BookNoir June Newsletter

Article published on June 5, 2018.

I know your mother and if I tell her about your behaviour she will beat you ’til you name is Jesus” Joe Ide, IQ.

Hello Crime Fans,

The sun’s out (sometimes anyway), but murder never stops and June is a bumper month, with a lot to look forward to:

What’s coming up in June:

The BookNoir ‘Book of the Month‘ is The Old Religion by Martyn Waites, a classy new thriller set in Cornwall. We hope to be running an interview with Martyn about the book and a Reading Group Guide will accompany the review. We have two female writers for our featured Golden Oldies this month: The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee and An Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes (both noir classics). At the moment, the Top Ten of crime for this month is undecided and we welcome contributions for future months, so please have a go. Crime World will venture further afield this month with a Japanese crime fiction focus and our end of month Crime Round-Up will focus on new books from independent publishers (there are some treats). Reviews will include books by Rupert Thompson, Adrian Goldsworthy, Zhuo Huohui, Jean Claude Izzo, Pol Koutsakis, Lynda la Plante, Nick Arvin, James Carlos Blake and many more. A feature on MacLehose Press, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year – it all kicked off with the publication of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2008 – will come with a competition to win a bundle of thrillers, so keep an eye out.

What you may have missed in May:

Interviews with Kristen Lepionka and Ragnar Jonasson about their new books are both worth catching. Golden Oldies featuring The Woman in White and Snowdrops. World Crime focus takes a look at the ‘Novela Negra’ in Spain. Our Top Ten featured crime novels that should have won the Booker Prize; it’s not genre, it’s quality. A special feature in three parts including an interview, Paul Burke’s personal best of short reviews and Akashic’s 50th anniversary republishing of A killing for Christ by Pete Hamill, which just came out. Left Field was The Third Reel byS.J. Naudé. Reviews included Miss Laila Armed and Dangerous by Manu Joseph, The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong (the Korean sensation), Kill the Angel by Sandrone Dazieri, The Louisiana Republic by Maxim Malinowski, The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton, The Old You by Louise Voss, The Truants by Lee Markham, The Murder of my Aunt by Richard Hull and Goldstein by Volker Kutscher (the latest Gereon Rath). If that is not enough, the Crime Round-Up features small/independent publishers, recent but not new titles we think you might like (really don’t miss these). Book of the Month was Our House by Louise Candlish and we also gave you the Reading Group Guide for Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr (a cracking read!).


RIP: Sadly, Reg Gadney died on 1st May 2018 (b.1941). He was teacher, biographer, screen writer, painter and novelist. His first thriller, which was published in 1970, Drawn Blanc, about the British Secret Service still messed up by the Philby affair was well received. A further 13 novels followed, including the Alan Rosslyn series.

RIP: Tom Wolfe was a journalist before The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) turned him into a celebrity novelist. Its a rip-roaring adventure of the privileged classes thinking they can get away with anything but getting their comeuppance. A brilliant social satire but also a funny crime novel.

RIP: Philip Roth (1933-2018). I know, a literary author, but consider these two of his books, they are relevant to BookNoir: American Pastoral, the section on the daughter and anti-Vietnam terrorism is riveting, and The Plot Against America (a sort of thriller set in an alternative America following Roosevelt’s defeat by Lindbergh in the presidential election).


The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins’ thriller has been adapted for the stage. It has received mixed reviews (some really bad!) but if you are interested it will run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 9th June. Starring Jill Halfpenny and Colin Tierney.

Full marks to JoJo Moyes for her three-year support for the Quick Reads project. Due to funding issues there weren’t going to be any titles released in 2019 after supporting organisations pulled out of the scheme. Quick Reads are a great tool for teaching adults to read, they are very popular in prisons and hospitals. Now a new list for next year is being prepared and a plan for 2020 onwards too. Great news!

TV to watch out for if you haven’t already seen it:

The Bridge season 4, ongoing on BBC2. Catch The Woman in White before it vanishes from the iPlayer (similarly, brilliant Belgian thriller Salamander). Walter Presents on Channel 4: Flight HS13, when a plane goes down (terrorism? Accident?) Simon wasn’t on board but he should have been, why? And who does he meet at the airport? Tabula Rasa, a Belgian masterpiece of suspense and trickery. A genuine psychological drama. Mie finds herself in an institution after a neighbour goes missing, but who can she trust? Herself? Her husband? The policeman? Plenty of clues along the way to feed the imagination.

Peaky Blinders  – a fifth season is about to start but for fans, the good news is that 6th and 7th seasons have been commissioned.

Books coming in June (or just published, full reviews available*):

Savage Liberty by Eliot Pattison. A novel of the pre-Revolution America, set in 1768, Duncan McCallum has to prove he is not a traitor by uncovering a plot against the crown. Counterpoint HB *

Ten Year Stretch edited by Martin Edwards. A collection of twenty short stories by legends of crime writing, including Ian Rankin, James Sallis, Maj Sjöwall and Lee Child. No Exit Press PB *

A Million Drops by Victor del Árbol. An epic Spanish thriller that encompasses the Spanish Civil War, Stalinist Russia and modern day child trafficking. A heady mix of conspiracy, revenge and redemption. Other Press PB *

Death Notice by Zhou Haohui. Based on the delicious premise of a serial killer inviting requests online for who deserves to die, right under the noses of the police. Will be reviewed this month. Head of Zeus HB. *

Any Man by Amber Tamblyn A female serial killer, Maude, she hunts men in bars, rapes and murders them. An interesting take on sexual obsession and violence against women in the light of #MeToo. Harper Perennial PB.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent “my husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.” Gallery Scout Press HB.

The Pharaoh Key by Preston and Child. Gideon Crew, scientist, thief, adventurer, finds out his former boss Eli Flinn has vanished and her lab has been shut down. Grand Central Publishing HB.

Widows by Lynda la Plante. Classic crime reprinted as a film version appears later in the year. Its all about a group of women who form a gang when their husbands are killed on a security van heist. Radical stuff when it first came out, does it stand the test of time? Zaffre PB *


I leave you with this quote, taken from Gun in Cheek by Bill Pronzini, a survey of bad crime writing that we reviewed in April:

“Never mind how I got chloroformed. The point is… she bugged my belly button!”

If you want context, you’ll have to find the book for yourself!

Paul Burke
June 2018


Panic Room by Robert Goddard


The Old Religion by Martyn Waites

You may also like