BlogalongaBondathon

I’ve been intending to do this for years, a rewatch of Bond from the very beginning, and a post to go with each. I stumbled across the Really 007 podcast discussing the best Bond henchmen (and henchwomen) and it rekindled my plans. So you can blame Rob Parker and his mates.

And now No Time To Die has been pushed back (again), which seems like the perfect opportunity.

I’ve got a few of the movies already on blu-ray – three out of the four Craig-era films, and a weird little six-disc box set which is heavy on the Connery (Dr No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball), light on Moore (Live And Let Die and For Your Eyes Only), finishing up with Die Another Day.

The less said about that, the better.

So I need to pick up a box set of the rest – I had thought of streaming them or buying from Apple/Amazon/Google, but the digital versions are like 8 or 9 quid a pop to buy, whereas you can get the entire box set for about fifty quid.

I’m intrigued as to how well the old Bonds stand up (or don’t). I want to investigate the movies, the baddies, the henchmen, the cars, the music, everything. What makes a good henchman? Is there anywhere Bond *hasn’t* been?

Before I watch all the movies again I thought I’d have a go at ranking them from memory (though I have watched a couple, oops)

I’ve sorted them by Bond, then overall. Will my opinions change after a rewatch?

For Connery I’ve gone with

  • Goldfinger
  • From Russia With Love
  • Diamonds Are Forever
  • You Only Live Twice
  • Dr No
  • Thunderball

Lazenby is somewhat easier, obvs.

Moore

  • Live and Let Die
  • The Man With The Golden Gun
  • The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Moonraker
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Octopussy
  • A View to a Kill

Dalton again is a little easier – only two to choose from and I’ve gone in order:

  • The Living Daylights
  • License to Kill

Brosnan next. Bit trickier

  • GoldenEye
  • The World Is Not Enough
  • Die Another Day
  • Tomorrow Never Dies

Finally Craig:

  • Skyfall
  • Casino Royale
  • Spectre
  • Quantum of Solace

And finally, I’ve sorted them all into three groups – top tier, middle tier and the rest. Top tier are sorted in order, the other two are just pots.

What do you think? Who’s your favourite Bond? And your favourite movie? Anything else I should be looking out for on my journey back through 007’s adventures?

Slough House – Mick Herron

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A year after a calamitous blunder by the Russian secret service left a British citizen dead from novichok poisoning, Diana Taverner is on the warpath. What seems a gutless response from the government has pushed the Service’s First Desk into mounting her own counter-offensive – but she’s had to make a deal with the devil first. And given that the devil in question is arch-manipulator Peter Judd, she could be about to lose control of everything she’s fought for.

Meanwhile, still reeling from recent losses, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold. Slough House has been wiped from Service records, and fatal accidents keep happening. No wonder Jackson Lamb’s crew are feeling paranoid. But have they actually been targeted?

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

Mick Herron is one of those writers who make it look… effortless. He’s just got a way with a turn of phrase, a sentence dropped which is just… perfect.

“This was the spook trade, and when things went awry on Spook Street, they usually went the full Chris Grayling.”

The Slough House books are always a pleasure to read (start with Slow Horses and catch up!), and the series just keeps getting better. The gloriously foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, ever-flatulent, politically incorrect Jackson Lamb (soon to be appearing on our screens played by Gary Oldman) is back, and someone has wiped Slough House off the map and is picking off his Slow Horses.

He’s not happy about it. And you do not cross Jackson Lamb.

Herron has taken the landscape of today – the “you know what” which has left the country with fewer friends, less money and opportunities for populist windbags to opine on everything, the novichok poisonings in Salisbury, the gilets jaunes movement which made its way across the Channel, and layered a cracking spy tale over the top. It’s a tale of revenge for revenge, of the dangers of inviting a wolf to dinner, and just how far the Slow Horses will go for each other.

Whip-smart writing, multi-layered plotting, with some of my favourite characters in fiction, Slough House is just brilliant. Hugely recommended.

(for a more coherent review, check out @bluebookballoon’s thoughts)

Huge thanks to the publisher John Murray for an advance copy of the book.

