Arnaldur Indridason Carlo Lucarelli Christopher Fowler Declan Burke Euro Crime Hakan Nesser Mark Bailey Nigel McCrery Peter James Peter Robinson Year-End Review

Year-End Review: 2011

Favourite Discovery of 2011

Absolutely the best thing that I have read this year is Carlo Lucarellis De Luca trilogy (Carte Blanche (Carta Bianca), The Damned Season (L’estate Torbida) and Via delle Oche ) – small delicately shaped morsels (the longest is 160 pages and all three together are shorter than your typical doorstop novel).

In the last days and aftermath of World War II Italy, the world of Commissario de Luca, a fundamentally good man driven by a desire for justice who is (and has been) forced by circumstance to work for people with evil in the hearts is, to my mind, one of the great creations of modern crime fiction. I have the award winning TV movie adaptions on my to-be-watched list for Christmas and can’t wait.


Best of 2011

Of the new releases in 2011 (either in paperback or hardback), I would recommend (not in any particular order)

  • Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason (the 9th book in the series but using Elinborg rather than Erlendur as the chief protagonist)
  • Bad Boy by Peter Robinson (the 19th Inspector Banks novel)
  • Dead Man’s Grip by Peter James (7th Detective Superintendent Roy Grace novel)
  • Bryant & May and The Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler (9th book about Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit)
  • The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser (5th Chief Inspector Van Veeteren book)
  • Scream by Nigel McCrery (3rd Chief Inspector Lapslie novel)
  • Down these Green Streets edited by Declan Burke(an anthology of essays and short stories on Irish crime fiction)

They reflect my liking for police procedurals.


Adrian McKinty Cath Staincliffe Christopher Fowler Crime Fiction Edmund Crispin Euro Crime Helene Tursten Ian Rankin Jo Nesbø John Harvey Mark Bailey Martin Edwards Peter James Peter Robinson Reviews W J Burley Year-End Review

Year-End Review: 2012

Of the new releases in 2012 (either in paperback or hardback), I would strongly recommend (in alphabetical order by author as I don’t want to choose an order)

  • Fowler, Christopher – BRYANT & MAY AND THE INVISIBLE CODE (10th novel about Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit – another strong Bryant & May novel with a very intricate plot with lots of twists and turns; some new characters (some of which are almost fantastical) are introduced to set up for the future which he has got a 2 book deal for starting with BRYANT & MAY AND THE BLEEDING HEART).
  • James, Peter – NOT DEAD YET (8th Detective Superintendent Roy Grace novel)
  • Nesbo, Jo – THE BAT (the 1st Harry Hole novel chronologically – it was nice to see the back plot to the later novels explored in more depth)
  • Rankin, Ian – STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE (Rebus is back – I read it in a day and loved it)
  • Robinson, Peter – BEFORE THE POISON (not a DCI Banks book but it takes the well-used idea of somebody becoming obsessed with solving a decades-old murder and executes it very well)


Other 2012 releases that had good points were

  • McKinty, Adrian – THE COLD COLD GROUND (the 1st Sean Duffy novel set in 1980s Northern Ireland; yes I am biased as I go past most of the places in this novel on my train to work every day but this is an assured police procedural in the main – the next book (I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET) is just out as I write and if it is just a tad better then that is one of my 2013 best reads sorted)
  • Staincliffe, Cath  – DEAD TO ME  (the 1st Scott and Bailey tie-in novel by Cath Staincliffe; yes this is a tv tie-on but it captures the characters and is compellingly written)
  • Tursten, Helene – NIGHT ROUNDS (the 4th Irene Huss novel; this is a good novel but I have seen the first 6 Swedish TV movie adaptions so I spoilt it for myself).
  • Wanner, Len – THE CRIME INTERVIEWS VOLUMES ONE AND TWO (These are available most easily for Kindles but if you like tartan noir, they are a good insight into how authors minds work as they have interviews with 19 crime writers between the two volumes)


‘Blasts from the past’ series reread or read for the first time in 2012 are

  • Crispin, Edmund – the Gervase Fen series (I re-read these in the Summer. They are whodunit novels with complex plots written in a humorous, literary style with references to English literature, poetry, and music; my favourites are THE MOVING TOYSHOP (1946) and FREQUENT HEARSES (1950) – it is a crying shame that Crispin went 25 years between the penultimate and the last novel in the series).
  • Burley, W J – the Wycliffe series (I remember the tv series with Jack Shepherd well and recently bought them on DVD but had never read the books; yes they are dated and even the later ones read like those written in the 1970s (they were 22 written from 1968 to 2000) but they are also tightly plotted concisely written books with a great sense of place and a complex main character)
  • Edwards, Martin – the Lake District Mystery series (these were a new read for me and as said elsewhere on the website these are very classy page turners with a good sense of history and the area it is set in – the English Lake District)
  • Harvey. John – the Charlie Resnick series (I am just over halfway through re-reading this quality police procedural series set in Nottingham in the late 1980s and 1990s in the main – the last one was published a decade later in 2008)


Again, they reflect in the main my liking for police procedurals.

Crime Fiction Euro Crime Mark Bailey Peter Robinson Reviews

Review: Before the Poison by Peter Robinson

Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson

Robinson, Peter – ‘Before the Poison’
Paperback: 436 pages (Feb. 2012) Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks ISBN: 1444704850

An important warning – BEFORE THE POISON is not a DCI Banks book. It is however a very good thriller which takes the well-used idea of somebody becoming obsessed with solving a decades-old murder and executes it very well.

Chris Lowe returns to his native Yorkshire from Los Angeles after the death of his wife from cancer. He has been working as a film score composer but now wants to spend time on a piano sonata in peace and quiet. For this period of solitude he purchases Kilnsgate House which lies in a secluded location far from other houses. Gradually he becomes aware of the tragic past of the house where 60 years earlier Grace Fox was alleged to have poisoned her husband – a crime she was tried and hanged for. Chris becomes fascinated by her story and the more he discovers from his investigations, the more he becomes convinced that she couldn’t have murdered her husband.

The narrative alternates between (fictional) primary documents at the start of each chapter: a contemporary account of Grace’s trial at the start and later on her wartime journals of Dunkirk, Singapore and Normandy where she was a Queen Alexandra’s nurse, and Chris’s quest for the truth.

Robinson’s love of music moves from background in the DCI Banks books to foreground here and this combines with his usual skill in prose to give us a well written gripping novel. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot as you learn more about the character of Grace Fox and your own opinion changes as you start to question her guilt and there are multiple twists at the end although some are signposted to a certain extent earlier on.

I love the DCI Banks novels but on the basis of this it would be nice to have a standalone novel from Peter Robinson more than once a decade (the earlier ones were CAEDMON’S SONG in 1990 and NO CURE FOR LOVE in 1995).

Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland
February 2012

Originally published at EuroCrime