crime, series

Mystery series: Christy Kennedy

For the first series post of the new year (yes I spent nearly two weeks looking back at 2022 and looking ahead to 2023), we’re going back in time to the late 1990s and a London-set mystery series from a time before smart phones and being able to google anything you don’t know.

Inspector Christy Kennedy is from Ireland but his patch is Camden, in North London and across the series he investigates a series of murders across his patch. He’s also involved with a local journalist ann rea (her spelling/capitalisation) who isn’t quite as convinced about the relationship as he is. The first book in the series was I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, which sees Christy investigating a record producer who has gone missing and later turns up dead, but the second book, Last Boat to Camden Town, is actually a prequel where you see ann and Christy meet during the investigation into the death of a doctor found dead in a canal. Paul Charles worked in the music industry for years – managing bands, being an agent and programming the accoustic stage at Glastonbury, so when the books are dealing with the music industry – and they often are, see also the titles – it’s from an actual position of knowledge from someone who was there at the time and that’s the sort of detail that I love.

And it’s delightful – although a little bit disturbing – to see 90s London in a book and realise how much everything has changed. I mean I know that everything has changed over the last *gulp* 25 years, but this is definitely an era that I remember – although I wasn’t reading crime fiction at the time – so it’s weird to see how much things have changed over just a portion of my lifetime! When I first read these, it did send me on a bit of a 90s crime jag – if you were around this blog at the time you may remember me doing these and the Sam Jones mysteries around the same sort of time as each other – and I’ve since been picking up the Liz Evans’ Grace Smith series whenever I spot them too. There’s something about this sort of era that means that murder mysteries really work – maybe it’s because a lot of the stuff that’s been written now has gone super gruesome or psychological and I’m not up for that, or maybe it’s just that because it’s in the past it gives me a bit of a remove from stuff and means I can deal with it a bit more. Anyway, I love discovering old crime series that I missed – so do stick any more you can think of in the comments.

Buying this series is where it gets tricky – I read the first five of the series when Fahrenheit Press republished them nearly six years ago. I’ve since picked up the sixth, and have just ordered the seventh while I’ve been writing this and then there are another two after that that I haven’t read. I’m just going to point you at Paul Charles’s own website and the info he has there and hope that’s the best option!

Have a great weekend everyone!

mystery, series

Crime Series: Nanette Hayes

Am I starting a new series strand? Maybe. I nearly called this retro crime series, but I didn’t want to limit myself too much. Anyway, I have a couple of crime series in mind for this – stuff that is a little older, but not Golden Age old. And these have got a gorgeous reissue recently – which is what first brought them to my attention.

Nanette Hayes is a saxophone-playing street busker, whose mum thinks she has a proper job. At the start of the first book, her boyfriend breaks up with her and a fellow busker she invites to sleep on her couch ends up murdered in her kitchen. The dead man was an undercover cop – and Nanette ends up doing some investigating of her own to try and make sure she doesn’t end up being blamed. In the second book she’s in Paris, trying to track down her missing aunt and in the third and final novel she finds herself investigating the murder of a woman who made a voodoo doll that Nanette is given by a friend.

This are just incredibly stylish and evocative. Nanette is strutting her way through a jazz infused world where seedy peril is always lurking on the periphery. There’s just something about her that makes you want to read about her, even when she’s being foolhardy or stupid. The books are relatively short, but they pack a lot in. The mysteries are good but Nanette is the star.

I picked the first of these up a couple of months back after seeing them looking gorgeous in Foyles – and I went back for the other two because I enjoyed it so much. Nanette’s New York (and Paris) are so cool that I’m annoyed that there aren’t more of them to read. But the three there are are worth it – and you could probably read them all back to back in one weekend if you wanted, which is a treat in itself

You might need to order these in, but as I said the Big Foyles had all three of these in stock so you might get lucky. I have no clue what the original UK release was like – but I don’t recall having seen these in a second hand book store. Doesn’t mean they don’t turn up though.

Happy reading!