January round-up

Well, January seems to have gone on for like eleventy billion days, and we emerge blinking into the joy* that is February.

*actual level of joy may vary. Serving suggestion only. May contain nuts.

So, what did we all read in January? I had a pretty good month, book-wise, and read eight and a half books (couldn’t quite finish Call of the Bone Ships in time due to cat-related issues – LokiCat decided that my lap was prime pussycat sleeping real estate last night and plonked himself down for a snooze, which made reading trick)

Books read in January
  • Stone Cold Trouble, by Amer Anwar (brilliant)
  • What Cats Want, by Dr Yuki Hattori (tuna)
  • Shiver, by Allie Reynolds (fabulous – review up soon)
  • How to Tell If Your Cat Is Trying To Kill You (yes, the answer is always yes)
  • The Last Thing to Burn, by Will Dean (unforgettable)
  • The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello, by Chris McDonald (lovely little cosy crime)
  • Slough House, by Mick Herron (enough to make you want to give up writing, as you know you’ll never, ever write anything even half as good)
Books acquired

It was my birthday (yay) so I got a good stash of books, some of which I’ve already read.

Intrigued by Nala’s World, as I’m a huge fan of Dean Nicholson (or more accurately Nala, the cat he found and took on a trip around Europe on his bike)

The New York City guidebook is because we’d planned on a trip there for my 50th, but then *waves hands* this happened and the trip is postponed. Still, time to do lots of planning.

The Dishoom cookbook looks AMAZING. Part cookbook, part travel book. Yum.

Finally, Traces by Patricia Wiltshire was mentioned by someone on Twitter and I knew I had to get a copy. Luckily the birthday fairy was paying attention.

In non-birthday books I acquired

  • The Unbroken, by CL Clark (blog tour in March, thanks Nazia)
  • Black Widows, by Cate Quinn (blog tour in Feb)
  • Brother Red, by Adrian Selby (thanks Nazia again)
  • The Mask of Mirrors, by M.A. Carrick (thanks Nazia again again)

And bought a few

  • Far from the Tree by Rob Parker (audible subscription)
  • A Grave Death, by Victoria DeLuis
  • The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell (Adventurous Ink subscription)
  • The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello, by Chris McDonald
  • The Best of Michael Marshall Smith, by Michael Marshall Smith
  • Three Fifths, by John Vercher

The NetGalley TBR pile has gone up a bit (oops)

  • Dog Rose Dirt, by Jen Williams (pub July 2021)
  • The Shadow in the Glass, by JJA Harwood
  • The Archive of the Forgotten, by A.J. Hackwith
  • The Black Coast by Mike Brooks (blog tour in Feb)

So that was my January. My TBR pile is sobbing quietly in the corner. Try not to disturb it please.

What have you been reading lately?

The Last Thing To Burn – Will Dean

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On an isolated farm in the United Kingdom, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her seven years ago. When she discovers she is pregnant, she resolves to protect her child no matter the cost, and starts to meticulously plan her escape. But when another woman is brought into the fold on the farm, her plans go awry. Can she save herself, her child, and this innocent woman at the same time? Or is she doomed to spend the remainder of her life captive on this farm?

I’ve been a huge fan of Will Dean’s books ever since an early copy of his debut novel Dark Pines popped through my door in early 2018. I’ve watched as he’s built on that strong start to just get better and better with every Tuva book he writes.

Then we come to this book, The Last Thing To Burn. And it’s like until now he was just coasting, and has just put his foot to the floor.

It’s not an easy read, and the subject matter is horrifying, and horrifyingly plausible. A young woman lives on a huge farm in the middle of nowhere, held captive by her husband. He calls her Jane.

That’s not her name. Her name is Thanh Dao, and she’s been brought over to the UK from Vietnam by traffickers promising a new life, only to find herself captive of the most hideous of men. Who keeps her by his side by threats against her sister, safe in another part of the country. Trapped in a vast, flat landscape, with a badly damaged ankle and no hope of escape.

