2002 tartan noir. Angelique de Xavia, police detective burning out
after the events of A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away, comes up against
a gang of Situationist bank robbers.
2005 historical detection, fifteenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). After a series of jewel
thefts aboard the SS Hinemoa, Phryne is employed by P&O as both
detective and bait.
2005 historical epistolary mystery, second of Shaw's series. In 1892,
a young woman's much older husband has been murdered; her mother
brings in Vanessa Duncan to try to get the answers and avoid scandal
before the police arrest the widow.
1958 thriller/war story. In February 1942, Singapore is about to fall
to the Japanese; one last ship makes it out, but those who made it
aboard won't have an easy trip to safety.
2001 tartan noir. What's the connection between new teacher and new
father Ray Ash, and international terrorist-for-hire The Black Spirit?
Rather more than one might suspect.
1948 classic English detective fiction; thirteenth of Allingham's
novels of Albert Campion. The decaying Palinodes are lodging in what
used to be the family house, but one of them seems to have been
poisoned; what is the neighbouring undertaker up to; and why is a
delirious crook terrified of "going up Apron Street"?
1972 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. The Electron Pump
has brought limitless free energy to Earth, by exchanging matter with
a parallel universe where the physical laws differ. But one or two
people think there might be a worm in this apple.
1944 mystery; eighth of Daly's books of Henry Gamadge, book expert and
amateur investigator. Mr Crenshaw arrived in New York, settled his
affairs and died of leukemia, with no relatives to be informed; but a
casual acquaintance didn't like the look of his servant, and asks
Gamadge to dig into the matter.
2008 alternate-history science fiction war story. During the Battle of
the Java Sea in 1942, two antiquated four-stacker destroyers sail into
a squall… and come out somewhere else.
1947 classic English detective fiction; fourteenth of Marsh's novels
of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Agatha Troy is commissioned to paint a
portrait of Sir Henry Ancred, famed Shakespearian actor; the house is
full of his variously ghastly family, including the chorus-girl he's
taken up with.
1957 thriller/war story. The island of Navarone, off the Turkish
coast, contains a set of naval guns in a rock fortress that can't be
effectively bombed, surrounded by a massive occupation force. Two
sabotage missions have failed, one by boat, one by parachute. It's
time for the third.
2003 somewhat parodic cosy detective fiction; third and last of
Anderson's novels of the Earl of Burford and Inspector Wilkins. The
last two house parties at Alderley ended in murder, but surely there
can't be any harm in having people down for Great-Aunt Flossie's
funeral and the reading of her will?
1955 thriller/war story, MacLean's first novel. Ulysses, a
heavily-modified Dido-class cruiser, has been worked nearly to death
on the Arctic convoys, but in spite of that, and of an arguable mutiny
among the men, she's sent out for one more run.
1970 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. A motley crew of
explorers travels to an immense, star-girdling ring.
1997 mystery; first of Granger's novels of Fran Varady. Fran is
unemployed, broke, and about to be turfed out of her London squat
along with her three housemates. But one of those housemates is soon
going to turn up dead.
1989 swashbuckling science fiction. Against the background of the
thousand-years' war between the Hanoverian Monopolity and the Jendyne
Empery-Cirot, Arran Islay fights for freedom and revenge.
1964 mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. After the play that was to
be her Big Break closed in disgrace, Lucy Waring goes to visit her
married sister in Corfu. But why would anyone shoot at the dolphin
that comes into their bay?
1937 detective fiction; third of Heyer's novels of Detective
Inspector, later Superintendent, Hannasyde and Sergeant Hemingway.
Silas Kane is found at the foot of a cliff on the morning after his
sixtieth birthday party; obviously he slipped. But then his heir is
quite blatantly shot, and attempts are made on the life of the next
2016 science fiction, stand-alone sequel to The Long Way to a Small,
Angry Planet. A new AI in an illegal human-shaped body, and the human
who's getting it out of a bad situation, work together to build new
1946 detective fiction; third of Brand's novels of Inspector Cockrill.
Sir Richard's grandchildren visit his country house in the summer of
1944 as flying-bombs descend on London; he decides to disinherit them
all, goes to spend the night in the lodge dedicated to the memory of
his deceased first wife, and is found dead in the morning. US vt The
2004 historical detection, fourteenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne investigates a
disappeared "fast" girl, and one of her adopted daughters tries to
find her original father. But will Phryne manage to appear as Queen of
the Flowers at the St Kilda Festival? Of course she will.
1943 mystery, ninth in Innes' John Appleby series. At Nestfield
University, Professor Pluckrose is found dead in his deck-chair on the
Green, crushed by a meteorite; surely not an accident, and Appleby
1969 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. Genly Ai is a
human emissary to the world of Winter, sent to bring it into
star-travelling civilisation. The natives change gender as part of
their life cycle. And this is a problem for him.
2002 historical mystery, sixth of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler.
Following the events of Chapel Noir, our protagonists variously head
east to put an end to the Ripper mystery.
2004 alternate-history science fiction war story. In the near future,
an American-led multinational naval force is approaching an Indonesia
turned muslim-fundamentalist, when it finds itself hurled through time
to 1942, just before the Battle of Midway.
1945 classic English detective fiction; thirteenth of Marsh's novels
of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Florence Rubrick, sheep station owner
and local MP, vanished one night from her home; her body was found
some weeks later, packed into a bale of wool. Eighteen months later,
Alleyn is hunting for spies in New Zealand, and informally takes on
1915 thriller; first of Buchan's books about Richard Hannay. Bored in
London, Hannay invites his worried neighbour into his flat, and soon
finds both the authorities and a cunning group of terrorists against
2004 historical epistolary mystery. In Cambridge in 1888, a young
schoolmistress tries to solve the murders of three mathematicians
before her beau is convicted of them.
2001 historical mystery, fifth of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler.
In Paris in 1889, the Exposition Universelle is in full swing… but a
notorious killer seems to have come over from London.
2009 mystery, fifteenth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder
mysteries in US National Parks. After the events of the last book,
Anna's on administrative leave; she travels with her husband to the
Rio Grande for a rafting trip. They come across a nearly-dead, very
pregnant woman; and apparently someone wants to finish the job.
2014 modern fantasy/romance. Jade Crow runs a comics-and-games shop in
Wylde, Idaho, where lots of magical creatures congregate. She's hiding
from someone. But she isn't going to be able to stay hidden.
1945 classic English detective fiction; twelfth of Allingham's novels
of Albert Campion. Back in London after three years overseas on
mysterious war work, Campion just wants to catch a train; but Lugg and
an unknown lady turn up in his flat with a corpse. US vt Pearls
1965 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. In the distant
future, plots whirl within plots, and the control of the most valuable
planet in the universe is a poisoned chalice.
2004 tartan noir. Jack Parlabane is invited to the junket weekend of a
new firm that plans to run team-building retreats with a twist. But
that twist is going to turn out to be rather more twisted than anyone
1909 school stories, compilation from magazine publication in
1907-1908: Mike Jackson, youngest of five cricketing brothers, goes
first to Wrykin and then to Sedleigh. Also republished in separate
parts later, as Mike at Wrykin and Mike and Psmith; the latter
also as Enter Psmith.
1959 thriller. An airliner makes a forced rough landing near a weather
observation post in the highlands of Greenland. What was it doing that
far north, what foul play was involved, and who is responsible?
2011 non-fiction. Orenstein breaks down various elements of the
pink-princess culture as marketed to young girls.
1959 thriller. British agent Michael Reynolds travels to Budapest to
retrieve a British scientist kidnapped by the Russians and due to be
shown off at a conference. US vt The Secret Ways.
1943 classic English detective fiction; twelfth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. At a run-down hot-springs resort in the back
country of New Zealand, one guest seems to be going out of his way to
offend everyone; then he vanishes.
1959 horror. Mary Crane has stolen $40,000 from her employer and is
running away to get married. Unfortunately she's chosen to stay at the
2011 non-historical fiction, sequel to Fly By Night. Mosca Mye and
Eponymous Clent are still in trouble, and attempting to flee through
Toll, the town that controls the only bridge across the big river. But
both entering and leaving have their price. US vt Fly Trap.
1999 tartan noir. Gavin Hutchison has a brilliant idea: convert an oil
rig to an offshore resort hotel for xenophobic tourists, with all the
comforts of home but warmer weather since it'll be moored off the
African coast. What better way to show it off than by hosting a school
1941 (some sources say 1942) classic English detective fiction;
eleventh of Marsh's novels of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. For his own
amusement, Jonathan Royal invites six mortal enemies to a party at his
house in Dorset. Really, the first surprise is that he isn't
2012 historical fantasy, first in the Order of the Air series. In
1929, as Lake Nemi is drained in search of its archaeological
treasures, an ancient evil is loosed. Only four heroic
aviator-magicians will be able to fight it.
1940 classic English detective fiction; tenth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. The Lampreys are an impoverished
aristocratic family; after Lord Charles's rich brother refused to give
them yet another handout, he was found stabbed to death. Mad wife?
Annoyed brother? Random stranger? Well, it'll never be that last in a
classic mystery. US vt Death of a Peer.
2015 science fiction. Ren works as the 3D printer engineer in a colony
on an extrasolar planet, right next to the alien biotech artefact
known as God's City. Then a stranger shows up, a descendant of the
people thought to have been lost in an accident during planetfall.
In 2016 I've read 133 books, down a little from recent years.
1996 mystery; second of Cutler's novels of Sophie Rivers, teacher in a
sixth-form college in Birmingham and part-time chorister. Sophie goes
on a residential writing course; one of her fellow students dies, and
a tutor goes missing.
1941 detective fiction; second of Brand's novels, and first to feature
Inspector Cockrill. A visitor to a country house says "I wouldn't be
seen dead in a ditch in a [hat] like that"… and is soon proved wrong.
The next night another woman is murdered.
1994 detective fiction; seventh of Cleeves's novels of amateur private
detectives George and Molly Palmer-Jones. Jimmy Morrissey was the
public voice of environmentalism and conservation, but killed himself
with an overdose of antidepressants. Or did he?
2008 humorous science fiction, second in the series. Captain Isambard
Smith of the British Empire in space is sent to the Didcot system,
where a revolutionary movement threatens the Empire's supply of tea.
1941 detective fiction; first of Brand's novels, and first of two
featuring Inspector Charlesworth. One of the senior staff of a London
dress-shop dies of poison; her co-workers are the only plausible
2000 mystery, third in Whitelaw's Jordan Lacey series. Jordan takes
on a job following a woman suspected of compensation fraud against the
local department store, and then tries to track down vanishing stock
in the run-up to Christmas. And of course there's also a murder.
1940 classic English detective fiction; eleventh of Allingham's novels
of Albert Campion. An amnesiac Campion knows he was in the middle of
dealing with a truly serious plot… but what is it all about, and whom
can he trust? US vt The Sabotage Murder Mystery.
1990 mystery; ninth in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. Sharon's assigned to follow Frank
Wilkinson as he spends his Sunday going round the horticultural high
spots of San Francisco. But her client's obviously lying about why he
wants the job done, and soon he ends up dead.
1940 classic English detective fiction; ninth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. In an isolated village in Devon, a game of
darts at the pub ends in death. Accidental? Surely not.
2003 space opera, first book of Dread Empire's Fall. The Shaa
subjugated the galaxy, binding all the races they met – including
humanity – under their universal philosophy, the Praxis. But ten
thousand years later, the last Shaa has chosen to die.
1981 mystery, first of Caudwell's Hilary Tamar series. A young
barrister, Julia, is taking a tour in Venice; she gets a gorgeous
young man to bed, and a few hours later he's found dead, stabbed, with
her copy of the Finance Act next to the body.
