Authors I love, Book of the Week, cozy crime, crime, new releases

Book of the Week: Death of a Devil

Well ladies and gentlemen a real treat for you here today. You’ve already read the interview, but I was lucky enough to been given* a copy of the new Danny Bird mystery by Derek Farrell – which is out today. You may remember that I enjoyed Dannys 1 and 2 so much that they made it into my favourite books of 2016 post so I was delighted to be asked if I could review it for release day and juggled my posting schedule accordingly!

A recap of the story so far: Danny’s trying to turn a geezer pub in a dodgy bit of south London into a gay bar. He’s helped by a motley crew of friends and workers and hindered by that same crew, and also the fact that the Marq is owned by a local mobster who demands his cut. Setbacks so far include: a diva dropping dead just before she was due to perform in the bar and a wake with a larger body count than it should have had.

Cover of Death of a Devil

We rejoin Danny as he tries to juggle a seance featuring a heath inspector and the (optimistically named) First Annual Fancy Dress Halloween Party at the Marq. And then a body turns up. Again.  But this time it’s in the cellar, so that makes a change. Soon Danny and the gang are trying to solve a 20-year-old murder with gangland connections.  Meanwhile Lady Caz has got some issues with her family that need sorting out and Danny’s a bit worried that the catering freezer in the kitchen is about to give up the ghost, which isn’t great when you serve food and have Environmental Health on the premises.

So, probably most important thing in a story like this is the mystery and whether it holds up.  And this does:  there are plenty of suspects and with a link to one of the staff at the pub and the body being found on the premises, there are genuine reasons for Danny to be involved in trying to figure out whodunnit.  Next you need an engaging hero and Danny definitely is that.  He’s funny and loyal, and as a reader you’d like to go on a night out with him and persuade him to be your friend**.  Danny’s also tougher than he looks and will do anything he can for his friends and to keep his pub in business – in that order (I think).  And almost every good detective needs a sidekick and Lady Caz is a great one: she is posher and drunker than ever in this installment and the subplot with her family is excellent too.  There’s plenty of witty repartee and a lot of pop culture references.  I’m not sure there’s a oneliner that beats the “Poirot on poppers” from book two, but to be fair,  that was a work of genius.

There’s also a nod to the detective fiction author’s problem of how to create corpses for their hero, when two passers by mention that bodies just keep turning up at the Marq, but in this case because this body is 20 years old, it helps avoid the Jessica Fletcher effect.***  I’m hoping that the increased involvement of Chopper the mobster in this book and the widening of some of the character’s backstories/families will help avoid this happening to Danny as the series goes on, because I’m not sure how many more bodies can turn up at the Marq before Danny’s business drops off so much that he goes out of business!

As regular readers will know, I read a lot of cozy crime novels, which is a particularly American genre, and I’d describe this as cozy adjacent – there aren’t any cupcakes or crafters here, but there is a (murder) mystery story that gets solved without too much blood and gore or psychological thrillery-ness.  This isn’t as noir as many of the Fahrenheit books, but it does have the sly and subversive world view that you find from the Fahrenheit gang.  It’s fun and funny and won’t leave you terrified to go out of an evening.

Death of a Devil is out today: here’s the magic link.

Happy Reading!

*Translation: Begged and screamed until I got one early even though I have a Fahrenheit Press subscription so would get on on/near release day.

**Well as long as you don’t have to see any bodies or get arrested.

***So many bodies start turning up around Jessica that you start to wonder if she is the problem/an Angel of Doom/killing them herself.  There are many theories.

Author Interviews

Interview: Derek Farrell

You may remember that the Danny Bird series made it on to my Books of the Year post and I’ve been lucky enough to get hold of a copy of the latest book ahead of the crowd.  You can read that review tomorrow – which is when Death of a Devil comes out – but today I have an extra treat – an interview with the author, Derek Farrell.  So, here we are, and it has book recommendations, so I apologise if this is about to cost you money…

Hi Derek and welcome to the blog!

Can I just say thanks for asking me here today?

I’ve been a reader of VerityReads for ages, and love how the site reflects the books you love regardless of genre, or of what we ‘should’ be reading.

