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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Hall & Parsons

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OUR KIND OF CRUELTY by Araminta Hall

AramintaI had the pleasure of meeting Araminta Hall (left) recently at a publisher’s ‘do’ and so I was doubly delighted when a copy of Our Kind of Cruelty arrived at Fully Booked Towers. It is due to be published later this year, and it concerns a couple, Mike and Verity, whose relationship features a deadly game called the Crave. Mike describes the rules:

“The rules of the Crave were very simple. V and I went to a nightclub in a pre-determined place a good way from where we lived, but entered separately. We made our way to the bar and stood far enough apart to seem that we weren’t together, but close enough that I could always keep her in vision.”

Verity basically makes herself very visible, catching the eyes of any lone male who might be interested, and then drawing him into her web with her stunning looks and overt sexuality. Then, the game kicks in:

“We have a signal: as soon as she raises her hand and pulls on the silver eagle she always wears around her neck I must act. In those dark throbbing rooms I would push through the mass of people, pulling at the useless man drooling over her, and ask him what he was doing talking to my girlfriend.”

When the relationship eventually sours, and Verity needs to move, she finds to her cost that the perverse twist in her relationship with Mike cannot be simply cast off like an unwanted piece of clothing.

Sounds a cracker, doesn’t it? The bad news is that you will have to wait until May to get your hands on a copy, but I can guarantee it will be worth the wait.

GIRL ON FIRE by Tony Parsons

Tony PI may as well continue the shameless name dropping and say that I was lucky enough to meet Tony Parsons (right) too, at the same Cornerstone  event where I met Araminta Hall. He was full of fascinating background information about the mysterious and hidden world beneath The Old Bailey in London – the setting for an earlier DC Max Wolfe novel, The Hanging Club. Now, Max Wolfe returns with another London based case, but this time the stakes have ratcheted even higher. There is a very heated argument playing out on social media just now about what kind of city London has become, with acid attacks, knifings and terror threats becoming – some would say – commonplace. As topical as you like, Girl On Fire has terrorists using a drone to bring down an aircraft on a crowded London shopping centre, and in the ensuing chaos, Max Wolfe finds himself in clear and present danger. The book is due out in March, but I am going to pull rank and read my copy in the next few days. Why? Four words sum up Mr Parsons – top books, top bloke.

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BRILLIANT NEWS … Dyson Devereux returns!

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It’s not often that an item of book news from Fully Booked Towers comes with a warning, but this one definitely does. Back in 2014, I read and reviewed a startling tale centred around a young man called Dyson Devereux who is Head of Burials and Cemeteries for the local council of a fictional town in Essex. Necropolis is one of the funniest – and most disturbing books – I have ever read. The warning? Please don’t go near Necropolis – or its successor, Sepultura – if you are a sensitive soul whose idea of risqué humour is a re-run of Dad’s Army. Dyson Devereux’s creator is Guy Portman, and he writes – excuse the pun – graveyard humour of the blackest sort. You will find yourself in Catch 22 territory, where no socially-aware virtue goes un-targeted.

NecropolisNecropolis has a surreal plot involving, amongst other characters, an African drug dealer, a fugitive from the genocide of the 1990s Balkan wars – now working as a gravedigger – and a sadly deceased local resident for whom the undertakers have abandoned any pretence of good taste:

A hearse pulled by two horses is approaching. The horses’ coats have been sprinkled with glitter, and their manes dyed pink. They look like colossal My Little Ponies,”

SepulturaAfter a pause of three years, Dyson Devereux returns in Sepultura, to be published on 11th January. I have yet to get my hands on a copy, but it seems that Dyson has both a new job and a new son, but his cold rage and venomous disgust at his work colleagues and the world in general appears not to have abated one little bit. I can only guarantee that there will be death, cruelty, abrasive satire – and brilliant writing.

 

 

 

 

Guy Portman’s web page is here

Check out Necropolis and Sepultura here.

