Brett, Simon – The Clutter Corpse
Kindle & Hardback: 192 pages (February 2020)
Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd; (trade paperback & cased), Severn House Digital (Kindle)
ISBN: 978-1780291246 (cased)
Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for the eARC.
This a new character for Simon Brett and I didn’t warm as immediately as I have done to the others. That said she does have a solid character backdrop which provides a good basis for future character and plot development.
This is not as cosy as some of his other mystery series with more dark humour than we are used to.
I would recommend as a good read although, at the moment, I do prefer some of Simon Brett’s other series – especially Charles Paris & Mrs Pargeter.
This is the eighth novel in the series of novels featuring Quint Dalrymple.
It is November 2038 and Scotland has been reunified – Edinburgh’s thirty-year experiment with supposedly benevolent totalitarianism is over. Despite now being a novelist and retired from the Police, Quint Dalrymple still gets called upon for the investigation of strange cases. An attempted strangling of a young man in Leith by an assailant wearing a bizarre tree-fish costume definitely falls into that category.
Before he can make headway on that case, he is asked by to look into the strange disappearance of the Lord of the Isles – Angus Macdonald (Leader of the opposition in Parliament). He vanished from inside his locked bedroom while his valet was sitting outside with a severed finger hidden in the room. The discovery of a body arranged in a disturbingly macabre pose links the two cases together and starts to provide worrying links back into some of the darker parts of his past.
As stated in reviews of earlier books in the series, this is a mix of science fiction and crime fiction in that it is set in the future but there is very limited technology which is entirely lower-level than what most people have access to today with the computers, in particular, seeming quaintly archaic. Once again you can start the series here as there is enough backstory sprinkled throughout the first few chapters to give you both an overview of the milieu and a view into the mind-set and motivation of Quint without it dominating the plot.
The plot, as usual, is engaging and goes at a rate of knots with you understanding the motivation of the characters whilst not agreeing with them. The camaraderie between Davie (his sidekick in effect) and Quint is still there despite their separation on a day-to-day basis before the action starts.
Once again, the denouement does make sense given what has gone before and sets up the scene for future books.
Overall, this is a good addition to the series and I still definitely like to see where Quint Dalrymple goes from here.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley.
This is the 20th of the Charles Paris novels by Simon Brett and is published four years after the last one (THE CINDERELLA KILLER) – please can we get these more regularly!
Charles Paris has landed a small part in a new West End play, The Habit of Faith but his delight at a 3-month paying job is tempered by the discovery that his good fortune has been orchestrated by his much more successful contemporary Justin Grover who is now the star of a major film series. But why has Grover become involved in this relatively obscure production and why has he roped in Charles to star?
From the outset the production is fraught with difficulties -and matters become even more complicated when a body is discovered at the foot of the dressing room stairs – was it a fall or was it a push?
As one of the last people to have seen the victim alive, Charles Paris’ natural curiosity finds him drawn into the ensuing investigation where he discovers that more than one person involved in the play has a scandalous secret to hide …
As usual I read this very quickly as I do for most Simon Brett books. Both the murder aspect and the comedy aspect are well handled but the focus here is much more on Charles and his belated attempts to grow up, get sober and get back with his wife Frances. This latter aspect gives us some stronger comedic aspects on the world of theatre, the sobriety business and the extent to while Charles can delude himself.
It is not too much of a spoiler to say for those of us who like Charles there is again a hint of sunlight in his relationship with his wife Frances.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley and bought a signed copy at CrimeFest.
Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth is his contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare Project which invites current writers to update Shakespeare’s plays, setting them in modern times with modern characters.
Nesbø’s retelling sets it in the early 1970’s with the police department of a downtrodden European city taking the place of the Scottish royal court. Macbeth is the head of a SWAT team who is eager for promotion and, persuaded by his girlfriend, murders the police department’s Chief Commissioner to take over his position. He then engineers the death of anyone who suspects him of murder or endangers his position as Macbeth has no loyalty and no conscience.
Nesbø’s book (more or less) faithfully follows the trajectory of the original play, so if you’re familiar with that then you will have an idea of what happens (which may be a problem for some readers, it was for me).
This wasn’t my favourite Jo Nesbø novel as I found it very hard to get into – Shakespeare in a modern milieu can work (Baz Luhrmans Romeo + Juliet is a good example which does get around the language issues as swords and daggers are now a brand of guns). The main issue (apart from finding it somewhat too long – the play Macbeth is less than 20,000 words whilst this is over 150,000 words) is that characters who in Shakespeare you dislike but are intrigued by become rather more psychotically vicious here.
The Killing House (Paula Maguire 6) by Claire McGowan
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Published 5th April 2018
ISBN: 978- 1472228246
Renovations at an abandoned farm have uncovered two bodies: a man known to be an IRA member missing since the nineties, and a young girl whose identity remains a mystery.
Paula Maguire returns to Ballyterrin from her new London home for a wedding and Paula helps to discover who the girl is and why no one is looking for her.
