Crime Fiction

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What we read in October

Discovering a ‘crime series’ means more books to find and enjoy.
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Image: PublicDomain Pictures from Pixabay
So many books, so little time! We all seem to read so much each month that we now have to ration our reviews to one book per person. Then, if time allows, we can throw more into the mix.

All our October recommendations – bar one – are from series. Not necessarily read in the right order, but all are good enough for us to want to move forwards or backwards to read the other titles which, in itself, seems a pretty good recommendation. Our other recommendation earns 5-Stars from Feebs. So, here’s the list:

The Faroes series by Chris Ould
British author Chris Ould doesn’t appear to have a website, but he is on Twitter and you can follow him here. Our reader discovered the first book in his Faroes series (The Blood Strand) quite by chance and enjoyed it so much that she’s now ordered the next two. In this first book, Detective Jan Reyna is called back to the Faroe Islands when his father is ill, and soon gets drawn into a murder case. It’s the story of a small community and uncomfortable family histories. As well as an interesting plot, the characters and location were fascinating, and earned the book 4-Stars.

The Nighthawk series by Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly, has set his Nighthawk series in Cambridge during World War II. It features Detective Inspector Eden Brooke, a wounded hero of WWI. Published in 2018, The Great Darkness is the first book, which was followed by The Mathematical Bridge (2019). The plots are clever and the setting and atmosphere excellent. Both titles are rated as 4-Stars and our reviewer is already looking out for book 3 (The Night Raids) which will be out next year.

Freyja and Huldar series by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
A 4.5 Star rating from Oxo would probably be 5-Stars from anyone else! She is already a fan of Yrsa Sigurdardottir, having read The Silence of the Sea (Book 6 of the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series) and I Remember You, a standalone novel. The Reckoning is book 2 in a series that teams psychologist Freyja with detective Huldar and you can read an interview with the author here. Quite apart from the excellent plot, which involves a string of murders, Oxo really enjoyed the Icelandic setting. She also praised the translation which, she says, brought the characters and story to life so you get really involved with the story. Having read this she is now going to search out the other two books in this series.

Detective Lavender Mystery by Karen Charlton
Recommended by Freyja who, while admitting she’s not usually a fan of ‘police’ stories, was hooked into these mysteries by Karen Charlton which are set in Regency England. In Book 1 (The Heiress of Linn Hagh) Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods are sent from Bow Street magistrates’ court in London to solve the case of a missing heiress in Northumberland. The story isn’t gruesome (some of the recent historical mysteries our group has read have been very grim!) but it was interesting and the Regency setting is unusual. Having enjoyed Book 1, Freyja then read The Sculthorpe Murder (Book 3) which is set in Northamptonshire. She rates both books as 4-Stars. The series comprises five titles so far, with the other three books all set in London.

Joseph Stark series by Matthew Frank
Cornish Eskimo gives Matthew Frank’s debut novel If I Should Die an unequivocal 5-Stars and you can read a standalone review here. Book 2 – Between the Crosses – earned another 5-Stars, so this is a series worth trying if you like detective stories with a bit of bite. Joe Stark is a young detective working out of Greenwich Police Station in London. An ex-soldier, he’s still recovering from being blown up while serving in Afghanistan. These two stories, however, are firmly anchored in London and follow complex investigations. The characters in both are compelling and the plots are strong. The Eskimo is eagerly awaiting Book 3, whenever it might appear.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
This is the third novel by Jess Kidd but the first of her books to be classified as ‘Historical Mystery’. Set in Victorian London, Things in Jars is the story of female investigator, Bridie Devine, who is trying to find a missing child, Christabel Berwick. The plot has several strands but the Amazon plot summary says: ‘Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist. As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen.’ Our reviewer, Feebs, describes it as “Sherlock Holmes meets Gentleman Jack – wonderful prose, poetic, fun and funny!” and gives it 5-Stars.

If you enjoy reading crime fiction why not come along to one of our meetings? They’re on the third Friday of every month, 2.30pm @ Oundle Library. It’s all 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. Everyone welcome.