Today we welcome S J I Holliday to the secret library stacks. Susi is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night – a phenomenal combo. Her biog mentions that David Mark has described her as ‘dark as a smoker’s lung’. And she has a new book out – The Lingering – which calls here today on its blog tour. There are not enough novels set in the Fens, let alone ones that wield together the locked-room mystery, the thriller and the ghost story. Plus – that gorgeous cover that steers us completely away from current book design fashions. Welcome Susi! Here are her three choices of books that aren’t well known – but should be.
Holloway Falls by Neil Cross
I read several of Neil Cross’s books before he became known for writing the TV series Luther, and this was one that really stood out. When Luther appeared on screen, something about him felt familiar… then I met Neil Cross at Harrogate and he told me why… The main character in this book is DS William Holloway – a troubled, complex man still suffering from his ex-wife’s betrayal, and the subsequent downward spiral of his life. A rogue cop on the run, making things worse as he goes, but not a bad man – just a man who has made questionable choices. Sound familiar? The author confirmed that Holloway was the inspiration behind the very troubled and utterly compelling, John Luther.
Joyland by Stephen King
I’m sure Mr King hasn’t had any sleepless nights over this being one of his lesser known works, but I thought it stood out as it is completely different from the others – the cover, for one thing – a redhead in peril, in that classic pulp style that Hard Case Crime are known for; also, it’s a murder-mystery, and it has a very noir feel. So, for me, it stands out – and I know not all of his fans loved it – but I did. Set in a fairground (tick), college-kid love story (tick), dark, creepy characters who are never what they seem (tick) – and of course the expert snappy dialogue and excellent plotting that makes all of King’s best books shine.
Dead Lovely by Helen Fitzgerald
This was the first of Helen Fitzgerald’s books that I read, and it pulled me in straight away with its graphic of a life-unfolding…a sex scene, a murder and an accidental pregnancy – all in the first three pages. Fitzgerald’s writing is visceral and vivid, sparse yet populated with the perfect, nuanced descriptions of life. Her books are dark, and funny and you can picture every small thing as it unfolds in front of you. This is a book about friendships falling apart, lives spiralling out of control; and although Fitzgerald has written many books since, this one feels more current than ever.
Thanks Susi. As a somewhat over-indulgent writer, I am particularly intrigued by Dead Lovely and the promise of a style that is both vivid and sparse! Check out The Lingering (get it here) and do check in with the other stops on the tour.