The Survivors

The Survivors by Jane Harper has been described as “Outback Noir”. It’s set in a small beachside resort in Tasmania which is haunted by the impact of a massive storm that hit over a decade previously in which 3 locals lost their lives.

Kieran who lost his brother in the storm returns home with his wife and young baby to visit his parents carrying a lot of guilt. On his first night a young waitress is found murdered on the beach with some similarities to a young girl who died in the storm. As the murder enquiry progresses Kieran starts to discover more about the fateful day when his brother died in the storm and that inevitably is intertwined with the more recent murder.

This is dark, quite readable and has a good finish but it didn’t blow me away and I won’t be eagerly anticipating Harper’s next book.

3/5

Sixteen Horses

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan is dark, very dark.

Set in a windswept isolated English coastal town, 16 horses heads are found buried in a field. As the police investigate dark secrets about the local community start to emerge. The rain keeps falling.

I don’t know where this went as I found it so depressing that I could not bring myself to finish it!

A Little London Scandal

A Little London Scandal by Miranda Emmerson is set in London in 1967. A young “rent boy” is found murdered close to an exclusive gentleman’s club in St James while Nik another “rent boy” wakes up near to the scene of the murder after a battering from a famous client in denial. The police are looking for a quick solution that will avoid any scandal and Nik is the perfect candidate. Fortunately he has a friend and a rebellious police officer who not so sure that Nik is guilty party.

A Little London Scandal evokes the awakening hip culture of 60’s London very well. It is a novel about class and power which portrays the secrecy and denial imposed on gay men at that time. It is atmospheric, pacy and quite thought provoking, particularly if like me you grew up in London in the 60’s – I was surprised how little of this I recognised.

Pretty good, well worth a read, I am going to explore Emmerson’s previous novel soon.

4/5

Agency

Friends have recommended William Gibson’s novels to me for some time but I hadn’t got round to reading any of his stuff. Agency is a cracker of a SciFi novel.

Agency isn’t an easy read, you have to work at it, as the basis of the plot unfolds quite slowly and you are left wondering what is going on and struggling to keep track of the different threads for a while. Press on because it is well worth the effort.

The novel switches from San Francisco in 2017, where Clinton won and Brexit didn’t happen, to a weird techno London a century in the future. Are we jumping back and forward in time or are these different parallel strands of history and who controls who?

This is very reminiscent of some of the best of Philip K Dick (the all time master of SciFi for me) leaving the reader wrestling shifting reality and consciousness. I loved it and will be plunging into more of Gibson’s work soon. Read it!

5/5

Shamus Dust

Shamus Dust by Janet Roger is a stunning homage to the noir novels of Chandler and Hammett. Set in a frozen City of London at the turn of the year in 1947, this is a compelling, twisting page turner that combines a hard boiled American detective in Newman, multiple brutal murders, corrupt city police, femmes fatales (yes more than one!) and more dark secrets than the average reader can cope with.

I loved this novel, the descriptions of London recovering from the blitz are outstanding, the lead character is pitched perfectly and the plot draws all of its threads together elegantly as it draws to a close.

I am looking forward to Janet Roger’s next book, she is a real find! This is as good as it gets – 5/5.

Bloody January

Alan Parks is a new author to me, Bloody January is a bloody good read, Parks is a good new find.

“It became one of those cases cops mark their career by. Peter Manuel, Bible John and Bloody January” This is a sizzler, it bowls along at a good pace through the dark side of 70’s Glasgow, 6 murders in a week, a rebel cop (isn’t there always?), powerful hidden forces trying to stop the investigation. What’s not to like?

If you like Ian Rankin’s Rebus or Michael Connelly’s Bosch then read this, you won’t be disappointed. I definitely want to read the next McCoy from Parks.

4.5/5