1991 autobiography. Hamper writes about his life working on the GM
factory floor in Flint, Michigan.
1939 classic English detective fiction; eighth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Miss Campanula was killed by a
booby-trapped piano, but was she really the intended victim?
1975 historical detective fiction; sixth of Lovesey's novels of
Sergeant Cribb, policeman in Victorian London. Two thefts during
séances conducted by the latest fashionable medium attract the
attention of the police, but when the next séance ends in a death,
mere spiritualism is clearly not the only deception going on.
2002 non-fiction: George Dyson, son of Freeman, recounts what can be
told of the history of Project Orion, a plan to propel spacecraft with
1975 detective fiction; sixth of Aird's novels of Inspector Sloan and
Constable Crosby. Bill Fent, local landowner, died when his car hit
another at a notorious corner… but he'd have been dead before morning
anyway, from the poison in his system.
1939/1950 collection of short mystery stories featuring Albert
1975 detective fiction; first of Dexter's novels of Inspector Morse.
Two young women wait for the bus out of Oxford one night; one goes to
hitch a ride, and her dead body is found the next day.
1995 mystery; first of Cutler's novels of Sophie Rivers, a teacher in
a sixth-form college in Birmingham. Finding one of her students
stabbed to death in the lift is bad enough; when her best friend dies
in a way that seems plausibly accidental except to people who knew him
well, Sophie knows she'll have to look into the situation herself.
1930 thriller, second of the Saint series. In three loosely-linked
novellas, the Saint takes on a succession of criminals.
1975 detective fiction; first of Brett's novels of Charles Paris,
ageing actor. A friend and occasional lover of Charles's has been
dumped by her current sugar daddy, and she asks him to return some
compromising photographs. But getting in touch is going to be
something of a challenge.
2014 young adult science fiction, third in the Earth Girl trilogy.
Jarra is Handicapped, unable to leave Earth for any of the colony
worlds where most of society now happens, but she's also a famous
hero. Which means she's now become a symbol, both for those who want
to bring the Handicapped more into society and for those who resist
2014 non-fiction. Hannah Hart, youtuber, shares recipes and her
philosophy of life.
1938 classic English detective fiction; seventh of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Someone's blackmailing London's high
society as the Season begins, and Alleyn asks a friend who moves in
those circles to look into it; murder will be done.
2011 historical mystery; fourth in Bradley's series about Flavia de
Luce, young amateur sleuth in 1950s Britain. As Christmas approaches,
Buckshaw is let to a film crew who'll be making The Cry of the
Raven, starring the famous Phyllis Wyvern. But not all of the company
will be leaving again.
2014 science fiction. A nameless scholar of the Second Chinese
Republic looks back from the year 2393 on the Penumbral Age that
brought western civilisation to its close.
1938 classic English detective fiction; sixth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. At an informal residential art school, the
model has been murdered – by a method all the students had talked
about some days before.
2011 historical mystery; third in Bradley's series about Flavia de
Luce, young amateur sleuth in 1950s Britain. A missing baby, an
assault on a Gypsy (sic) fortune-teller, and a murder in Flavia's own
home will all turn out to be connected.
1907 mystery. Mlle Stangerson, daughter of the famous scientist,
locked herself into her bedroom… then came the sound of a struggle,
shouts of "Murder", and gunfire. When her father broke down the door,
she was seriously injured and the only person there – and the
window-bars had not been moved.
1938 classic English detective fiction; tenth of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. Georgia Wells, actress and femme fatale, attracts
men like moths. But somehow, just as they start to get troublesome,
they seem to die. Is Georgia less silly, and more dangerous, than she
2010 historical mystery; second in Bradley's series about Flavia de
Luce, young amateur sleuth in 1950s Britain. Rupert Porson, the famous
puppeteer (at least to those who have televisions), was passing
through the village of Bishop's Lacey when his van broke down; since
he's stuck there overnight, he might as well put on a show. But it's
all going to go horribly wrong.
1981 somewhat parodic cosy detective fiction; second of Anderson's
novels of the Earl of Burford and Inspector Wilkins. After the last
one, the Earl swore off house-parties, but it seems it's all happening
again. Including the murder.
2014 military SF, first book of the Alexis Carew series. Barred by her
sex from inheriting the family estates, Carew signs aboard a ship of
the Royal Navy as a midshipman… in space.
1937 classic English detective fiction; fifth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. This time he's on holiday in New Zealand,
sharing an overnight train with a touring theatrical troupe also from
England, when the manager says that someone's tried to murder him. The
next day, someone will succeed.
1916 thriller; second of Buchan's books about Richard Hannay. Richard
Hannay and Sandy Arbuthnot are convalescing from wounds received at
the Battle of Loos
when word comes from Sir Walter Bullivant of the Foreign Office: the
Germans have some kind of trump-card with which they're planning to
set the Moslem world on fire.
1982 mystery; second in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. One of Sharon's neighbours in her
apartment building is strangled, and it looks worryingly as if
Sharon's house-guest, who's prone to alcoholic amnesia, might have
2008 mystery, fourteenth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder
mysteries in US National Parks. Anna returns to Isle Royale, this time
in winter, to join the wolf/moose wildlife study; it's disrupted by an
observer from Homeland Security, who clearly has a brief to shut it
down and instead open the park in winter to "beef up security". Then
traces of an unexpected large predator show up. Then people start to
2015 science-fantasy. The world known as the Stillness is wracked by
tectonic activity; only the earth-shapers, the orogenes, can hold
things together. So naturally they are slaves.
1977 mystery; first in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. Sharon's been looking into arson and
vandalism on a street of junk and antique shops that's in the
crosshairs of gentrification. But now one of the shop owners has been
1937 classic English detective fiction; ninth of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. Campion is called to the village of Kepesake as the
recent rich incomer has clearly been murdered… but when Campion sees
the body, he realises he went to the same man's funeral five months
2003 military SF, second book of Succession. Captain Laurent Zai
tries to win a space battle; Senator Nara Oxham tries to survive
1994 historical detection, sixth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series
(1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne goes undercover in a
circus to try to find out who's sabotaging it; and a performer who's
moved on from it is accused of murder.
2009 non-fiction. Oates recounts the twenty cases in London during
these two decades which were treated as murder, but never solved.
2003 military SF, first book of Succession. Captain Laurent Zai of
the Imperial frigate Lynx is attempting to rescue the Child Empress
from invading cyborgs. Only that makes it sound dire, and it's
actually rather good.
1993 historical detection, fifth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series
(1920s flapper detective in Australia). During a dance competition at
the Green Mill, a figure slumps to the ground. Was he the target of
his attacker – or was it Phryne? And why has her partner for the
1937 classic English detective fiction; eighth of Allingham's novels
of Albert Campion. Someone's playing silly pranks on Jimmy Sutane,
star of a successful musical; he invites Campion to look into it. But
then one of Sutane's house-guests dies: accident, suicide, murder?
Later US vt Who Killed Chloe?.
1992 historical detection, fourth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). As Phryne is driving
home one night, someone shoots out her windscreen. As the gunfight
moves on, she gets out of the car to find an injured young man, who
dies in her arms.
2006 psychological thriller. After a highly public series of tragic
incidents, Antonia Weston goes to Cheshire to stay in a cottage near a
small market town, hoping for anonymity and peace. But she soon
experiences a series of events which seem to be echoing the past she's
trying to forget.
1991 historical detection, third in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series
(1920s flapper detective in Australia). Everyone in one of the
carriages on the overnight train to Ballarat is chloroformed; Phryne
retains just enough consciousness to shoot out the window and let in
some air. When everyone recovers, it's found that an elderly passenger
has vanished. But why?
2009 SF, loosely connected with the Company series. The British
Arean Corporation sponsored the colonisation of Mars… then it turned
out that short-term profits weren't possible, and they lost interest.
Mary Griffith runs the only place to buy a beer on the Tharsis Bulge.
1936 classic English detective fiction; fourth of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. At a meeting of the House of the Sacred
Flame, a small cult, the Chosen Vessel drinks from the Flaming Cup,
gabbles nonsensically, and dies of a dose of sodium cyanide.
1990 historical detection, second in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne takes on the
case of a son whose mother is worried he'll murder his father, and
then the father is indeed murdered; and she tracks down a kidnapped
1962; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. Nicola Ferris, on holiday
from her job at the British Embassy in Athens, has been looking
forward to getting away from it all in an obscure corner of Crete. But
a day of random wandering brings her into contact with two men, one of
them badly injured.
1989 historical detection, first in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series
(1920s flapper detective in Australia). Intelligent, beautiful, rich,
and bored, the Hon. Phryne Fisher travels to Australia in order to
find out whether John Andrews is poisoning his wife, her clients'
1930 classic English detective fiction; fifth of Sayers's novels of
Lord Peter Wimsey. Philip Boyes, writer on atheism, anarchy and free
love, died of quite a lot of arsenic; Harriet Vane, who had lived with
him without benefit of clergy for nearly a year until they had
quarrelled three months earlier, is accused of having poisoned him.
Wimsey, seeing the trial, is convinced of her innocence, not to say
smitten by her; when the jury cannot agree on a verdict, he makes it
his business to save her from the gallows in the month before the new
1988 mystery; eighth in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. Sharon's sister Patsy has a new
boyfriend, and a renovation project in the
But someone's playing tricks, sabotaging the project and scaring off
the workers; Sharon takes a long weekend away from her job to help
2008 mystery; ninth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude drops into the local betting shop to take shelter
from a sudden hailstorm; another customer staggers out, and turns up
stabbed in an alley nearby.
2014 SF, first of the Solarian War Saga. Elfrida Goto works for the
Space Corps, persuading asteroid-dwellers to accept resettlement
before their asteroids are dropped into Venus as part of the
terraforming project. But her telepresence robot is acting up, and
then the space station she's living on comes under attack.
2007 mystery; eighth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Carole always has her hair cut at Connie's Clip Joint,
"same shape, but shorter". This time, Kyra, one of the juniors, hasn't
turned up, and she turns out to have been left dead in the back room,
strangled with the cord of a hair-dryer.
1936 classic English detective fiction; seventh of Allingham's novels
of Albert Campion. The Barnabas family publishing house is used to
strangeness; the founder's nephew disappeared in broad daylight while
walking between his house and the main road. Now Paul Brande, one of
the cousins who run the firm, is found dead inside a locked room. US
vt Legacy in Blood.
2006 mystery; seventh in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude's been asked to extend her healing practice to a
horse; but she doesn't expect to find the co-owner of the stables
stabbed to death. Obviously it was the local "Horse Ripper", caught in
the act. Or was it a jealous husband?
2006 military SF, fourth of the Kris Longknife books. Kris finally
gets an independent command: a single-world "naval district" on the
far end of anywhere.
2005 mystery; sixth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Carole's son is getting married, but the bride's parents
are oddly reluctant to have any announcements made… and then the
father is strangled.
1935 classic English detective fiction; third of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. In a private hospital, the Home Secretary
was operated on for appendicitis: shortly afterwards he was dead,
poisoned with hyoscine (scopolamine). And all sorts of people seem to
have had motives.
2004 mystery; fifth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude is helping out at the Hopwicke Country House Hotel,
but the morning after a boozy meeting of the Pillars of Sussex, an
organisation of local businessmen, one of them doesn't come down to
breakfast… because he's hanging from a beam of his four-poster bed.
Obviously a suicide…
…or obviously not, but proving it will be hard work, especially
when the Pillars of Sussex close ranks to disassociate themselves from
the victim. Everybody's far too willing to talk to Carole and Jude, as
usual, but a key player appears for the first time three-quarters of
the way through the book, which doesn't help matters.