My whole life I’ve read what I like to read, and finding a place on the web that celebrates that – and then being asked to actually talk about what I do – is amazing, So thank you.

Stop it! You’re making me blush! So first of all, where did the idea for Danny come from?

I think he came from my wanting to write a story about a bloke who wasn’t perfect, but who was trying. And who wouldn’t be cowed by the curves life threw at him.

From wanting to make a character, to be honest, who was a lot like me, only better: Smarter, funnier, fitter, younger, and with fewer hangups.

So – and God, I’ll be killed for this – I guess Danny is a sort of wish fulfillment. Only, of course, he now has a life of his own and a readership that means he now gets to dictate his world, not me.

Danny’s got his own posse – a sort of found family – did you always have that in mind or did it just happen?

Always, right from the beginning.

As a kid, I was, like many writers, sort of solitary. I observed, and I read, and I was never unhappy on my own.

But I think, if I’d stayed like that, I’d be a dead man by now.

My family – the one I was born with, the one I inherited when I met my husband, and the one I made for myself – is everything to me.

I wanted Danny to have a family and a set of friends (and sometimes not friends) that he would belong to and with. I wanted him to be part of something, not some faceless gunslinger who walked into town, fixed problems, and left without making any connections.

So I created Ali, the world’s most miserable bar maid; Danny’s (to date unnamed) Dad – a Cabbie with the knowledge of the universe at his fingers; Nick, the pretty but too-nice-for-his-own-good copper; and Chopper Falzone, the part local gangster, who’s a cross between the Werthers Grandpa and Hannibal Lecter.

I also gave him Ray and Dash, Danny’s sort-of-nephews, who are collectively referred to as The ASBO Twins, These two appeared in my original notes as a couple of minor-to-the-point-of-extras characters, but suddenly, when they hit the page, took on a life of their own, and became solid parts of the gang.

But the Queen of the Gang – the woman without whom Danny would be lost – is his best friend in the whole wide world: Caz. Or – to give her full name – Lady Caroline Victoria Genevieve Jane De Montfort, only daughter of the thirteenth Earl of Holloway.

Caz, again, was a ‘friend’ for Danny who – as I wrote her – became more solid, more complex, to the point where people have actually written in to the publisher asking for a standalone Caz series.

But then, we’ve also had people asking for a standalone ASBO twins book, so who knows: Maybe the Danny Universe will expand. I quite like the idea of an ASBO Twins Graphic novel, and a Lady Caz Musical.

So this is the third book featuring Danny – did you always plan it as a series and if you did has it gone to plan or taken on a life of its own?

I honestly can’t remember. I think it started off as a standalone. One I was, to be frank, writing for myself, cos I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to publish a detective novel about a gay bloke that took place in the backstreets of South London and had no sex or open violence in it.

But as I created the backstories for my characters, carved out the universe they lived in and finally realized that this was a world I was excited by and proud of, I finally realized I had enough ideas for more books. And for books that I actually wanted to write.

I know that by the time I had finished the first draft of Death of a Diva, I had started plotting book two, Death of a Nobody, as well as making sketches for what would become Death of a Devil, and the book after the next one.

I think, to be honest, the characters made it a series: They came to life. They had stories to tell, and they didn’t fit in to one book.

So when a pub-full of characters are each shouting “Remember the time I…” it becomes – at the risk of applying for Pseuds corner – the writer’s responsibility to tell those stories.

Plus: I am so much in love with this gang. Who’d want to leave them?

I think I’m in love with them too, although I’m not sure I’d survive a night out with Caz!  Does this mean we can expect a fourth Death of… book?

Damn straight.

Last month I sequestered myself, my two best mates, two liters of gin, two liters of vodka, a case of chardonnay, two botltles of vermouth, twenty four pullet’s eggs, eight avocados (avocadae?) three bottles of prosecco six bottles of Shiraz, a decent Calvados and a stocky block of fur and love called Ellie (part Staffie, part Labrador; totally Danny) away in a cottage in a valley in Wales.

And – in between walking Ellie to the local pub (amazing cider, lovely regulars, barmaids that were aiming for Ali’s crown and a cottage pie I’d sell my soul for – if my publisher didn’t already have an option on same) ordering my mates to make me a drink, and lying in the blazing sunshine reading, listening to music and remembering what LIFE feels like – Danny4 was plotted.

