In this final week of September, I’m focusing on dark suspense for my Halloween Bingo reading. I have a detective with a strange past investigating the dark magic side of Savannah, a scandi-noir story of corruption and revenge, and a disturbing story of murder in an English Public School.
‘Play Dead’ by Anne Fraser (2004)
Anne Frasier is an American writer who works in multiple genres, has been in print since the late 1980s and has published more than thirty novels, including three best-selling series.
‘Play Dead’ is my first Anne Frasier book. It’s the start of a four-book series about Savannah homicide detective, Elise Sandburg. Elise, a Savannah native who was abandoned in a cemetery as a baby, has strong connections to the local Gullah culture of voodoo and magic so she’s better positioned than most to deal with a case where someone is poisoning people, causing a paralysis that makes them living zombies.
It sounds like a perfect choice for Halloween Bingo.
‘The Son‘ by Jo Nesbø (2014)
Jo Nesbø is one of the best-known writers of Scandic-noir, with several best-selling stand-alone novels and the Harry Hole series, which started with ‘The Bat’. His website gave me some details about his early life that were new to me:
Before becoming a crime writer, Nesbo played football for Norway’s premier league team Molde, but his dream of playing professionally for Spurs was dashed when he tore ligaments in his knee at the age of eighteen. After three years military service he attended business school and formed the band Di derre (‘Them There’). They topped the charts in Norway, but Nesbo continued working as a financial analyst, crunching numbers during the day and gigging at night. When commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first Harry Hole crime novel, The Bat.
‘The Son’ is a stand-alone thriller about a young man seeking vengeance for his father against members of the corrupt Norwegian hierarchy. The first step? Break out of prison.
‘Different Class’ by Joanne Harris (2016)
Joanne Harris is an English writer with seventeen novels to her name, including the four ‘Chocolat’ books. I admire the breadth of her subject matter and unfailing skill of her writing.
My first encounter with her was in 2011 when I read ‘Gentlemen And Players’ a book about a murder in an English school. It was a brilliantly executed, clever thriller that was also a mainstream look at love, loyalty, duty, transgression and identity.
‘Different Class’ is a stand-alone novel that is set at the same school as ‘Gentlemen And Players’ and takes place one year later (although the books were published more than a decade apart). The book has a twisty plot, complicated timelines and is told from the point of view of a teacher in his sixties and of a student recording his often disturbing thoughts in a secret diary. I’m expecting something engaging, dark and surprising.