Detective fiction

An ill wind in Buenos Aires: Portrait of Unknown Lady, by María Gainza, reviewed

How to review a book that pokes fun at critics? When the protagonist of María Gainza’s Portrait of an Unknown Lady reads reviews, she tends to ‘scan the first five or six lines, skip to the last two or three, and end up thinking, what’s with these people?’ When she becomes an art critic, she takes up the ‘language of the shyster, empty language, language just to occupy column inches’. And you can bet she has readers hanging on her every word – as we do in this story of the quest to find a legendary art forger who one day disappeared. It feels like the Argentine writer is having

On the cowboy’s trail: Powder Smoke, by Andrew Martin, reviewed

Detective Inspector Jim Stringer is back. This is a York novel, or rather a Yorkshire crime novel. The LNER railway policeman investigates a supposed double murder, tracing a young fairground sharpshooter, Kid Durrant, through the Yorkshire countryside. The action takes place over five days in early December 1925, but is interspersed with flashbacks to the previous summer. At the York Gala, Stringer sees Durrant perform his fairground act, quick on the draw and deadly accurate with his pistol and rifle-shooting. His entertainment persona is a Wild West cowboy, presented with appropriate Western colloquialisms, spoken with an American accent acquired by way of Sheffield. The gala is observed by a rare