This week I’m indulging in a genre smörgåsbord, serving myself a well-matured Golden Age Mystery, a freshly made Supernatural Fantasy and a sliver of horror. The Golden Age Mystery is part of my ‘Cold Comfort Reads’ challenge. It’s a chance for me to get back to winter in the Alps. The Supernatural Fantasy is the second book in a new series that I discovered this year, written in a Noir style. The final book is a novella that promises to be all kinds of weird.
I’m hoping for a week of gloom-free entertainment that distracts me from the world and takes me somewhere nicer.
‘Crossed Skis’ by Carol Carnac (1952)
‘Crossed Skis’ will be the twenty-third Golden Age Mystery. that I’ve read in the past few years. Originally, I read them as companion pieces as I read my way through Agatha Christies novels. I was amazed to discover how many mysteries there were out there by authors I didn’t know and how good they were. The best feel as fresh as if they were written yesterday but give me an insight into the times that they were written in. Many of the authors are women who, like Edith Caroline Rivett-Carnac, were pioneers in making their living by their writing one or more books a year, sometimes under multiple pen names. It seems to me that, for this generation of women writers, crime writing was the equivalent of religious art in the Middle Ages – it was what people would pay you to do so people poured their talent into the accepted form and the best of them created something that stands on the quality of the work.
This is my first Carol Carnac book. It comes highly recommended and it has one of those gorgeous covers that are the signature of British Library Crime Classics. I’m hoping to find another Golden Age voice and I’m hoping she’ll take me to the Alpine winter and let me feel the cold’s bite.
‘Dead Man In A Ditch’ by Luke Arnold (2020)
It’s only been a few weeks since I read the first book in this series, ‘The Last Smile In Sunder City’. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought the second book. Sometimes, when I do that, I get distracted and the book languishes on my TBR pile for months. I was determined not to do that with this book. I want to know what happens to Fetch Phillips and whether magic can be restored to his broken world. More compelling than that though is that I want to read more of Luke Arnold’s writing.
What struck me about the first book was how it did more than deliver a fantasy novel in a polished noir style, it got deep into loss and grief and regret. Yeah, that may not sound like the take-me-away-from-everything read I said I was looking for but, in the last book, Luke Arnold seeded a little hope and I’d like to see it bloom.
‘Final Girls‘ by Mira Grant (2017)
I first met Mira Grant’s work when she was, as she puts it, writing ‘in her guise as mild-mannered urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire‘. I started both her October Daye and her InCrypted, urban fantasy series and I’ve read a number of her short stories including my favourite, ‘The Myth Of Rain’ a CliFi story that has stuck with me.
It seems to me that, when Mira Grant writes under her own name, she lets her wild side out. Mira Grant is not mild-mannered. Her stories have things with teeth that rip and rend and enjoy their work. She also seems to me to take more risks. I loved her novel ‘Not Into The Drowning Deep’ with mermaids that would give you nightmares. I liked the idea behind her ‘Parasite’ novel but wasn’t taken enough with the book to read the rest of the Parasitology series.
I picked up ‘Final Girls’ because it’s a novella and I’ve found they’re often more intense than novels, it has a gorgeous cover and because everyone seems to be writing about Final Girls these days and I wanted to see what Mira Grant would do with the idea.
I’m hoping for something wild and dark and intense.