Andrew Rosenheim

An Oxford spy ring is finally uncovered

Oxford and Cambridge have many rivalries, but espionage has always been a one-sided contest between the two. Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt and Cairncross were all Cambridge men. If this were put in Boat Race terms, Cambridge would have rowed halfway to Hammersmith Bridge before the dark blues had their blades in the water. Charles Beaumont’s

The chase looms large in the best new thrillers

The ‘chase’ thriller is the fallback choice of writers looking for an easy way to make the pages turn. The Continental Affair (Bedford Square, £16.99) shows a gifted writer embracing the more obvious traits of these novels, while adding some innovative twists of her own. The story is set during the Algerian war that led

Espionage dominates the best recent crime fiction

The best espionage novels cater to our fantasies while still persuading us of the authenticity of their worlds. Of the titles published this year, two stand out in the field, and each author understands that, in fiction, veracity is not the same as authenticity. In Hemingway’s words: ‘All good novels have one thing in common.

Cosy crime flourishes in the pick of the summer’s thrillers

Cosy crime was once the literary world’s guilty secret, a refuge for any reader seeking entirely unchallenging entertainment – like an Escoffier chef with a private penchant for Mars Bars. It has always proved a great getaway in tough times, which helps explain the extravagant success of Richard Osman’s novels. Murder Before Evensong by the

The real Norfolk: Stewkey Blues, by D.J. Taylor, reviewed

D.J. Taylor is a Norfolk native who, un-usually, has stayed put. These stories, written during the pandemic, are all set in that county, though the author is largely uninterested in its more fashionable acreage – the strip of coast so popular with Sunday supplements and London owners of second homes. He writes instead about the

Character is king in the latest crime fiction

Thriller writers are hard pressed to stand out in what’s become a very crowded field. As a result, from Cardiff to Kansas we meet every conceivable kind of detective: if one walks with a telltale limp, another has no legs at all. Even the requirements of diversity can’t disguise the desperation of the search for

Nazis and Nordics: the latest crime fiction reviewed

Social historians of the future may look back at the reading habits of this era and conclude that we were almost exclusively interested in Nazis and Nordics. Certainly there seems no diminution in these twin tastes. Widowland (Quercus, £14.99) by C.J. Carey (a pseudonym for the writer Jane Thynne) is the latest Nazi-related novel in

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

America has always idolised its entrepreneurs, even when it has proved a thankless task — if you can glamorise Bill Gates, you can glamorise anyone. Especially Steve Jobs, whose death from pancreatic cancer has been greeted as the loss of Mammon’s Messiah. Is any of this justified? Well, yes and no. Jobs did as much

A menacing corruption

E. L. Doctorow became an American household name with the publication of Ragtime in 1975. It was a jaunty book (later a successful movie) which lightened an American mood darkened by the lingering war in Vietnam. It benefited from having authentic historical figures — Harry Houdini and J. P. Morgan among them — interspersed with

A far cry from Dr Finlay

If he is remembered at all, A.J. Cronin is known now for Dr Finlay’s Casebook, which ran for many years on both BBC television and radio, and today resonates with the glow of a gentler past — when a GP happily made house calls, delivered babies, and served as shaman, shrink and confessor to his

Bad enemy, worse lover

Five years after his death, Saul Bellow’s literary reputation has yet to suffer the usual post-mortem slump, and publication of these lively letters should help sustain his standing. Five years after his death, Saul Bellow’s literary reputation has yet to suffer the usual post-mortem slump, and publication of these lively letters should help sustain his

Diary – 27 August 2004

Pentwater, Michigan This is America’s heartland, the ‘flyover country’ usually seen by British visitors only from an aeroplane window as they head west for the coast. It’s a land of other people’s clichés — home of the moral majority, the background for Norman Rockwell paintings, a series of cowpoke towns which lie flat as a