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Geoffrey Wansell


Jounalist


Geoffrey Wansell



Thrillers and Crime Reviews

Crime Thrillers

25 February 2016

THE HOLLOW MEN by
ROB McCARTHY (Mulholland £14.99)

 

The Hollow MenThis ferocious debut from a young medical student is one of the finest first crime novels I have encountered this year.
Its protagonist, police surgeon Dr Harry Kent, who works in the intensive care unit of a London hospital and depends on amphetamines to get him through, is a character of whom we are going to hear a great deal — TV rights have already been optioned. It’s Holby City meets Happy Valley.
A medic who served in Afghanistan, Kent is pitched into a police hostage incident in a fast food shop, which ends when armed police shoot the disturbed teenage hostage-taker he has been sent in to examine — a young black boy named Solomon Idris.
The scene shifts to the ICU, where Kent again saves Idris when he has a devastating allergic reaction to some of the drugs that have been wrongly administered to him. Kent realises that somewhere in the medical fraternity lurks a killer.
Written with admirable verve and lacerating detail, it announces the arrival of a shiny new talent in British crime writing and grips from the start.

 

 

25 February 2016

SIX FOUR by
HIDEO YOKOYAMA (Quercus £16.99)

 

Six FourAt 635 pages, this battleship of a crime novel comes with a big reputation, having sold more than 1.3 million copies in its native Japan.
It is Yokoyama’s sixth novel, but his first to be published in English. A former investigative reporter, he gave up journalism to write fiction.
The story focuses on detective Yoshinobu Mikami, a man with an unhappy past who is appointed press director of a police district in 2002, only for a kidnapping and murder from almost 14 years earlier to come back to haunt him.
In that original case, a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl was abducted and her parents were forced to listen to the kidnapper’s ruthless demands for five heart-breaking days.
They never learnt his identity, nor did they recover their daughter alive and the case remained unsolved, becoming known simply as ‘Six Four’.
Now, with one year left before the statute of limitations runs out on the case, which will mean the kidnapper can never be prosecuted even if he is found, Mikami uncovers an anomaly in the investigation, and it becomes live again.
Slow in pace, but epic in ambition, it unfurls like a flower in the spring sunlight, steadily increasing its grip as it does so.

 

25 February 2016

A SIEGE OF BITTERNS by
STEVE BURROWS (Point Blank £7.99)

 

A Siege of BitternsKeen birdwatcher Burrows uses his passion to illuminate this bewitching, eccentric story of Canadian-born Domenic Jejeune.
Jejeune is a police inspector in Saltmarsh in the heart of birdwatching East Anglia, where he would rather watch birds than solve crime.
He does not have that luxury, however, the moment a prominent local ecological activist is found hanging from a tree.
Jejeune’s first theory is that the man has been killed over local rivalry among twitchers about who has seen the most species. A second murder follows, once again with a bird-watching element, and tensions rise still further.
This is one of the most delightful, old-fashioned mysteries of recent years — even if you know nothing about birds, and do not possess an anorak or a pair of binoculars.

 

 

 

 

 


28 January 2016

BLACK WIDOW by
CHRISTINE BROOKMYRE (Little Brown £18.99)

 

Black WidowThe possibility that a woman can be an evil, callous killer is a popular contemporary theme in crime novels.
It must be something in the zeitgeist. Here, the woman is a successful surgeon working in the Inverness Royal Infirmary in Scotland who also writes an anonymous blog about the sexism she encounters there.
It doesn't take long for Dr Diana Jager to be outed on social media and given the nickname Bladeb***h. She then meets rich, handsome IT technician Peter Elphinstone, and within six months they are married - only for Peter to die in a car accident a few months later at a black spot known as Widow Falls.
It is a nightmare end to what looked like a fairy-tale romance. But Peter's sister recruits maverick reporter Jack Parlabane (one of Brookmyre's finest creations) to investigate the truth behind the death.
Told in elegant slices, cutting between a court room trial and the events surrounding it, the story's characters are compelling and the mystery is evoked with scalpel-like precision by the talented Brookmyre.

 

 

 

 

 

28 January 2016

DEAD PRETTY by
DAVID MARK (Mulholland £12.99)


Dead PrettyThis is the fifth novel featuring freckled, 6 ft 5 in, Scottish-born but Hull-based DS McAvoy written by Mark, a former crime reporter for the Yorkshire Post.
I raved about his grit and toughness last year, and this latest book demonstrates those strengths once again. Mark does not do cosy crime novels.
His heroes and villains can be as darkly ferocious as those of the great American Joseph Wambaugh, but Mark brings to them a rare feeling of humanity amidst the brutality and grief that stalk his world.
This time, a girl has been missing for nine months, while another has been dead for five days. McAvoy has to unravel both mysteries and the detective struggles with the seediest aspects of the Hull underworld as he tries to use his moral compass to guide him through the ugliness.
It is dark, compelling crime writing of the highest order. 

 

 

 


28 January 2016

THE PROMISE by
ALISON BRUCE (Constable £19.99)

 

The PromiseBruce is doing for Cambridge what Colin Dexter did for Oxford with Inspector Morse, though without quite such a compelling character as the opera-loving, beer-drinking, vintage car enthusiast himself.
She uses her city just as deftly as Dexter did his, however, and adds subtle touches of feminine intuition and guile. Her plots are deceptively simple, yet describe the frailties of the human heart with a rare skill.
This is the sixth in her series featuring the sympathetic DC Gary Goodhew. In a single night, a young man's life falls apart, his relationship collapses and he loses access to his young son.
Meanwhile, Goodhew is considering whether he is cut out to remain a policeman, until a homeless man named Ratty, whom he has known for years, is found murdered.
The death propels Goodhew back into police work. His innate dignity and Bruce's flair make her one of our most interesting crime writers

 



Crime Thrillers

Cary Grany biography
RattNewCover1
Goldsmith biography
Garrick History
Cary Grant picture book
Frederick West
Bus Stop Killer
David Suchet

For a synopsis of any of Geoffrey's books, please click on the appropriate cover above.

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