Thanh Dao is our narrator and takes us through her life with Lenn, with his bland food and bland life, living in the shadow of his beloved, dead mother. But make no mistake, he’s pure, distilled evil. Everything has to be just so, or she’ll lose another of her dwindling collection of personal possessions. A photo of her parents. Letters from her sister. A book. Hers, hers hers. Not his.

Lenn is the most unpleasant, unredeemable character I’ve read for a long, long time. Utterly controlling, utterly convinced by his rightness, utterly nasty.

It’s a bleak book, set in a bleak landscape, but at every step of the way we’re rooting for Thanh Dao. Tiny slivers of hope keep her, and us, going.

It’s an astonishing book, a world away from Tuva Moodyson and her Swedish forest. And one where the subject may be too much for some. It’s a nail-biting, compelling, just one more page book, one where you’re willing Thanh Dao to get away from the very first page.

Unforgettable.

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is out now.

Body Language – A.K. Turner

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Camden mortuary assistant Cassie Raven has pretty much seen it all. But this is the first time she’s come face to face with someone she knows on the slab. Someone she cared about. Her friend and mentor, Mrs E.

Deeply intuitive and convinced that she can pick up the last thoughts of the dead, Cassie senses that there must be more to the ruling of an accidental death. Is her grief making her see things that aren’t there, or is her intuition right, and there’s something more sinister to her friend’s death than the ME thinks? Harbouring an innate distrust of the police, Cassie sets out to investigate and deliver justice to the woman who saved her life.

Body Language is a cleverly plotted mystery, with a pair of engaging characters in mortuary technician Cassie Raven and the very uptight DS Phyllida Flyte. The two couldn’t be more different, and the interplay between them as they both strive to solve the various deaths really drives this book along.

I loved Cassie – pierced, tattooed goth living with her Polish grandma (another fabulous character), a cynical loner with a distrust of the police who works with the dead, and with an intuitive ability to hear the dead’s last thoughts. Diametrically opposite, we have DS Phyllida Flyte. Immaculately turned out, very process-driven and logical. It was fascinating watching the two bounce off each other before they start working together.

Cassie is shocked to find her former teacher and mentor Mrs E turns up at the mortuary. She was responsible for helping Cassie off the streets and through education into the job she now loves. Cassie has to try and discover what happened – was it natural causes, or something more sinister?

Body Language is a well-written and neatly plotted crime fiction story which I read over the course of an afternoon. I enjoyed it enormously, and highly recommend it.

Body Language by A.K. Turner is published by Zaffre, and is out now.

Stone Cold Trouble – Amer Anwar

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Trying – and failing – to keep his head down and to stay out of trouble, ex-con Zaq Khan agrees to help his best friend, Jags, recover a family heirloom, currently in the possession of a wealthy businessman. But when Zaq’s brother is viciously assaulted, Zaq is left wondering whether someone from his own past is out to get revenge. 

Wanting answers and retribution, Zaq and Jags set out to track down those responsible. Meanwhile, their dealings with the businessman take a turn for the worse and Zaq and Jags find themselves suspected of murder. 

It’ll take both brains and brawn to get themselves out of trouble and, no matter what happens, the results will likely be deadly. The only question is, whether it will prove deadly for them, or for someone else . . . ?

Stone Cold Trouble marks the second adventure for Zaq and Jags, first seen in Amer Anwar’s brilliant debut, Brothers in Blood which I read towards the end of last year. As with the first book, I polished it off over a couple of sittings – I settled down with a cup of tea to finish the last hundred or so pages, only to discover that my tea had gone cold.

Stone cold.

Yeah, it’s that good. I love the banter between Zaq and his best mate Jags, and it really makes this book stand out. Of course a book needs more than just a great pair of protagonists, and Anwar delivers another cracking read. Though he does seem to rather enjoy putting our boys through a bit of a wringer this time round – I thought that Zaq took a bit of a battering in the first book, but the poor lad takes another pummelling here!

Not quite as much as his brother Tariq – set upon by some thugs and left in a bad way, Zaq and Jags set out to track down his assailants, whilst at the same time trying to get their uncle’s heirloom back from a very shady businessman who you do not want to be on the wrong side of.