Seriously: Even I was amazed – especially after a pretty dark time last year trying to figure out how to make funny stuff in a world filled with grimness – at how easily it came.

But even better was the fact that the weeks before, and a trip to the ENO rehearsal space in North London, had given me an idea for Danny 5.

Of course, the ideas are easy. The writing is hard. The editing? Well, I shall simply point out that I consider a back sack ‘n’ crack wax – something I have experienced only once, and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy – as preferable to editing.

If Danny’s adventures were turned in to a movie or a TV series, who would you like to see in the cast? 

Ah, now that’s a tricky one.
I have some people in my head, but I’d rather hear what you or your readers think: Who – when you read the books – is Danny? Who would you cast as Caz? Ali? Ray and Dash? Chopper?

All I’ll say is that one third of my cast list are dead; one third are too expensive; and the remaining third are currently serving me with restraining orders, so best we stay schtum.

But seriously: Who do YOU think should play the characters?

I’m not telling!  I think some of mine are dead too though.  Now as you probably know, I read a lot of cozy crime books – and I think of Danny’s stories as sort of cozy-adjacent, but I think they would the spot for cozy readers looking for something a bit different.  So what would your elevator pitch be to people who are more used to crafters, coffee shops and pastel colours on the cover?

The Danny Bird Mysteries were born from a love of Cozys.

I was raised on Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, Gladys Mitchell, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, M.C. Beaton and Rhys Bowen.

The coffee shop, in the Danny Bird books, is a run-down, faded, frankly grim pub in a back street in South London. But it has – as much as any coffee shop, bookstore, or cat hotel – a character of it’s own.

The crafters, in the Danny books, are the denizens of the pub: Ne’er-do-wells, dodgy geezers, lairy birds and penniless toffs.

And as to the pastel colours – well, have you seen the absolutely gorgeous covers?

Of course, none of that is an elevator pitch, is it? So I’d say: If you adore the well- plotted, character-driven books of the golden age, and love the quirkiness and humour of the modern cozy; and if a few well-chosen profanities are unlikely to send you off in a fit of the vapours, then The Danny Bird Mysteries might be very much up your cul-de-sac.

Danny’s obviously a gay guy, living his life and doing his thing – how important is it to have representation like that in books – especially where the fact that Danny’s gay isn’t key to the plot or the most important thing about him.

This is my all-time favourite question. Thank you.

It’s  absolutely vital, I think.

With Danny, I wanted a character where his sexuality was not the primary source of the drama.

Stuff happens to Danny, and it could happen to him if he were straight.

That said, I think his worldview and the fact that all LGBT people tend to get used to viewing the world on a simultaneous micro and helicopter view makes him a more natural observer and commentator.

What was especially important to me was that his family – from his parents through to his siblings and on down to the ASBO twins – be completely accepting. There’s some badinage – the twins refer to him as a “Shirter” in the first book – but it’s a family filled with Love, as was my own, and I wanted that to come through as often as possible. This is drama featuring a man who is gay, not drama caused by the sexuality of the protagonist.

But the reality is that Hate crimes  against LGBT people are rising in the UK, as our government continues to enter into trade agreements with countries where people like Danny – and people like me – can be put to death.

The world is still an uncertain – not to say, a sometimes, terrifying – place for anyone who is less than “Perfect” in an increasingly narrow definition of the phrase.

So The Danny Bird Mysteries are about celebrating people in all their variety.

In Death of a Devil a Trans woman – who is one of my favourite characters ever – is abused and has her home vandalized just because she’s living her life honestly. That shit is happening today, and it makes me furious and sad at the same time.

Frankly, as far as representation goes, I say: Fuck Tolerance. Fuck acceptance. Fuck The Right Thing. Let’s Party.

And now I have a (large) T-Short slogan and an X-Rated interview.

Sorry.

No, that’s absolutely fine by me.  I’m with you.  So, finally, what have you been reading recently that you’d like to recommend – once people have read Danny’s latest adventure obviously!

