October Reading Round-Up

October has been a busy month for me reading wise and there are a couple of reviews coming shortly of books by Cal Moriarty, Rod Reynolds and Bill Rogers. I’ve been travelling which has also given me the opportunity to catch up with some crime novels that I’ve been dying to read for ages all of which I’d recommend to readers of this blog.

Louise Welsh is an excellent writer whom I’ve admired for a long time.  I’ve an enduring5136Rq2kAmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ fascination with end-of-the-world scenarios ever since I read Nevil Shute’s On the Beach as a teenager. Death is Welcome Guest is the story of Magnus Fall who flees London trying to reach is family on a remote Scottish island as the plague sickness descends on the country. He reaches a commune governed by a rigid set of rules where the primary aim is to survive. Welsh is excellent at plotting and the novel is a gripping read about desperation and religious doubt.

519Tudi97+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Another author who is a ongoing favourite of mine is Sharon Bolton. Little Black Lies is set in the Falkland Islands and this is the first time I’ve read a murder story set in this part of the world. It’s an agonising tale of lost children – Caitlin’s two son’s were accidentally killed while in the care of her best friend, Rachel. Now children have started to go missing on the island. It’s a page-turning read and brings to life the tensions of a small isolated community.

diamondI met Romanian author and publisher Bogdan Hrib at last year’s Iceland Noir. One of his novels, The Greek Connection, has recently been published by Mosaic Press. It’s a short but dynamic novel full of menace and set in a country I know well, Greece. The plot is dialogue driven and I was impressed how well the writer moves the narrative forward using sharp exchanges between the characters.

25708878Stasi Child by David Young is his debut novel set in 1975 East Berlin featuring the charismatic head of the murder squad. Karin Muller. She’s investigating the killing of a teenage girl but her own personal life comes under scrutiny when her husband is arrested and her enquiries impinge on the machinations of East Berlin’s elite. It’s an excellent read with a strong sense of place and I’m sure the start of an exciting career for the author.

 

 

 

Review: OxCrimes

I like short stories. I remember reading a lot of them when I was a teenager, although those with a crime theme were less popular Oxcrimes-Bookthen. More recently there have been a number of good anthologies containing stories from across the crime fiction genre. In particular, I always enjoy Otto Penzler’s annual anthology of The Best American Mystery Stories. Last week, Oxfam published its own compilation containing 27 stories from an impressive list of crime writers. OxCrimes authors include Ian Rankin, Neil Gaiman, Anne Zouroudi, Ann Cleves and Peter Robinson.

There are a couple of stories in particular I’d like to recommend. I’ve read very little by Christopher Fowler but I loved his story, The Caterpillar Flag. Set in Spain, it has a brooding feel and relates a tragedy seen through innocent eyes. Another story set in Europe is Reflections in Unna by Louise Welsh. It’s an overtly menacing tale with a strong sense of impending doom and written in her trademark compelling style. Finally, OxCrimes features one of my favourite crime writers, Fred Vargas. Her story, Five Francs Each, has Commissaire Adamsberg trying to persuade a down-at-heel street seller to give up the identity of a murderer.

There are many more readable stories and it is a tribute to the excellent work that Oxfam undertakes that it has managed to get so many high quality crime writers to contribute to it.

My anthology was from Oxfam bookshop in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Run by Lynsey and the team, I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re in Derbyshire you should definitely pay it a visit.

With previous books ‘OxTravels’ and ‘OxTales’ having raised over a quarter of a million pounds since their 2009 publication, Oxfam is hoping ‘OxCrimes’ will raise even more, helping to tackle poverty and suffering around the world. Visit Oxfam’s emergency Response pages to find out more about how you can help.