I loved this book, and it’s great to kick 2021 off on a high note. Solid five stars, and I’m looking foward to finding out what Amer Anwar has in store for his boys next!

Oh, and be prepared to be hungry reading it – there’s a lot of delicious food in there, and you may find yourself (as I did), craving a couple of pakora or samosas!

Stone Cold Trouble by Amer Anwar is published by Dialogue Books and is out now.

Books of the year 2020: crime & thrillers

Right, we’ve looked at my favourite fantasy and sci-fi books of the year, so it’s time to investigate the murky world of crime & thrillers. Hopefully something here will pique your interest!

Brothers in Blood – Amer Anwar

I love a good crime book, and Brothers In Blood is a cut above. What really lifts it is the dynamic between Zaq and his mate Jags – these two just bounce off the page with their easy friendship, not afraid to take the piss out of each other for any and everything. It’s this lightness sprinkled through the book that gives a sharp contrast to the dark underbelly of the story. Absolute cracker of a book.

A Wanted Man – Rob Parker

Ah, Rob Parker. I’ve listened to a lot of his excellent Blood Brothers podcast and his love of the genre is just infectious. I realised that I’d not read any of his books, so quickly rectified that with A Wanted Man, the first in his Ben Bracken series. The book kicks off with a bang, and doesn’t let go until the very end. Parker’s writing is sharp and snappy, his plot taut as a wire and it’s just a great read. Proper page turner.

The Man On The Street – Trevor Wood

Another CWA Debut Dagger winner, Trevor Wood’s The Man On The Street (and the follow-up One Way Street) are just brilliant. Set in my home town of Newcastle, they follow the escapades and investigations of homeless veteran Jimmy and his mates Deano and Gadge. I love a book with a great sense of place, and this has it in spades. Cracking books, the pair of them.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip – Will Carver

Oh my, what to say about this book? One of the most original, dark, disturbing and downright weird (but in a good way) books that I’ve read in years. Told from the point of view of Evil itself, and what a fascinating perspective that is. 

You see, it takes just a small nudge to this person here, a gentle prod to that person there and before you know it, chaos ensues. And boy, does chaos ensue. Easy read it might not be, but an utterly compelling delve into the human condition it is. 

The Big Chill – Doug Johnstone

The Big Chill follows on from the wonderful A Dark Matter in which we met the Skelf clan – Dorothy, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah, proprietors of a funeral home and also private investigators on the side. It’s an absolute pleasure to be back in the company of the Skelfs again. Johnstone’s writing is, as ever, a joy to read and the intricate, interwoven plots a delight to untangle. It’s a real character piece in which our trio bounce to life off the page, full of life, death, regrets, issues, love and loss. Oh, and embalming fluid. I love the way we see the story (or rather stories) from the viewpoints of the three women and watch them play out alongside each other.

The Curator – M.W. Craven

Bit festive, this one. A serial killer is leaving bits of their victims all over Cumbria, at Christmas. Poe and Tilly investigate. Craven clearly loves these characters (as do we) and a large proportion of the fun is watching them bounce off each other as they work towards solving whatever crime they happen to be investigating. I’m going to sneak in a recommendation for Cut Short, a selection of Poe & Tilly short stories too.

Craven is also a deft hand at a devious plot, with plenty of twists and turns along the way, red herrings strewn across our path like some kind of biblical plague. You’ll think you’ve got it sussed, only for something to pop up, whallop you across the chops with a large fish (like that Monty Python sketch) and run off, leaving you confused but still determined to work out what’s going on.

The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton

Regular readers will be aware that Stuart Turton’s debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, is one of my all-time favourite books. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured into his second book. Reader, I need not have worried. Turton has delivered yet another fantastic mystery which kept me guessing the whole way through. I enjoyed that the story’s ‘great detective’ is locked up, forcing his ever-loyal assistant Hayes to take up the mystery solving. And what a mystery! The cast of suspects is splendidly broad and everyone has a secret to hide, as you’d expect. Murder, superstition, storms, ghost ships, this book has it all!

