Archives for crime fiction

Book review: One False Move

A strapline across the top of the front cover says ‘A Myron Bolitar novel’. It meant nothing to me. I have never heard of Myron Bolitar. I have heard of Harlan Coben though, but know nothing about him except that he writes crime books and is extremely popular. His name sounds Scandinavian, but this is US crime not Scandi-crime. The book’s been sitting on my bookshelf for ages, a charity shop purchase, waiting for the battery of my Kindle to flicker and die. It died, so I picked up One False Move and read it in two days. Mr Coben sure knows how to make you turn the pages. He nails a character description in a few sparse lines: “Norm Zuckerman was approaching seventy and as CEO of Zoom, a megasize sports manufacturing conglomerate, he had more money than Trump. He looked, however, like a beatnik trapped in a bad acid trip… Che Guevara lives and gets a perm.” So we have Norm’s name, job, professional standing, age, physical description, financial worth and personal style – in three sentences. Bolivar is a sports agent. There seemed to be all sorts of back story going on which meant nothing to me
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Blood Med

Page one, Spain waits, the king lies dying. There is the feeling of a nation on the edge. In Valencia, there are homeless on the street, immigrants are being harassed, the police department faces cutbacks despite rumblings of public unrest, and there are not enough drugs for the sick. Blood Med is the fourth in the Cámara Valencia-based detective series by Jason Webster [below]. There are two deaths and Cámara and his colleague Torres are given one case each, the hidden agenda is that one of the two men must be made redundant. One death is suspected suicide, the other a brutal murder. In the way of crime fiction, you know there will be a connection but that connection is of course invisible at the beginning. The detective, orphaned young and raised by his grandfather, now lives in Valencia with elderly Hilario plus Max’s girlfriend, journalist Alicia. Both Hilario and Alicia have key roles in this story. Hilario is a huge influence on Max’s approach to life, and he often recalls his grandfather’s fondness for proverbs when he finds himself in a sticky situation. ‘Visteme despacio que tengo prisa’ he tells himself when he feels the investigation is being rushed. It
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Blind Man of Seville

The first time I heard of the Javier Falcón books by Robert Wilson was when the first was dramatized on TV, and unfortunately I missed it. So it was with anticipation that I turned to the first of the four books, The Blind Man of Seville. My first impression was that it was the longest detective book I’d read in a while, but the reason for this soon became apparent: the back story in Tangiers. In a note at the back of the book, Wilson directs his readers to the full-length diaries he wrote for Francisco Falcón, Javier’s late father, artist, Tangiers resident and key character in The Blind Man of Seville. It is a complicated novel, entangling the Spanish legal system, bullfighting, the worlds of art and restaurants, Seville, Tangiers and the theme which lurks just below the surface of everyday Spain: the Spanish Civil War. There is something about the first murder which slowly tips Inspector Falcón towards mental breakdown. Like all detectives, the interest lies in his frailties, how he overcomes them and manages to do the day job, how he outwits the criminal mind. Francisco’s diaries are fascinating; an insight into the Spanish Legion, its time
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Eeny Meeny

MJ Arlidge has worked in television, most recently producing crime serials for ITV, and so it is no surprise that this is an accomplished debut crime novel. I found it disturbing from chapter one which takes you straight into the head of one person, looking at another person sleeping, wondering how to kill him. For one to escape their prison, the other must die. They have been imprisoned with a loaded gun and a message on a mobile phone: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’. For Detective Inspector Helen Grace, this first case of murder is quickly followed by another kidnapping/murder, and another. Hiding her own demons beneath a veneer of efficiency and emotional self-sufficiency, Grace is out-stepped again and again by a killer who seems a master of disguise as well as being that most rare of things: a female serial killer. Grace fits the profile of a modern literary detective: a loner, with a troubled past and full of guilt. The investigation seems to twist and turn in on itself, turning attention on the police, and on Grace herself. I found myself rooting for her, until finally at the end we understand
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Sarah Hilary