Most of the investigation is a trudge through local businesses, and
Brett's usual cast of horrible people. Everyone has something to hide,
of course, and it usually reinforces how ghastly they are.
As in The Torso in the Town, the ultimate villain goes unpunished,
which again seems to be a violation of the principles of murder
mysteries: the detectives find themselves stymied and essentially give
up and go home. But they do that seemingly because there are only a
few pages left; if it were half-way through the book they'd go after
some alternative source of information, and for their behaviour to be
so blatantly affected by a non-diegetic element breaks my suspension
But in this book, the mystery is the bread on which the pâté of human
drama is spread: what are these people's secrets, and how do they
react as things come out? Also, this marks a significant achievement
in the process of Carole's transformation into a human being, as she
finds herself become able to talk with her son and his fiancée in a
way she certainly wouldn't have been when the series started.
(However, I think Brett realised that without having Carole as a
pompous prig he loses the contrast she strikes against free-spirited
Jude, so her progress from this point on is much slower and sometimes
Followed by The Witness at the Wedding.
2003 historical detection, thirteenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne investigates a
mummified corpse found in a carnival attraction.
2003; fourth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Bracketts, an Elizabethan house, is to be turned into a
museum celebrating the life and work of the local poet Esmond
Chadleigh, its most famous resident. Then a skull is dug up in the
1994 science fiction, sequel to The Ring of Charon. This review
contains spoilers for that first book.
2002 mystery; third in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). The couple who've just moved into the Big House in
Fedborough, inland up the river from Fethering, throw a dinner party
to try to get into the local social scene… which is somewhat spoiled
when a limbless body is discovered in the cellar.
1935 classic English detective fiction; second of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. When Arthur Surbonadier is fatally shot on
stage during the last act of The Rat and the Beaver, there's no
question about who pulled the trigger: the shooting was part of the
play. But there wasn't supposed to be live ammunition in the gun.
2001 mystery; second in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). While out exploring the South Downs, Carole stumbles on a
human skeleton. Jude thinks she knows who it might have been.
1938 fiction. Henry Warren, a successful banker, works all his waking
hours, travelling across Europe to sort out financial deals,
particularly share issues. His digestion is bad, and his wife's having
an affair with a foreigner. When all the stress catches up with him,
he winds up in the hospital of a northern town, one that's been
without significant employment since the shipyard closed, and decides
to do something about it. (US vt Kindling.)
2000 mystery; first in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Carole Seddon, conventional, divorced, and retired from
the Home Office, moves to the small seaside town of Fethering
(inspired by the real Tarring in West Sussex). But her neighbour Jude
turns out to be distressingly bohemian, and she finds a dead body
while walking her dog on the beach… but by the time the police turn
up, it's gone.
2009 steampunk fantasy. Darian Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay
and her crew of misfits, as they go about doing small-time jobs for
small-time people. But they're all about to play for much higher
stakes than they were ever expecting.
1991 military fiction; second in the Carrier series. A complex plot
sees Burmese, Thai and Chinese renegades orchestrating a breakup of
SEATO for purposes unclear at first. Carrier Battle Group 14 is going
to get caught in the middle.
1993 detective fiction; fifth of Cleeves's novels of amateur private
detectives George and Molly Palmer-Jones. Elderly Ursula Ottway lives
in a cottage on an estate in the Cumbrian fell country; when she finds
her cats dead from eating poisoned bait, she threatens to expose her
landlord, rising politician Marcus Grenville, since he's obviously
been illegally poisoning raptors to improve the grouse shooting. The
next day she's dead. But she was Molly's aunt, and George and Molly
were on their way to visit.
1991 military fiction; first in the Carrier series. An American
intelligence ship and her crew vanish on the high seas; the North
Koreans admit nothing. Carrier Battle Group 14 is sent in to get them
2016 SF/mystery; fifty-third (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death
series. Dennis Mira went to confront his cousin Edward over plans to
sell the family house, but found him tied up in a chair; then someone
knocked Dennis on the head. Now Edward's missing. Fortunately Dennis
is married to Charlotte Mira, police profiler and friend of Lieutenant
2000 mystery, eighth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. Newly promoted to District Ranger on the Natchez
Trace Parkway, Anna finds herself the object of resentment by her
time-serving underlings, then discovers the body of a young woman (who
"had accrued a surprising number of reasons to be done to death for a
girl of her tender years").
2013 science fiction/romance. Finn is a robot who looks and acts
human; he arrives in young Cat Novak's life as her tutor, and stays as
the years pass.
1999 mystery, seventh in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. With her sister hospitalised in New York, Anna
stays on Liberty Island (where the statue is) and explores Ellis
Island outside hospital visiting hours. Then a young girl falls to her
death from the statue.
1934 classic English detective fiction; sixth of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. The great artist John Lafcadio left twelve final
paintings, to be shown one per year after his death. At the unveiling
of the eighth, a young artist is fatally stabbed with a pair of
1998 mystery, sixth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. Lechugilla Cavern is a huge and largely
unexplored cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park; whena friend and
fellow ranger is injured there, Anna swallows her claustrophobia and
goes in to help with the evacuation.
2007 science fiction. The starship Fenrir was lost ten years ago to
a misjump, but its warp engine has just reappeared in open space…
embedded in coral, and accompanied by three dead bodies and a fishing
boat. Captain Mikhail Ivanovich Volkov takes the frigate Svoboda to
find out where the Fenrir has been.
1997 mystery, fifth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder
mysteries in US National Parks. After the events of the previous book,
Anna's sent to Cumberland Island Park for "pre-suppression" fire duty,
and a bit of a lighter posting. But she and another ranger spot a
plume of smoke, which turns out to be the fresh wreckage of the
island's drug-interdiction plane.
1933 classic English detective fiction; fifth of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. The Fitton family operate a run-down watermill in
Suffolk, but may be the forgotten heirs of Averna, a tiny European
principality that may suddenly be terribly important. US vtt Kingdom
of Earth and The Fear Sign.
1996 mystery, fourth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder
mysteries in US National Parks. Anna's called in to help fight a
wildfire in Lassen Volcanic National Park, but the wind shifts and a
firestorm overtakes the team. When they come out of their protective
tents, one of them's been stabbed in the back.
1937 feminist alternate history. Seven centuries after Nazi victory,
women are uneducated cattle, and men have eliminated history, books,
1995 mystery, third in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. Visitors to Mesa Verde Park and the Anasazi
cliff dwellings have been coming away with a strange and deadly
1931 classic English detective fiction; fourth of Allingham's novels
of Albert Campion. The very elderly Caroline Faraday has a house in
Cambridge run on strict Victorian lines; her ageing son, daughters and
nephew put up with the lack of freedom for the free bed and board,
having variously failed at their own lives. But everyone's fairly
horrible, and it seems that one of them is also a murderer.
1944 detective fiction; second of Brand's novels of Inspector
Cockrill. At a military hospital during the Blitz, a patient dies
under anæsthetic. Later, someone who'd claimed to know who was
responsible is stabbed to death. Six suspects are left, and there's
not a visible motive among them.
2008 fantasy. The isolated towns and villages of the volcanic
Gullstruck Island rely on the Lost, who can project their senses at a
distance, to keep them in contact with each other. Arilou is one such
Lost, and Hathin is her helper. But it's all going to get vastly more
complicated. US vt The Lost Conspiracy.
1994 mystery, second in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. In the Isle Royale park off the Michigan coast,
one of the dive operators turns up dead in a long-sunken shipwreck.
1961; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. Mary Grey has no
particular prospects, but she's a dead ringer for Annabel Winslow, the
heir to the small farm of Whitescar, who's been missing for eight
years. Con Winslow, who's been running the place as Annabel's
grandfather gradually declines, sees a chance to pull a Brat Farrar,
produce the "missing heir", and get the place whether or not it's
willed to him. But Mary has her own plans.
1993 mystery, first in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. After the death of her husband, Anna fled from
her life in New York to find solitude as a ranger in the Guadalupe
Mountains National Park, home to a few mountain lions among other
species. But when a colleague is found dead, the paw prints round the
body and claw marks on the throat seem to point a little too
perfectly to a killer animal.
1931 classic English detective fiction; third of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. The Gyrth Chalice is unique and unsaleable… but it
seems that someone is setting up to steal it anyway, for a private
collection. US vt The Gyrth Chalice Mystery.
2011 military SF novella, a later insertion into the Kris Longknife
series. After the triumph of the Battle of Wardhaven, Kris and crew go
out to train allied fast patrol boat commanders.
1964 science fiction, sequel to The Survivors/Space Prison. The
survivors of the hell-world Ragnarok have handily won the war against
the Gern, but they don't seem to be able to talk sensibly with either
Earth or the former Gern-slave colony of Athena. And there's a new
1930 classic English detective fiction; second of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. Multiple attempts have been made to murder an American
judge; Campion does his best to keep him safe.
2005 military SF, third of the Kris Longknife books. As a victim of
fallout from a political attack against her family, Kris gets sent on
a diplomatic mission, then comes back to a desperate struggle in
defence of her homeworld.
2001 mystery, second in Whitelaw's Jordan Lacey series (private
investigation in a small seaside town). Jordan investigates stolen
water-lilies, vandalism, theft of a wedding cake, arson, and an errant
husband. Oh, and a Second World War aircraft wreck.
1929 classic English detective fiction; first of Allingham's novels of
Albert Campion. George Abbershaw, expert pathologist who unexpectedly
finds himself in love, goes down for the weekend to the remote country
house called "Black Dudley"; but the gathering is afflicted with
murder… and then taken over by gangsters. US vt The Black Dudley
1990 science fiction. Larry Chao is a junior scientist at a gravity
research station on Pluto, that's about to be shut down. He's just
made a remarkable improvement in gravity manipulation, but the chief
administrator won't take it seriously, so he fires off an unauthorised
experiment to prove to the scientific community that there's real
progress being made. At which point something very unexpected happens.
1931 English detective fiction, in fourteen chapters by fourteen
authors. The body of retired Admiral Penistone is found in a small
boat on the river, stabbed through the heart. Everyone has a story,
and everyone has something to hide.
2015 SF/mystery novella; fifty-second (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In
Death series, published as part of Down the Rabbit Hole, a
multi-author anthology of stories loosely inspired by Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland. Apparently Darlene Fitzwilliams fatally
stabbed her brother, then jumped off his fifty-second floor balcony.
But there's no sign that she was the sort of person who'd do that.
2012 science fiction. Amy Peterson is a self-replicating ("von
Neumann") humaniform robot, who has been growing up slowly as part of
a mixed human/android family. Then her grandmother shows up, and she
has to eat her.
1934 classic English detective fiction; first of Marsh's novels of
Inspector Roderick Alleyn. At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house
weekend, five guests play a game of "Murder". But when the lights come
2008 humorous science fiction; first in its series. In the 25th
Century the British Empire will soon be fighting the insectoid Ghast;
but Captain Isambard Smith, square-jawed, courageous, and perhaps a
bit dim, is called on to take an elderly refitted freighter on a
1983, cozy American detective fiction; fourth of MacLeod's novels of
Boston Brahmin Sarah Kelling and art investigator Max Bittersohn.
Sarah and Max, teetering on the brink of getting engaged, visit
Sarah's summer home on Cape Cod. But someone has covertly added a
valuable antique mirror to the furnishings; and a nasty old gossip
turns up with an axe in her chest.
2009 urban fantasy. Evie Scelan isn't a magician: she just has a knack
for tracking things by scent. But staying out of the way of the
magical rulers of Boston isn't as easy as simply keeping her head
2014; fifteenth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing in small-town Sussex). After a rehearsal for a village-hall
production of The Devil's Disciple, the lead is found strangled on
the "absolutely safe" gallows.