Oh, now we are in trouble…

I read a ton of stuff, so apologies if some of this is a bit random, but of late I have read and enjoyed

Helen Cadbury – Bones in the Nest & Race to the Kill

Death of a Devil is dedicated to Helen. When I met her she was an already established crime writer, yet she welcomed me – at a conference in Iceland – with hugs, love, laughs and a genuine interest in Danny & co.

Her own books – I’ve been lucky enough to have a pre-release glimpse of Race to the Kill, which is out in September and is Brilliant – are interested in the same things that mine are: The marginalized, the way people get on with their life; the joy to be found amongst the hardships of modern life. And Sean Denton – another everyman with a differentiator he refuses to allow define him – is one of my favourite discoveries in a long time.
Helen died as I was finishing Death of a Devil, and though we knew each other for the blink of an eye, her loss – and the loss of all the brilliant stories and poems she would have given us –hit me hard. Perfect for loves of urban grit with heart.

Jo Perry – Dead is Good / Dead is Best / Dead is Better

I’ve described these books as like Crime novels by Samuel Beckett, and I stand by that. They’re told by a dead man who is accompanied in his attempts to fix the messes the living make by a mute, yet unbelievably simpatico Red Setter (also dead). They are filled with humanity, beauty, and an at times hard-to-take sadness at the horrible things we do to each other. Highly recommended for anyone who loves mystery, literature, dogs humour and – because I imagine him soundtracking the movie – Randy Newman.

Peter Ackroyd – Queer City: The often hidden Gay History of London.

A city I have adopted as my own. A history I feel steeped in. It’s funny, gossipy, heartbreakingly sad, and absolutely human. As all the best histories are. Recommended for anyone who wants to understand how we got to where we are.

Aleksander Crapanzo – The London Cookbook

BIG foodie here. Huge. Seriously: I don’t have a collar size so much as a post code. But this – Current and past London eateries share their best recipes, most of which you can make at home – is brilliant. And I’m claiming it as research for Mr Bird’s future adventures in gastronomy. Get this one if you love London, Food, Restaurants, or books that are nice to finger of an evening. Which sounds like a euphemism, but isn’t. Honest.

Duncan MacMaster – Hack

I hate Duncan MacMaster. He’s on the same publisher as me, only he’s funnier. I don’t know why I’m recommending his book, only it’s a genius blend of the dream all writers have – invited to ghost-write a book with a movie star so famous he only needs one name – with the nightmare we all share – murder, finger-pointing, and assasins shooting at you – makes for one of the funniest romps I’ve enjoyed in ages. Witty and clever. Perfect beach read.

I think that list may turn out to be expensive for me, but I’m totally with you on the Duncan MacMaster – I loved Hack when it came out (there’s a review here) and I interviewed him too (you can read our chat here) – and Jo Perry, she’s on my summer reading suggestions.  Thanks again for talking to me Derek, it’s been a pleasure.  The new Danny Bird book, Death of a Devil is out tomorrow (that’s Monday), when I’ll be reviewing it.  In the mean time, you can preorder it here or start at the beginning of the series and buy yourself Death of a Diva – which is 99p on Kindle at the moment.

 

reviews, Uncategorized

Bonus Post: Escapist reading

A bonus post from me, for you to enjoy this weekend as I recover from my nights.  I’m looking for escapist reading this week after a busy news week, so here are some suggestions for you as I try to read myself back into day time living.

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet

I read this on holiday – it’s a sweet romance set in the French Riviera.  Rosie’s opening her dream cafe, but a Michelin starred chef is opening up a fancy hotel nearby.  She’d be mad, only she didn’t find him so attractive.  There’s also two friends – one recently widowed with a daughter and the other newly single – and you follow them all across the course of the first spring and summer season in business.  Perfect for a spring weekend, but t may make you want to move abroad though.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Immerse yourself in the world of Singpore’s super rich.  Rachel Chu has agreed to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend’s family.  But what she doesn’t know is that Nick is one of the island’s most eligible bachelors and that she doesn’t measure up to his family’s expectations for a potential wife.  There’s outrageous wealth, spoilt IT girls and culture clashes galore – not just Rachel’s ABC (American-born Chinese) background, but also the old money versus new money of Singapore’s old family’s and China’s new superrich.  It’s bonkers, it’s addictive and it’s perfect to escape from your normal life.

