Comment • reviews • Nordic Noir • whimsy
Hello. Do you remember when we used to be able to travel around? The last trip we did was to the Lakes and so I’m delighted that today’s Secret Librarian has set two entire crime series in Cumbria. Graham Smith is a joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
His series featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team now includes six titles, and the Lakes series with DC Beth Young has received much acclaim. His other work includes four novels featuring the Utah doorman, Jake Boulder, and his crime-writing weekends Crime and Punishment which include the chance to pitch novels to agents and publishers. Since 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts. Oh and he contributes to crimesquad.com. Here are his three choices of titles that aren’t well enough known:
The Accident Man by Tom Cain
This book is quite simply the best conspiracy theory I’ve ever read as well as being the first novel in a wonderful series. Told from the perspective of a moralistic assassin who is hire to take out an evil target it follows Sam Carver as he completes his mission only to learn that he’d been sold down the river and had played a part in the execution of the world’s most famous woman in a Parisian tunnel. Based on true events, it addresses many differing theories as to who was the paymaster who’d paid for the hit before giving the most plausible answer possible. Since reading the first chapter, I’ve been a huge fan of this author.
Lennox by Craig Russell
1950s Glasgow plays home to Lennox, an enquiry agent who is still battling the demons he brought back from the war. As well as getting himself mixed up with the three kings who control Glasgow’s underworld, Lennox has personal woes. Written with sublime skill, the sardonic sleuth’s fight to solve the case and stay alive is a masterclass of what can be achieved with the written word. It’s full of interesting characters, snappy dialogue and enough atmosphere to fill the hole in the ozone layer. I’ve read the entire series as well as almost every book Russell has every written and I cannot stress enough how much reading his work has educated my own writing.
Streets of Darkness by A A Dhand
Dhand’s debut shone a light on a world I knew nothing about, brown on brown racism, all the while entertaining me with a rock solid police procedural. Tenser than a tight rope and filled with marvellous description from first page until last, it was a compelling read that offered wonderful insights into the lives of characters who were drawn with an artisan’s eye and a depth of human understanding rarely seen in a debut novel. Dhand pulls of that very rare trick in making the reader care more for the characters than the case at the heart of the story. As with my other choices, I’ve read every book in the series and cannot wait for each new instalment.
Thanks Graham. As ever, I’ve added more than one title to the to be read list. Also for that list: Graham’s Fear in the Lakes, which promises a case with no leads, a victim with no enemies, a killer with no conscience. Get it here (all links are affiliate links, as ever).