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Crime

When the best defence is no defence

12 March 2011
A Just Defiance Peter Harris

Portobello, pp..00, 14.99

This remarkable book is the account by their lawyer of the trial, imprisonment and sentencing to death in the late Eighties of a group of young men who came to… Read more

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Theatre of the macabre

8 January 2011
The Invention of Murder Judith Flanders

Harper Press, pp.556, 20

Sam Leith marvels at Victorian Britain’s appetite for crime, where a public hanging was considered a family day out and murder became a lurid industry in itself On my satellite… Read more

Mean streets

27 November 2010

Christmas is coming, which generally leads to a surge in sales of crime fiction. Fortunately for readers, some delectable crime novels have appeared in the past few months. Among them… Read more

Troubled waters

29 September 2010
Heartstone C.J. Sansom

Mantle, pp.633, 18.99

This is the fifth in C. J. Sansom’s engrossing series of Tudor crime novels. This is the fifth in C. J. Sansom’s engrossing series of Tudor crime novels. His hero… Read more

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Innocents abroad

18 September 2010
Our Kind of Traitor John le Carré

Viking, pp.306, 18.99

In John le Carré’s fiction, personal morality collides messily with the grimly cynical expediencies of global politics. In John le Carré’s fiction, personal morality collides messily with the grimly cynical… Read more

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Dark Satanic thrills

4 September 2010
The Anatomy of Ghosts Andrew Taylor

Michael Joseph, pp.467, 18.99

If you have not yet gone on holiday, do pack The Anatomy of Ghosts. It is excellent airport reading; and this is no trivial recommendation. Airports are where one needs… Read more

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Fearful symmetry

21 August 2010
Started Early, Took My Dog Kate Atkinson

Doubleday, pp.352, 18.99

Kate Atkinson’s latest novel is the fourth in her series about Jackson Brodie, the ex-soldier, ex-police officer and ex-husband who now works in a desultory way as a private investigator.… Read more

A choice of first novels

7 August 2010

Write what you know. Isn’t that what aspiring novelists are told? Write what you know. Isn’t that what aspiring novelists are told? While two first-timers have taken the advice this… Read more

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Good at bad guys

7 August 2010
The Burning Wire Jeffery Deaver

Hodder, pp.423, 18.99

Thriller writers, like wolves and old Etonians, hunt in packs. In the summer months, roaming from city to city, we can be found at assorted festivals and crime fiction conventions,… Read more

King and his killer

7 July 2010
Hellhound on his Trail Hampton Sides

Allen Lane, pp.459, 25

In the late days of the Bush administration, it was fashionable among liberals to call George W. Bush the ‘worst’ president since the founding of the republic and to suggest… Read more

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In and out of every dive

23 June 2010
Noir Robert Coover

Duckworth, pp.224, 12.99

Robert Coover’s Noir is a graphic novel. Robert Coover’s Noir is a graphic novel. Not literally, in the contemporary sense in which the phrase is used to designate a highfalutin… Read more

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Out for blood

16 June 2010
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Stephenie Meyer

Atom, pp.178, 11.99

Unless you have spent the last couple of years packed in soil on a boat bound for Whitby, you will have noticed that vampires are back in fashion. It’s an… Read more

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The loss of innocents

16 June 2010
The Missing Boy Rachel Billington

Orion, pp.304, 18.99

Forgetting Zo Ray Robinson

Heinemann, pp.278, 12.99

Here are two novels about that most harrowing and haunting of subjects — children who go missing. Here are two novels about that most harrowing and haunting of subjects —… Read more

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Cherchez la femme

12 May 2010
The Temptress: The Scandalous Life of Alice, Countess de Janzé Paul Spicer

Simon & Schuster, pp.308, 14.99

The 22nd Earl of Erroll, Military Secretary in Kenya in the early part of the second world war, was described by two of his fellow peers of the realm as… Read more

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Red faces in the galleries

21 April 2010
The Conman: How One Man Fooled the Modern Art Establishment Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

Gibson Square, pp.327, 14.99

Art fraudsters, especially forgers, have a popular appeal akin to Robin Hood. Their cock-a-snook cunning provides a twist on those money shots on the Antiques Roadshow when some dotty great… Read more

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Missing link

31 March 2010
The Shadows in the Street Susan Hill

Chatto & Windus, pp.372, 12.99

In times of anxiety or confusion the most effective palliative is a good detective story. The requirement is that a sense of justice be restored, and, paradoxically, given the fictional… Read more

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Exotic Cuban underworld

17 March 2010
Our GG in Havana Pedro Juan Gutierrez, translated by John King

Faber, pp.150, 9.99

Before the revolución of 1959, Havana was, effectively, a mafia fleshpot and colony of Las Vegas. Before the revolución of 1959, Havana was, effectively, a mafia fleshpot and colony of… Read more

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Street eloquence

10 March 2010
Even the Dogs Jon McGregor

Bloomsbury, pp.208, 12.99

The title of Jon McGregor’s third novel derives from an anecdote told by one of the many vivid, dispossessed characters whose voices burst from its pages: Steve is a homeless… Read more

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The greatest rogue in Europe

24 February 2010
Birthright: The True Story that Inspired Kidnapped A. Roger Ekirch

WW Norton, pp.258, 17.99

On 11 November 1743, the most sensational trial of the 18th century opened in the Four Courts in Dublin. The plaintiff, James Annesley, claimed that his uncle, Richard Annesley, the… Read more

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Throw it in a stream

24 February 2010
Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love Xinran

Chatto and Windus, pp.224, 12.99

I know a British couple with a Chinese daughter, pretty and fluent in English. Of course the little girl was adopted. It is necessary to steel one’s self against three… Read more

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From gloom to dispair

17 February 2010
The Man from Beijing Henning Mankell

Harvill Secker, pp.367, 17.99

In little more than a decade, the cosy world of Anglo-American crime fiction has been transformed by wave after wave of Scandinavian invaders. Some, like Steig Larsson, are suddenly parachuted… Read more

Recent crime novels

27 January 2010

Blue Lightning (Macmillan, £16.99) is the fourth novel in Ann Cleeves’ excellent Shetland quartet. Blue Lightning (Macmillan, £16.99) is the fourth novel in Ann Cleeves’ excellent Shetland quartet. It is… Read more

Recent crime novels

25 November 2009

Fever of the Bone (Little, Brown, £18.99) is the sixth novel in Val McDermid’s Jordan and Hill series. Fever of the Bone (Little, Brown, £18.99) is the sixth novel in… Read more

Adored friends

25 November 2009
No Invitation Required: The Pelham Cottage Years Annabel Goldsmith

Weidenfeld, pp.179, 16.99

Years ago the late ‘Brookie’ Warwick, 8th Earl, asked me to ghost his memoirs. Years ago the late ‘Brookie’ Warwick, 8th Earl, asked me to ghost his memoirs. In conversation… Read more

Reader, beware

11 November 2009
Telling Tales: A History of Literary Hoaxes Melissa Katsoulis

Constable, pp.328, 8.99

In this diverting, well-written history of deceitful and counterfeit literature through the ages, Telling Tales, Melissa Katsoulis chronicles a variety of fraudsters and fibsters, and their motives for hoodwinking the… Read more