Tag Archives: John D Mcdonald

Crime Thriller Book Log: Rankin, Rickman, Pelacanos & Easter

I confidently predict the shelves of your local bookshop will be groaning beneath the weight of all the new books on display in the next few weeks. Goodness, anybody would think Christmas is just around the corner.

This week’s selection of releases all feature recurring protagonists. The Holy Grail of genre-writing is a popular character you can write a whole series of adventures around. Every crime thriller author wants to get themselves a good one of these or – oh, go on then – maybe several.

Unknown-1Top of the wrapping-up pile has to be the new John Rebus novel by Ian Rankin. Rebus is up there with the most popular fictional detectives. I read somewhere that his books comprise 10 per cent of UK books sales – that can’t be right, surely?

Anyhow, Rankin tried to let Rebus rest after his seventeenth outing, Exit Music, in 2007. But a comeback novel, Standing In Another Man’s Grave, followed last year, and now Rebus, the burly old fellow, seems to be back in the swing of things.

Saints Of The Shadow Bible is also the third book to feature Rankin’s other series protagonist Malcolm Fox, an internal affairs cop who first appeared in The Complaints.

Gie it laldy wi the blurb:

When a young woman is found unconscious at the wheel of her car, evidence at the scene suggests this was no ordinary crash. Especially when it turns out her boyfriend is the son of the Scottish Justice Minister and neither of them is willing to talk to the police.

Meanwhile, John Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a big demotion and an even larger chip on his shoulder. A new law has been passed allowing the Scottish police to re-prosecute old crimes and a thirty-year-old case is being reopened, with Rebus and his team from back then suspected of corruption and worse.

Known as ‘the Saints’, his colleagues swore a bond of mutual loyalty on something called ‘the Shadow Bible’. But with Malcolm Fox as the investigating officer – and determined to use Rebus for his own ends – the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer.

With political turmoil threatening to envelop Scotland, who really are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other.

Saints Of The Shadow Bible is available in hardback and on your e-reader.

As you know, on this blog we love finding out how authors write their books and there’s a terrific interview with Rankin about his writing day here.

Unknown-4The Magus Of Hay is the latest book in Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series, which combines crime with the supernatural. It’s a tricky recipe but Rickman’s baking it up a storm because this is his twelfth Watkins book. Merrily is a priest, a single – oh, wait, I’ll let the blurb tell you so I don’t have to type it myself.

When a man’s body is discovered near the picturesque town of Hay-on-Wye, his death appears to be ‘unnatural’ in every sense. Merrily Watkins, priest, single mother and exorcist, is drafted in to investigate.

A man’s body is found below a waterfall. It looks like suicide or an accidental drowning – until DI Frannie Bliss enters the dead man’s home. What he finds there has him consulting Merrily Watkins, the Diocese of Hereford’s official advisor on the paranormal.

It’s nearly forty years since the town of Hay-on-Wye was declared an independent state by its self-styled king. A development seen at the time as a joke. But the pastiche had a serious side. And behind it, unknown to most of the townsfolk, lay a darker design, a hidden history of murder and ritual magic, the relics of which are only now becoming visible.

It’s a situation that will take Merrily Watkins – on her own for the first time in years and facing public humiliation over a separate case – to the edge of madness.

So, The Magus of Hay is available now on e-reader and  hardback.

Rickman, by the way, is two books into another series – featuring the Elizabethan astronomer and occultist John Dee.

George Pelacanos is a terrific novelist – Drama City, The Big Blowdown – who also writes and produces shows such as The Wire, Treme and The Pacific.

Unknown-3The Double is his second book to feature PI Spero Lucas, an overbearing Iraq veteran, who first appeared in The Cut. Much like John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee, he finds stuff for a fee.  Lucas is a satisfyingly damaged and aggressive character, traumatised by his experience of war.

The blurb won’t take up much of your valuable time:

Every man has his dark side… Spero Lucas confronts his own in the most explosive thriller yet from the writer of the award-winning THE WIRE.

Pelacanos is no stranger to recurring characters, with his Nick Stefanos, Strange and Quinn, and DC Quartet series.

