TBR Thursday 102…

The books that aren’t there…

As part of my ridiculous TBR spreadsheet, whenever I give a book 5 stars I add the author’s name to a list to remind me to read either one of their existing books or their next one, if they’re new authors or I’ve already read all of their previous books. Every now and again I check Amazon to see if there’s any sign of the next book coming along, and generally they duly appear within a year or two. But when I last checked, I realised some of these authors had been on the list for a long time with no sign of a new book. Where are they? Are they still writing?

the luminaries blueEleanor Catton won the Booker for The Luminaries, first published in August 2013. I loved it for her careful creation of a town that I came to feel as if I had actually visited. The book was monstrous in size and scope, so perhaps she’s working on another just as ambitious, but I can’t find anything on the web that tells me when we might see a new one appear.

* * * * *

money treeFor several years, Gordon Ferris was publishing books pretty regularly, every year or two. But it’s well over two years since his last book Money Tree appeared in June 2014. At the time, this was billed as the start of a new series looking at some of the world’s contemporary concerns – a series of standalones but with an overarching theme under a series name of “Only Human”. But since then, nothing – and again I can’t see anything suggesting another book is on the way soon.

* * * * *

paradeShuichi Yoshida’s Parade, published in translation in March 2014, was billed as a crime book, but I felt it actually fell more into the category of literary fiction. The picture it paints of the lives of young people in Tokyo left me strangely discombobulated, as Japanese fiction often does – it’s a society that always seems in a kind of free-fall. I find Yoshida’s writing compelling, and his characters are always believable even when I don’t fully understand them. Perhaps his long absence is a translation issue rather than a writing one, but no sign of a new one on the horizon.

* * * * *

after the lockoutDarran McCann’s début After the Lockout, published way back in February 2012, was an intriguing book set in Armagh in the period following the Easter Uprising. Though there was much of politics and religion in it, McCann managed to keep it at a very human level. He’s an author of whom I genuinely expected great things, but again he seems to have disappeared, at least in terms of publishing another novel.

* * * * *

arzee the dwarfI positively adored Chandrahas Choudhry’s Arzee the Dwarf. Published in December 2009, it’s a deliciously bittersweet tale of one man trying to achieve his dreams in contemporary Bombay – a beautifully written depiction of this vibrant and contradictory city at odds with the picture of unrelieved misery so often given in Indian novels. Years after reading it, I still smile whenever I think of it. And I’m getting extremely impatient for another…

* * * * * * *

The good news is that, five long years after his wonderful Last Man in Tower, a new book has finally appeared from Aravind AdigaSelection Day, which I will be reading just as soon as I can.

selection-dayThe Blurb says: Manju is fourteen. He knows he is good at cricket – if not as good as his elder brother Radha. He knows that he fears and resents his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented brother and is fascinated by CSI and curious and interesting scientific facts. But there are many things, about himself and about the world, that he doesn’t know . . . Everyone around him, it seems, has a clear idea of who Manju should be, except Manju himself.

But when Manju begins to get to know Radha’s great rival, a boy as privileged and confident as Manju is not, everything in Manju’s world begins to change and he is faced by decisions that will challenge both his sense of self and of the world around him.

* * * * * * *

And here are a few more long-awaited ones that will be appearing soon (all publication dates are for the UK)…

penancePublication due 5th April 2017 from Kanae Minato, author of the dark and compelling Confessions

The Blurb says: The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma.

When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emili by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emili is found murdered hours later. Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emili’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.

* * * * *

the-death-of-kingsPublication due 16th January 2017 from Rennie Airth, author of the Inspector Madden series set in post-war England…

The Blurb says: On a hot summer day in 1938, a beautiful actress is murdered on the grand Kent estate of Sir Jack Jessup, close friend of the Prince of Wales. An instant headline in the papers, the confession of a local troublemaker swiftly brings the case to a close, but in 1949, the reappearance of a jade necklace raises questions about the murder. Was the man convicted and executed the decade before truly guilty, or had he wrongly been sent to the gallows?

Inspector Madden is summoned out of retirement at the request of former Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair to re-open the case at Scotland Yard. Set in the aftermath of World War II, The Death of Kings is an atmospheric and captivating police procedural, and is a story of honor and justice that takes Madden through the idyllic English countryside, post-war streets of London, and into the criminal underworld of the Chinese Triads.

* * * * *

the-followerPublication due 9th February 2017 from Koethi Zan, author of the dark and disturbing thriller The Never List

The Blurb says… very little: You think she’ll help you. She won’t.

