Category Archives: Book Review

Modesty Blaise – The Girl in the Iron Mask

Published by Titan Books

51Xf-r5JBvL._SL500_AA300_Features the classic stories Fiona, Walkabout and The Girl In The Iron Mask written by popular British crime writer Peter ODonnell and beautifully illustrated by Enric Badia Romero! Willies admirer Fiona returns, Modesty faces the outback alone and an iron mask could mark her end in this latest gripping volume! Features story introductions by Blaise archivist Lawrence Blackmore!

A lovely and welcome selection of classic strip cartoons originally featured in The Evening Standard, this volume of 1960’s great sassy stories featuring cult bad girl Modesty Blaise feels at once a fresh new character and set of tales and, at the same time the genesis of many a character that have followed on in television and fiction since.

It’s little wonder that she has a celebrity fan-base including Quentin Tarantino and that she’s been called the female James Bond – Blaise could likely kick Buffy’s butt and give Lara Croft a damn good run for her money.

Remaining glamourous as she leaps from one adventure to the next, whilst providing a nice sideline in wit and being able to often belittle the men around her, Modesty Blaise is a cracking creation and it’s to Titan’s credit that they have brought her back to be read by a new audience.

Come on Tarantino – get that Modesty Blaise script back out of the desk drawer!

You can grab a copy of the graphic novel here.

Keith

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Criminal London – A Sightseer’s Guide to the Capital of Crime by Kris and Nina Hollington

Published by Aurum

UnknownFrom Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street and Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel to the East End of the Krays and the white-collar crooks of the City, London has played silent witness to countless crimes both real and imagined. Moreover, in print and on screen the city has exported its criminal heritage to the world, becoming a global capital of wrongdoing rivalled only by New York and Los Angeles. Yet there has never been a guide to its darker points of interest – until now.

Traversing centuries of villainy, Criminal London explores the more scandalous moments of the city’s story. Featured herein are three original walks and over 100 sights to see, including: the scenes of infamous murders, watering holes frequented by notorious felons, the homes of great consulting detectives, and locations from London’s rich history of law and order, such as the Clink, Tyburn Tree and Bow Street Police Station.

Perfect for adventurous tourists and curious Londoners, this is a sightseeing guide for the intrepid.

It’s rare that I get sent or read anything that isn’t a work of fiction, but this was right up my (dark and sinister) alley.
A perfectly formed and great size book which will be certain to accompany me on trips into the big smoke of London town from this day forth.
Criminal London is a beautifully executed (no pun intended) volume, packed with great photography by Nina Hollington and text by her husband Kris.
Sub-divided by areas of the capital with great easy to read maps and walking tour information, this is just the book you need if you want to follow in the bloodstained footsteps of Jack the Ripper or even read of the murder that took place in the antique shop that is now the favourite haunt of many a crime fiction fan, Goldsboro Books.

Criminal London is one of those books that I’ll pick up time and time again, and will check every time I head off out to see which of the crime scenes I am about to step over.
Slickly produced, well written and great photography throughout.
Your only crime, as they say, would be to not get a copy – and it’s a steal!

Available here.

Keith

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Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Published by Sphere

UnknownPerfect strangers.

A perfect holiday.

The perfect murder…

Three couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on their last night, their perfect holiday takes a tragic twist: the teenage daughter of another holidaymaker goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves.

When the shocked couples return home, they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find: buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some dark secrets, hidden kinks, ugly vices…

Then, a second girl goes missing.

Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine?

With the weather showing some signs of finally warming up, here’s a classy but chilling poolside read coming your way in paperback on the 25th of this month.
From the get-go with his first DI Tom Thorne novel ‘Sleepyhead’ Mark Billingham made it clear that he can write victims very well, with the series to date he’s demonstrated that he can handle the twists and turns of a complex Police procedural and, with his first stand-alone ‘In the Dark’ he proved that taking some time away from the series was something that only served to add strength to his writing.
So, what was he to do next?
The result is ‘Rush of Blood’ – a chilling tale of just what can go wrong with those holiday ‘friendships’ that threaten to come home with you after a few weeks in the sun, the forced dinner parties, the feelings of obligation to keep in touch with those you really don’t have much in common with. Or do you?
Tied by a murder, the ‘Florida Six’ return home followed by the shadow of the murder of a young girl – her death a thing that eats away at them, forcing them to confront their own selves and their partners, raising concerns, fears and secrets.

