Second novel blues? Only the cover!

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker Former financial trader Chris Whitaker’s first novel Tall Oaks (which I reviewed here) was a confident debut – a tale of small town American life with a great cast of characters surrounding the central mystery of a missing child. It’s been nominated for the CWA John Creasey New Read More

Sweet sixteen?

The Fever by Megan Abbott When I read Megan Abbott’s previous novel Dare me (reviewed here) last year, I knew she was an author to watch, moving into psychological thriller territory with her tale of High School cheer-leaders, having previously concentrated on 1950s noir.  She seemed to get into the brain of these sporty girls perfectly Read More

School's out, summer's in, time for Panic…

Panic by Lauren Oliver Scene – a small town in middle America, school’s out for summer. For those who’ve graduated high school, finding a full-time job will be a priority unless you’re one of the lucky few who are off to college. The town of Carp is small and poor – no-one has any money.  But there Read More

Which path should one take? A novel choice…

Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge I had just come home from a festival in Nevada, the theme of which was Contact with Other Worlds, when my mother, or, I should say, one of my mothers, called to tell me that my grandfather had died. Thus begins Luminous Airplanes, a quirky novel right from the outset, Read More

For blacker than black, read super-noir

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson Scene: A diner in Central City, Texas; it’s the early 1950s.  A man walks up to the counter to pay his bill… The proprietor shoved back my money and laid a couple of cigars on Read More

An author I’ll always look out for …

Daniel Woodrell …is barely known in this country, but has started to increase his profile a little with the release of a highly acclaimed film (it won at Sundance) made of his 2006 novel Winter’s Bone.  He’s actually written eight novels, all of them set in the area he knows best – the Missouri Ozarks – Read More

Everybody here has a secret…

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious This was our book group choice for October, and what a good one it was, for everyone who finished reading the book loved it. This is the book that set the benchmark for every soap opera and drama of small town America that followed, and it’s almost shocking to find Read More