Crime Fiction

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What we read in August

Our holiday reading was a mixture of old and new.
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Image by Steve Bidmead at Pixabay
August was quiet for our group because, despite our best efforts, we didn’t manage to chill out and do a lot of holiday reading. We’re also sharing copies of some of Jeffery Deaver’s novels, so our discussions have featured his books heavily over the past couple of months. Nonetheless we enjoyed what we did read, and here’s a summary of the reviews we had.

Clover read Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver. She was looking forward to it, having read others in the Kathryn Dance series, but thought this one had a twist too far. The story starts with what seems like an accidental fire at a club, which kills several people and injures many more. Then the police realise the fire was started deliberately and that the perpetrator had used the panic of the crowd to kill. So far, so good. Clover enjoys Jeffery Deaver’s books because the plots twist and turn, and she likes trying to solve the clues as she goes. But she found this over-complicated and said that the ‘final reveal’ just spoiled things. As she was reading the book, she was preparing to award it 5-Stars but by the end felt it only deserved 3.

Oxo had read and enjoyed two books she wouldn’t normally have picked up. The first was Claire Askew’s debut novel, All the Hidden Truths, which was published last year. It’s the first book in a series about DI Helen Birch, and Book 2 – What You Pay For – was published this month. The story chronicles the aftermath of a school shooting in Edinburgh. You know who the killer was from the start, a scenario that doesn’t usually appeal to Oxo. (She’s another of our group who enjoys unpicking clues.) But the backstory of the killer and his friends draws you in and, as you learn more about the characters, you realise that some of the signs were there – if people had only understood what they were seeing. 3.5 Stars.

Oxo also awarded 3.5 Stars to Twisted – a book of short stories by Jeffery Deaver. Usually she avoids short stories (“I like reading things that take a bit more effort.”) But she was surprised to find she enjoyed every one of them. For anyone starting out with Jeffery Deaver she’d recommend this collection.

Cold Earth is the penultimate book in Ann Cleeves’s Shetland series. Calendar Girl is a fan, and enjoys the TV series but was delighted to realise that this particular title hasn’t been filmed, so the story was completely new to her. Jimmy Perez is attending the funeral of his friend, Magnus Tait, when torrential rain triggers a landslide that smashes through a house that everyone though was uninhabited. In the wreckage the body of a woman is found, and Perez has to discover who she was and how she died. The story is gently paced, and the Shetland landscape and characters leap off the pages. Calendar Girl could hardly bear to put the book down, and awarded it 5.5 Stars!

She also read a real ‘Golden Oldie’: Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter. This was the very first Inspector Morse story and it has to be the sign of a good book that, 44-years after it was first published, it’s still a page-turner. Yes, of course the characters felt like old friends. But the plot was interesting, the writing didn’t feel dated and it was a really enjoyable read.

Cornish Eskimo read Where the Dead Men Go by Liam McIlvanney, having reported back on The Quaker by the same author last month. (You can read the standalone review of The Quaker here). Set in Glasgow it’s the story of Gerry Conway. A journalist who’d been sacked from his job and spent time working in PR, he’s now back at the newspaper desperately trying to re-build his career and contacts. When the senior crime reporter (and Gerry’s friend) is found dead, the police rule it a suicide. Conway starts to pick at the inconsistencies in this theory and is soon unravelling Scottish political and gangland connections. A good read that earned 4-Stars.

If you enjoy reading crime fiction you’ll be welcome at our meetings. They’re on the third Friday of every month, 2.30pm @ Oundle Library. It’s very informal because we don’t have a set reading list. We do, however, enjoy a wide-ranging chat about the books we’ve read and enjoyed. We’d be happy to see you.