It’s a brave, all balls in the air, risk that the author has taken on here, but he manages to juggle them all successfully, even spinning a few plates towards the end and constantly pulling the rug out from underneath the reader’s feet.

Anyone who loves a deep crime story, one that involves a larger cast and the way that the events take their toll on each and every one of them (think tv’s current hit ‘Broadchurch’), this will totally satisfy.

Squint into the bright Florida sunshine of Rush of Blood and the darkness behind might just reveal itself.

You need this in your suitcase – get a copy here.

Keith

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Deadly Deceit by Mari Hannah

Published by Pan

Unknown
Four a.m on a wet stretch of the A1 and a driver skids out of control. Quick on the scene, Senior Investigating Officer Kate Daniels and partner DS Hank Gormley are presented with a horrifying image of carnage and mayhem that quickly becomes one of the worst road traffic accidents in Northumberland’s history. But as the casualties mount up, they soon realise that not all deaths were as a result of the accident . . . On the other side of town a house goes up in flames, turning its two inhabitants into charred corpses. Seemingly unconnected with the traffic accident, Kate sets about investigating both incidences separately. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and Kate and her colleagues are one always step behind a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Following hot on the heels of her first two great DCI Kate Daniels novels ‘The Murder Wall‘ and ‘Settled Blood‘, Mari Hannah is back with the third book in the series and back with a bang!
The opening scenes of carnage at a pile up on the A1 are ones which will stay with me for some time to come and show that Hannah has all the necessary skills to keep coming at us with great crime stories, even when it comes to leaving a good few pages before bringing her ‘tec to the scene.
Sure, it can be said that having a blurb that indicates that the two incidents, the afore mentioned accident and a house fire, are ‘seemingly unconnected’ will leave very few readers wondering if the cases are going to somehow come together before long, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way to trip even the most constant crime fiction readers. The surprises are skilfully handled and plentiful and provide a very rewarding read from an author not afraid to take risks – risks which, to her credit, are clearly paying off in a big way.

And, with the great news this week that the author has secured a deal for the next two books in the series, with the next book ‘Monument to Murder’ to be published in April 2014 in hardcover.

Exciting times indeed, both for Mari Hannah and for crime fiction fans everywhere.

Waste no time – discover and follow DCI Kate Daniels now with Deadly Deceit.

Keith

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Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Published by Angry Robot

Unknown
Miriam Black knows when you will die. Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
images For some time now I’ve been following Chuck Wendig, reading his entertaining and informative writing blogs at his website terrible minds.com, listening to him on writing interview blogs at Angry Robot and The Creative Penn, and downloading his writing guide books for my kindle.
I was more than a little apprehensive about biting the bullet and checking out his fiction, but the buzz surrounding Blackbirds was too strong to resist and disappointed I most certainly was NOT.
Miriam Black is a masterful character – gifted/cursed with the power we’d all struggle to decide if it was a good or bad thing – she can tell how people will die, but cannot do anything to prevent the events from occurring.
From it’s great premise and stunning cover (zoom in to see the details within Miriam’s hair) you could be mistaken in thinking this is Young Adult fiction, but be warned – Blackbirds is tough, brutal, sweary and bloody – oh, and it’s excellent in all those ways too !
Now to grab a copy of the sequel ‘Mockingbird‘ ahead of the next book to also feature Miriam ‘Cormorant’.
I don’t know where Mr Wendig finds the time and energy to be in so many places at once and so good in all of them, but I’m damn glad he does.

Keith

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The Magpies by Mark Edwards

Available now from amazon.

UnknownFrom the #1 Bestselling Author of Catch Your Death

Fear lives next door…

When Jamie and Kirsty move into their first home together they are full of optimism. The future, in which they plan to get married and start a family, is bright. The other residents of their building seem friendly too: the horror writer and the middle-aged herbalist who live upstairs, and the Newtons, a married couple who welcome them to the building with open arms.

At first, the two couples get on well. But then strange things start to happen. Dead rats are left on their doorstep. They hear disturbing noises, and much worse, in the night. After Jamie’s best friend is injured in a horrific accident, Jamie and Kirsty find themselves targeted by a campaign of terror.