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Hartwell & Harvey

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Many thanks to the good people at Camel Press in Seattle and, a little closer to home, William Heinemann for the latest delivery. Two books, very different in style and content. Elena Hartwell brings us the latest case for her intrepid PI, Eddie Shoes. Expect the great outdoors – in this case, Washington State – and a dead body or two. In what he says is the final Frank Elder novel, John Harvey is in more sombre and reflective mood as his retired copper battles to protect his daughter.

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Elena Hartwell (above) is a former actress who now shares her time between writing novels, teaching, editing – and looking after her horses, cats, dog and husband, but not necessarily in that order. She lives on a farm in Washington State, and you can find out more by visiting her website.

John Harvey (below) is a native of Nottingham, as are his fictional characters Charlie Resnick and Frank Elder. Harvey is widely regarded as one of the most thoughtful and accomplished modern crime writers and it is no surprise, given the quality of his writing, that his poetry is also highly thought of. You can find him on the web here.

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THREE STRIKES, YOU’RE DEAD will be available in April 2018

BODY & SOUL will be available in April 2018

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Alex Gray

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The darkest hours of winter have now gone here in Britain and, imperceptibly, the days are getting longer, although at a maddeningly slow crawl. Nothing lightens the gloom better than packages from publishers which contain books which will not see the light of day until the green of the Spring.

Alex Gray017_1By 22nd March 2018, there should be catkins on the willow and hazel, daffodils should be getting into their stride and, even if it’s a little early to be looking for summer migrants like swallows and warblers, nothing will be more welcome to lovers of good crime fiction than the return of William Lorimer in another – the fifteenth, unbelievably – police procedural set in Scotland. Since Alex Gray (left) saw Never Somewhere Else published in 2002, she has made Lorimer and his world one of the go-to destinations for anyone who loves a well-crafted crime novel, with a sympathetically portrayed central character.

Lorimer’s latest case involves a woman stabbed to death, and wise heads from Police Scotland are certain that Dorothy Guildford’s husband Peter did the deed. After all, most murder victims knew their killer, didn’t they? What with the squeeze on budgets, and overtime eating the flesh from the force’s financial bones, who needs a protracted and complex murder enquiry? But. But. When Peter is savagely attacked and is clinging n to life in an ICU, Detective Superintendent Lorimer and Detective Constable Kirsty Wilson smell a very large and malodorous rat, and become convinced that the wrong man is in the frame for the killing.

Only The Dead Can Tell is written by Alex Gray, is published by Sphere/Little Brown, and will be available on 22 March 2018 in hardback and Kindle, with a paperback edition becoming available in November 2018.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Abbott, Greaney & Svensson

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The generous people at Sphere came up trumps (whoops, can we still use that expression?) last week with a triple whammy to make my day, but sadly add to the seasonal woes of my postman. Three lovely new books to examine, the first being from one of my favourite American thriller writers, Jeff Abbott (below left).

JeffAbbottBLAME came out in hardback and Kindle earlier this year, but is due in paperback on 28 December. We are in the author’s home state of Texas, and two years on from a fatal road accident. Jane Norton drove her car down into a steep ravine below a remote road, killing her passenger and coming within a whisker of death herself. David Hall is cut from the wreckage but dies in the arms of a paramedic. Jane survives her multiple fractures, but loses her memory. After an incriminating note is found, it becomes the received wisdom in the small town of Lakehaven that Jane Norton was hell bent on committing suicide, and had decided to take her best friend with her. Reviled on social media and snubbed at school, Jane becomes a reclusive outcast until a mysterious person calling themselves Liv Danger begins a campaign of hate against all those involved in the tragedy. Can Jane – and her tangled memories – solve the mystery of what happened that fateful night on High Oaks Road?

markGUNMETAL GRAY by Mark Greaney (right) takes us away from small-town intrugue and places us on a much bigger stage altogether. Readers who know their spy thriller genre will be well aware that Greaney has pedigree – he collaborated with the late Tom Clancy on his final three books, and has continued the Jack Ryan series under his own name. This novel sees the return of Court Gentry, ‘The Gray Man’. Gone are the days when the only international villains had snow on their boots and answered to the name ‘Ivan”. Gentry becomes involved in a winner-takes-all struggle with ruthless agents from The People’s Republic of China, and he finds that they are every bit as resourceful and relentless as their Russian counterparts. Played out against the background of of Hong Kong and South East Asia, Gunmetal Gray came out in hardback in February this year, but will be available in paperback on 4 January 2018.

