Keith Miller

The case of the ‘Hay Poisoner’ inspired many a cosy murder mystery

The case of the retired major Herbert Rowse Armstrong, a Hay-on-Wye solicitor hanged in 1922 for killing his wife Katharine with arsenic, is one of nine examined in George Orwell’s 1946 Tribune essay ‘The Decline of the English Murder’ as having enthralled the public. ‘A little man of the professional class’, living an ‘intensely respectable

Dangerous living

Here come three novels marketed as debuts but written by authors with some sort of previous, be it in short stories, journalism, theatre, television or a combination of the above. The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee (Granta, £12.99) takes a fable and transplants it into real life — in this case bourgeois

A choice of first novels | 17 November 2016

Constellation by Adrien Bosc (Serpent’s Tail, £12.99) picks nimbly along the divide between fiction and non-fiction. It’s really a speculative group biography, telling the story of a Air France plane crash in the Azores in 1949, and the lives of the plane’s passengers, mostly (except for a quintet of migrating Basque shepherds) of an appropriately

A choice of first novels | 10 March 2016

At the beginning of this year I underwent a complete literary detox: an absolute, cold-turkey abstention from cutting-edge fiction of every stripe. I subsisted on police procedurals and grown-up Ladybird books, and watched a lot of TV. It was tough, but you’ve got to defrag the old hard drive once in a while. And it

Nasty piece of work

Finders Keepers is a sort-of sequel to last year’s Mr Mercedes, Stephen King’s first foray into what he called ‘hard-boiled detective fiction’. The new book is not so much hard-boiled as slowly poached, Heston Blumenthal style, in a sous-vide water oven, then finished on a violently hot grill. King has the popular novelist’s gifts in