2014 science fiction. The mixed human and alien crew members aboard a
wormhole-building ship move from world to world, on their way to the
job that'll let them move into the big time.
2007 young adult fantasy. Ryan, Chelle and Josh fish some coins out of
the old well, to pay for a bus home. Then things get far too
complicated, far too fast. US vt Well Witched.
1985 mystery; seventh in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. Someone's causing minor troubles for
the inhabitants of a hotel in the Tenderloin, most of them recent
Vietnamese immigrants; Sharon's employed by the Refugee Assistance
Committee to look into it. Then things turn deadly.
1861 non-fiction, popular science, transcriptions of early Royal
Institution Christmas Lectures; Faraday starts from the basics of
combustion and goes on to the frontiers of nineteenth-century
2016 science fiction, sixteenth novel in the Vorkosigan universe.
Three years after the death of Aral Vorkosigan, his widow Cordelia
starts to move her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, Admiral of
Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in unexpected ways.
John Dallman invented the term Occult Secret Service to describe the
Laundry novels of Charles Stross (from 2001) and the Broom
Cupboard novels of David Devereux (from 2008). It's become popular in
other fiction and in role-playing games. Is it useful to analyse it
1958 science fiction. When the aliens capture a colony ship, they take
the slaves who can work and abandon the rest on an uninhabited world.
That's their error. (Also published as Space Prison.)
1994 mystery, fourth of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler; here she
returns to Prague, to solve a problem for the Queen. Espionage, the
Golem, femmes fatales, and really nice dresses ensue. (Retitled as
Another Scandal in Bohemia in recent reissue.)
2012 science fiction, second in The Expanse series. Ganymede, the
main supplier of food to the outer system, is attacked and its fragile
artificial ecosystem destroyed; Earth and Mars seem likely to go to
2014 military fantasy. The unnamed protagonist leads a unit of The
Line in repelling an invasion by the Dark Lord in the next country.
2015 SF/mystery; fifty-first (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death
series. Two serial killers have crossed the USA and landed in New
York; Lieutenant Eve Dallas tracks them down.
Contemporary fantasy, fourth in the series. Peter Grant, Metropolitan
Police constable and magician, looks into a number of cases that seem
to be tying back to a Brutalist tower block in Southwark.
2009 mystery, third in the series. Constable "Thorny" Deepbriar goes
to the local seaside town while his broken leg finishes healing, but
he can't leave detection alone. Not only is someone stealing garden
gnomes, but a body found on the beach is someone Deepbriar thought had
died when he was a very green copper sixteen years ago during the war.
2008 alternate-history suspense/thriller, last in the "Small Change"
trilogy. In the fascist Britain of 1960, former Inspector Carmichael
still runs the Watch, the secret police charged with rounding up Jews,
Communists, and other undesirables; his adopted niece, Elvira, is
looking forward to her début.
2005 non-historical fiction. Mosca lives in a tiny rural village, but
her exiled father taught her to read and to love words. She takes her
first opportunity to escape, and finds herself (and Saracen the goose)
mixed up in matters that will determine the fate of a great city.
2016 SF and fantasy. Patricia is a witch who can sometimes talk with
animals, and Laurence is a budding mad scientist. Having met and split
up during their hellish schooldays, they meet again as the world seems
to be winding towards its end.
2016 supernatural mustery, sixth in Oswald's Inspector McLean
series. A police raid following a tip-off about a brothel goes wrong:
there's sex being had, but it all seems to have been consenting
swingers, except for one registered sex offender. Then people start
2015 non-fiction, popular science; short pieces introduce the
scientific explanations for commonplace oddities.
2002 military SF, long-delayed final volume in the Antares trilogy.
The combined human fleets are taking on the Ryall menace, to remove it
once and for all. But is there any option short of extermination?
2002 historical detection, twelfth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne looks into
trouble at a French restaurant, the disappearance of a young woman,
and the murder of old soldiers.
2013 modern occult secret service novelette, between The Apocalypse
Codex and The Rhesus Chart in the Laundry Files series. Bob
Howard is sent to inspect a livery stables, because they're buying a
worrying amount of meat.
2007 alternate-history suspense/thriller, second in the "Small Change"
trilogy. Eight years after the "peace with honour" of 1941, as Mark
Normanby's new government is cracking down on Jewish communist
terrorists, a bomb goes off in a Hampstead suburb. Inspector
Carmichael, compromised but useful to his political masters,
2012 modern occult secret service, fourth in the Laundry Files
series. Bob has been promoted to management, and has to supervise a
couple of freelance agents. Seems an American televangelist is getting
too much into favour with the Prime Minister…
2000 military SF, first in the Valor/Confederation series. Staff
Sergeant Torin Kerr's platoon of Marines is just back from a hard
fight when their liberty is cancelled and they're sent off to escort a
group of diplomats as they try to get a recently-discovered world to
join the Confederation. Then things get worse.
2010 modern occult secret service, third in the Laundry Files
series. Bob Howard becomes entangled in a cultist plot to steal the
Eater of Souls.
1959; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. Camilla Haven, on holiday
in Athens, is lamenting that nothing ever happens to her. Then a
stranger brings her "the car for Delphi", for "Monsieur Simon", for
which someone has apparently already paid the deposit, and tells her
that it's a matter of life and death…
2009 modern occult secret service novelette, between The Jennifer
Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum in the Laundry Files series. The
Laundry is down to a skeleton staff for Christmas… so Bob Howard is
the one man who might be able to prevent the annihilation of the
Collection of six short mystery stories from 1902-1903. Madame Sara,
the best "beautifier" in London, is also a master criminal – one might
even say a veritable Napoleon of crime.
2008 modern occult secret service novelette, between The Jennifer
Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum in the Laundry Files series. Bob
visits the asylum where broken Laundry agents go; all, unsurprisingly,
is not well.
2005 futuristic fantasy. Detective Inspector Chen is a cop in the
franchised city Singapore Three, in charge of magical and supernatural
investigations. When a missing girl's soul turns up demonstrably in
Hell, rather than Heaven where it should be, that's the first thread
of a long and political investigation.
2006 modern occult secret service, second in the Laundry Files series.
Bob Howard is sent to a Caribbean island to stop a billionaire from
destroying the world with magic.
2005 mystery, thirteenth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder
mysteries in US National Parks. In Rocky Mountain, three young girls
went missing a few months back, and were never found. But now two of
them have walked out of the woods…
2004 modern occult secret service, first in the Laundry Files
series; a short novel of the same title coupled with the novella The
Concrete Jungle. Bob Howard is a techie working for an extremely
secret part of the British intelligence community, trying to suppress
knowledge that could destroy the world… and clean up when it gets out.
1992 mystery, third of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler. In Paris in
1888, a stranger in Oriental garb falls poisoned at the feet of
Irene's narrator, Nell Huxleigh. But why does he claim to know her?
(Retitled A Soul of Steel in recent reissue.)
1987 SF, second in the Antares trilogy. The Altan and Sandarian
space navies won't be able to fight the alien menace on their own, but
they have a plan for getting back in contact with Earth.
1997 humorous detective fiction; first of Alcorn's novels of Norman de
Ratour, Recording Secretary at the Museum of Man, an anthropological
museum somewhere in New England. Dean Fessing goes missing, and most
of him turns up expertly cooked. That inevitably starts rumours of
cannibalism, but there may be fire to go with this smoke…
1900 collection of funny and fantastic stories of Imperial China.
1996 SF/fantasy short story collection of some of Drake's more
humorous short stories.
2011 detective fiction parody, collection of seven short stories.
Colonel Sebastian Moran, a cad and a bounder, works for Professor
Moriarty the consulting criminal.
2011 science fiction, first in The Expanse series. With the asteroid
belt colonised, tensions are rising between Belt, Mars and Earth. When
ships start getting destroyed, war is inevitable; but who actually
kicked it off, and why?
1993 detective fiction; sixth of Cleeves's novels of amateur private
detectives George and Molly Palmer-Jones. On a bird-watching boat
trip, the sighting of a rare petrel is much more interesting than a
birdwatcher who isn't where he should be. But then he turns out to
have been murdered...
2015 science fiction. In the near future, helium-3 mining on the Moon
is big business, but the shipments back to Earth are being hijacked.
1998, short pieces on the effects of Disney on Florida and other places.
1975 cosy detective fiction; first of Anderson's novels of the Earl of
Burford and Inspector Wilkins. Some time in the 1930s, there's a house
party at Alderley, including the Earl's political brother and the
foreign dignitaries he's negotiating with, an American millionaire
called Hiram, and various others. Nobody is quite what they seem, and
that's even before jewels start going missing and guests start turning
2015 science fiction. At a regional American SF convention, things are
going with the usual level of chaos… until the entire con hotel gets
kidnapped by time-travelling androids.
2013 young adult science fiction, sequel to Earth Girl. Jarra is
Handicapped, unable to leave Earth for any of the colony worlds where
most of society now happens, but after a daring rescue she's a hero.
Now her archaeological and historical skills will be tested in an
entirely new field.
1980 historical mystery. In 1327, Friar William of Baskerville and his
novice Adso of Melk try to solve a series of murders at a monastery in
2009 mystery, the tenth book in Lovesey's Peter Diamond series.
After a Civil War battle re-enactment on Lansdown Hill near Bath, one
of the soldiers disappears. Later the police find a headless skeleton
in the same area. Later still, a homeless man is found dead with a
major head wound. Are the cases connected? DI Peter Diamond is
determined that they are.
2015 vaguely steampunk science fiction. In Rapid City on the Pacific
Northwest coast, Karen Memery is one of the "seamstresses" at Hôtel
Mon Cherie (sic). It's not a bad life, but she's about to get in the
way of a powerful man on his way up even higher.
2015 fantasy novella in the World of the Five Gods (formerly known as
Chalion). Lord Penric, an impoverished nobleman, is on his way to his
betrothal when he comes upon a riding accident. Before he knows what's
happened, he's inherited a demon, and everyone's looking at him as
though he might explode at any moment.
2006 alternate-history mystery, first in the "Small Change" trilogy.
In 1949, Britain is at peace with the Reich, which is still fighting
in Russia. At Farthing, a country house in Hampshire, one of the
architects of that peace is murdered. Jews and Bolshevists are
immediately blamed, but Inspector Carmichael thinks it's more
complicated than that.
2015 military fantasy. As the war between Lascanne and Denland drags
on, the gentlewoman Emily Marshwic finds herself fighting on the
1991 mystery, second of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler. Bored in
Paris, Irene takes on the mystery of a series of tattooed suicides.
(Retitled The Adventuress in recent reissue.)
2015 fantasy. Wasp is an Archivist, hunting, studying and binding
ghosts for the goddess Catchkeep and Her priest in a world that has
suffered some great catastrophe in the distant past.
2004 military SF, second of the Kris Longknife books. Thanks to deft
political manoeuvres, Kris is now a princess as well as a naval
lieutenant. But when a friend goes missing while they're both on
leave, she can't really do anything else but go and look for him.
2015 science fiction. The people of a small English town cling on to
life after an economic collapse, under the protection of the Process,
an ultimate allocating algorithm. But the Process seems to be
spending scarce resources on recreating a battlefield of the First
In 2015 I read 132 books, on a par with recent years but lower than I
1982 cosy American detective fiction; third of MacLeod's novels of
Professor Peter Shandy, set at an agricultural college in
Massachussetts. Hilda Horsefall is 105 years old and still keeping the
family farm going, until her farmhand is horribly murdered. But is it
just part of a land-grab, and if so who's trying to do it? And how is
the Viking runestone on her land connected to everything?