An anonymous tip-off then claims that her own long-lost mother is also buried on the farm.
When another girl is kidnapped, Paula must find the person responsible before more lives are destroyed. But there are explosive secrets still to surface. And even Paula can’t predict that the investigation will strike at the heart of all she holds dear.
I really enjoyed this and read it in a day.
The story is as gripping as it has been in the previous novels and there is some nice cutting from the past (Paulas mothers disappearance) to the present (the investigation at the Farm and Paulas search for her mother).
It is said by the author at the end that this is the last in the series and a lot of loose ends have been tied up – we will miss Paula and her fellow characters but there is a conclusion to matters.
Bryant & May: Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler
Hardback: 400 pages
Published 22nd March 2018
ISBN: 978- 0857523440
BRYANT & MAY: HALL OF MIRRORS is the fifteenth book about Arthur Bryant, John May and their Peculiar Crimes Unit.
We are back in time to 1969.
Ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall including the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May who are undercover and in disguise tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones (a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial).
The scene is set for what could be a perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. The good times are coming to an end with the house’s penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat owner intent on selling the estate (complete with his own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire.
The weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards with army manoeuvres closing the only access road. When a falling gargoyle fells another guest the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line discovering that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems…
The dark humour that one expects of a Bryant & May novel is there with us seeing a much younger Bryant & May than we are used to (so we see a slightly less odd Arthur).
The realistic view of the swinging sixties gives a nice level of social commentary which combines with expected very intricate plot with lots of twists, turns and misdirections provides an excellent read.
This is a novella in the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch.
There’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call – PC Peter Grant as odd stuff is his specialty.
But it is more than just going ‘bump’ – traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute with them being accosted by strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message.
What is making solving this harder is that despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter. This is making the follow up interviews rather difficult.
So aided by Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition but Nightingale may be needed for heavy artillery.
This is a nice little side episode in the Peter Grant series whilst we wait for the next novel – the main series plot of Lesley or the Faceless Man isn’t progressed but we get a good view in the day-to-day sleuthing of Peter Grant with enjoyable characters and laugh-out-loud moments.
A Necessary Evil (Sam Wyndham 2) by Abir Mukherjee
Vintage, Paperback, 384 pages
Published 15th March 2018
ISBN13: 978 1 784704773 (Paperback)
It is India, 1920 – an India which is changing but history is still ever present.
Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force are at the talks about the establishment of the Chamber of Princes – not for security but to meet the son of a Maharajah who was at school with Sergeant Banerjee.
They set off with him back to the Grand Hotel to discuss “a matter of delicacy” when Crown Prince Adhir is assassinated – they catch his murderer but the real question is who was behind the murderer.
Thus they set off to the fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore – home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun for the funeral. Here they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict as Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes – and romantic relationship – may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.
Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination but become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives.
Like its predecessor ( A Rising Man ) this is a well-researched book with Calcutta and India beautifully and atmospherically described.
The relationship between Sam and his Indian Sergeant is strengthening and they provide a complementary skill set to tackle the investigation of the crime.
This is, once again, both a very good historical novel and a very good thriller and the next book in the series is pre-ordered in Hardback.
Amy Webber was a librarian at Clarion University but after finding her boyfriend in a compromising position she leaves both the University and him (he is on the Faculty). Now she is living with her aunt and working in a small town library.
The small town is Taylorsford (a very small town which is basically one main road with an out of town shopping development) and she is happy getting to know her regulars – one of whom is Doris Virts, who is suffering from dementia. When she goes missing, Amy and her assistant Sunny keep an eye out for her and when Amy’s new neighbour Richard Muir asks to see the library archive, they find the body of elderly Doris Virts. Who would want to kill an old lady and why was she in the library archive anyway?
This is a fun mystery with a romance (you can guess from the start that Amy is very likely to hook up with the handsome Richard). In fact there are two mysteries – the murder of Doris Virts in the present day and an old case where Eleanora Cooper was accused of killing her husband but found not guilty when articles by Richard’s Great-Uncle swayed public opinion outside the town in her favour.
This is the first in a series and there is a lot of scene setting but it is well done and they are all interesting characters from Aunt Lydia (who may have secrets Amy doesn’t yet know about) to the County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy (Bradley Tucker) – Taylorsfords most eligible bachelor but rebuffed by Amy and dumped by Sunny.
This is the start of what promises to be a nice enjoyable cosy series which I will follow.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
This is a standalone by Luca Veste who is best known for his series of novels featuring DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi.
20 years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods seeking to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three of them returned.
Now, a horrifically injured woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper. DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood. When a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from the case takes on a much darker tone.
The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.
This is a mix of the horror and the crime novel which will grip you throughout.
Like many of his books this is not at all cozy being quite dark at points but it will make you think and make you keep turning the page.
My copy was provided by the publishers via Netgalley.