Three Hours – Rosamund Lupton

Utterly absorbing, utterly terrifying, and one you will be utterly unable to put down. Three Hours is beautifully written, nail-bitingly tense and at times, heartbreaking.  A school under siege from a gunman, the story plays out over the three hours of the title. It’s nerve-wracking from the off, and not an easy read. But one which is so very well done. Phenomenal.

Black River – Will Dean

Tuva Moodyson is back for a third mystery in Will Dean’s superb Black River. While Dark Pines was firmly rooted in the creepy Utgard forest, with its host of slightly odd inhabitants, and Red Snow took place in and around the equally odd Grimberg Liquorice factory, Black River sees the action move out of Gavrik to Snake River. And yes, the inhabitants there are just as strange…

The story fair rattles along, intense and scary at times, and there’s a real sense of panic in the air. You hope that all will turn out well in the end, but you can never tell until you turn the final page…

I Am Dust – Louise Beech

I Am Dust is a story of love and loss, of murder and mystery, of the glam and glitz of showbusiness in a small theatre, haunted by the spectre of its greatest success, the musical extravaganza that is Dust. The book is just a lovely, lovely thing. Fiercely funny, heartbreaking and just beautifully written. Louise Beech is one of my favourite authors, and this is my favourite of her books. So far…

Blood Red City – Rod Reynolds

Another Orenda Books offering, Blood Red City sees Rod Reynolds swap the small-town 1940s Americana of his first three books for present day London and a prescient thriller. It’s gritty and brutal and falls firmly into the ‘just another chapter’ which you just know will mean a few too many very late nights! Reynolds is one of those authors where I’ll read anything he does, because he does it so very well.

We Begin At The End – Chris Whitaker

Speaking of authors who do things so very well, we’re here with my book of the year. And it was the very first book I read of 2020, finishing in the early hours of January 1st. Given I’d started it on December 31st 2019, it has the added bonus of not only book of 2020, but also book of 2019. I’ve banged on about this book to anyone who’d listen (and to a fair few who wouldn’t). It’s just so, so good. Whitaker’s skill at evoking small town Americana, polished and honed over the course of the first two books, absolutely shines here.

Don’t tell him I said so, but Whitaker is a phenomenal writing talent.

I’d give this six stars if I could, and it would deserve every one of them and more.


When I Was Ten – Fiona Cummins

A little sneak peek into 2021 here – I was lucky enough to snag an advance copy of Fiona Cummins’ When I Was Ten earlier this year and absolutely loved it. Alas what with *waves hands* everything going on, it’s been pushed back to 2021. Get it on your lists now. It’s bloody brilliant. And while you wait, go read Cummins’ other books.

Books of the year 2020: sci-fi & fantasy

I know that you usually wait until the year is over before you do a books of the year list, but I figured you might appreciate some ideas for christmas books. So, for the science fiction and/or fantasy fan in your life, here’s a list of the books I’ve enjoyed this year. They’re all fantastic, so in no particular order, here we go!

The Dark Archive – Genevieve Cogman

Ah, the return of everyone’s favourite Librarian spy Irene. Adventure, hijinks, peril and books. What more could you possibly want? It’s book 7 in the series, so perhaps not the best place to start, but if you haven’t already started then you’ve got seven books to read rather than one! Don’t say I never give you anything. One of my favourite series, and each new chapter is a welcome chance to curl up on the sofa for an afternoon.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

I listened to this in audiobook over the course of a couple of long car journeys, and blimey, what a book! As you’d expect from Claire North it’s beautifully written, the plot is tauter than a piano wire with more layers than one of those really complicated cakes you see on that cookery show in a tent. Harry August is fated to live life after life, returning each time to the same point in time. But with the memories of his previous lives intact. Time travel novels are notoriously tricky to pull off, but North manages it with a deft ease that makes it look effortless.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue – V.E. Schwab

Addie LaRue, a girl with seven freckles, one for every love she will ever have. A girl who wants a life of her own. A girl who made a deal with the gods who you definitely should never, ever pray to after dark. A girl who is unable to leave her mark on the world. A girl who everyone forgets.