A page-turning thriller about the wife of a kidnapper and her relationship with his last victim.
.

* * * * *

the-good-peoplePublication due 9th February 2017 from Hannah Kent, author of the stunning Burial Rites

The Blurb says: Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.

Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken…

* * * * * * *

So there’s still hope… if you can shed any light on if and when we might see new books from any of these authors, please do so in the comments. Are there any authors who’ve been on your own “avidly awaiting” list for too long?

Money Tree by Gordon Ferris

money treeHi-Yo, Silver! Away!

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

When journalist Ted Saddler writes an article suggesting that the People’s Bank in India is ripping off the poorest people in the country, he is approached by Erin, an executive with a big American bank, who suggests he’s been fed false information and should do a bit of digging. A former Pulitzer winner, Ted is now middle-aged, world-weary and happy to be a desk journalist, but something about Erin’s story intrigues him. When his boss decides he should go to India to follow the story, he soon finds his views changing, as he meets the head of the bank and some of the people it has helped. Meantime, at his request, Erin is working with a hacker friend of Ted to investigate the head of her own bank, who she believes is behind the attacks on the People’s Bank. Cut in with this main strand is the story of Anila, a young woman from a village where the people live hand to mouth, who decides to ask for a loan from the Bank to set up her own little business.

The book follows a fairly traditional thriller format of goodies against baddies leading to a spectacular climax, but the quality of Ferris’ writing lifts it well above average. There’s a strong political message in the book, about how the poor of the third world are pawns in the power games of their own politicians and the rich and influential institutions of the West. Western banks and the World Bank don’t come out of the story well – actually that’s an understatement. They’re shown as corrupt from the top down and run on the whole by maniacal, amoral power-junkies, while the People’s Bank is shown to be an altruistic venture run solely for the purpose of supporting micro-businesses to help the poor rise out of their destitution. To be honest, I thought this aspect was all a bit too clear-cut – in reality, the situation on both sides is considerably more complex than I felt Ferris showed. However, it’s difficult to fully explore a political argument within the context of a thriller so some degree of over-simplification is probably necessary.

If you're wondering why The Lone Ranger references, you'll need to read the book. Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!
If you’re wondering why The Lone Ranger references, you’ll need to read the book. Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

The characterisation is excellent, despite being based on the cliché of the has-been journalist inspired by an attractive woman to take up the good fight. Both Ted and Erin are likeable and their growing appreciation for each other as the story progresses is well done. The story of Anila and the villagers is interesting and Ferris gives a real sense of life in a place left behind and almost destroyed by the march of so-called progress. We see Anila’s life both from her own perspective and also through the eyes of Ted and Erin, which gives a rounded picture of how different and almost incomprehensible the lives of each are to the other.

Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris

Since the heart of the book is in the highly technological banking industry, the action is as likely to involve IT shenanigans as guns (though guns feature too – fear not, my bloodthirsty friends!) and this gives the book a feeling of freshness and originality. Ted’s friend Oscar and his gang of hackers provide some light relief as they don their online personas and ride off to battle in the warzones of the dark net. The plot is not about the who – we know from the beginning who the baddies are. It’s about whether Ted and Erin will be able to bring the baddies down in time to save the People’s Bank – and themselves.

Overall, I feel the book starts a bit slowly but gradually builds up the pace till by the end it races along. The traditional thriller ending is enlivened by the technological element, which Ferris explains well enough for even the least nerdy person to follow. I understand from the bumph on the Amazon page that this is to be the first in a new ‘Only Human’ series from Gordon Ferris, which will be ‘fast paced stories tackling some of today’s global challenges’. I’ll certainly be signing up for the next adventure.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

FictionFan Awards 2014 – Crime/Thriller Category – Books in a Series

Drum roll please…

 

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2014 in the Crime Fiction/Thriller Category – Books in a Series.

If you’ve been around the last couple of weeks, you might want to skip this bit and go straight to the awards. But for the benefit of new readers, a quick reminder of the rules…

THE CRITERIA

All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2013 and October 2014 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.

THE CATEGORIES

There will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories

Factual – click to see awards

Genre Fiction – click to see awards

Literary Fiction – click to see awards

Crime Fiction/Thrillers – Books in a Series

Crime Fiction/Thrillers – Standalone Novels

 

…and…

Book of the Year 2014

THE PRIZES

For the winners!

I guarantee to read the authors’ next book even if I have to buy it myself!

For the runners-up!