Sarah Hilary “I find research can become an obsession – and a distraction – when I’m supposed to be creating a story. That said I would never attempt a novel that touches on issues which affect so many lives without taking account of the facts and the true stories that inspire/inform the fiction.” [in an interview with ‘We Love This Book’ magazine] Debut novelist Sarah Hilary, whose first novel Someone Else’s Skin is the first in the DI Marnie Rome series, has the same problem I do. Research, too much of it. Is it essential, yes. Does it add to the story, yeesss. Can it distract from the story, yes and no. All writers have to find their own way of researching: how to, when to, how much to. Some writers I guess have a problem starting. I’m like Sarah Hilary in that I enjoy researching, I get caught up in the subject, and want to continue. I have got better at recognising the danger point, when to start writing. The biggest problem I have with research is actually as a reader, when the novel I am reading bears its research too heavily on the page. The author’s control was
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: Wolf

I am new to Mo Hayder and her detective Jack Caffrey so didn’t know what to expect. This was a spine-tingling ride from page 1. I read the book over two days, putting it down for a break but unable to resist picking it up again. I do not like being frightened but I do like tension, and Hayder knows her subject her so well that I could feel the depth of her knowledge behind every word. So from the disturbing beginning with five-year-old Amy who gets lost in the woods, I stuck with it. And I am glad I did. I will now go back to the beginning and read her debut novel Birdman, the first in the Jack Caffrey series. Wolf is the seventh. The story centres on the Anchor-Ferrers family: Oliver who has just had heart surgery, replacing a heart valve with that of a pig; his wife Matilda; and troubled daughter Lucia. Oliver needs to convalesce after his surgery and so the family go to their isolated country house, the location 14 years previously of the murder of two teenagers, one of them Lucia’s boyfriend. The house and the family’s memories of what happened are central
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Categories: Book Love.

If books were real, Miss Marple…

Miss Marple… would be a member of St Mary Mead’s reading group which meets every Wednesday lunchtime at the public library. They are currently reading The Great Gatsby in honour of the film, Miss M likes the book but disliked the film which she thought rather indulgent. Next on the list is a Jack Reacher book by Lee Child. Miss M rather likes Jack Reacher [above] though she is not sure about Tom Cruise. ‘The Body in the Library’ by Agatha Christie [UK: Harper Collins] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Jackson Brodie in ‘Case Histories’ Mattie Ross in ‘True Grit’ Jo March in ‘Little Women’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Miss Marple would have a crush on Jack Reacher THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY by Agatha Christie via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-s7
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Categories: If books were real....

If books were real, Agatha Raisin…

Agatha Raisin …would be Julie Walters, with a little padding [as in Mrs Weasley] and a plate of Gin and Tonic cupcakes.   ‘Something Borrowed Something Dead’ by MC Beaton [C&R Crime] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit’ Jamie Fraser in ‘Cross Stitch’ Adam Dalgliesh in ‘Devices and Desires’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Agatha Raisin would love cupcakes SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMEONE DEAD by @mc_beaton via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-qQ
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Categories: If books were real....

Great opening paragraph 29… ‘The Murder Room’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“On Friday 25 October, exactly one week before the first body was discovered at the Dupayne Museum, Adam Dalgliesh visited the museum for the first time. The visit was fortuitous, the decision impulsive and he was later to look back on that afternoon as one of life’s bizarre coincidences which, although occurring more frequently than reason would expect, never fail to surprise.” ‘The Murder Room’ by PD James  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Lucky You’ by Carl Hiassen ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE MURDER ROOM by PD James #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-ny via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

If books were real, Jackson Brodie…

Jackson Brodie …would drink Taylor’s Yorkshire Gold tea with full-fat milk and two sugars.   ‘Case Histories’ by Kate Atkinson [UK: Black Swan] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Mattie Ross in ‘True Grit’ Sarah Burton in ‘South Riding’ Mikael Blomkvist in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Jackson Brodie would drink tea with sugar: CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-aJ
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

If books were real, Adam Dalgliesh…

Adam Dalgliesh would secretly eat a whole 100g bar of Maya Gold Green & Black chocolate in one sitting. 55% cocoa with a hint of orange and spices. ‘Devices and Desires’ by PD James [Faber] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit’ Jack Ryan in ‘Patriot Games’ Jackson Brodie in ‘Case Histories’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Adam Dalgliesh would eat chocolate: DEVICES AND DESIRES by PD James via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-e0
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

Great opening paragraph 7… ‘The Big Sleep’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.” ‘The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Jack Maggs’ by Peter Carey ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell ‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Does this make you want more? THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler https://wp.me/p5gEM4-8B via @SandraDanby #amwriting
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.