The Accidental Detective by Michael R N Jones

I read this modern Sherlock Holmes retelling on holiday.  Victor Locke is a beer-drinking genius, who’s banned from owning laptops or smart phones after getting caught hacking into something he shouldn’t have done.  Dr Jonathan Doyle is his court-appointed psychologist and the two of them race around Middlesbrough (of all places) solving crimes and outwitting shadowy government figures.  This is from my perennial favourites Fahrenheit press, so if you’ve read some of my other recommendations from them you’ll have an idea about the sort of tone we’re looking at.  Funny and escapist, read it with a drink in your hand like Victor would!

And if these three aren’t enough, try recent BotW’s Bet Me or the Roanoke Girls or one of my smart, funny romance recommendations as well.

Happy Reading!

mystery, new releases, Thriller

Hack

So you’ve read my interview with the fabulous Duncan MacMaster, now you want to know what I thought of the book don’t you?

As mentioned yesterday, Hack tells the story of Jake Mooney, a ghost-writer who lands the biggest job of his career, writing the autobiogaphy of 80s TV star Rick Rendell.  But when he arrives on Rick’s luxury paradise to start work, people start trying to kill him.  Suddenly the most lucrative job of his career could also be his last one.  But Jake’s used to dealing with scandal and he’s not going to go down without a fight.  What is it that’s in Rick’s past that people are willing to kill to keep under wraps?

Swimming pools, typewriter keys, glamour - I love this cover.
The cover of Hack by Duncan MacMaster

This is so much fun.  Rick was the star of a (fictional) rival of Miami Vice and the book is paying homage to that like mad and it’s great.  Jake is trapped in glamorous locations with glamorous people but someone keeps trying to murder him.  As the book goes on he gets more and more battered and bruised, but some how manages to keep getting up and carrying on chasing down the bad guys.  As Duncan said in his interview with me, Jake is a rank amateur, with no sleuthing skills at all – and that makes him great fun to read as he bumbles and crashes his way around the island stumbling upon clues and trying to stay alive.

Hack is very different from Duncan MacMaster’s first book for Fahrenheit Press, A Mint Condition Corpse.  As Duncan said in the interview, in that Kirby’s a Holmesy, Poiroty type of sleuth – who can make great leaps of deduction out of nowhere and who has staff and piles of money to help him along the way.  Jake is emphatically not that.  But the two books do (perhaps unsurprisingly) share the same sense of humour and a wry look at the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of people, even if the lead characters and settings are very different.

There’s also a great cast of supporting characters – including Rick’s ex-wife who is an aging and faded star who is trying to revive her career in all the wrong ways, and Rick’s daughter who improbably seems to be falling for Jake – despite his terrible Hawaiian shirts, paunch and increasing injury count.

If you’re in need of a dose of sunshine to escape the grey of the weather at the moment, Hack will do that for you – and make you laugh and take you away from whatever’s bothering you.  I got my advance copy from Mr Fahrenheit* who took pity on me and my twitter moanings during my last batch of nightshifts and sent me this to cheer me up.  And it worked.  I was reading it in my lunch break (at 3am), I was reading it on the train home – and if I hadn’t got to the end just as I was arriving into my station, I would have stayed up to finish it.  And I really like my bed after nightshifts.  And I nearly raved about it in Book of the Week that week – but it would have been cruel to taunt you by telling you about it when you couldn’t read it.

Hack is out now – and you can get a copy if you click here.  And if you missed the interview, you should definitely check it out by clicking here.

Happy Reading!

*OK, so his name is Chris, but he is Fahrenheit Press, so in my head he’s Mr Fahrenheit à la Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

Author Interviews, detective, fiction, mystery

Interview: Duncan MacMaster

Longtime readers, heck even short-time readers know that I’m a big fan of what Fahrenheit Press do (Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, F and I could go on) and as a special treat today, I’ve got an interview with one of their authors, Duncan MacMaster, whose new book, Hack is out this very day.

