It's a bit of a coincidence but in the week leading up to Crimefest I read three (very different from each other) crime books:
Fellside by M.R. Carey
Dear Amy by Helen Calleghan
I was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond
Fellside is a book set in a women's prison and has a supernatural bent. Dear Amy is about a missing girl and is a psychological thriller and I was Dora Suarez is a deep black noir - the three books are tonally different from each other. But each very good.
Fellside - The Fellside of the title is a maximum security women's Titan prison in Northern England. Jess Moulson sets a fire to kill her abusive boyfriend and instead kills a little boy and is sent down for murder. When she reaches prison she decides to take her own life, in the only method available, by hunger strike. However the ghost of the little boy she killed will not let her take that easy escape.
Carey is a master of pace with each sentence, each paragraph, each page, each chapter a hook that pulls you through the story. It's really rather marvelous to experience. This is a page-turner and I devoured it.
It reminded me a little of Carey's first Felix Castor book with a ghost seeking resolution and the main character seeking redemption. But it's of a different flavour to that book. Jess is a compelling lead and the cast of characters are well set up and well drawn, and believable.
In Dear Amy, another book with a female protagonist, Margot Lewis, an agony aunt receives a letter from a girl who had gone missing assumed abducted many years ago, which leads her down a very long dark rabbit hole indeed. Callaghan has created a taut thriller full of entertaining turns as Margot follows the clues as to how she could possibly be receiving these letters from someone presumed dead for years.
This is an impressive debut and I suspect that Callaghan is going to be huge. This deserves a large readership and I heartily recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers.
I also am very happy to say that I have a blog piece from the author - coming up next post...
Whilst it doesn't have a female protagonist I was Dora Suarez would be both incomplete without the voice of the victim and poorer. With one of the most brutal, and effective openings to a book I've ever read this immediately alerts you that this is an author that is going to paint with a palette of darkness.
Part of the Factory series, but standalone, this follows the investigation of a brutal axe murder by an unnamed Detective Sergeant who falls in love with the dead girl. The fact that the girl was dying of AIDS before the murder adds a level of poignancy to what could otherwise be a salacious crime novel.
As a dark reflection of Thatcher-era Britain, in a filth-encrusted mirror, it is a deeply disturbing read. It is also a darkly compelling tale.
I don't often read crime, but my foray into the genre has been interesting. I highly commend all three books.
Now I'm off to read E M Forster's A Room with a View to take a break...