Nothing!

THE JUDGES

Me!

* * * * * * * * *

So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in

 

CRIME FICTION/THRILLERS

 

As usual, there are far more books in contention for this category, and many of them are installments in series that I follow. So, since I found it almost impossible to narrow the entries down, I’ve decided to have two sub-categories of nominees, Series and Standalones, each with a winner, and to split them over today and tomorrow. Here goes then…

BOOKS IN A SERIES

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

 

the killThe Kill (from the Maeve Kerrigan series) by Jane Casey

When an off-duty policeman is shot dead in his car it looks at first as though the motive must be something to do with his personal life. His widow seems angry rather than grief-stricken and his daughter has some unexplained bruises. But a few days later a team of officers is attacked while out on patrol and it becomes clear that someone is targeting the police in general. But no-one knows why…or do they? This is the fifth book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and continues the high standard that Jane Casey has set herself in the last couple.

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

Saints of the Shadow Bible (from the Rebus series) by Ian Rankin

saints of the shadow bibleWhen the ‘double jeopardy’ law is relaxed, the Solicitor General asks Malcolm Fox to reinvestigate a case from the ’80s, one involving a young DC Rebus. Meantime, in the present day, Siobhan Clarke and Rebus are back working as a team. With the new rules on retirement age, Rebus has been taken back into CID but has had to take a downgrading to Detective Sergeant, meaning Siobhan now outranks him. They are called out to what looks at first like a straightforward road accident, but a couple of things about the scene make them suspect there may be more to it than that. A fine entry in the series that, as always, has great characterisation, a complex plot and a real insight into modern Scottish life.

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

the papers of tony veitchThe Papers of Tony Veitch (from the Laidlaw series) by William McIlvanney

Tony Veitch has disappeared and it seems like half the city is looking for him. Laidlaw’s one of the searchers. He knows why he’s looking for Tony – his name’s come up in connection with Eck Adamson, a drunk and down-and-out, now dead; and it seems Laidlaw’s the only man who cares. But Laidlaw doesn’t know why some of Glasgow’s hardest men seem to be wanting to find Veitch too, and the question is – who’ll find him first? Glasgow, as the sum of its people good and bad, is the character that is at the heart of the book and McIlvanney makes us weep and rejoice for it in equal measure. A love letter from a man who sees the violence and darkness of the city, but also sees it as a place of courage and heart and humour – and ultimately integrity. A great book.

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

A Dark and Twisted Tide (from the Lacey Flint series) by Sharon Bolton

a dark and twisted tideAfter her recent experiences, Lacey has stepped back from her role as a detective and joined the Met’s Marine Unit, patrolling the Thames. She’s also moved to live on a houseboat moored in Deptford Creek and taken up the highly dangerous sport of river-swimming. And it’s when she’s out swimming alone one early morning that she finds the first body…

This is another excellent entry in the Lacey Flint series, with all the regulars back in fine form. By a tiny margin, not the best in the series perhaps, but still one of the best books I’ve read or expect to read this year.

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2014

for

BEST CRIME FICTION/THRILLER BOOK IN A SERIES

 

gallowglass

Gallowglass (from the Douglas Brodie series) by Gordon Ferris

Post-WW2 Glasgow. Douglas Brodie is back working at the newspaper and beginning to recover from the psychological after-effects of his recent involvement in the Nazi war-crime trials. But he still hasn’t learned how to avoid danger. So when Lady Gibson asks him for help, he finds himself unable to turn her down. Her husband, Sir Fraser Gibson, the Chairman of the Scottish Linen Bank, has been kidnapped, and Lady Gibson has decided to pay the ransom without involving the police. So Brodie sets off with a briefcase full of cash to make the rendezvous on her behalf. Needless to say, it doesn’t go according to plan..

This is the fourth and, I believe, final entry in the Douglas Brodie series, and the award is as much for the whole series as for this individual book. Now that we have all four books, we can see how Brodie’s character has changed in the few years since the end of the war – at first an all-action man, careless to a degree of his own life and others; then having to face the source of his nightmares and realise the damage that he’d suffered in the war – and finally, in this excellent last instalment, asking himself whether he can find some kind of peace and redemption, and have a future worth living. Although each works as a standalone, I would strongly suggest reading them in order to see the skilful way that Ferris develops Brodie’s character throughout. A great series, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And a very worthy winner.