Hack tells the story of Jake Mooney, a ghost-writer who lands the biggest job of his career, but ends up fending off attempts on his life.  My review of Hack is coming up tomorrow, but read on to find out more about the man behind the book.

First of all could you tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a Canadian, I studied film at university, I wrote comedy for a while, & I had an up and down career before finding a home with Fahrenheit Press with my first crime novel A Mint Condition Corpse.

For the uninitiated, how would you describe what you write?

I write mysteries and crime thrillers with healthy doses of dark humour and satire.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of Hack, where did you get the idea for Jake, the ghost-writer who ends up with a price on his head?

My first crime novel A Mint Condition Corpse had Kirby Baxter who is a sleuth in the Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot tradition and I wanted to do something different. I was thinking of an investigator who was the opposite of Kirby Baxter, in that he had no real sleuthing skills, and was more adept at collecting injuries than clues. He succeeds more through dogged determination to stay alive and hopefully get the girl.

I needed an excuse for an unskilled amateur to get involved with murder and mayhem and consciously thought a ghostwriter doing an autobiography full of scandal and secrets was a good way to do it. Subconsciously I was venting a lot of my career frustrations indirectly through Jake. I had suffered some truly ridiculous setbacks over the years and I needed to get them out, even if it involved making up fictional ones for Jake.

Rick-the-corpse was the star of a Miami Vice-esque TV show and it felt to me like there was a bit of an homage going on to that sort of TV show going on – speed boats, surgically enhanced (or altered at any rate) women, tropical islands – was that fun to write?

It was. I’m a child of the 80s, the golden age of excess, and shows like Miami Vice sort of set the standard for style and swagger. It seems so silly and strange to us now, but back then everything about those shows seemed so cool. It was also a time of indulgent drug use, pre-AIDS sexual irresponsibility, and attitudes that would be shocking to our modern politically correct sensibilities. It’s a ripe target for both a little nostalgia and satire.

Your last book was a whodunnit at a comic book convention, this is a thriller-y mutter in the tropics – what can we expect from you next? Something else completely different or a familiar face? (Please more Kirby, please more Kirby!)

I’m working on more Kirby. I just finished the first draft of the sequel to A Mint Condition Corpse called Video Killed The Radio Star. It puts Kirby, Gustav and Molly in the world of reality television. I still have a lot of work to do on it to make it worthy of public consumption. I’m also developing a more experimental project about unreliable narrators and male archetypes, as well as outlining a potential sequel to Hack called Hacked, where Jake gets involved in a Hollywood computer hacking scandal.

And finally, what have you been reading recently that you’d like to shout about?

While I’m writing I try to avoid reading fiction, because I tend to be a stylistic sponge, and I don’t want to inadvertently imitate anyone. Right now I’m reading nonfiction, specifically Something To Do With Death by Christopher Frayling. It’s an incredibly researched biography of Sergio Leone, who was the master of the “spaghetti western.” It’s full of the sort of details about backstage life that I like to file away for later use.

However, I must give a shoutout to the other writers at Fahrenheit Press, who are a wonderful band of misfits that everyone should be reading.

Come back tomorrow to find out what I thought about Hack, but if you can’t wait and need to read it now, click here.

children's books, cozy crime, romance

Relaxation Reading

Why hello dear Reader.  I now have finished my (partly self-inflicted) double dose of nightshift hell I feel like sharing some of the things that I’ve read and enjoyed during my two weeks of sleep deprivation and brain fade.  I’ve written about the effects of nights on my reading habits before and I can confirm that I’m still irrational, prone to tears and incapable of making decisions while I’m staying awake all night.  This set of nights I’ve been ever so restrained, and haven’t bought any books – which is a minor miracle as my nights the week before Christmas saw a mini ebook spree and the ones before that saw nearly a dozen books turning up the following week!

Romance

In many ways romances are perfect nightshift reading for me – you know what you’re getting.  The hero and heroine will get a Happily Ever After (or at least a Happily For Now) and if you know which tropes you like and which keywords to look out for you can pick books which should tick your boxes.  I know I don’t do well with angst and trauma when I’m on nights, so I’ve been picking out Enemies to Lovers stories like Lucy Parker’s Pretty Face (this week’s BotW) and a couple of new releases from favourite authors.  In fact I saved (waiting two weeks to read it counts as saved in my book) Eloisa James’s latest book Seven Minutes in Heaven especially for nightshifts.