2015 Regency fantasy, first of a planned trilogy. "Zacharias Wythe,
England's first African Sorcerer Royal, is contending with attempts to
depose him, rumours that he murdered his predecessor, and an alarming
decline in England's magical stocks. But his troubles are multiplied
when he encounters runaway orphan Prunella Gentleman, who has just
stumbled upon English magic's greatest discovery in centuries."
2011; fourteenth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude's new lover Piers is a tennis fanatic – real tennis –
but when she turns up for a lesson one of the other club members is
found dead. Heart attack, clearly, but why is everyone acting so
cagey? Meanwhile Jude's friend Carole conducts a separate
1999 collected newspaper columns, written from 1985 onwards. Hiaasen
gets his teeth into issues of local politics, corruption, finance and
wildlife preservation, often all at once.
2004 mystery, twelfth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries
in US National Parks. After four seasonal park employees disappear on
the same day in Yosemite, Anna Pigeon goes undercover to try to find
out what happened.
2015 supernatural mystery, fifth in Oswald's Inspector McLean
series. In a network of man-made caves under Edinburgh, a journalist
turns up with his throat cut. Why there, why then, and why him?
1981 science fiction. In the Todos Santos arcology, life is much safer
than outside in Los Angeles, if somewhat sanitised: but it's still
right next door.
1986 SF, first in the Antares trilogy. The colony world of Alta has
been cut off from other planets for more than a century, since Antares
exploded into a supernova. Now a ship has come through where there
wasn't supposed to be a jump point…
1982, cozy American detective fiction; third of MacLeod's novels of
Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. At a private art museum, a guard
falls to his death, having been complaining that his favourite Rubens
is different these days.
2015 science fiction; a team of scientists is assembled to explore a
newly-discovered planet. Saraswati Callicot is an exoethnologist, and
the planet's uninhabited, but she's sent along to keep an eye on Thora
Lassiter, the daughter of one of the powerful families who went a bit
mad on her previous mission; she's been cured, but she might still be
an embarrassment. Then things start to go bizarrely wrong.
1964 children's SF. Nik Colherne's face was badly burned in an
accident, and as a resident of the Dipple he can't afford the advanced
surgery that might fix it. The Thieves' Guild offers him a new face,
if he impersonates a boy's fantasised hero. But it's all rather more
complex than that.
2013 non-fiction, an informal history of the rise and fall (sorry) of
the man-carrying balloon.
1963 children's SF. Naill Renfro sells himself into servitude to get
drugs to make his mother's dying easier. After that, things improve
slightly. Well, they'd have to, wouldn't they?
1984 mystery; sixth in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco, and at the same time fourteenth in
Pronzini's "Nameless Detective" private eye series. Both detectives
are at a convention of private eyes in San Diego, McCone also visiting
her family and an old friend who's now head of hotel security. But
then the dying starts.
1961 children's SF. Troy Horan was thrown off his planet during the
big war. Now he lives hand-to-mouth in the Dipple. But a casual job
with an importer of exotic pets leads to unexpected intrigue and
2015 SF, sequel to Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. Fleet
Captain Breq is still on Athoek Station, but there are plenty of
problems even without the civil war coming closer.
2008 mystery, second of the "Thorny" Deepbriar series. In rural
Yorkshire in 1957, Thorny the village bobby is still trying to get
into the CID. But his superiors want him walking the beat where he is.
He'll need to pull off an impressive feat of detection, but how can he
do that in a village where nothing much happens?
2008 non-fiction, an informal history of the shipping container. Until
the Second World War, almost all non-bulk freight was breakbulk,
loaded one piece at a time into a ship's hold. Fifty years later,
pretty much everything long-distance was going in containers. How did
the change come about?
2015 SF, sequel to Lines of Departure. The alien Lankies have moved
into the solar system, and a random assortment of ship crews from the
two previously-warring powers must decide what to do next.
2014 SF/mystery; forty-ninth (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death
series. Just before Christmas, a personal trainer is found in his
home, with a nasty head wound and a knife in his chest. He seems to
have been a thoroughly nasty person, but for Eve Dallas the homicide
cop's job is still the job.
2015 modern fantasy. Magic is in the world, but "'mancers" only use it
to cause chaos – and it's still true that nothing is free. Flex is a
drug, distilled magic, but the mundanes who take it are even less able
to deal with the backlash than the 'mancers are. Paul Tsabo, ex-cop
and once known as the only mundane to have killed a 'mancer, tries to
track down the terrorist who's filling people with Flex and sending
them out to destroy themselves and others.
2007 collection of short horror stories in the style of H. P.
Lovecraft and M. R. James. Kyle Murchison Booth just wants to be left
alone to work on his antique books and letters. But supernatural
events keep happening to him.
2012 young adult science fiction. Jarra is Handicapped; something in
her immune system revolts at alien worlds, so she's limited to living
on Earth with the other people who can't go to the stars and be part
of proper civilisation. What's worse, all the offworlders look down on
"apes". But that's not going to stop her doing her best to have a good
1954 science fiction juvenile. Lummox is the Stuart family pet,
brought back a hundred years ago from who-knows-where by
great-grandfather the space explorer. He's large, and occasionally
hazardous to property, but basically docile. But now he's gone on a
rampage, and the forces of law and order want him put down…
2011 humorous science fiction. Lord Thomas Kinago, foppish distant
cousin of the Emperor and son of the First Space Lord, is sent on his
obligatory short tour of military service. Meanwhile, a cluster of
worlds on the edge of the Imperium is being taken over…
2001 historical detection, eleventh in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher
series (1920s flapper detective in Australia). Miss Lavender, an
author and illustrator of overly-twee fairy stories, has died after
receiving threatening letters. Phryne is called in by the police as
someone who might be able to spot something amiss in the sea of
cuteness that is Miss Lavender's home, and finds rather more motives
than anyone could reasonably have expected.
2015 fantasy of sorts: third volume of the memoirs of Lady Trent,
alternate-Victorian naturalist specialising in dragons. Aboard the
Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, Lady Trent travels round the world to
study dragons wherever they may be found.
2015 science fiction. Jacob Kelley's old friend shows up at his house,
babbling about artificial intelligences in the quantum computer that
is the universe. Later, the old friend is found dead – having
apparently been murdered the night before he turned up – and Kelley is
put on trial for his murder.
1996 alternate-world military fiction; seventh in the Carrier series.
"Tombstone" Magruder is still CAG aboard USS Thomas Jefferson, which
is sent to the Black Sea for peacekeeping operations in the context of
the ongoing Russian civil war.
1981, cozy American detective fiction; second of MacLeod's novels of
Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. While the family affairs get
straightened out, the recently-widowed Sarah needs an income; she
remodels her house to take in boarders. But one of them falls under a
subway train, or maybe he was pushed…
1999 thriller. On board the International Space Station, a
microbiological experiment has gone wrong. Dr Emma Watson tries to
keep the rest of the crew, and herself, alive in an increasingly
challenging environment. (Nothing to do with the 2013 film of the same
2015 modern Lovecraftian horror. Becca Philips, photographer and urban
explorer in post-hurricane Boston, was mostly raised by her crazy
occultist grandmother. But now things are showing up in her
photographs that really shouldn't be there.
2000 mystery, first in Whitelaw's Jordan Lacey series. Asthmatic
ex-policewoman Jordan Lacey starts a private investigation business in
the seaside town of Latching, West Sussex. Will there be enough work
to pay the bills? Surprisingly, yes.
1990, first of Douglas's novels about Irene Adler, opera singer,
adventuress, and foil to Sherlock Holmes.
2014 science fiction, seventh in the Alex Benedict series that began
with A Talent for War. Alex Benedict the relic-dealer and Chase
Kolpath the pilot go hunting for the last cache of artefacts from
Earth's early space age.
2009 war story, second in Holland's Sergeant Jack Tanner series. In
May of 1940, Tanner is in a training company on the south coast, but
will soon be going to France with the BEF. But an old nemesis from his
days in India has shown up again.
2003 mystery, eleventh in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder
mysteries in US National Parks. At Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas,
seventy miles off the end of Florida, Anna replaces a chief ranger who
went mad. A boat explosion and anonymous body parts are troubling
enough; but then Anna starts to see ghosts…
2001 military SF, third in the Jump Universe series. At the same time
as the events of The Price of Peace, Ray Longknife's exploration
ship has comprehensively misjumped to where a much earlier lost ship
founded a colony. But they aren't the only things on the planet.
2008 mystery. A woman is found on the beach at Selsey, drowned –
forcibly. But she isn't going to be the only victim.
1958; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. Linda Martin gets a job
as governess to the young Comte de Valmy, at his château in the French
Alps. But why did her employer seem so keen that she not be able to
speak any French?
2000 military SF, second in the Jump Universe series. The Unity War is
over, but that doesn't mean things are peaceful; Commander Izzy Umboto
of the cruiser Patton is chasing down pirates, and worse.
1981, cosy American detective fiction; second of MacLeod's novels
of Professor Peter Shandy, set at an agricultural college in
Massachussetts. A few days before the Annual Competition of the
Balaclava County Draft Horse Association, the college's farrier has
been murdered. And the prize pig has gone missing. Is it a school
prank gone horribly wrong, or something more sinister?
2015 modern occult secret service, sixth in the Laundry Files
series. As CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN continues, more and more people are
developing occult powers, and they envision them according to their
own mythologies. Which means superheroes. Mo O'Brien, combat
epistemologist and wielder of the last Zahn violin, now has to run a
1999 military SF, first of a series that comes both chronologically
and in publication date before the Kris Longknife books. Four soldiers
on opposite sides of the war between the Society of Humanity and the
Unity do their best to stay alive in the face of enemies both of the
conventional kind and in their own ranks.
2014 supernatural mystery, fourth in Oswald's Inspector McLean
series. A body is found in the North Esk, dead of a fall, and tattooed
all over. A prominent politician shoots his wife and children, then
himself. Tony McLean is more interested in the former, but gets the
latter on his plate as well.
2004 military SF, first of a series of twelve books so far with at
least two more planned. Kris Longknife, daughter of the Prime Minister
of the long-settled world of Wardhaven, joined the Navy to get away
from politics. But as the old alliance of humanity falls apart, it's
not going to be that easy.
2007 mystery, the ninth book in Lovesey's Peter Diamond series. A
woman is found hanged in a park in Bath; a few days later her partner
turns up in the same state. A suicide pact?
1981, cosy American detective fiction; first of MacLeod's novels
(as "Alisa Craig") of Dittany Henbit and the Lobelia Falls
Grub-and-Stakers Gardening & Roving Club. In a small town in Ontario,
the local villain has a plan to build houses on a wilderness area. But
one of his patsies ends up shot.
2009 military SF, last in a five-book series. Ky Vatta has her fleet,
and is ready to move against the pirates as soon as they attack. But
she doesn't know all their plans.
2012 collection of six short stories.
2011 SF. Nyx is a bel dame, an assassin tracking down and killing
deserters for the government of Nasheen. Then things go wrong. Now
she's being employed for a covert recovery mission, but everyone's
hand is against her.
2014 SF anthology about the run-up to the end of the world.
1981, cosy American detective fiction; second of MacLeod's novels
(as "Alisa Craig") of Madoc and Janet Rhys. In a remote country house
in Canada, old Granny Condrycke has died peacefully in her sleep. With
the house cut off, the family decides to go ahead with Christmas
festivities. But Madoc Rhys, a Mountie who's there accidentally
undercover with his fiancée Janet, reckons there was more to it.