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow: The Standalone Award and Book of the Year 2014

TBR Thursday 32…

Episode 32

 

Oh dear! 107 – need I say more? And I seem to be spending so much time adding books to the TBR that I’m not really managing to read many! Oh well (she said despairingly) better to have too many books than too few, eh? The only thing I can hope is that all the pre-Christmas books have been announced now. But (gulps!) the Booker shortlist is due to be announced next week…

Meantime, here are a few more that have risen close to the top of the list…

* * * * *

Crime

 

money treeA totally new departure from Gordon Ferris, following the conclusion of the great Douglas Brodie series. I’m excited to see how he deals with a modern setting…

The Blurb saysMONEY TREE is a modern-day thriller set among the glittering canyons of New York and the seething alleyways of New Delhi. At its heart is the story of Anila Jhabvala, a destitute woman in a dying village in central India, and her struggle against the daily embrace of usury. Into her fraught existence blunder two westerners: Ted Saddler, a has-been American reporter living off the faded glory of a Pulitzer Prize, and Erin Wishart, a hard-bitten Scottish banker with a late-developing conscience. As the tension mounts, their three storylines interweave and fuse in a thundering and moving climax.

In pointing up the gulf between rich and poor, and the misguided efforts of western institutions to meddle in developing countries, Gordon pays homage to Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Peace and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

* * * * *

 

lostCourtesy of NetGalley, I’ve been enjoying reading some of the early books in the Joe O’Loughlin series, which have been made available in advance of his forthcoming new one, Life or Death, due out in August in the UK. My review of the first in the series, The Suspect, will appear tomorrow. This second one has also been particularly recommended to me by the blogosphere’s own Queen of Crime, Margot Kinberg, so I have high expectations…

The Blurb saysDetective Inspector Vincent Ruiz doesn’t know who wants him dead. He has no recollection of the firefight that landed him in the Thames, covered in his own blood and that of at least two other people. A photo of missing child Mickey Carlyle is found in his pocket—but Carlyle’s killer is already in jail. And Ruiz is the detective who put him there.

Accused of faking amnesia, Ruiz reaches out to psychologist Joe O’Loughlin to help him unearth his memory and clear his name. Together they battle against an internal affairs investigator convinced Ruiz is hiding the truth, and a ruthless criminal who claims Ruiz has something of his that can’t be replaced. As Ruiz’s memories begin to resurface, they offer tantalizing glimpses at a shocking discovery.

* * * * *

forty acresAgain courtesy of NetGalley (who really have a lot to answer for concerning the state of my TBR), I was persuaded to request this one by this great review from Raven Crime Reads (who really has a lot to answer for concerning the state of my TBR)…

The Blurb saysA young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented. young lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, is taken under the wing of a secretive group made up of America’s most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men. He’s dazzled by what they have accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be one of them They invite him for a weekend away from it all – no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But what he discovers, far from home, is a disturbing alternative reality which challenges his deepest convictions…

* * * * *

Fiction

 

the sun also risesHemingway’s name hovered around the Great American Novel Quest list but didn’t quite make it on – and then that dratted NetGalley offered this one…and of course I couldn’t resist…

The Blurb says “The Sun Also Rises is a classic example of Hemingway’s spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises is “an absorbing, beautifully and tenderly absurd, heartbreaking narrative…a truly gripping story, told in lean, hard, athletic prose” (The New York Times).

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from NetGalley or Amazon.

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

(And please don’t write any enticing reviews for at least the next 3 weeks…)

 

Gallowglass (Douglas Brodie 4) by Gordon Ferris

R.I.P. Douglas Brodie…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

gallowglassDouglas Brodie is back working at the newspaper and beginning to recover from the psychological after-effects of his recent involvement in the Nazi war-crime trials. But he still hasn’t learned how to avoid danger. So when Lady Gibson asks him for help, he finds himself unable to turn her down. Her husband, Sir Fraser Gibson, the Chairman of the Scottish Linen Bank, has been kidnapped, and Lady Gibson has decided to pay the ransom without involving the police. So Brodie sets off with a briefcase full of cash to make the rendezvous on her behalf. It doesn’t go according to plan though – Sir Fraser ends up dead and Brodie is charged with his murder. His advocate girlfriend, Sam Campbell is doing everything she can to have him released, but all the evidence is against him, and Brodie can’t stand the thought of months of imprisonment followed by a probable trip to the gallows. As the book begins, we see Sam and Brodie’s mother weeping together beside his grave…it appears Brodie has taken his own life…

As we’ve come to expect from Ferris, this is a great thriller firmly rooted in the post-war Glasgow of the late 1940s. Ferris brings the city of this period to life and his use of dialect is great – it gives a real flavour of the language of the time without being so broad that it would be hard for a non-Scot to understand. This time the story centres round corruption within the banking system just as the Marshall Plan is about to be agreed (which saw the US giving economic support to the European nations to aid their recovery after the devastation of the war). With the government desperate to avoid any scandal that could jeopardise the Plan, Brodie’s old paymasters in MI5 are up against a deadline to find out the truth about Sir Fraser’s death.