Detective

I’ve already mentioned The Ballad of Sean and Wilko and I was luck enough to get an advance copy of Duncan MacMaster’s new book Hack which was fabulously entertaining – if you haven’t read A Mint Condition Corpse yet, I highly recommend it. Henery Press are one of my regular suppliers/purveyors of cozy crime and I read the first Zoe Chambers book Circle of Influence as well, which is a little darker than their usual crime, but very good – I’ll be keeping an eye out for more in the series.

Children’s Books

Fortuitously for me, an order of Girl’s Own books arrived just before I started nights.  This – combined with a couple of Middle Grade novels from NetGalley meant that I had plenty of school girl antics to read about.  Although not all of them were school girls.  I now know more than I ever thought I needed to about pedigree Cocker Spaniel care in the 1950s (Elinor M Brent Dyer’s Kennelmaid Nan) and a lot more about the trials of being a nursery teacher in a deprived area just after the war.

Hate reading

I wrote about hate reads only a few weeks ago.  My tendency to irrationality when on nights and shortness of sleep means I have a habit of losing my temper with Him Indoors at these sort of times.  So to avoid that, I channel my anger and rage in a good (you know what I mean) hate read.  I’m not naming names here* because this is a positive space but I’ve hate read (or ended up hate reading) at least one book each week of nights.

So there you have it – a bit more detail on What I Read On Nightshifts.  Hopefully it’s amused you to see how my brain regresses when I haven’t had enough sleep and may be there’s a few there that might appeal to you, I’m happy to be enabling your book purchasing decisions this weekend.

Happy reading!

*But if you follow me on Goodreads or Litsy you’ll know (or be able to work out) exactly which books I’m talking about!

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: The Ballad of Sean and Wilko

I’m on my second week of nights, so I’m hoping that when this publishes, I’ll be asleep. Or if not asleep, just waking up well rested and raring to go. Fat chance Fingers crossed.  Anyway, this week’s BotW returns to a familiar face to regular readers – yup, it’s another Fahrenheit Press book.  In fact I had to go back through the archives to make sure I hadn’t already talked about Christy Kennedy,  aside from the brief mention in last week’s Half-Term Reading* because The Ballad of Sean and Wilko is the fourth in the 10-book series.

Cover of The Ballad of Sean and Wilko
The covers are all quite dark and brooding – and Camden

In the Ballad of Sean and Wilko we rejoin Christy Kennedy as he investigates the murder of the frontman of a 70s band who is found dead in his locked dressing room mid-show.  Kennedy has to pick his way through a tangle of complicated relationships – professional and personal – to try and figure out what happened.  Then another body turns up, in another locked room.

Christy Kennedy is a Northern Irish detective with a fondness for the Beatles and a soft spot for a local journalist called ann rea (no capital letters – like kd lang). He has a methodical approach to solving mysteries and you know as much as he knows (most of the time).  There’s a collection of supporting characters who are interesting in their own right and who never feel like fillers.  And late 1990s Camden is a character in itself, painted with love and affection

Paul Charles started writing the Christy Kennedy series nearly 20 years ago and they have aged well.  The music may be on CD or vinyl and there may not be many mobile phones, or much talk of the internet but because it was written at the time it all feels perfectly natural.  Charles has worked in the music industry and boy does it show.  I’ve learned so much about the mechanics of the industry from these books – particularly this one – but it’s all worn very lightly so you only realise later how many facts are packed in there.

Anyway, to summarise: good murder, great setting, excellent detective.  What more could you want.  The Ballad of Sean and Wilko is available on Kindle for the bargain price of £1.99.  I got my copy as part of my Fahrenheit Book Club subscription which I have banged on about enough already.

Now I’m off back to bed.  I can only hope this post makes sense.  My brain is not a very coherant place right now.

Happy reading.

*Which I’m obviously now regretting because it’s making me sound repetitive and I hate that.  But I did like it best out of last week’s books so sod it, and let it be a lesson to me to plan better in future.