Recent Reads

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed my reading but I’ve been busy working on various projects, more news of which soon. However, I’ve been powering through books on my kindle which has been a godsend during this lockdown.

Sound of the Sinners is the latest book by Hull author Nick Quantrill. Private eye Joe Geraghty is back in Hull to attend the funeral of his old friend and colleague, Don Ridley. The city has changed during his stint in Amsterdam and Geraghty becomes convinced that his friend’s death was no accident. A cold case, it appears, is coming back to life and it’s Geraghty who feels honour-bound to finish what Ridely started. As usual, the city of Hull leaps from the page in Quantrill’s novel and I’m always impressed by the author’s clear and compelling prose.

Hell Gate by Jeff Dawson is another well-written and compelling thriller set in New York. After the sinking of the steamship General Slocum which killed over a thousand souls, mainly from the German immigrant community, a populist senator preys on his voters’ grief. It’s 1904 and alliances haven’t yet been formed, the senator reminding people that, except for one vote in the House of Representatives, the nation would be speaking German. British spy Ingo Finch arrives in Manhattan to infiltrate and expose the new political movement and is soon under attack from all sides. I loved the historical detail in this book, genuinely feeling I’d learnt something about the period and the pace never lets up. A very strong spy story.

Barbara Copperthwaite writes psychological thrillers with interesting themes and empathetic characters. In her latest book, The Girl in the Missing Poster, Stella plasters posters around the town looking for news of her twin sister Leila who disappeared twenty five years earlier. It attracts the notice of a TV company who feature her quest on Netflix. Stella receives a letter from someone claiming they took Leila and, as a reunion is organised for those who were present on the night her sister disappeared, old secrets begin to emerge. It was great, after a gap, to read a new Barbara Copperthwaite and I found it to be a page-turning read.

I haven’t been reading as much Scandinavian crime fiction recently but I was reminded of how much I love the genre after reading The Therapist, the debut novel from Helene Flood. Sara’s husband, Sigard, leaves early one morning for a trip to a holiday cabin. A phone call from his friends waiting for him reveals that he never arrived. As she tries to interest the police in her husband’s disappearance while running her therapy practice, she begins to notice that objects are being moved around her house. Does she have an intruder and is it connected to Sigard’s disappearance? This is an excellent thriller with sharp insights into how people behave and how not everyone is how they present themselves. It was, as I always expect from Maclehose, a high-quality read. The translation was by Alison McCullough.

The Ormering Tide is the debut novel from Mercury Prize-nominated musician Kathryn Williams. Rozel lives with her three older triplet brothers on a small island. When one brother goes missing, Rozel is forced out of her comfortable existence to see the community as it actually is. Secrets, odd behaviour and repressed truths are explored with beautifully evocative language. A truly stunning read.

Music To Write Books By – Nick Quantrill

nq-photoNick Quantrill joins Crimepieces today to talk about the music he writes to. Nick was born and raised in Hull, an isolated industrial city in East Yorkshire. His crime novels are published by Caffeine Nights. A prolific short story writer, Nick’s work has appeared in various volumes of “The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime”. In 2011, 51tk6mt6kdlNick became the first person to hold the role of ‘Writer in Residence’ at Hull Kingston Rovers. When not writing fiction, Nick contributes reviews and essays to a variety of football and music websites. He lives with his wife, daughter, cat and the constant fear Hull City will let him down.

Hi Nick. Do you have particular pieces of music you write to?

I have a confession to make. Although I’m a huge music fan, it doesn’t always mix well for me with writing. I’ve never had the luxury of a proper writing space, so I write with constant background noise – my daughter (aged 5), television, radio – I don’t mind. If I have music on, it tends to be something I know backwards, usually The Beatles, so it doesn’t demand too much attention.

Has a particular piece of music ever inspired you to write something?

Kind of. As much as I can point towards certain writers as being an influence, it was having friends in bands that gave me the push to write. My friends in Lithium Joe and Scarper! booked their own gigs, released their own records, sorted their own merchandise etc. It was a very clear lesson in life – if you want to do something, do it. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission.

Could you recommend any particular pieces of music for a specific mood?

I didn’t think I did this until I thought about it. Maybe it’s more a subconscious thing, but if I’m going to write an action scene, I’ll probably have some punk on – bands I was listening to as a teenager, like The Descendents or Green Day. If it’s a more reflective scene and it requires more thought, I often reach for the song-writers who can do in three minutes what we do in 90,000 words – writers like Steve Earle, John K Samson and Jeff Tweedy. Their skills are intimidating, but also very inspiring.

Are there any longer pieces you can recommend? If you need to write for an hour, for example, is there a particular composer/artist you’d chose?

I’m more likely to go back to stuff I know well with The Beatles a constant fixture. Spotify is great for writers (maybe not so great for musicians, though). If you feel the need to hear something, it’s there. I do sometimes have fun figuring out what my characters might like to listen to and then immerse myself in it as I write.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve got a couple of things on the go. I have the makings of a second Hull-set crime novel featuring Anna Stone and Luke Carver to follow on from “The Dead Can’t Talk”. Hull is the UK City of Culture next year, and for better or worse, it’s something that needs documenting on the page. I’m also working on a crime novel set in various locations around the north of England, so it’s exciting to be exploring new locations.

Thanks, Nick for taking part. Good luck with the writing.  Nick can be found on Twitter: @NickQuantrill  and at his website: http://nickquantrill.co.uk