I’m declaring this week to be English crime week and I’m celebrating by reading three writers whose books centre around believable and or engaging detectives.
One is the second book in a trilogy about Manon Bradshaw, a very real, often fallible, Detective in the Cambridgeshire police.
The other two are first-in-a-series books that are more about the amateurs investigating the crime than about the crime itself.
One is a new cosy mystery about three English women from an old, wealthy, small town on the Thames, banding together to solve a murder that they don’t trust the police to handle. The other is from a writer whose series about a male police detective in Norfolk I always enjoy and who has now rung the changes by moving the action to Cornwall and having the crime investigated by two women who are next-door neighbours who barely know each other.
I’m hoping for a relaxing and engaging tour of England in the company of some interesting people.
‘Persons Unknown’ by Susie Steiner (2017)
I’m reading ‘Persons Unknown’ because I met Manon Bradshaw in ‘Missing Presumed’ and I want to know more about her.
What I liked most about the last book was that the crime was really a framework for learning about a group of loosely connected people. It was told from the perspective of different people, each of whom felt real., and that the detective at the heart of the story, Manon Bradshaw, wasn’t a cliché and wasn’t perfect. She reads people well and does her job as well as she can but she makes mistakes and her personal life is unsatisfactory rather then tragically broken. I liked that the timescale in the book weren’t compressed to make everything more dramatic and that, over the months of the investigation, I saw Manon Bradshaw change as a consequence of the decisions she took.
I’m hoping that these strengths continue in ‘Persons Unknown’ and that, while I’m sure Manaon’s life will get harder, it remains grounded in reality.
‘The Marlow Murder Club’ by Robert Thorogood (2021)
I bought ‘The Marlow Murder Club’ because it’s written by the creator of ‘Death In Paradise’, a whimsical BBC TV series, set on a French Caribbean island where English people seem to go to kill one another in intriguing ways. It’s about as far from reality as you can get, a parallel universe, populated by quirky but nice people figuring out how other quirky but much less nice people have committed murder.
Ir seems that, in ‘The Marlow Murder Club’, Robert Thorogood has set up another parallel universe, this time set in small town on the banks of the Thames in Buckinghamshire, where a bored seventy-seven-year-old woman who is good at crosswords can solve a murder with the help of a dog-walking friend and the wife of the local Vicar.
I don’t expect to believe any of it but I’m hoping it will make me smile and leave me wanting more.
‘Lane’ by Peter Grainger (2017)
Peter Grainger created one of my favourite modern British Police Detectives, DC Smith (DC is his name not his rank). He’s an older guy, with a military background, a quietly dogged investigative style. He’s also a widower heading towards the end of his career, I’ve read the first two books, ‘An Accidental Death‘ and ‘But For The Grace’ and I recommend both of them.
I wasn’t aware that he’d written a new series until I saw it promoted in an Audible 2for1 sale (Yes, I bought both books in the series so I’m hoping they’re good).
The two series seem to have nothing in common beyond the author. The DC Smith series is a police procedural, set in Norfolk and centred on a veteran male detective. The Willows and Lane series is about two amateur investigators, is set in Cornwall and is centred on two women who, although they have lived next door to one another for some months, barely know one another. I love it when an author tries something new.
When I was looking up the Willows and Lane series (Yes, I’m that guy. The one who goes, ‘I wonder if there’s an author interview somewhere?’) I found out that Peter Grainger is a self-published author. Apparently, he couldn’t find a publisher who wanted his books so he did the whole thing himself and hasn’t seen any reason to move to a publishing house now his books have become well known.
You can read the Jungle Red interview with him HERE.
I’m hoping for a book that gives me two women I’ll enjoy spending time with and a mystery worth solving.