Tag Archives: Crime Fiction

The Tea House Detective: The Old Man in the Corner

18 Apr

“The Tea House Detective: The Old Man in the Corner” was written by Baroness Orcy. The stories in this volume were originally published in book form in 1908. The edition I read was published by Pushkin Vertigo in 2018.

One does not associate Baroness Orczy with crime fiction. To me, like with many others, her name resonates with historical fiction, her being the writer of the class “The Scarlet Pimpernel”.

The stories are all well written and the character of the Old Man in the Corner with his compulsive tieing of knots, was both interesting and odd. The female journalist listening to his stories was little more than a device to get the old man’s tales out; he could have been talking to the wall. Except in the last story, when the character, Miss Polly Burton really stands out.

All the stories are excellent, but the stand out one for me was the very first story, “The Fenchurch Street Mystery”.

A fascinating book. Recommended.

Crippen

19 Oct

“Crippen” by John Boyne tells the story of Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen from birth to his execution for the murder of his wife Cora.

The book is a novel, so it gives an interesting take on the man, and the crime.

“Crippen” is well written and well researched. The only problem I had with it is the non-linear structure of the narrative. The chapters went backwards and forwards in time. I dislike this format, but that is on me, it is not a reflection on the author. The story is absorbing and the characters well rounded and believable.

John Boyne has a dry sense of humour that quite literally had me laughing out loud at times.

“Crippen” is well worth a read.

In a House of Lies

12 Nov

“In a House of Lies”, the latest John Rebus novel by Ian Rankin is simply delicious.

A car is found with a skeleton in it. The skeleton of a young man who went missing several years early. Problem is, the car wasn’t there when the police searched the area.

Now the case is being reopened, with Siobhan Clarke and Malcom Fox involved, whilst Rebus flits around the edges making a hairy arsed nuisance of himself. Add a couple of bent coppers and someone stalking Siobhan, and you have a classic, gritty, Ian Rankin novel.

Often as time goes by, a series starts to get stale. There is nothing stale about “In a House of Lies”. It is as fresh and chewy as a good novel can get.

Well written, well balanced and a sheer delight from the first page to the last.

The Spotted Dog

8 Oct

“The Spotted Dog is” the much awaited new novel from Kerry Greenwood.

In “The Spotted Dog” Corinna and Daniel have a new case: dognapping. The dog of a retired army veteran has been snatched from him, and he left battered. Someone has broken into the flat of Professor Dionysus Monk. There is a ransomware attack on the cafe. And worse is to come.

I admit to being a little wary as it has been a long time between the last Corinna and this one. I shouldn’t have worried, “The Spotted Dog” is pure Kerry Greenwood snark from page one. I particular liked the exchanged about zebras and the “protective custard”.

All my favourite characters are there.  I would have preferred a little more Meroe, but there was plenty of Jason & Professor Monk to make me happy.

A fun, fabulous read.

Highly recommended.

The Killing Habit

23 Jul

In “The Killing Habit” by Mark Billingham there is someone killing cats in London. DI Tom Thorne from homicide is handed the case, because his superiors fear that what they are dealing with is a serial killer in training.

Meanwhile, DI Nicole Tanner, now with homicide and recovering from the traumas of the previous book, is dealing with the killing of a Syrian refugee.

Slowly, the strands of both cases weave together.

This is a superb book from Mark Billingham. Shot through, as are all his books, with the dark sense of humour that police officers the world over need as a survival mechanism.

The book is well plotted, well written, and has a bloody great twist in the tail at the end of the book. One that left me shocked.

Highly recommended.

The Mechanical Devil

19 Jul

“The Mechanical Devil” is the most recent novel by Kate Ellis.  Sadly, Ms Ellis isn’t as well known in Australia as she deserves to be.  Her books are always interesting.

In “The Mechanical Devil” a man and a woman are found in a field…shot…and the last person to see the woman has gone missing.

With a double murder, and a missing person. DI Wesley Peterson really doesn’t have time for a break-in at the home of a person he assisted the previous year. Perhaps he should have made the time…

Meanwhile, Dr Neil Watson is dealing with the discovery of a 16th century automaton, and then a much more recent death… which may tie into Wesley’s cases.

A fantastically plotted tale of murder and madness.

A thoroughly delicious read.

Highly recommended.

A Whiff of Cyanide

11 Feb

‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ is the third in the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

Ann Durham is the head of the Crime Writer’s Association and has been for years. But now a challenge is being mounted, and she may be set to lose everything she has worked for.

So when Ann is poisoned with cyanide at the association’s dinner at their big convention in Hampstead, is it suicide…or murder?

The team from Hampstead nick have to find out.

As per the other books, this one is a lovely mix of crime and character stories. Those who have read the previous books will get a hell of a shock at what happens next in the Peter Collins/Karen Willis/Bob Metcalfe storyline. It packed a punch not unlike one from Mohammed Ali!

Sprinkled with the quirky observations and one-liners, ‘A Whiff of Cyanide’ is a delicious addition to the series.

I have the fourth book at home. I am hoarding it. Because once I’ve read it, they’re all gone!

Guy Fraser-Sampson is the finest addition to the UK’s crime writing fraternity in years.

Miss Christie Regrets

30 Jan

The crime team from Hampstead nick are back with a second interesting adventure in Guy Fraser-Sampson’s “Miss Christie Regrets”.

There is a murder in Burgh House in Hampstead, and around the same time a body is found stuffed in a cabin trunk in a walled off room in a nearby block of flats. This body however, isn’t fresh, but from prior to WW2. There can be no connection between the two cases. Can there?

Of course there can!

And off goes a wonderful romp through one of my favourite parts of London.

The plot is deliciously intricate, with a gorgeous woven seam of Cold War paranoia wound in that would delight John le Carre. Letters from Dame Agatha Christie herself add a touch of old world glamour to the plot.

“Miss Christie Regrets” is an excellent read, and builds nicely onto the foundations that the first book, “Death in Profile” erected.

Guy Fraser-Sampson writes wonderful stories that manage to meld the Golden Age of detective fiction with modern world police procedurals. If you haven’t read the series, do yourself a favour and track the books down.

Superb.

Death in Profile

19 Mar

I find it very hard to resist a crime novel set in London, and when it’s set in one of my favourite parts of London, it’s doubly irresistible.

“Death in Profile” is the first of the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

There is a serial killer stalking London and the case team are working out of Hampstead nick.When Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen is stood down and Detective Superintendent Simon Collison is put in his place, the scene is set for a complex and interesting story.  Especially as the most recent killing just doesn’t seem quite right.  Profiler Peter Collins is brought in to assist and things get interesting.

Guy seamlessly blends a modern police procedural with the Golden Age of detective fiction.

“Death in Profile” is an absorbing and entertaining read.  The characters are all well rounded and believable.  I hope we see more of Collison in future books.

Highly recommended.

Doors Open

23 Jan

“Doors Open” is an awesome stand alone novel from Ian Rankin.

Mike MacKenzie is a rich playboy with an interest in art.  Along with his friend Allan he gets drawn into an art heist, all the while being watched by Detective Inspector Ransome, who is interested in one of Mike’s old school pals.

Fast paced, action packed, and loaded with twists and turns, “Doors Open” is an excellent read.

Ian Rankin shows that he doesn’t need to write Rebus to create a brilliant story.  In fact, this one was better in some ways, because there was no character baggage.  There was, however, a sly reference to Rebus that made me chuckle.

Highly recommended.

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