Then one day she meets a young man who remembers.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is like a meal from a Michelin starred restaurant. Layer upon layer, expertly combined. A hint of something you can’t quite put your finger on, but which gives it that certain… je ne sais quoi that will linger in the memory for long afterwards.

It is… wonderful.

Grave Secrets – Alice James

Sometimes a book comes along at exactly the right moment. Grave Secrets is one of those. It’s just enormous fun, with a delightful sense of humour and a marvellous lead in Lavington Windsor, estate agent for the undead by day, necromancer by night. Zombies and vampires, gallons of blood (most tastefully handled) and a cheeky glint in the eye. I await the further adventures of our Tori with great interest.

Seven Devils – Elizabeth May & Laura Lam

A group of rebels out to smash the patriarchy in space? A feminist space opera with a hint of Rogue One, a dash of Firefly and a heady dose of bad-assery? A Guardians of the Galaxy type heist, but with way more gay?A princess, a soldier, a courtesan, a pilot, a mechanic, a leader and a child genius hacker. What could possibly go wrong?

Glorious fun, with a wonderfully diverse group of characters, Seven Devils is the sci-fi book you didn’t know you needed. Roll on book 2!

The Library of the Unwritten – AJ Hackwith

I’m a sucker for a good library book. Or a good book about libraries. And this one is quite splendid. In short, there’s a library in Hell, looked after by Claire, the Head Librarian. Her job is look after all the unwritten books. Shouldn’t really be that taxing. Should it? Except that some of the characters tend to escape from time to time, and it’s Claire’s job, along with her apprentice Brevity (ex-Muse) to keep things in order. 

The worldbuilding is marvellous, the action sharply written, and the plot fits together as neatly as an expertly shelved set of books. On a bookshelf. In Hell. I enjoyed this so much I ordered the US edition of the sequel as I couldn’t wait until next year to read it.

The City We Became – NK Jemisin

What a book this is. It’s glorious in its scope, worldbuilding (albeit atop our own world) which is second to none, and characters? Oh, the characters.

I do love a story with a sense of place, and this book is ALL about place. Some books you feel that the location could almost be a character in itself, but in The City We Became, that is literally true. You see New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. And it’s these five parts which make up the whole, which must come together to fight off the ancient evil which lurks beneath.

Jemisin’s writing is never short of spectacular, and this book is just superb.


Right, those are my choices for fantasy and science fiction. Have you read any of them? What else would you add to the list?

Winterkill – Ragnar Jónasson

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.
Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.
Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…
As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access
to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Ah, Siglufjörður. It’s been five years since we first visited you in Snowblind (one of my books of the year for 2015), and it’s great to be back in this, Ari Thór’s latest adventure. Though I’m a little sad that it’s the final instalment in Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series.

It’s nearly Easter in Siglufjörður, and Ari Thór Arason is looking forward to a visit from his former girlfriend and his son. Then a young local girl is found dead on the main street, having fallen from a balcony above. Ari Thór is soon on the case.

I’m a huge fan of Jónasson’s books and his wonderfully sparse style. There’s barely an ounce of fat on this tale, and it’s just a joy to read, although over all too soon.

As ever, Jónasson presents us with, on the face of it, a simple puzzle. Did the girl jump, or was there something more going on? But intertwined with that are other threads – the cryptic message left by the elderly resident, the imminent visit by Kristin and their son. And its central theme of change – Ari Thór, once the new officer on the block is now an old hand, with his own protoge to deal with. Siglufjörður, once isolated, is now host to ski-loving tourists. It’s no longer the town we first met, and perhaps this is a fitting farewell.

Of course, it’s always tricky to talk about a crime book without giving too much away. And I’ll leave it up to you to find out whether Ari Thór solves this case, what the writing on the wall means, and what happens when the power goes out in Siglufjörður…

A friend recently asked me if I could recommend any Scandinavian Noir. I have quite a selection, acquired over the years. But the first book I reached for was Ragnar Jónasson’s Snowblind. Move over, Scandi Noir, Icelandic Noir is where it’s at.

