Maybe crime fiction is so popular because as a genre, it can be whatever it wants to be. A Benjamin Black and a Richard Osman belong together but couldn’t be more different. The four books here are so varied, they share almost nothing – except murder.
WOMEN Visiting Death in January by Fiona Sherlock (Poolbeg, €9.99), January Quail is an antiques writer and sole survivor of an old Anglo-Irish dynasty. She was rock-broken, an alcoholic, and frequently angered her editor. She was also the first to tell the story of an ancient swamp body, which had just been discovered outside of Ardee.
This exclusivity could revive her chess career, especially as the National Museum begins to get involved. Then the state pathologist discovered the body was buried in the 1990s. And then another body appeared.
This novel is the strange love child of Agatha Christie and Roddy Doyle (who is very Irish, with frequent ‘choice’ language), to be read while sipping a glass of January’s wine.
The small town of Sherlock in Ireland, filled with sordid secrets, gombeen men and a police force running on breakfast treats and country folk, is hilariously salute the perfect pitch.
Sabine Durrant’s Damage caused by the sun (Hodder & Stoughton, €23.99) is set in the south of France, in a rundown old holiday house amid a prolific mosquito swarm. Ali is a British petty criminal who, along with his accomplice Sean, scams tourists on the Côte d’Azur.
When a scam goes horribly wrong and their latest victim dies, Ali flees the shore and finds himself posing as the dead girl, working as a cook for a large British family on holiday far away. more to the north. But Sean is looking for her, and she suspects a family member has smelled a rat.
Durrant is relentlessly suspenseful, beautifully portraying Ali’s unreliable narrator status. And while Ali at first thought this privileged group of tourists had it all, almost every one of them was hiding something.
It’s superbly controlled, a dark novel that looms over the blazing French sun.
If you mix movies together Delivery and Nam Nghia and put them on a remote Australian island, you get Adrian McKinty’s Island (Orion, 15.99 €). Newlyweds Tom and Heather, along with Tom’s two children, were on holiday to work in Australia when Tom ran across a girl on a small island off the coast of Melbourne and killed her. And then try to hide the body.
The Tribe of Dead Girls is a low-living area, with a propensity for gun use, mouthwash, and bloody revenge. There was no phone coverage, no method of calling for help, and when the tribe caught Tom, Heather had to escape with the children. Except for the mainland two miles away, the crazy island family owned the only ferry and had nowhere to hide.
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This is a classic McKinty, filled with old secrets and new crises. Classics.
Without James Joyce’s Ulysses, anyone remember the old red light district of Dublin? The Legion of Mary cleaned it up in 1925, and Tony O’Reilly’s Murder in Monto (Poolbeg, €14.99) may just be the first novel since Ulysses to select it for a location.
It was 1916, a week after Rising and Christopher Flinter had returned home to Dublin from their assignment in Flanders. A British secret service agent captures Flinter and gives him a choice; find serial killer Monto or get shot for desertion.
This is a horror film filled with menace. O’Reilly’s description of the people’s initial indifference to the Rise (until its leaders were later executed) is accurate in the books, while his description about the poverty in the neighborhoods is amazing. An excellent debut.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/books-in-brief-classy-crime-fiction-to-keep-you-happily-in-suspense-41879286.html Book Summary: Classic Crime Fiction Keeps You Thrilled