Sunday 31 May 2009

What I Read In May

Published: June 2009
Setting: UK
Protagonist: Alex Connor/Paul Kearney
Series?: Standalone
First Lines: "The last time I saw my wife was one evening in January, two and a half years ago."

Alex Connor is running away from his past, when he sees a newspaper report about his friend Sarah, who helped him when he was at his lowest. Sarah has been murdered and Alex' brother James is prime suspect - only the body has been taken. Meanwhile, policeman Paul Kearney is investigating the disappearance and horrific murders of a number of other women, and time is running out for the most recent victim. A chilling and compelling look at the nature of evil, horror beyond comprehension, and the desire to possess. Several of the characters in STILL BLEEDING gave me the creeps. Some are consumed by their compulsions, rotten to the core, all of them have their own demons to contend with. Sometimes those demons take human form. At one point, reading late at night, I had to put the book aside and read something less disturbing. An excellent book, wonderfully written and one which will definitely be on my list of top books for 2009.

Published: November 2008
Setting: Paris
Protagonist: Charlie Howard
Series?: 2nd
First Lines: "The moment I'd scanned the outside of the building, I turned to Bruno and said, "First impressions, it looks straightforward."

Chris Ewan writes books about a thief who writes books about a thief who solves crimes. That clear? Good. Charming mystery writing thief Charlie Howard is in Paris. Having imbibed several glasses of wine too many he is flattered when a complete stranger tells him he is an admirer of his special skills, and agrees to show the man how to break into an apartment. Just one day later, Charlie is hired to steal a really dull painting from the very same apartment. A superbly entertaining caper full of twists and turns, very well drawn characters and memorable scenes. Breezy and quirky, with a protagonist who's part Raymond Chandler, part The Saint.

BAD FOR GOOD (the book previously known as GONZO NOIR) - Declan Burke
Published: only on the far
Setting: Ireland
Protagonist: Hmmmm...well...Karlsson/Billy and Dec himself
Series?: standalone
First Lines: "‘You don’t remember me,’ he says. I allow that I don’t. But then I haven’t had my coffee yet, or even a smoke."

Where to start with the plot...well, let's see. Billy - who used to be known as Karlsson - is a bit peeved, because Dec was writing a book about him and he just stopped, and chucked the manuscript in the back of a drawer. So Karlsson was left in limbo. He was a hospital porter who helped old people to die. And now he's decided he wants to be called Billy, and he's in Dec's back garden trying to persuade him to finish the book. Oh, and he wants to blow up the hospital. I loved this. Billy/Karlsson is really, really not a nice guy...but, on the other hand, you can't help liking him. Which made me a bit worried about my sanity. But then, the whole book is insane. It's so gonzo that after reading it I felt as though I had turned into Hunter S Thompson. Funny, warped, cleverly written metafiction. It was a lot of fun to read, and it came across as though it was a lot of fun to write.

MY FRIEND MAIGRET - Georges Simenon
Published: 1949
Setting: The small island of Porquerolles
Protagonist: Inspector Maigret
Series?: 31st!!! (I think)
First Lines: "You were standing in the doorway of your club?"

A low life pimp and thief has been murdered on an idyllic Mediterranean island. On the night of his death he claimed that Inspector Maigret was a friend of his, so Maigret is called in to investigate. He takes a trip to the island, accompanied by his quiet shadow - Inspector Pyke from Scotland Yard, who's come to study his methods. Maigret meets a motley collection of characters on the island and doesn't so much investigate as wait for people to come up and chat to him. This one's a bit like a locked room mystery. It's a quick read, with nice little character sketches, but I didn't really connect with the characters (of which there are many, with convoluted relationships).

THE TERRORISTS - Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Published: 1975
Setting: Sweden
Protagonist: Martin Beck
Series?: 10th and last
First Lines: 1975

Martin Beck and his team are put in charge of trying to stop a gang of highly trained terrorists from assassinating a visiting Senator. In addition, a pornographer has been murdered, and a young girl is tried for attempted bank robbery. Suspenseful, subtle humour, and a look at Swedish society and politics.


  1. I thank you kindly, Ms Broad ... your generosity is matched only by the dubiousness of your taste (apart from shoes, of course). Cheers, Dec

  2. I'll have you know that I have brilliant taste. In everything. And you're welcome. I loved it. May it find a suitably appreciative and lucrative home.

  3. And a thank you from me, too. It obviously pays to have friends in high places...