Post- war Glasgiw... Photo credit: Bert Hardy/Getty Images
Post-war Glasgow…
Photo credit: Bert Hardy/Getty Images

The plot is complex and, while it’s not quite as explosive and action-packed as the early books in the series, it’s very credible and Ferris keeps it moving at a good pace throughout. The characterisation has always been a strength in the Brodie books and this is no exception. Both Brodie and Sam continue to develop and readjust to life after their wartime experiences. Wullie McAllister, chief crime reporter, is back in action and the force of his personality is in no way diminished by the fact that he’s temporarily confined to a wheelchair. Lady Gibson is a fine femme fatale in a story that may not be completely noir but certainly has its roots there. And wee Airchie Higgins is a gem of a character – a crooked accountant who’s trying to go straight, he reminded me a lot of the incomparable Russell Hunter’s performance of Lonely in the old Callan series – a rather pathetic wee man with a skewed moral code, but you can’t help but feel a sneaking sympathy and liking for him nonetheless. Very well-written, Ferris has again mixed danger and excitement with just the right amount of humour to make this a hugely enjoyable read.

Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris

I’m devastated to see that the Douglas Brodie books are now being billed as The Glasgow Quartet, which suggests that this fourth one is to be Brodie’s last outing. But if so, then I’m delighted to say that Ferris has maintained the high standards of this series to the end. In fact, much though I enjoyed the first two, (The Hanging Shed and Bitter Water), I felt that with the third, Pilgrim Soul, Ferris took a huge risk by breaking away from the action thriller format that had brought him so much success to give us a book that was altogether darker and more disturbing, dealing as it did with the subject of Nazi war-crimes and what we would now think of as post-traumatic stress. Now that we have all four books, we can see how Brodie’s character has changed in the few years since the end of the war – at first an all-action man, careless to a degree of his own life and others; then having to face the source of his nightmares and realise the damage that he’d suffered in the war – and finally, in this excellent last instalment, asking himself whether he can find some kind of peace and redemption, and have a future worth living. Although each works as a standalone, I would strongly suggest reading them in order to see the skilful way that Ferris develops Brodie’s character throughout. A great series, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – highly recommended.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 14…

Episode 14

 

Woo-hoo! Dropped to 101 this week! This new iron self-control thing is finally working…but how long will it last? Depends on how many irresistible new books come out, I suppose. And here’s a few I’ve already got on pre-order…

The ‘must read on publication day if not before’ list:

Missing You

A new standalone by Harlan Coben is always a must. Not great literature, maybe, but usually great fun! Publication due 10th April 2014…

It’s a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years. Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her.  But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

*****

good working class stockOne for UK political nerds only, I feel…so should suit me just fine! Publication of this book has been delayed so many times, but hopefully the new date of 1st May 2014 will stick…

Dennis Skinner, the famed Beast of Bolsover, is adored by legions of supporters and respected as well as feared by admiring enemies. Fiery and forthright, with a prodigious recall, Skinner is one of the best-known politicians in Britain. He remains as passionate and committed to the causes he champions as on the first day he entered the House of Commons back in 1970. In an age of growing cynicism about politicians, the witty and astute Skinner is renowned as a brightly burning beacon of principle. He has watched Prime Ministers come and go—Heath, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown—and yet remains uncorrupted by patronage and compromise.

*****

the facts of life and deathBelinda Bauer’s Rubbernecker was one of the best crime books of last year, so this one is eagerly anticipated. Publication due 27th March 2014.

Lone women terrorised and their helpless families forced to watch – in a sick game where only one player knows the rules. And when those rules change, the new game is Murder.

Living with her parents in the dank beach community of Limeburn, ten-year-old Ruby Trick has her own fears. Bullies on the school bus, the forest crowding her house into the sea, and the threat of divorce.

