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!

book round-ups, reviews, stats

Best new books of the first half of 2022

As promised, here is part one of my favourite books of the year so far – and we’re starting with new releases. I’ve already read 200 books this year, so I’ve got plenty of books to chose from but it’s no surprise that I’ve already written about most of these at some length.

I haven’t read a lot of nonfiction this year and not much of it is new-new but I have read Stories I Might Regret Telling You by Martha Wainwright and it’s such a good one. As I said in my BotW review back in April, this is one of the most unvarnished memoirs I’ve read. Martha Wainwright is as clear eyed about her own faults and her life as you will find someone and is prepared to put it out there in a book. Even if you don’t know her msuic, this is well worth reading – especially if you’re interested in the effects of famous paretns and/or competitive siblings and/or life in the music industry and particularly life in the music industry as a woman. And it turns out to be easier to get hold of than I thought it would be.

On to fiction and most of my favourite reads (that aren’t in series) are either romance or romance adjacent. There is the fabulous and sunny Book Lovers by Emily Henry and the redemptive and ultimately hopefuly Mad About You by Mhairi MacFarlane. They have very different plots, but they also both have heroines who know what they want in life and what they deserve. Mad About You has darker moments than Book Lovers, but you will come away from both with a big happy smile on your face.

Then there are two books that I have read in the last couple of weeks. I actually finished Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E Smith one day apart and then had a massive book hangover from two of my favourite books of the year so far. Greta is this week’s Book of the Week so you can read all about that there, and Lessons in Chemistry was the top review in Quick Reviews yesterday – and wasn’t actually that quick a review.

And as I mentioned earlier – there have also been a few really good new entries in series that I like – there is The Prize Racket – the latest in Isabel Rogers’ Stockwell Park Orchestra Series, the latest Rivers of London book, Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch, and the latest Vinyl Detective novel Attack and Decay by Andrew Cartmel.

And lets finish with a couple of honourable mentions – all the books above got five stars from me on Goodreads, but there are a couple of really, really good books nipping at their heels – like Jill Shalvis’s The Family You Make and Harvey Fierstein’s memoir I Was Better Last Night which I still haven’t written about here but will undoubtedly figure in my long planned actor memoir recommendsday post, just as soon as I read the other actor memoirs I have on my shelf!

So that’s half a year done – fingers crossed that the new books in the second half of the year are as good. Tune in tomorrow for my favourite new-to-me books of 2022 so far!