The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson is a cleverly delivered story of events taking place 30 years ‘earlier’ and their repercussions. It opens in the present with a woman – alone on Christmas day – pottering around her house going through old boxes, when she comes across an old diary. She flicks through to a section she knows well wondering (though) if she’s prepared to go back and revisit that ‘murderous year’.
The Glasgow Smile by Chris Stuart is the second in the series featuring Detective Roberta (Robbie) Gray. Chris gave me a copy of this when I met her at the Theakston Crime Writing Festival in July and when I opened it to start a few months ago I discovered it had an older sibling so I read that first and very much enjoyed For Reasons of Their Own which introduced Robbie, along with her boss and team, as well as newcomer ‘Mac’.
The Wiregrass by Adrian Hyland is an atmospheric read as he’s able to imbue a real sense of its moody, storm-drenched setting. I don’t know Victoria (or the area) at all but – even though I’m not particularly visual – I could imagine its damp bleakness.
Of course, I hadn’t realised when I requested this that it’s the second in a series. It didn’t really matter however, and I enjoyed it so will now need to go and read the first to learn more about somewhat-maverick cop, Jesse Redpath.
Water by John Boyne is the first book I’ve read by the respected Irish novelist. And it’s going to be a difficult book to describe because much of made is special is the way its secrets unfold, which means I don’t want to share any here. It was also a deceptive read – slow, meandering between the present and past – but here’s an almost-addictive rhythm to Boyne’s writing and the way this book reveals itself.
I enjoyed The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor though the end let it down a little for me. I mean, I liked where it finished… but then Cantor went a bit further, and for me, it was one twist too far. That said, this is an intriguing book – several tales within a tale. Within a tale. Or in some ways… fan fiction run amok!
Kill Your Husbands by Jack Heath is very cleverly written because in the present the police are interviewing the survivors politely, using their title and surname, but in the past (well, very recent past… last weekend) they all use first names. So for a long time we don’t know who’s dead and who’s not.
Weirdly it didn’t occur to me until I started the book that it was a follow-up to Kill Your Brother, which I enjoyed when it was released in 2021. It’s not exactly a sequel as such, rather it features two of the same characters, cop (here recently promoted to detective) Kiara Lui and her girlfriend Elise (held capture in the first book). Their relationship is on rocky ground here, well so thinks Kiara as Elise is acting strangely and keeping secrets from her.
The Edge by David Baldacci is the second in the series featuring Travis Devine, who we met in The 6.20 Man, released just last year. Travis is an ex Army Ranger and working in the financial sector when we first met him but now lured back to government.
Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly sees the return of the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller and retired cop* Harry Bosch. We also briefly catch up with Renee Ballard (who’s possibly my new fave of Connelly’s cast), but this is all about Mickey’s prowess in court and Bosch’s nose for shoddy or dodgy police work and commitment to justice. I loved this book and it astounds me that Connelly keeps raising the bar. (And I don’t mean the lawyerly one!)
Vendetta by Sarah Barrie is the third book in the enjoyable series featuring former sex worker, turned vigilante and hacker, turned cop, Lexi Winter. And here her past most certainly catches up with her. Well, several of those pasts… and it’s an unfortunate reminder that no matter how hard we might work to rebuild our lives, some people just can’t look past old labels. Although, it must be said, Lexie has her fair share of support thanks to her mentor and boss, DI Rachael Langley.