaths the building has seen in its history.

The book is a compelling read. Part memoir, part investigation it gives an insight on how a sudden death can impact on those on the periphery of a tragedy. I don’t want to give too much away about the ending but, with the best books, it’s the journey that’s as interesting as the conclusion. An Unexplained Death is out on the 8th November.

I was sent by Syd Moore’s publisher a sampler of her forthcoming book. I almost never read samplers as I find them frustratingly short. For the same reason, I never read the taster chapters at the end of a novel for the author’s next book. However, The Strange Casebook is a collection of short stories and reading the one provided in the sampler was a perfect introduction into this author’s writing.

Short stories collections are always hard to review as it’s difficult to summarise them without giving too much away. This collection consists of both ghost stories and tales verging on horror. I think it’s fair to say there’s a touch of Daphne Du Maurier’s influence and I found them absolutely fascinating. I read the stories in one sitting, late at night and they were a perfect autumnal read. The Strange Casebook is out on 31st October.

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Review: Gallows Court by Martin Edwards

Martin Edwards is known as both a writer of crime novels and an expert in Golden Age detection. I’ve enjoyed both areas of his writing and I’m delighted to see a new direction for this author. Gallows Court, uses his knowledge of  classic crime but gives a 1930s setting a contemporary twist.

Rachel Severnake is a rich heiress, the daughter of a renowned hanging judge. She grew up on the desolate island of Gaunt and is renowned for solving the Chorus Girl Murder, to the embarrassment of Scotland Yard. In a smog filled London, women are being brutally killed and young newspaper reporter, Jacob Flint, is looking for a scoop which will make his career. His attempts to contact Rachel are met with rebuff and he becomes convinced she has some insight into the killer.

Historical crime can sometimes suffer from a sentimental view of the period in which it’s set. Edwards deftly avoids this cliché, depicting London as dark, grimy and cowering in the face of killings. It’s difficult throughout the book to decide if Rachel is hero or anti-hero, which greatly adds to the tension, keeping the reader perpetually unsettled. There are hints of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, both in terms of the sense of menace and scenes set on the island of Gaunt where Rachel is raised. I’m sure Edwards’ existing fans will love this change of tone but he should also garner new readers for his excellent fiction.

The Shrouded Path Publication Day

It’s publication day for The Shrouded Path, the fourth book in my DC Childs series. The origins of this crime go back to the 1950s. Six schoolgirls walk into a railway tunnel but only five emerge. In the present day, the reverberations of the act of violence begin to be felt.

BBC Radio Derby filmed me at a couple of the locations of the book, including Ladybower Reservoir where the drowned village of Derwent stands. The village plays a key role in my narrative:

 

Thanks to readers of Crimepieces for all their support. It’s publication day for a few other friends including Martin Edwards whose book, Gallows Court, I’ll be reviewing at the weekend. In the meantime, a competition.

To celebrate publication, I’m giving away a copy of The Shrouded Path to three readers of Crimepeices. To win, you simply have to tell me one thing that sums up the 1950s for you.I wasn’t born then but my husband is a big Elvis fan and this singer represents the decade for me. Jailhouse Rock was released in 1957, the same year in which part of my book is set.

To enter the competition, simply fill in the form below. I’ll draw the winners at 6pm on Sunday the 9th September and publish their names at the bottom of this post. I’ll also be running another competition on my Facebook page which ends at the same time if you’d like to enter twice! The competition is open to everyone regardless of location.

 

 

**The competition is now closed. Congratulations to winners Kathy Durkin, Jose Ignacio and Victoria Goodbody**

 

Latest Reads: Elly Griffiths and Andrew Taylor

As it’s the summer, my reading is slightly different from usual as I’m spending the time either catching up with authors’ latest reads or making headway with my TBR pile. Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite crime writers and I was conscious that I had an unread Ruth Galloway novel on my shelves. In The Dark AngelRuth travels to Italy at the request of one of her friends, archaeologist Dr Angelo Morelli. Accompanied by her friend, Shona and young daughter, Kate, Ruth finds that Morelli is convinced his life is under threat.  Griffiths excels at relationships and I love the on-off tension between Ruth and Nelson. This is a series that gets better and better.

Elly Griffiths also has a standalone book, The Stranger Diaries, out in November. It’s a modern gothic thriller set around a school which was once the residence of writer RM Holland. Clare Cassidy teaches English in the school and is appalled when one of her colleagues is found murdered. The book is told from the point of views of Clare, her daughter Georgia and Harbinder, the detective in charge of the case. Ss we’ve come to expect from Griffiths, it’s a compelling read and I loved the cast of characters she’s created.

I heard Andrew Taylor speak at Alibis in the Archives in June and was inspired to read his bestselling novel, The Ashes of London, set in the aftermath of the Great Fire.  James Marwood, son of a traitor, is struggling to look after this impoverished father and earn a living. Tasked to search for Catherine Lovett, whose father was accused of regicide, he discovers a more deadly plot than the hunt for a missing girl. I loved both protagonists – it’s rare I like two points of view equally – and the period detail is wonderful.

The Anatomy of Ghosts is set in the late 1700s at a Cambridge College. Frank Oldershaw is involved in an initiation rite which goes wrong and he loses his mind, claiming to see the ghost of murdered Sylvia Whichcote. His mother calls on John Holdswoth, an author of a rationalist text on ghosts but living in impoverished circumstances, to investigate. Taylor brings to life a closed, incestuous world in this book which is again rich in period detail and compelling relationships.