As you’ve probably guessed, I think you should read this book. Go visit the little town in northern Iceland, with its excellent hot chocolate, fascinating inhabitants, and clever police inspector. Don’t worry, you’ll be safe in his hands.

Winterkill by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by David Warriner) is published by Orenda Books and is out on Thursday 10th December. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for the advance copy of the book for review.

Deadline – Geoff Major – book extract

Adam Ferranti was a talented American journalist, who moved to England to escape the issues surrounding his fall from glory at the Washington Post; only to be thrust back in it when a mysterious serial killer makes him his confidante. 

DS Stephanie Walker is a member of the West Yorkshire Police. Whilst tough and results-driven at work, she hides the abuse she suffers at home. She finds Ferranti annoying but he’s her only chance to stay close to what the killer is planning next. 

Ferranti reluctantly complies with the Police, but when the killer reveals himself it suddenly gets personal.

Today I’ve got an extract from Deadline, a new thriller from debut author Geoff Major.


PC John Turner was just about to end his shift, which had been remarkably dull to say the least, when his radio crackled into life:

“Come in, 4-7-1-3”, the Control Room dispatcher said.

“4-7-1-3”, Turner replied into his radio.

“Can you attend an address in the Adel area, please. Report of a possible dead body”.

Turner confirmed he could attend and noted the address. He turned on the car’s flashing blue lights and sped towards the leafy and very affluent neighbourhood of Adel; carefully weaving in and out of the late afternoon traffic as he drove. Within minutes, he was pulling into the sweeping gravel driveway of a remarkably beautiful house.

4-7-1-3 to Control”, radioed in Turner, as he waited for a response. 

Go ahead, 4-7-1-3”, crackled the radio confirmation.

I’m at the address and am about to enter the property. No sign of SOCO yet, so I’ll just secure the scene”, said Turner.

“Understood, 4-7-1-3. SOCO say they are close – just working their way through some traffic”, came the reply from Control.

Roger that”, said Turner, and he ended the call. 

Getting out of the car, Turner walked towards the double-doors of Andrew Jagger’s home and suddenly found himself feeling apprehensive. The house was modern, yet it had a kind of dark, gothic grandeur. All the windows had thick, heavy curtains drawn in full, and the front doors were huge and imposing; almost eight feet tall and crafted out of the darkest wood he’d ever seen. Turner could see that one of the doors was already slightly ajar, so he rapped on it and called out; “Hello? Police”. There was no response, so he decided to open the door further. 

As he entered the property, in front of him was a grand entrance hall. At the rear of the hall was a huge window that looked out onto a football-field sized and perfectly manicured lawn. Two stairways swept in opposing semi circles up to a spectacular balcony, with another huge window behind it, reaching all the way up to a vaulted ceiling. Turner would have been breathless at its magnificence, had it not been for Andrew Jagger’s body, perfectly centred against this magnificent backdrop, suspended by his neck in front of the balustrade of the expansive landing. His arms and legs were held taut by ropes, to create a deeply disturbing star-shaped pose on the balustrade. His trousers were missing, and there was the largest pool of blood Turner had ever seen, gathering on the floor twelve feet below Andrew Jagger’s lifeless body. 

Turner assumed the body had been there several hours, as blood was no longer dripping from the open wounds, yet Andrew Jagger’s eyes seemed to be staring right at him; imploring him to help. There was nothing Turner could do, just as there had been nothing Jagger could do in the moments before his death. 

“4-7-1-3 to Control”, Turner stammered, with his eyes fixed on Jagger. “Reported dead body, confirmed”. 

“Understood, 4-7-1-3. SOCO should be with you in less than one minute”. 

PC John Turner clicked off the radio. He looked up at Jagger’s face one more time and then turned away from the morbidly hypnotic scene, and vomited.


Deadline, by Geoff Major is published by Grosvenor House Publishing and is out now. You can find Geoff at his blog, lets-start-at-the-very-beginning.blogspot.com or on twitter @GradusPrimus

Pick up a copy here (affiliate link).