New books by my Favourite Writers

It’s always very exciting when one of my favourite writers publishes a new book. The summer and autumn of 2020 has brought a raft of new titles, some delayed because of COVID, and here are four of my favourites.

First up is Margaret Murphy who I first read in back in 2005, I think. Her thought-provoking psychological thrillers were enthralling and I particularly loved the Liverpool settings. Murphy went on to write thrillers under the name of AD Garrett and Ashley Dyer.  I was delighted to see that Joffe books are now publishing her backlist along with a new book, Before He Kills Again featuring Detective Cassie Rowan. Cassie is working undercover on the streets of Liverpool to capture a predator known as the Furman who is killing women sex workers. As I’ve come to expect from Murphy’s books, this new thriller combines a compelling plot along with a keen eye on life for the working girls and the subtleties of Cassie’s relationship with her colleagues.

Marnie Riches is a versatile writer whose crime series have been published to rave reviews.  She’s written a series of historical sagas about the early days on the NHS under the name of Maggie Campbell, the first of which is Nurse Kitty’s Secret War. It has a Manchester setting,  Park Hospital which is now the Trafford General. It’s just after the war and Kitty Longthorne is a nurse juggling a family unsupportive of her career, a romance with a doctor and the stresses of nursing in a new regime. There’s plenty of suspense, especially in relation to Kitty’s love life and I personally loved the insights into the birth of the NHS and it’s impact on ordinary lives still reeling from the effects of war. Meticulously researched this book is a perfect celebration of the early days of the NHS.

Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite writers. The Lantern Men is the latest outing for DCI Harry forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson. A man convicted for killing two women is prepared to reveal the location of other bodies but only if Ruth will do the digging. Ruth has relocated to Cambridge but is unsettled personally and professionally. I love how Griffiths keeps the will they/won’t they drama going for Ruth and Nelson and there’s a nice touch of folklore about the existence of the lantern men in the marshes. Possibly my favourite in the series, I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Jane Bettany is a debut writer who I met at one of my writing workshops and was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the early chapters of the book which became In Cold Blood. DI Isabel Blood investigates a body in the back garden of a house she once lived in as a child. The forensic team think the body has been in the ground for forty years which coincides with the date of Isabel’s father’s disappearance. In Cold Blood won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition and it’s easy to see why. It’s a tightly written police procedural with a very relatable protagonist and a compelling plot. If you like Elly Griffiths, I’m sure you’ll love this book.

Crime Fiction Round-Up

November is proving to be an interesting month for crime fiction and it would be a shame not share some of the events with readers of this blog. Sometimes, living in Derbyshire, it feels like all the interesting things take place in other parts of the country, particularly London. However, if you keep your eyes open and take advantage of the internet, you discover plenty of interest.

James Ellroy

The the self-styled demon dog of American crime fiction came to The Dancehouse,Perfidia-by-James-Ellroy Manchester in early November. The event was organised by Waterstones on Deansgate and was very well attended. For my money I would have preferred a more structured interview. It was left to Ellroy to read from his latest book, Perfidia, and then field questions from a very knowledgable audience. Manchester has plenty of fine journalists more than capable of facilitating a more structured event and I think we might have got some greater insights from Ellroy from more in-depth probing. He was, however, great to see and we were treated at the end to his recital of Dylan Thomas’s ‘In my Craft or Gentle Art’.

The Murder Squad.

The Murder SquadLast week, six of the best northern crime writers gathered at Linghams bookshop in Heswall for an evening of crime fiction talk. Cath Staincliffe, Ann Cleeves, Margaret Murphy, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis and Chris Simms talked about their books and characters in an event of interest to both readers and writers of the genre. Again the evening had a fantastic turnout and is evidence of what a vibrant local bookshop can do to promote writers. The passion that these authors still have for their books is an inspiration and I particularly liked the discussion on which character from another author they’d most like to write about. A white haired old lady from St Mary Mead was a popular choice. Thanks to Dave Mack (via Margaret Murphy) for the photo.

Serial

Those on Twitter will notice the amount of chat taking place about a podcast coming out from the States. Serial is a week by week investigation into the culpability of Adnan Syed who was convicted of murdering, in 1999, his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in Baltimore, US. I’m not a huge fan of real life crime and certainly tend to avoid reading about it. But these podcasts are excellent and compulsive listening. The host, Sarah Koenig, has an impressive grasp of the minutiae of the case but it is the human element of the broadcasts that make them so fascinating. She oscillates between trusting and disbelieving Adnan’s innocence and we, as listeners, are right there with her. I don’t normally review books until I have finished them but for Serial, it is the real time unfolding of the drama that is one of its attractions. Highly recommended.

Iceland Noir

Next Thursday, Iceland Noir begins. I’ll give a full update in my return as there is a intensive programme ofIcelandnoirlogoSm events and panels. Those who want to follow the event can see live tweeting from @NordicNoirBuzz with the #IcelandNoir hashtag. Last year’s conference was a huge success and it’s fast becoming a ‘must attend’ event for readers, writers and fans of Scandinavian crime fiction. Watch this space.

While I’m in Iceland I’m hoping to catch up on my backlog of reading. If you’ve sent me a book for review, I will get there, I promise. I hope you’re all having a good reading month.