As Jamie and Kirsty are driven to the edge of despair, Jamie vows to fight back – but he has no idea what he is really up against…

THE MAGPIES is a gripping psychological thriller in which the monsters are not vampires or demons but the people we live next door to. It is a nightmare that could happen to anyone.

“A nailbiter of suspense with terrific characterisation.” –Peter James on KILLING CUPID (Sunday Express Books of the Year 2012)

“Masterfully done…Makes slick, well-plotted, ridiculously tense thrillers look deceptively easy to write’ –Matt Haig on CATCH YOUR DEATH

“A very clever, very pacey story that kept me guessing right to the end.” –Elizabeth Haynes on KILLING CUPID

Any fears about Mark Edwards going solo for this book were quickly put to one side, but they were replaced by all new fears – those of what were certainly looking like becoming the neighbours from hell.

I wasn’t disappointed.

The Magpies is a cunningly crafted piece of psychological crime fiction which burrows into the brain with a plentiful supply of ‘what if’ moments that’ll have you concerned about your own closest neighbours, whilst also (hopefully) giving you some assurance that you’re probably much better off than the central characters in this tale.

Often with this genre of novel, or indeed film of this type (of which this would make a great one), the tales suffer from those moments where little is happening, when the reader/viewer is left to ponder what the next set piece might be coming along.

With The Magpies, Edwards has built the tension and the elements of the unknown sufficiently well enough that, even in those quieter moments, you’ll be clutching your e-reader tightly with concern about just what is to unfold on the next page click.

Keep the keys to your home in sight, check your letterbox, monitor your emails – like the best in crime fiction the fact this could happen to any of us will keep those pages turning.

 

About the Author

Mark Edwards is the No.1 bestselling author of CATCH YOUR DEATH and KILLING CUPID, co-written with Louise Voss. He lives in Wolverhampton, UK, with his young family and works as a freelance copywriter. Find him on Twitter @mredwards or on http://www.vossandedwards.com

Keith

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Below the Thunder by Robin Duval

Published by Matador

Unknown

Robin Duval’s follow-up to Bear in the Woods is a heart-in-mouth tale of international conspiracy, self-discovery and romance. 

One summer evening in Bavaria, fortyish history professor Bryn Williams – more Frasier than Bond – falls simultaneously into love and mortal danger. He becomes a target for MI6, Mossad and an American hit man. Oblivious to his predicament, he continues his holiday in America. Walking alone in a National Park, he stumbles on a newly dead body. He is arrested for murder, and released only when evidence of a third party emerges. But when he discovers the identity of the killer, and reports it to the San Francisco police, his motel room is blown up. With no-one to turn to, he flees north. 

He is intercepted in the mountains by a cousin, who works for MI6. And by the woman he fell in love with in Bavaria. They persuade him – against his better judgment – to help frustrate a plot to destroy the American President. He is drawn into a web of conspiracy and deceit whose true nature only gradually becomes apparent. 

As the narrative races towards its unexpected and shocking climax, the hero discovers untapped reserves of talent – as lover and as man of action. 

This is also a tale about the underbelly of American and international politics. About the secret forces that drive people and nations towards destruction.

I came to this book without having read Duval’s previous novel and just the introduction that this was a novel from the man who’s best known for his time spent at the BBFC .  I must confess that the blurb above made me more than a little concerned that this was a book with just far too much going on, and I feared that it was an almost certain derailment waiting to happen with such a tangled and seemingly unbelievable plot.

It’s to Robin Duval’s credit, and my shame, that I was very mistaken – I found myself caught up in the at first slightly unbelievable and then all consuming tale of Bryn and his attempts to stay one step ahead of events that are fast crashing around him. Yes, there are moments when the reader will likely have ‘oh really?!’ reactions to some of the plot twists, some of which do at times seem very convenient, but the same can be said for many of the hollywood movies that Duval spent years watching in his BBFC role, and we all get swept along by those story lines pretty willingly.

Like an unsuspecting Jason Bourne fan getting caught up in his own fantasy adventure, this was a fun and entertaining ride across the globe with characters I enjoyed and would want to read more of in the future.

 

Keith

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