The Diversity of British Crime Fiction – William Ryan, Bill Rogers and Robert Thorogood

A lot of my reading recently, in addition to Nordic Noir, has been books by authors that I’ve been appearing alongside at events. It’s fascinating to hear what other writers have to say, in terms of what’s inspired their stories and how they go about writing their books and it helps the discussion if I’ve managed to read one of their novels. British crime fiction is a hugely diverse genre and this is illustrated by the following three books.

30130105I’ve reviewed William Ryan’s novels on Crimepieces before and am a fan of his Captain Korolev series. The Constant Soldier is a standalone which tells the story of Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army who returns home to his village from the Eastern Front disfigured from fighting. An SS rest hut has been set up in the village which provides respite for soldiers in the prison camps. When Brandt recognises one of the female workers, a political prisoner he once knew, he accepts a job inside the hut in the last days of the war. The writing, as you would expect from Ryan, is excellent and the calmly written story contrasts with the atrocities being committed around the protagonists. It is in the minutiae that we find the most moving stories and this is Ryan’s best book to date.

51zsz4aonllBill Rogers is an author who I’ve also reviewed on this blog before. His books are set in my hometown of Manchester so it’s always fascinating to read about locations I know well. The intriguingly named The Pick, The Spade and the Crow is the start of a new series featuring Senior Investigator Joanne Stuart who is newly promoted to the National Crime Agency. Stuart features in his previous series so there’s a nice continuity about the new book where a cold case suddenly becomes active again. Rogers’ attention to detail is always spot on and both the police investigation and references of Freemasonry came across as very well-researched. Those familiar with the city of Manchester will delight, as usual, in the references to landmarks such as the Northern Quarter and this excellently written book is a great start to a promising new series.

51puhqu5rcl-_sx317_bo1204203200_Lowdham Festival is an excellent event run Bookcase bookshop in Nottinghamshire. There, I met Robert Thorogood who created the Death in Paradise TV series. He’s written a book which stands alongside the series. As I haven’t seen any of the programmes I can’t compare the two but A Meditation on Murder was excellent. It’s a good example of how a crime novel can be gentle and funny without feeling ‘cosy’. The main detective Richard Poole appears to exasperate those around him yet his off-beat collection of evidence gradually uncovers the murderer of a spiritual retreat leader. Very enjoyable and I’ll definitely be reading more.

Review: Bill Rogers – Angel Meadow

Angel Meadows is the tenth book in the Manchester series by Bill Rogers so I’ve come late to this particular writer. However I was looking forward to reading a crime story set in my home city of Manchester especially as the author takes so much care to use authentic locations. Angel Meadow is the site of one of the most notorious Victorian slums which has now become a public park near the city centre. It’s the setting for a murder of one of the city’s prostitutes known as Irish Meg. DCI Tom Caton takes on the investigation but soon discovers that the girl from an ordinary Oldham family has a more horrific past linked to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. DCI Caton and his partner travel to the area to discover the tragedy that led to two sister’s being adopted far from home but soon those complicit in the cover-up begin to turn up dead.

The story is completely absorbing and had me transfixed. I ended up reading the book late into the night. Particularly fascinating was how well the author combined the Manchester investigation with a historic crime that still had a resonance today. Tom Caton is an interesting detective. His partner is expecting a child and the fact I’ve not read earlier books didn’t impinge on my enjoyment of reading about his domestic life.

I’d recommend Angel Meadow to all readers who love a gripping police procedural with a well crafted tale. I’d love to go back and read the series from the start.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of his book.