In the middle of the second lockdown in England, I’m reading more than ever. It’s such a shame that bookshops have had to close their doors but good news we can still order online. I’ve read some great new crime books recently and my reading pile is tottering with novels for the coming weeks.
As soon as No Exit Press sent an email saying they had review copies of Angel‘s Infernoby William Hjortsberg, I couldn’t wait to read the book. It’s the follow up to Falling Angel which was made into the successful film, Angel Heart. I reread the original book for a workshop I was giving on novels which successfully mix crime and the supernatural and Hjortsberg is a master of this. Angel’s Inferno follows the investigation of Harry Angel who now knows of his role in the disappearance of Johnny Favourite. He’s determined to track down Louis Cyphre and his journey takes him to the Paris underworld in the hunt for the magician who goes by numerous devilish names. It’s written in Hjortsberg’s trademark noir style and the darkness at its heart holds the reader’s attention until the end. A very accomplished follow-up that will delight Hjortsberg’s readers.
I’m a huge fan of Ann Cleeve’s writing and her latest Vera book, The Darkest Evening, is a delight. It has many of the Golden Age tropes that I love: a country house, a family with thrilling secrets and the possibility of a disputed inheritance. It is also packed full of atmosphere.
The body of Lorna Falstone is found on a snowy evening after she abandoned her child in a neighbours car. Vera, finding the child, takes it to the nearest house belonging to her estranged relatives. Lorna’s story enfolds, a child of loving but overprotective parents, she’s spent time in a clinic for her anorexia and has refused to name the father of her child. Vera must put old family hurts aside to discover Lorna’s murderer. In this book, we see more of Vera’s frailty but she’s as redoubtable as ever.
Margot Kinberg is an old friend to Crimepieces. Way back in 2011 when I first started blogging, she was a supportive commenter and promoter of this blog which has continued to this day. Margot is a talented crime writer and I reviewed her novel, Publish or Perish back in 2012. A Matter of Motive is her latest novel. Newbie detective Patricia Stanley has her first murder case. Ron Clemons is found dead in his car. At first, it appears he’s a victim of a heart attack but suspicions are raised by medics and, as Patricia digs beneath his apparent faultless life, professional and personal tensions become apparent. A Matter of Motive is written in Kinberg’s witty prose and there’s a lovely classic crime feel to the plot. I loved it.
I’ve recently bought a Kindle Paperwhite to replace the first generation kindle that has lain unused in my desk drawer for years. To be honest, the new version isn’t much different to the old except for the touch screen and the light that I can use to read in bed. It has, however, prompted me to read some authors whose books were either easier to find on kindle or had been sitting on my e-reader for a while.
First up was Kevin Wignall whose A Death in Sweden I’d heard great things about. It has a cracking opening chapter: a bus crash where one of the victims, Jaques Fillon, is proved never to have existed despite living in plain sight a small rural community in northern Sweden. A former CIA hitman, Dan Henricks, is asked to uncover Fillon’s real identity. However, former colleagues are being assassinated and Henricks is both hunter and hunted. I have a penchant for well-written spy thrillers and this one definitely fits the bill. Wignall doesn’t fall into the Brits in Scandinavia trap. Descriptions of the landscape serve to push along the narrative not hinder it with needless prose and I enjoyed the taut narrative.
Margot Kinberg is one of the most popular US crime fiction bloggers and her website, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, is the best around. I reviewed one of earlier books, Publish or Perish, a few years ago and I was delighted to see that she had a new novel out. Past Tenseonce more takes place at Tilton University where former detective turned professor, Joel Williams, investigates the discovery of bones on a construction site. Kinberg’s books are examples of how American mysteries don’t have to fit in the ‘noir’ or ‘cosy’ category. Past Tenseis an excellent tale with a disturbing crime at its core and a perfect winter read.
Christina Philippou is a debut author whose book, Lost in Static, has an interesting premise. There are four different versions of one story. Who is telling the truth? Philppou has an strong writing style. To differentiate the characters she switches from first person to third and from present tense to past. The subject matter is hard-hitting and like Doug Johnstone’s recent novel, I enjoyed the protagonists being younger than you normally read. Phlippou is a talented writer who has a promising career ahead.
‘Cosy’ is a term that comes with a variety of connotations but they can be great fun to read. Alan MA Friedman (the nom de plume of a writing duo) describe their debut novel, The Sorrowful Woman, as ‘Tartan Blanc’. Julia Flowers is an Oriental antique specialist who investigates the death of a former diplomat. The tone of the book is light-hearted and humorous and there’s good balance between the professional detective, Inspector Bland and Julia, the enthusiastic amateur. There’s a strong Scottish sense of place to the setting and The Sorrowful Womanis an enjoyable start to what I’m sure will be a great new series.
Can you recommend any e-books for my next kindle reads?