2007 military SF, fourth in a five-book series. Kylara Vatta is
putting together an anti-pirate navy while her cousin Stella is
rebuilding the family firm.
2013 thriller, third in Brookmyre's Glasgow crime series. Jasmine
Sharp's protector, the vanished and reappeared gang enforcer Glen
Fallan, is arrested for the murder of his old enemy Stevie Fullerton;
DS Catherine McLeod is happy to see Fallan put away, but wants to do
this by the book, and there are disturbing inconsistencies.
2011 contemporary fantasy, a "re-imagining" of the Twilight series.
Five years after Luminosity, Elspeth Cullen, daughter of Bella and
Edward, tries to stay alive.
2014 SF, sequel to Terms of Enlistment. Humanity is losing the war
against the aliens, but Andrew Grayson might as well re-enlist:
there's nothing else for him to do.
1910 children's fantasy. Philip, feeling abandoned after his older
sister and sole family member marries, builds a model city from things
around the house, then finds he has been sucked into it.
1972 comedy, first in the Mortdecai Trilogy. Charlie Mortdecai is a
cheerfully corrupt, vaguely aristocratic and thoroughly cowardly art
dealer, who finds himself called on to act as an unwilling assassin.
2012 historical detection, fourth in Dean's Dido Kent series. Dido
is forced to act as companion to her elderly and wealthy aunt, but the
house they visit has its own problems: a young lady has disappeared,
perhaps to Gretna Green, but her guardian is curiously unconcerned
1998 lesbian noir mystery/romance; first in Griffith's series about
Aud Torvingen, bodyguard and borderline psychopath in Atlanta. An art
historian's house is burned to the ground, with him in it; six kilos
of cocaine are found in the garage. A drug-related execution, or
1984 mystery; fifth in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. A major player in the flea-markets
wants help dealing with a stalker, but his business is not as honest
as it could be, and soon people start turning up dead.
2008 war story, first in Holland's Sergeant Jack Tanner series. In
April of 1940, British forces in Norway make a fighting retreat in the
face of the oncoming German invasion. Jack Tanner, of the King's Own
Yorkshire Rangers, must also deal with poor officers, being cut off
from friendly troops, and a civilian who has to be smuggled out of the
2014 technological fantasy. On the island of Kavekana, the main
business is idols: all the convenience of a god, but none of the
commitment or free will of the real thing. One of them has died
thanks to a bad financial deal, but the priestess Kai tried to save
her, and heard something odd as she did.
2013 science fiction. Six months' hyperspace travel from Earth, a
small scientific team explores the lightless under-ice ocean of the
2012 modern fantasy. For a few years, people have been manifesting
magical powers; in the US, the military has taken control of it all.
Some powers are allowed, some aren't. Oscar Britton, Army helicopter
pilot, is about to develop one of the ones that isn't.
2012 mystery, twelfth in King's series about Mary Russell, wife of
Sherlock Holmes. In Morocco in 1924, rebellion is in the air, and fell
plots with international ramifications are being prepared.
2008 steampunk fantasy romance. Taya is an icarus, one of the couriers
who strap on wings and buoyant metal to carry messages and small
packages across the mountainside city of Ondinium. But a mid-air
rescue brings her to the attention of the city's leaders.
2014 mystery, third in Oswald's Inspector McLean series. Bodies are
found hanging in their homes in Edinburgh, apparently suicides. But
how did they all come to do it in just the same way at the same time?
2013 SF. Andrew Grayson is a long-term welfare recipient, and there
are only two ways out: hope to win a lottery for the colony worlds, or
sign up with the military. He's going for option B.
2010 contemporary fantasy, a "re-imagining" of the Twilight series.
Bella Swan is a "rational self-knowledge junkie", so when she meets
vampires, she starts thinking about them rather than blindly falling
2010 historical detection, third in Dean's Dido Kent series. On a
visit to a supposedly-haunted ruined abbey, a young lady slips and
falls, saying in her delirium only "I saw her – it was her". Was it
the Grey Nun of legend?
2014 military SF, second in the Ark Royal series. The outdated and
over-armoured carrier Ark Royal did what the newer ships couldn't,
taking the war to the alien invaders and even capturing an enemy
starship. Now it's time for a larger raid into alien space.
1999 historical detection. Tenth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series
(1920s flapper detective in Australia). Phryne is in Sydney, nominally
to watch a cricket match, at the request of two university students,
whose friend has been accused of stealing exam-papers: an obvious
setup. But it seems that there's more to it than that.
2013 SF, by the only non-slate nominee for the Campbell this year.
Unaging aliens and their human hosts struggle across the Earth.
2010 mystery, seventeenth in the series about Kate Shugak, part-time
private investigator in a national park in Alaska. The gold mine has
come to the Park, and that's changing everything; but murder is still
2006 SF, third in a five-book series. With the space pirates moving in
earnest to extort protection money from interstellar trading polities,
Kylara Vatta starts to build a fleet to take them on.
2000 non-fiction, a collection of anecdotes by officers of the Royal
Navy's Fleet Air Arm.
Four nominees in this category that conform to my criteria. I'm not
much of a comics reader as a rule, but there's a pleasing diversity of
2011; thirteenth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Jude and Carole go to a private viewing by a consciously
controversial artist at a local gallery, but the evening ends in
violent death. The police reckon it's suicide, but…
For this year's Hugo awards there are three semiprozines in contention
that satisfy my voting criteria. One didn't bother to provide a sample
in the Hugo packet. This is one of the other two.
2011 SF, first of a five-book series. Ia is a precognitive who
foresees the collapse of human civilisation… unless she takes a
specific path, which starts with becoming a space marine.
2004 SF, second in a five-book series. Kylara Vatta survived her first
solo trading venture, but now someone's taking on the family firm. UK
vt Moving Target.
2001 espionage thriller. Caroline Carmichael, CIA intelligence
analyst, thought she'd lost her husband in a plane bombing. Until he
showed up in a photo of the people who had just kidnapped the
Vice-President of the USA during a terrorist attack in Berlin.
There's only one non-slate novelette on the ballot this year, so
that's what I'm reviewing here: The Day The World Turned Upside
Down, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.
2003 SF, first in a five-book series. Kylara Vatta is thrown out of
space navy academy, then gets a job taking one of the family firm's
oldest ships on its final voyage to the scrapyard. Of course it all
gets more complicated than that.
2013 cosy mystery, fifth in Bradley's series set in the early 1950s
about child detective Flavia de Luce. The corpse of the
angelic-looking young organist has been hidden in a saint's tomb that
hasn't been opened for years. But how and why did he die?
1937 children's fantasy. Six stories of wonder, three of them dealing
with the modern magician Mr Leakey.
2014 urban fantasy, sequel to London Falling. As protests brew
into riots during a hot summer, important people are being murdered in
a bizarre and impossible way. Fortunately, the Met has four officers
who specialise in the impossible.
1994 alternate-world military fiction; sixth in the Carrier series.
"Tombstone" Magruder is still CAG aboard USS Thomas Jefferson, which
now gets involved in the Russian civil war of 1994+4.
1994 non-fiction, volume 10 of the Brassey's New Battlefield Weapons
Systems and Technology series. A practical primer on the design and
operation of nuclear weapons, their effects, and their simulation.
1995 non-fiction. In October 1957, the core of Windscale's Pile 1
caught fire, burned
for three days, and spread radioactive contamination across what was
then Cumberland. This is the official history of the incident and its
2009 historical detection, second in Dean's Dido Kent series. Rich
invalid Mrs Lansdale has died, of an overdose of laudanum. Her nephew
stands to inherit. But did he do it?
2014 translation of 2006 SF from China. In the long shadow of the
Cultural Revolution, various people try to work out why scientists are
2012 mystery, first in Oswald's Inspector McLean series. A
prominent city elder in Edinburgh is killed, but less than a day later
his killer commits a public and messy suicide. Case closed, and the
police are happy. But McLean won't let it lie, especially when the
same thing happens again.
1957; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. Jennifer Silver goes to
the Pyrenées to visit her widowed cousin, who's staying in a convent
and thinking about taking orders. But when she arrives, she finds her
cousin has suddenly died and been buried. Or has she?
1980, cosy American detective fiction; first of MacLeod's novels of
Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. In Boston, an old family vault is
opened for the first time in thirty years… to reveal the corpse of a
well-known burlesque dancer.
1990 military SF. In the 22nd century, the Japanese empire which
controls Earth and the colony worlds sends a task group to suppress a
three-way colonial revolt. It doesn't help that many of the colonists
are exiled Boers.
2011 thriller: five short stories about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox,
former soldier and current private bodyguard.
2014 fantasy. Maia is the fourth son of the emperor of Elfland, exiled
to a rural estate and forgotten about. But now the emperor is dead
along with his other sons, and Maia becomes the new emperor, thrown
headlong into court politics for which he is unprepared.
1999 SF. More than a thousand years after Greatwinter destroyed
civilisation, new cultures have grown up in what was once Australia.
But what is the secret at the heart of the Library?
2007 mystery. In rural Yorkshire in 1956, Constable "Thorny" Deepbriar
is a village bobby who's always longed to try his hand at detection.
Now he's going to get his chance.
2005 SF, sequel to The Getaway Special. With cheap hyperdrive
available to the world, things are falling apart; two people try to
work out their options.
2005 mystery. A publisher's house is burned down, with him in it.
What's the connection with the local circle of unpublished writers?
2008 historical detection, first in Dean's Dido Kent series. In 1805
at Richard Montague's engagement party, he suddenly puts off his
fiancée Catherine and leaves for parts unknown. And a woman's body is
found in the shrubbery. Catherine's spinster aunt Dido tries to clear
up the mystery. US vt Bellfield Hall.
1989 horror, prototypical urban fantasy. Sonja Blue, vampire killer of
vampires, is locked up and medicated in a mental hospital. But that
isn't going to stop her for long.
2013 urban fantasy. Rhian, a young woman from the valleys with some
unusual talents, finds herself in east London, where ancient magics
are mixing with modern in a distinctly unpleasant way.
1977; ninth of Winton's novels. The Artful Bodger (Commander R. B.
Badger, RN) is now in charge of the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.
1997 historical detection. Ninth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series
(1920s flapper detective in Australia). A man drops dead of
strychnine poisoning in a bookshop; the owner's the obvious suspect.
But Phryne is unconvinced.
2003 suspense. Seven years ago, two eleven-year-old girls stole a
baby, which died; maybe one of them killed it. Now they're out of
juvenile detention… and a young child has gone missing.
2014 modern occult secret service, fifth in the Laundry Files
series. Everybody in the Laundry knows there's no such thing as
vampires. Why are they so very sure?
2012 mystery, second in Oswald's Inspector McLean series. Twelve
years ago Tony McLean caught the Christmas Killer, whose last victim
was McLean's fiancée. Now that man's been killed in prison, but
another young woman's corpse has just turned up, killed in the same
way. A copycat? Or did McLean get the wrong man?
2015 SF/mystery; fiftieth (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death
series. At the end of 2060, Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas comes up
against a new threat: a murderer who's such a fan that he's killing
people who've offended Dallas. And there are a lot of them.
2003 mystery, the eighth book in Lovesey's Peter Diamond series. Is
a killing on a beach connected with the murder of a celebrity film
2012 urban fantasy. The big crime boss is finally arrested, curiously
easily, but explodes in a shower of blood while he's being
interviewed. In trying to work out what happened, four coppers
accidentally step into a much larger world.
1990 SF. On a passenger liner in hyperspace, the speed of light is a
mere ten metres per second. But humans are still humans.
1980, cosy American detective fiction; first of MacLeod's novels
(as "Alisa Craig") of Madoc and Janet Rhys. In a small Canadian town,
the local old biddy has died of eating her own contaminated preserves.