The Sons

ANTON SVENSSON is the pseudonym of the successful Swedish writing partnership between Stefan Thunberg and Anders Roslund. The Sons (originally published as En Bror Att Dö För earlier this year) has been translated into English by Hildred Crill. It is the second in a series called Made In Sweden. The first novel was called, logically enough, The Father. The story is centred on that most lucrative – and dangerous – of trades, bank robbery. Leo Duvnjac emerges from a lengthy prison sentence for bank heists, but inside he has made friends with killer Sam Larsen. Released and together outside, they plan the climactic job-to-end-all-jobs, but they face a stern opponent in the hard-nosed cop Detective John Broncks – who just happens to be Larsen’s brother. If you were of a mind to question the authenticity of the tale, you should know that co-author Thunberg is the only ‘straight’ member of his family – the rest are infamous real-life bank robbers. The Sons will be out in the UK on 9 January 2018.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Gardner, Haden & Thomson

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As we get within shouting distance of Christmas, and the Great Shut-Down, this week’s post has something of a military look about it, with two historical novels set in and around World War II. The first book out of the festive wrapping paper, however, is the latest thriller from Lisa Gardner, Look For Me.

Look For MeLook For Me is a return to active duty for Boston Detective D D Warren. In the twelfth book of an obviously popular series, Gardner brings back a character – Flora Dane –  from an earlier book, Find Her, in which Dane was a resilient but haunted survivor of kidnap and abduction. Now, Dane’s thirst for vengeance on her tormentor is a mixed blessing for Warren who is faced with a murder scene of almost unimaginable violence. Four members of the same family lie slaughtered in the family home, a refuge transformed into a charnel house. But where is the fifth member of the family? Has the sixteen year-old girl escaped, or is her disappearance the prelude to an even greater evil? Look For Me is published by Century, part of the Penguin Random House group, and will be available in early February 2018. You can pre-order a copy here.

JanPolish history in the twentieth century shows us a region constantly in the thick of conflict between rival military forces. It was the scene of many of the battles on the Eastern Front during WWI, and Poland suffered hugely at the hands of the Nazis during WWII. The very worst concentration camps set up by Hitler were on what is now Polish territory. Then, post-war, came what was, to all intents and purposes, a Russian occupation. Peter Haden’s novel Jan actually deals with a real person, his uncle, Jan Janicki and his exploits both before and during the Nazi occupation of his homeland. The novel tells of a flight from desperate domestic poverty, the humiliation of working for the ruthless German invaders, but then a determination to fight back, which sees Jan laying his life on the line to support the Polish resistance movement. Jan is published by Matador, and is available from their website, or from Amazon.

Doug ThomsonFrom Poland to Italy, where much of A Time For Role Call by Doug Thompson (left) is set. Former Professor of Modern Italian language, history and literature, Doug Thompson draws on his intimate knowledge of Italy to write a lively novel with a feisty protagonist and colourful cast of supporting characters. Sally Jardine-Fell is recruited by the wartime Special Operations Executive to travel to Italy. Her mission? To insinuate herself into the life of none other than Count Galeazo Ciano, Foreign Minister to Il Duce – Benito Mussolini – himself. Inevitably, things do not go according to plan, and, despite both the war and Mussolini himself becoming consigned to history, events conspire against Sally, and she finds herself in a cell, charged with murder. A Time For Role Call is published by Matador, and is available from their website or from Amazon.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Out Of Mecklenburg by James Remmer

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RemmerThe full title of this debut novel from former intelligence operative James Remmer is Out of Mecklenburg – The Unwilling Spy. All the elements of a good WWII thriller are in place, including the usual staples of fanatical Nazis, spies, U-Boats, love, lust – and gold bullion. What gives this novel a boost is the injection of an usual element – the early days of the soon-to-be-famous Argentine army officer, Juan Domingo Peron. Remmer (left) brings a distinctive authenticity to his story, having practiced the dark arts of intelligence gathering – and the spreading of disinformation – in a long and distinguished career in the service of this country.