Helping her Daddy to catch the killer might be the key to keeping him close. As long as the killer doesn’t catch her first…

*****

gallowglassFerris’ last book Pilgrim Soul took the Douglas Brodie series to a whole new level – will he be able to maintain that standard? Post-war period Glasgow noir. Publication due 3rd April 2014…

A brief editorial describes the tragic death of their chief crime reporter Douglas Brodie and staunchly defends him against the unproven charge of murder. It’s a brave stance to take, given the weight of evidence. The case is watertight: the bullet comes from Brodie’s revolver, the banker’s wife denies knowing Brodie, and Brodie’s pockets are stuffed with ransom notes. Samantha Campbell deploys all her advocacy skills to no avail. It looks like her lover is for the long drop. But in an apparent act of desperation—or guilt—Brodie cheats justice by committing suicide in his prison cell. Is this the sordid end for a distinguished ex-copper, decorated soldier, and man of parts?(Bet it’s not!)

*****

All blurbs are taken from Goodreads.

Any of these appeal to you? What other soon-to-be-releaseds are you eagerly awaiting?

Pilgrim Soul (Douglas Brodie 3) by Gordon Ferris

pilgrim soulDarkest places of the soul…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

The first two novels in the Douglas Brodie series were very good noir thrillers – fast-paced, explosive and full of black humour. This one is very different and takes the Brodie series to another and much darker level.

Brodie is asked to investigate a spate of burglaries in Glasgow’s post-war Jewish community. But when the burglar is found murdered it gradually becomes clear that there is a connection that leads back to the horrors of the concentration camps – horrors that Brodie has been trying to forget since his role as interrogator of war criminals after the war.

Ferris handles this dark and difficult subject with a great deal of sensitivity and humanity. The details he gives of some of the dreadful acts that were carried out in the camps are kept to the minimum necessary for the development of the story – Ferris carefully avoids the use of gratuitous detail. Instead he concentrates on how these events are still affecting his characters, including a very moving portrayal of what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. As I read, I couldn’t help but think of the men of my father’s generation, the ones who came back – a generation who mainly bottled up their feelings about their war experiences, who talked of the camaraderie of war but not the horrors, and I felt that in some way Ferris was giving these men a voice that the stiff-upper-lip culture of the time had perhaps denied them.

Gordon Ferris (www.scotsman.com)
Gordon Ferris
(www.scotsman.com)

But although the subject matter means that this book is much darker than the previous ones, this is also a first-rate, tightly plotted thriller – well-paced, plenty of action and still with room for occasional flashes of humour. Brodie’s relationship with Sam is developed further and Danny McRae, hero of Ferris’ other series, plays a part in this one too. In a previous review, of Bitter Water, I compared Gordon Ferris to Ian Rankin. This book leads me to compare him to Reginald Hill, an author who could give his readers intelligently light entertainment in one book then take them to the darkest places of the human soul in the next. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the Brodie books but this one also moved me deeply – highly recommended.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US link

Bitter Water (Douglas Brodie 2) by Gordon Ferris

Bitter WaterMurderin’ bampots…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

This is the second in Ferris’ Douglas Brodie series which started as a Kindle sensation with The Hanging Shed. Tartan Noir at its finest, putting Brodie’s Glasgow right up beside Rebus’ Edinburgh.

Brodie is now working as a crime journalist in Glasgow when a spate of vigilante attacks hits the city. At the same time, his colleague, senior reporter Wullie McAllister is covering the murder of a councillor and suspects corruption at the heart of Glasgow Corporation. Brodie’s relationship with Sam Campbell is still on-off as she struggles to get over the after-effects of their last adventure.

Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris

Ferris doesn’t stint on violence and gore as the attacks and murders mount up and in true thriller style the climax is explosive. But along the way we are treated to some great humour, much of it very black. However the thing that makes these books really stand out is Ferris’ descriptions of post-war Glasgow (Brodie has only recently returned to Glasgow after serving as a major in the Second World War) and his completely authentic use of Glasgow slang. No psychopathic killers here – these men are murderin’ bampots. I’m not old enough to remember Glasgow in the forties, but the language and attitudes of the characters chime in with my own memories of how people of my parents’ generation talked and felt.

Horseshoe Bar, Glasgow
Horseshoe Bar, Glasgow

The locations are so accurately described they whisk me back in time, though some of the places still exist today. The Horseshoe Bar, for instance, is still a thriving institution. Ferris writes so well that you never get the impression he’s researched the period – you feel certain he must actually have lived in it.

In my view, Ferris is the most exciting new Scottish crime writer on the scene and in Brodie he has developed an attractive, compelling lead character whose second outing is even better than the first. Highly recommended.

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