But was she really that careless?
2013 Florida Weird. On Key West, former Miami cop Andrew Yancy has a
human arm in his freezer. But there's a reason for that. Yancy thinks
the story about the arm's owner dying in a boating accident is full of
holes, and sets off on an unofficial investigation.
2013 SF, seventh in the Academy series and a prequel. Priscilla
Hutchins is just completing interstellar pilot training, but already
demand for pilots is dropping. And terrorists are threatening the
terraforming project. Spoilers.
1978, popular history. Tuchman recounts the history of France and some
nearby countries in the latter part of the Fourteenth Century, with
particular focus on the nobleman Enguerrand de Coucy.
1897: the spoiled son of a millionaire, washed overboard from a
steamer, is rescued and put to work by the crew of a Grand Banks
1993; fifth in the Carrier series. "Tombstone" Magruder, CAG aboard
USS Thomas Jefferson, continues to fight against the Russian
invasion of Norway in 1993+4.
2009 historical mystery. In Boston in 1773, Abigail Adams (wife of
lawyer and future president John Quincy Adams) tries to solve the
murder of one woman and the disappearance of another.
1868 mystery; often considered the first detective novel in English.
The huge diamond, looted from India, goes missing after a birthday
party. Who took it? And how was the trick managed?
1855 novel, first of Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire. The warden
of Hiram's Hospital, an almshouse supported by a charitable bequest,
comes under attack for keeping too much of the now-substantial income
1956; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. In 1953, the fashion
model Gianetta Drury has over-worked herself, and leaves London just
before the Coronation to spend some time in a remote hotel on Skye.
But it's not the peaceful retreat she'd hoped for.
2008 SF/romance, second in the Grimspace series. In the previous book,
Sirantha Jax was instrumental in bringing down the evil corporation
that ran everything. But nature abhors a power vacuum.
2011; twelfth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur
sleuthing). Carole Seddon takes over the rental of a beach hut along
the shore from Fethering, only for human remains to turn up underneath
2014; a collection of Ben Goldacre's short writing, mostly for the
1949 mystery. Simon Ashby is about to come of age and inherit the
family estate Latchetts (sadly fallen, but still worth a bit). Eight
years ago, after the sudden death of their parents, his older twin
Patrick committed suicide, or so everyone thought; but now someone
claiming to be Patrick has turned up to take over again.
2014; 19th book of Jack Reacher. Some bad man has had a long range
shot at the chief man of France, but few men are good enough to have a
go, and Jack put one of them in clink some years back. So some spies
bring him on board to help catch the bad man, and be bait.
1995: Isis Whit is the Elect of God and heir-designate to the small
cult of Luskentyrianism, the granddaughter of its founder; she's lived
all her life in its holdings near Dunblane. But now one of the members
in London has fallen out of contact in an odd way, and it's up to Isis
to travel outside and try to get her back.
2003 comic fantasy. Paul Carpenter applies for a job as a "junior
clerk" at J. W. Wells, not knowing just what it is that they do; but
it seems to be something really quite strange. He'd chuck it in if he
hadn't fallen for his fellow junior clerk…
Ninth thriller in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former
soldier and current private bodyguard. Children of the super-rich are
being kidnapped in the Hamptons, and Charlie is hired by the mother of
one of the potential victims. But it's all more complex than it looks.
2001 SF, expansion of 1985 short story. A scientist invents a
hyperspace drive that's easy to build and use, and tells the world.
Things don't go as smoothly as he expects.
1979, cosy American detective fiction; first of MacLeod's novels of
Professor Peter Shandy. In a New England agricultural college, the
local busybody has had an accident, or been murdered. But was it
really over the question of Christmas decorations?
2008 SF/romance. Sirantha Jax is a jumper, one of the rare humans who
can navigate FTL ships through grimspace. But her ship crashed, her
pilot/lover died (along with everyone else on board), and she may be
Contemporary fantasy. Peter Grant, Metropolitan Police constable and
magician, investigates the death of a man found stabbed on Baker
2014 SF; sequel to Honour's Knight. With most of the powers in the
known universe arrayed against her, Devi is still infected with the
virus that could solve everything (or bring it all crashing down).
1910; melodrama. In the middle of the 17th century, Claudia Particelli
is mistress to the Cardinal (Prince-Bishop) of Trento, and everybody
will come to a Bad End.
1971 collection of earlier fiction; various stories of action during
the Second World War.
Mostly I finish the books that I start. Sometimes I don't. These are
the ones I didn't finish this year.
2014 SF; sequel to Fortune's Pawn. Devi is now security chief on the
tramp space-freighter she signed on with, but clearly something very
strange is going on.
2005 SF/mystery. Turing Hopper, an AI emergent from research assistant
software, looks into the affairs of a techie who's been hit by a car
and is now in intensive care. Was it an accident?
1901: an orphaned Irish boy, growing up on the streets of Lahore, puts
his natural talents to better use.
1997; third of Hayter's mysteries about TV journalist Robin Hudson.
Robin's just trying to find her intern and other co-workers for a
girls' night out, but somehow it doesn't seem to come together.
2004 SF/mystery. Turing Hopper, an AI emergent from research assistant
software, follows up on a lead to an old enemy.
1984; fourth in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private
investigator in San Francisco. McCone investigates the disappearance
of a famous photographer's roommate, which leads to secret goings-on
in a decaying coastal town.
2003 SF/mystery. Turing Hopper, an AI emergent from research assistant
software, has just lost a friend and employee: he's been murdered. The
police reckon it was random drug-related violence; she tries to find
2012: Isaac Vainio used to be a libriomancer, someone who can reach
into books and pull out the objects depicted there; but things went
bad and now he works at a small town library. Until the vampires show
up. Minor spoilers will follow.
1907; romantic melodrama-cum-mystery story. Who killed Robert
Courthope? Why did Philip Warren flee from the scene?
1992; romantic suspense. Catherine Weaver is a makeup artist for
low-budget films who's driving to visit her pregnant friend on a rainy
night, when she hits Victor Holland who's just stumbled onto the road
having been shot. Then things start moving.
2009: Okrent examines the history of invented languages, and in
particular the rare instances that weren't immediately forgotten.
Sequel to Ancillary Justice. Breq, now a Fleet Captain, travels to a
backwater world to help assure its survival in the civil war.
Ross Baker is having a bad day. He'd just lain down for an
experimental brain scan, and now he seems to be a cyborg soldier in an
endless war. And it's going to get a lot stranger than that. If you
plan to read this book, know that I thought it fairly good (I'd rate
it with Pandæmonium as minor but worth reading, much better than
When the Devil Drives) and stop reading now to avoid the spoilers.
In a small village by the Devon coast, a very strange fellow has moved
into the old pill-box on the cliff. Excitement ensues.
Ben Goldacre explains at length how pretty much everything about drug
research and selection is rotten.
In an attempt to get details of the latest Chinese missile submarine,
an American attack boat is sent in to shadow her. Spoilers.
After the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the
Austro-Hungarian Empire goes to war. Josef Švejk, a dealer in stolen
dogs, does his best to get by.
Sixth mystery starring Meg Lanslow, contemporary blacksmith. Meg and
her boyfriend have bought a huge old house very cheaply, on condition
that they clear out and sell the accumulated junk left by the previous
owner. But during the sale, a dubious dealer in antiquities turns up
Tenth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries in US National
Parks. Back on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, a body's been
found in an old plantation house, left in a manner suggestive of
Tove Jansson's second book about the Moomins. Original title
The author of the webcomic xkcd works out
back-of-the-envelope answers to odd scientific questions.
This highly influential book on screenwriting lays out a standard
structure to which all saleable scripts should conform.
Eighth thriller in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former
soldier and current private bodyguard. A man's son joined a cult, and
later got killed; he went in to find out what had been so tempting,
and decided to stay. Now Charlie's on the team that's getting him out.
But it's all rather more complicated than it looks…
Robert Mason flew Hueys for a year in Vietnam. This is his story.
1954; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense; first published novel by
Mary Stewart. Charity Selborne is on holiday in Provence, and meets
young David Shelley and his stepmother Loraine Bristol. Somewhere in
the background is David's father, recently acquitted of the grisly
murder of his best friend, and believed by many to be mad…
Contemporary fantasy. Peter Grant, Metropolitan Police constable and
magician, investigates the sudden deaths of jazz musicians.
Eleventh in King's series about Mary Russell, who… well, this is
basically Sherlock Holmes fanfiction, but against all the odds it
manages to work. Strange things have been happening around a film
crew; Russell joins it to work out what's going on.
Third in Muller's series about Sharon McCone, private investigator in
San Francisco. McCone investigates the murder of a painter and
decorator in a rough area that's being gentrified.
Seventh thriller in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former
soldier and current private bodyguard. Charlie's estranged father
turns up unexpectedly in the USA, and seems to be bent on professional
self-destruction under the eyes of the media. Why?
Fourth in the Carrier series. "Tombstone" Magruder is now deputy CAG
aboard a Nimitz-class carrier, and Russia is invading Norway.
Hard-boiled fantasy. Down the mean streets goes Eddie LaCrosse, a
swordsman who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor
Second of Hayter's mysteries about TV journalist Robin Hudson. This
time her new gynæcologist has been found, handcuffed and then shot in
the head, and there's no shortage of people who might have wished him
Naval technothriller. Argentine troops invade key locations in
Antarctica, and the only force in a position to do anything about it
is a new US Navy destroyer.
Short story. An expert hunter, washed overboard from his ship, makes
it to an island where his host explains how he makes hunting a real
challenge: his prey is human beings.
Sisters of the Raven.
The new female wizards, and the king their patron, have to cope with
dream-communications of suffering from abroad, a possible magical
assassin, some new kind of plague that is wiping out villages, and the
king's re-coronation ordeal (which was easier to fake back when magic
Here's what I've read in August.
Fourth of Buchan's books about Richard Hannay; 1920s thud-and-blunder.
Sixteenth mystery in the series about Kate Shugak, part-time private
investigator in a national park in Alaska. Gold's been found on park
lands, and that means mining, and that means objections from the
locals. The mining company's hired a minor celebrity to be their
spokeswoman. But that doesn't solve everything.
Novella; eleventh in Lippman's contemporary mystery series about Tess
Monaghan, private investigator in Baltimore. Restricted to bed thanks
to difficulties with her pregnancy, Tess passes the time watching
people in the park outside, particularly a young woman in a green coat
(with a greyhound in a matching one). One day, the greyhound passes by
on its own…
Technological fantasy. Sixty years after the Aztec-like city-state of
Dresediel Lex was "liberated" and its gods killed, someone seems to be
trying to break the hold of the company that replaced those gods.
Sixth thriller in the series about Charlie (Charlotte) Fox, former
soldier and currently private bodyguard. Charlie guards a woman whose
ex-boyfriend is causing trouble after a lottery win, but it soon
becomes more complicated than that.
Thirteenth in Fairstein's contemporary mystery series about Alexandra
Cooper, sex crimes prosecutor in Manhattan. When a burned, decapitated
body is found on the steps of a church that used to be a synagogue,
there could be any number of reasons. When a second body is found at
another church, things start to come together.
Contemporary fantasy ("urban fantasy" gives the wrong idea now, even
if it's much more appropriate to this book than to many published
under that banner). New constable Peter Grant is about to be sent off
to the paperwork unit, but while he's standing guard over a murder
scene in the small hours a ghost starts to talk to him. Then things
Lightweight but lengthy fantasy, the first in the Dhulyn and Parno
SF/mystery. Turing Hopper, an AI emergent from research assistant
software, is worried about her programmer: he seems to have vanished,
and the records she can find aren't helping. So she turns for help to
the two humans who are aware of her nature.