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Out Of Mecklenburg is published by Matador, which is an imprint of Troubador Books. It is out now and available from all good bookshops – and online.

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THE GATHERING DARK … The postman delivers

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James Oswald has knocked on the door, and been admitted to the hall wherein are gathered the great and the good of Scottish crime fiction. His DI Tony McLean is now well established, and McLean’s Edinburgh is every bit as authentic as that of his older – and more curmudgeonly – colleague John Rebus. In The Gathering Dark, McLean tries to establish the truth after a catastrophic  event – possibly an accident, but who knows? – where a loaded truck ploughs into a crowd of people at a bus stop, with fatal consequences.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Stuart Davies & Fraser-Sampson

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David Stuart DaviesTwo books from Urbane Publications this week, and they both look very tasty. I’ve become an avid fan of Guy Fraser-Sampson’s quirky Hampstead Murders series, but David Stuart Davies (left) and his copper DI Paul Snow are, for me, unexplored territory. David Stuart Davies is, as well as being an original author, is a noted editor of ghost stories and classic detective fiction, and an expert on Sherlock Holmes. In Blood Rites, Paul Snow has a problem. A Yorkshire police station in the 1980s is not the most favourable place or time to announce that you are a homosexual, and so Snow remains firmly ‘in the closet’. The self doubt and personal turmoil do not sit easy with Snow, especially when he is trying to bring to justice a killer whose crimes are clearly connected but apparently random. Snow’s lack of success sees him removed from the case, but he is determined to find the killer, and sets about the task privately. You can buy Blood Rites here, and check out two previous DI Snow titles, Brothers In Blood and Innocent Blood.

GFS authorGuy Fraser-Sampson (right) is clearly a man who has an affinity with an England which, sadly, no longer exists. Precision and subtlety of language, exquisite manners and faithful adherence to social niceties are all terribly unfashionable, but Fraser-Sampson’s respect for them is shown in his revival of EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia characters, as in Lucia on Holiday and Au Reservoir.

Imagine presenting a premise for a new crime series to a world-weary literary agent. The two principle police officers are as follows: a sane, sober and happily married senior chap, with no personal demons or particular beef with his bosses; we also have a very posh lady detective who, if she didn’t go to Roedean, might well have. Throw into the mix a fragile and waif-like consultant psychologist who, when things get tough, imagines that he is Lord Peter Wimsey, and addresses the love of his life (the female detective) as “Harriet, old thing…” To compound the felony, the stories are set in the rarified atmosphere of one of England’s (if not the world’s) most exclusive locations – Hampstead, in London.

Now, be serious. This shouldn’t work, should it? Please take it from me that not only does it work, but it works in Spades. Fraser-Sampson is totally up-front about his influences, and what he is setting out to do. When I read the first book, Death In Profile, I was quite prepared to scoff, but within a very few pages, I was converted. This was followed in short order by Miss Christie Regrets and A Whiff of Cyanide.

The Hampstead team make a welcome return in A Death In The Night. We have professors, barristers, serial adulterers and exclusive clubs. Of course, we can’t have a crime novel without at least one body, and in this case it is that of the wife of a prominent lawyer. Can Metcalfe, Collins and Willis triumph over a distinct lack of evidence and bring a killer to justice?

If your local bookshop doesn’t stock it, then Amazon will have

A Death In The Night

To read the Fully Booked reviews of previous novels in the series, click the link

Miss Christie Regrets

A Whiff of Cyanide

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