A perplexing thriller and a new trope: ‘Nuclear Noir’

The Carrier by Mattias Berg Translated from the Swedish by George Goulding This thriller has a premise and a half to keep you reading. Imagine you’re on a state visit and the agent who is never more than a few feet from POTUS, the agent called Erasmus Levine carrying the briefcase with the nuclear launch Read More

Some not-as-good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #5

For the fifth in my series of posts in which I bring you the short capsule reviews I used to write pre-blog. I’m turning my attention to some novels that didn’t quite make the grade this time. This batch are all from 2007 or earlier. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun Read More

Review Catch-up

I’m so behind on my reviews, here are two shorter ones… Tony Hogan Bought me an Ice Cream Float before he Stole my Ma by Kerry Hudson This debut novel was our book group read this month. The title is rather off-putting, sounding like a C&W ballad, but it is apt – for the main Read More

The 1965 Club – take two…

Before I get on to talking about the second book I read for the 1965 Club hosted by Simon and Karen, I thought I’d look back and see which other books I’ve read published that year – there are only a handful, and they are (title links will take you to my reviews): Georgy Girl Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them… #2

I’ve consulted my master spreadsheet again to bring you some more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. Again, these are all from 2006 or before… Bringing Out the Dead by Joe Connelly This autobiographical novel is relentless, I read it in two sessions, only ending the first as I was completely drained. A Read More

A standalone thriller that’s far from Slough House…

This is What Happened by Mick Herron This is going to be a short review… Mick Herron is the author of the utterly brilliant Jackson Lamb series of spy novels, following the workers of Slough House, where agents get put out to pasture. (If you haven’t read them, see here, here and here!)  He’s taken Read More

Review catch-up:

Playing review catch-up, I have three rather different books for you today… Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin It’s ages since I read this book which I got from the Faber spring party where Vlautin, who is in a band too, sang and played his guitar for the audience. Since then, the film Read More

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

Two excellent thrillers – Moskva and The Ice

Moskva by Jack Grimwood You may know Grimwood through his literary novel The Last Banquet written as John Grimwood, or his fantasy/crime novels written as Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I’ve not read any of them, although I do own The Last Banquet, which I remember was very well received. It’s certainly going up my pile, having Read More

Hints of The Night Manager meets Mr Ripley …

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen I enjoyed Bollen’s second novel, Orient (reviewed here) very much indeed. It was a chunky thriller set on Long Island in the incomers versus long-term residents mould, so I awaited his third with great anticipation. I was glad too to see that it came in at just under 500 pages, Read More

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

A new and irresistible anti-heroine

Mad by Chloe Esposito Mad is the first part in a trilogy by debut author Esposito – to be followed by Bad and Dangerous to Know,  and judging by the first part, I’ll definitely be reading the others. The ARC I received had a fold out front cover with the other two and as you can Read More

The man they couldn’t kill…

Nomad by James Swallow Swallow’s  espionage  thriller comes blazoned with a sticker saying ‘For  fans of I am Pilgrim‘ – a  900+ page, but apparently brilliant, book  I’ve yet to read.    The veteran author Wilbur Smith says it’s ‘Unputdownable’  and it has an intriguing cover blending Arabic and circuit boards.   It got me Read More

Two Short Takes

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty I had been planning to read Apple Tree Yard well in advance of the then imminent TV series (preferring to read the book first), but only just made it in time. Suffice it to say, this was a thriller that I raced through in a couple of sessions, finding Read More

More thrillers from Anne Holt and Chris Pavone

Two more slightly shorter reviews of recent thriller reads… The Travelers by Chris Pavone They don’t come much more multi-layered than this complex thriller, published in March and now available in paperback. Will Rhodes is an award-winning, globe-trotting journalist – writing features for Travelers, a top travel magazine and travel agency. He and wife Chloe live Read More

Catch-up – two shorter reviews

My pile of books read but not reviewed yet is taller than I like, so here are two shorter reviews to catch up a little. Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson Only Hutchinson’s second novel, but you can tell the author has been writing other stuff for ages. Europe in Autumn, published in 2014, is the Read More