Robin Hudson had a promising career as a TV journalist, but blew it
with some public embarrassment. Now her ex-husband has a younger and
prettier fiancée, her job for not-CNN involves investigating a sperm
bank, and she's about to be blackmailed. Then the blackmailer turns up
Self-published industrial fantasy romance. The relict of a bishop
inherits her mother's great airship, and tries to avoid becoming the
mistress of the Emperor.
Fourth mystery book about Bernard Rhodenbarr, professional burglar in
1970s New York.
Airliners over the Atlantic are being shot down by submarine-launched
missiles. How can this be stopped? Spoilers.
Here's what I've read in July.
Classic detective fiction; fourth, roughly, of Tey's novels of
Inspector Alan Grant. An unreasonably beautiful young man visiting
from America goes to the country to stay with casual acquaintances in
a village that's been Discovered by writers and artists, causes social
ructions, then disappears. What happened, and was it murder?
First of a projected seven-book fantasy series. In a decaying imperial
city, a thief and con-man just wants to be left alone to get on with
his business. But people keep interfering.
Eleventh in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur sleuthing).
A local bric-a-brac shop is burned down, but the body found inside it
was shot first. Carole Seddon and Jude investigate again.
Sixth (though the order doesn't really matter) of the collections of
Paul Jennings' short humorous pieces, mostly from The Observer,
published in 1958.
Over the weekend I went to the Worldcon, at ExCel in Docklands. With
images; cc-by-sa on
In the mid 2000s, China tries to buy seven Kilo-class diesel
submarines from Russia. The Americans aim to prevent this. Meanwhile,
something odd is going on at Kerguelen Island.
In the latter days of the Second World War, a U-boat group leader
tries to maintain morale and keep his crews alive.
Last of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen
space-navy captain tries to lead his fleet home. I'm going to deal in
spoilers both for this book and for the whole series.
Bernard Rhodenbarr, the closest New York in the 1970s can get to a
gentleman burglar, is back for his third mystery book appearance. This
is the one where the formula changes a bit.
In a city powered by steam heated by a fire-god, that fire-god has
suddenly died. An inexperienced mage looks into what happened.
Gladstone is nominated for the John W. Campbell award for Best New
In a now-alternate 2002, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier suddenly
disappears at sea, apparently in a nuclear accident. What happened?
Third of the "Dickson McCunn" novels: superior thud and blunder. The
affairs of Evallonia, the mitteleuropan country that provided
motivations in Castle Gay, are now in the foreground, as forces
gather round the potential restoration of its monarchy.
These are my thoughts on the remaining Hugo packet submissions for
Best Editor, Short Form. If you're planning to vote, you may wish not
to read these notes until you have done so. There will also be
Fantasy anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan. Twelve new stories that
"encompass as wide a range of types of fantasy story as possible".
Nominated for Best Editor (Short Form).
SF anthology edited by John Joseph Adams. Twenty-two stories on the
general theme of mad scientists. Nominated for Best Editor (Short
Here's what I've read in June.
These are my thoughts on the Hugo-nominated novellas. If you're
planning to vote, you may wish not to read these notes until you have
done so. There will also be spoilers here.
These are my thoughts on the Hugo-nominated novelettes in 2014. If
you're planning to vote, you may wish not to read these notes until
you have done so. There will also be spoilers here.
These are my thoughts on the Hugo-nominated short stories in 2014. If
you're planning to vote, you may wish not to read these notes until
you have done so. There will also be spoilers here.
Fifth of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen
space-navy captain tries to lead his fleet home. Spoilers will follow.
In 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands; a Royal Navy task
group was sent to take them back. This is the memoir of the task
As wizards, hitherto exclusively male, gradually lose their magical
power, some women discover that they are gaining it.
Eighth in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series (1920s flapper detective in
Australia); a homage to the novels of Agatha Christie.
Bernard Rhodenbarr, the closest New York in the 1970s can get to a
gentleman burglar, is back for his second book appearance, and the
formula sets in: while our hero the burglar is hiding from his victim
who's come home unexpectedly, she gets murdered.
Fourth of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen
space-navy captain tries to lead his fleet home.
In the late 1850s, Ellen Paget is employed as a governess in Paris.
First in Block's slightly less-well-known series. Bernard Rhodenbarr
is a burglar, and a good one. It's bad enough when the cops walk into
the apartment where he's doing his latest job. But then one of them
discovers a recently-dead body nearby.
Third of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen
space-navy captain tries to lead his fleet home.
Ninth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series. In Glacier National Park, a trip
to move sampling traps for bear DNA is disrupted by an odd bear
attack, and the next morning a woman is found dead and mutilated… by
The invasion of Europe, seen entirely from the Soviet point of view.
Here's what I've read in May.
Second of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen
space-navy captain tries to lead his fleet home.
In September 1944, then-Brigadier John Hackett commanded the 4th
Parachute Brigade during Operation Market Garden. He was wounded at
Arnhem and captured, and spent several months hiding with members of
the Dutch underground.
Second in Brookmyre's new literary direction, moving from the tartan
insanity of his earlier books to strictly conventional crime writing.
Andrew Rilstone recounts his reactions to the 2005 revival of Doctor
The USSR launches a limited nuclear strike against the USA. Things get
First of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen
space-navy captain may tip the balance in a century-long war.
In a tale that begins with the Italian armistice of 1943, the
reluctant soldier Angelo bounces around war-torn Italy, serially
drafted into one army after another. He is a very poor soldier. If
only he had the dono di coraggio.
Twenty years after the Second World War, a crippled veteran travels to
the Pacific to try to find out what happened to his family during the
evacuation of Singapore.
Some time in the 1980s, the USSR invades Europe.
Here's what I've read in April. Hmm. I really ought to post the book
reviews a bit faster so that I don't get so far behind.
Some time in the 1980s, a terrorist attack on oil infrastructure leads
the USSR to invade Europe.
Diamond Dust is the seventh book in Lovesey's Peter Diamond
series, and one that makes for a very substantial change in tone.
Late in the Second World War, the crew of a midget submarine gets into
trouble off the Italian coast.
In 1945, Britain had a large and often hastily-constructed fleet which
was clearly close to obsolete, and very little money with which to
update it. This is the story of what happened next.
In 2016, China and an alliance of South-East Asian nations go to war
over the Spratly Islands.
Astronaut Mark Watney is on Mars. Alone; the rest of the crew thought
he'd died in the dust storm that they were escaping from. Now he's
trying to work out how to survive.
Anthology from 1998 of alternate histories based on different
decisions by military leaders; edited by Harry Turtledove, Roland
Green and Martin H. Greenberg.
Second of the Dickson McCunn novels, though he has only a minor part
in most of it. Two of the former Gorbals Die-Hards, Dougie and (no
longer Wee) Jaikie, go off on a walking holiday, and get involved with
a kidnapped press baron and two separate lots of Sinister Foreigners.
Jerry Mitchell, aboard an Ohio SSGN, goes on a mission to extract two
Iranians with knowledge of the nuclear weapons programme from that
country. Mild spoilers will follow.
Here's what I've read in March.
Tenth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series. Several pubgoers go
down with food poisoning, and other events start to make it look like
a concerted campaign against the pub. But who's doing it? And why?
Concealed in Death is the forty-eighth story of J. D. Robb's In
Death series, and a huge improvement on its immediate predecessor
Thankless in Death. It drops many of the science-fictional trappings
of the setting to deliver a powerful and well-told story.
Third in the Carrier series. "Tombstone" Magruder is a naval aviator
aboard a Nimitz-class carrier, as the USA gets involved in a major
conflict with India.
In the 1950s, retired MTB commander Philip Vivian gets into trouble
while struggling to run a small yacht charter business.
Some time after the events of Dangerous Ground, Jerry Mitchell heads
north again in USS Seawolf. Mild spoilers will follow.
Fourth of Winton's novels and in the loosely-connected series. The
Artful Bodger (Commander R. B. Badger, RN) takes over public relations
for the Royal Navy, and gets involved in running a horse in the Derby.
A Los Angeles-class submarine, USS Memphis, goes on an
intelligence-gathering mission off Novaya Zemlya.
In 1997, an Improved Los Angeles-class attack submarine, USS
Cheyenne, joins the war against China.
After the total nuclear war, the captain of a missile destroyer leads
his crew through the irradiated world and towards a new life.
I am going to talk about plot details, so if you care about not
knowing that sort of thing you probably shouldn't read this review.
Kershaw examines ten choices made during the years 1940-1941 that, in
his opinion, substantially affected the course of the Second World
Sub-Lieutenant Clive Royce is assigned to a Motor Torpedo Boat working
off the east coast of England during the Second World War.
Here's what I've read in February.
Seventh in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series.
Some time in the future, most major countries have space fleets and
interstellar colonies. Ark Royal is an outmoded carrier left in a
parking orbit, not broken up only because of her famous past, and her
captain's a drunken embarrassment. Then the aliens arrive, and blow
straight through the more modern fleet…
Three men find themselves successful, but un-challenged, and bored
with their lives. They decide to take on a challenge: they will poach
from well-defended estates in Scotland, and warn the owners that
they're coming, by sending letters over the name "John Macnab".
Young adult novel, read because a film based on it is coming out soon
and I want to be able to complain about the film-making separately
from the writing. (And because last time I did this I read The Hunger
Games, which I quite enjoyed.) Here be spoilers.
This is the story of the well-known deception operation in the Second
World War: dropping a dead fake courier into the sea near Spain, in
the hope that his deceptive paperwork would be taken seriously by the
Germans and misdirect them as to the location of Allied landings in
The ninth and so far final book in Lackey's Elemental Masters
series. This time our heroine is a circus acrobat fleeing from an
The eighth book (or, if you believe the publisher, seventh) in
Lackey's Elemental Masters series. This time our heroine is a Welsh
fisherman's daughter, and as one might expect from the title and that
set-up the main supernatural beings are "selch", a variant of selkies.
Stealing the idea from Vatine, here's what I've read in January.
First of a projected trilogy. I learned about it from a half-chapter
free sample in the back of Ancillary Justice.
A classic, of course. But one I hadn't read until now.
This first novel marks Leckie as someone to watch.
Eighth and final book in Ferrars' Andrew Basnett series.
I picked up this collection of novellas for the Robb story, as I was
clearly intended to. All the stories here are loosely based on, or
more properly inspired by, fairy stories (something of a coincidence
given the Elemental Masters series I've also been reading).
The seventh book (or, if you believe the publisher, sixth) in Lackey's
Elemental Masters series; for a change, it's not just more of the
The tenth book in Leon's Commissario Brunetti series, as with other
series entries I've been reading lately, offers more of the same:
descriptions of the seamy underside of Venice interspersed with
lightweight police work.
Ready Player One is a young adult SF novel, the first by this
author. Set in the future, it deals with its protagonist's efforts in
a pervasive virtual world to win a contest based in the videogaming
and related culture of the 1980s.
The Vault is the sixth book in Lovesey's Peter Diamond series. I'm
definitely liking Lovesey: like any good author of detective fiction,
he plays fair with the reader, giving all the necessary clues while
hiding them under a chaff-screen of red herrings and misdirection.
Thankless in Death is the forty-sixth of J. D. Robb's In Death
series. It's also, for me, the first disappointment.
As one can see from the title, this is the nineteenth full novel in
Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. And, well, it feels like a
nineteenth novel: it's tired.
Yes, I'm talking about the book, or more accurately the collection of
newspaper columns, not the film. The film is a wartime story, made as
part of the Allied propaganda effort. The columns are earlier and more