You know the drill: kindle, hardcover.

UnknownAnd finally, The Rising Tide is the third of Patrick Easter’s Tom Pascoe books – I guess that makes them, for the moment, a trilogy. Pascoe is a River Surveyor with the Marine Police in the Port of London – which was apparently the first professional police force in the country. In his 18th century adventures Pascoe tackles evil underworld characters, dastardly French agents and slavers along the Thames.

Set sail with the blurb:

September 1799. William Pitt is attempting to force through anti-slavery legislation, but many have a vested interest in preventing this change and would go to dangerous lengths to stop it.

Meanwhile, Tom Pascoe of the river police is grieving for the woman he loved and looking for solace at the bottom of a bottle. Tom’s drinking has made him increasingly belligerent and unpredictable, so when he is called to investigate a body found in the Thames – that of an MP and a close associate of William Pitt – there’s doubt whether he’s up to the task.

But Tom must pull himself together, or be dragged under; Pitt’s life is in his hands.

The Rising Tide is available in hardback, on kindle and in paperback.

Friday Crime Shorts:

Brain frazzled at the end of a long, tedious week? Here’s some short paragraphs about stuff, that won’t tax you too much.

imagesRandom House have released the first of Arne Dahl’s Intercrime books, The Blinded Man, to tie in with the Arne Dahl series currently showing on BBC4 on Saturday night. Those of you who are driven to apoplexy by lazy, cliche phrases may want to look away now… Arne Dahl is the latest, yes, Scandanavian crime sensation. He’s quite a big deal on the continent, where he’s sold two and a half million copies of his books.

The second book in the Intercrime series, The Blinded Man was first published back in 1999 and Dahl – real name Jan Arnald – has written a further nine novels in the series, which is about an elite police team in Sweden.

pi4741629396b5e0f6@largeMeanwhile John D. McDonald‘s Travis McGee novels are slowly being rereleased as e-books. The first five have already been made available, and there’ll be another two released every month – there are twenty-one in the series overall, each with a colour referenced in the title. Each book also features an introduction by die hard fan Lee Child.

The Deep Blue Good-by — or Goodbye. As you can see, the perenially awkward spelling has undergone a tidy-up — was first published in 1964, and the last novel in the series, The Lonely Silver Rain, in 1984. The central character of Travis McGee is a Salvage Consultant — basically, he finds things and people, for half the value of the missing item — who lives on houseboat in Florida called the Busted Flush. In the novels, which span the counter-culture of the 60s and the Reaganite 80s, McGee matures in real time.

The character hasn’t really been well-served in the movies, unless you’re a Rod Taylor fan, but perhaps the books are being reissued because of the news that Leonardo DiCaprio is circling the character for a movie.

But you may be more familiar with a movie based on another of McDonald’s books, The Executioners, which was published in 1957 — it’s been filmed twice, both times as Cape Fear.

images-1With Dexter almost coming to an end, American TV bosses are looking for a new friendly serial killer with which to engage audiences. The TV prequel-series Hannibal is soon to be broadcast on Sky Living — more about that when it comes out — and now Universal has bought the UK rights to broadcast the latest adventures of our old friend Norman Bates, in the A&E show Bates Motel.

It follows the adventures of a baby-faced young man who lives with his mum Norma as they open a new motel in Oregon – the motel seems to have relocated from California. Baby-faced Norman, played by Freddie Highmore, struggles with all the usual problems  that young men do when they move to  a new town — making friends, getting to know girls and getting away with multiple homicides.

I can hear you groaning at the prospect, Psycho is a classic, innit, but actually this TV update has garnered decent reviews and ratings on its, admittedly small, network, and has already been renewed for a second season, so it may be worth – ahem – a butcher’s.

The showrunner is Carlton Cuse, formerly of Lost, and Mrs. Bates looks a touch more glamorous, and certainly more alive, than she did in Hitchcock’s movie.  She’s played by Vera Farmiga – her off Up In The Air and Source Code, but my sources cannot confirm whether her rocking chair makes an appearance.