Predictable and disappointing…

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins This won’t be a long review. So much has been said about this thriller already, but I was profoundly disappointed by it, and won’t bother with the film either. Gone Girl was way better, (book and film; my book review here). The story is told mostly through the eyes Read More

Two shorter reviews with missing bodies…

Today I have a couple of shorter reviews for you. Both novels I enjoyed reading very much, but ones I don’t want to say too much about to avoid spoiling the drama should you read them! Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent I read Irish author Liz Nugent’s first novel, Unraveling Oliver, a couple of years ago, Read More

Two Mental Health Issue-led YA novels…

Today, I have two slightly shorter reviews for you of YA novels that explore similar themes: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall The pink cover (available in three shades actually, going from medium to full-on shocking pink) does this novel no favours at all. Concentrate instead on the gilded cage and the heart that doesn’t Read More

One for Jack Reacher fans…

Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne Former TV executive, Toyne, is the author of the Sancti trilogy of apocalyptic conspiracy thrillers which, now I’ve read his new book, I’m keen to explore – they sound so much better than Dan Brown. For me, a good thriller is the perfect palate cleanser between more literary fare. The number Read More

A Soviet Adventure with Dennis Wheatley

The Forbidden Territory by Dennis Wheatley Earlier this year I reported on an afternoon spent at the Groucho Club arranged by literary agents PFD, hearing about the novels of Dennis Wheatley (and John Creasey).  I finally managed to make time to read a Wheatley … The Forbidden Territory was Wheatley’s first published novel in 1933. It was an instant bestseller Read More

The story of a novel and how I got a quote inside it…

What If the Queen Should Die? by John-Paul Flintoff Today, my special subscriber’s copy of another Unbound book arrived. Unbound are a crowd-funding publisher – read my interview with them for Shiny New Books here to find out more. Once you’ve pledged to one book, it’s very tempting to pledge to another… and another. This is the fourth Read More

The Slow Horses meet the Real Tigers

Real Tigers by Mick Herron This is the third of Mick Herron’s ‘Slough House’ spy novels, following Slow Horses and Dead Lions. Previously, I’d only read the first, Slow Horses (reviewed here), but found that it was alright to jump to the third; the references to the second novel are few and don’t affect the Read More

A speculative thriller of a Sino-driven LA?

The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland Guardian journalist, Jonathan Freedland has previously written thrillers as Sam Bourne, but for his sixth book he dropped the pseudonym. Possibly, this was because his book is dedicated to his older sister Fiona who died of cancer in 2014, (read a touching article about their relationship here), but that is Read More

It’s a love / hate thang …

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my missing posts archive. The Martian by Andy Weir One square in my Book Bingo card is ‘Hated by someone you know’. That one was so easy to fill, for a few weeks ago my pal Simon Savidge tried to read The Martian and he ended up not Read More

Small town secrets and lies…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. Orient by Christopher Bollen This is a thriller about small town America writ large – and chunky, weighing in at 609 pages. However, it was totally gripping right from the start as each page peels away all the secrets and lies that foster Read More

The case of the missing disk…

Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny Thrillers set in the world of modern British politics are not that common compared with those led by the spies who report to the politicians; Acts of Omission is mainly the former. It is the debut novel by a former BBC News reporter who worked in Berlin in the late 1990s and is Read More

“What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening?”

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. The Bees by Laline Paull Writing a novel with animals as your characters is a daring thing. You have to tread a fine line between anthropomorphism and the nature of the beast. If the creatures are to communicate, the author will have to put Read More

A near-future techno thriller…

Deja Vu by Ian Hocking This novel is one of the first publications from a new indie publisher called Unsung Stories, specialising in ‘genre fiction that defies categorisation’. Déjà Vu is essentially near-future science fiction with a techno-thriller slant to it. It is 2023. Saskia Brandt is a Berlin-based detective in the European FIB. Returning from Read More

Irene – Alex – Camille: The Verhoeven trilogy comes full circle

Camille by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne I was meant to be reviewing this for Shiny New Books‘  in the ‘Extra Shiny’ edition (coming to you on May 12th).  I loved it, it is definitely a ‘Shiny’ book, but it is the final part of a trilogy and I felt it would be too difficult to Read More