King and his killer

In the late days of the Bush administration, it was fashionable among liberals to call George W. Bush the ‘worst’ president since the founding of the republic and to suggest that under his leadership America experienced its own version of the Dark Ages.


In and out of every dive

Robert Coover’s Noir is a graphic novel.


Out for blood

Unless you have spent the last couple of years packed in soil on a boat bound for Whitby, you will have noticed that vampires are back in fashion.


The loss of innocents

Here are two novels about that most harrowing and haunting of subjects — children who go missing.


Cherchez la femme

The 22nd Earl of Erroll, Military Secretary in Kenya in the early part of the second world war, was described by two of his fellow peers of the realm as ‘a stoat — one of the great pouncers of all time’ and ‘a dreadful shit who really needed killing’.


Red faces in the galleries

Art fraudsters, especially forgers, have a popular appeal akin to Robin Hood.


Missing link

In times of anxiety or confusion the most effective palliative is a good detective story. The requirement is that a sense of justice be restored, and, paradoxically, given the fictional events portrayed, a much desired sense of order. The effect is transitory but reliable.


Exotic Cuban underworld

Before the revolución of 1959, Havana was, effectively, a mafia fleshpot and colony of Las Vegas.


Street eloquence

The title of Jon McGregor’s third novel derives from an anecdote told by one of the many vivid, dispossessed characters whose voices burst from its pages: Steve is a homeless ex-soldier who agrees to help deliver a lorry-load of aid to a Bosnian town, but is turned back on the grounds that ‘even the dogs’ there are dead.


The greatest rogue in Europe

On 11 November 1743, the most sensational trial of the 18th century opened in the Four Courts in Dublin.


Throw it in a stream

I know a British couple with a Chinese daugh- ter, pretty and fluent in English.


From gloom to dispair

In little more than a decade, the cosy world of Anglo-American crime fiction has been transformed by wave after wave of Scandinavian invaders.

Recent crime novels

Blue Lightning (Macmillan, £16.99) is the fourth novel in Ann Cleeves’ excellent Shetland quartet.

Recent crime novels

Fever of the Bone (Little, Brown, £18.99) is the sixth novel in Val McDermid’s Jordan and Hill series.

Adored friends

Years ago the late ‘Brookie’ Warwick, 8th Earl, asked me to ghost his memoirs.

Reader, beware

In this diverting, well-written history of deceitful and counterfeit literature through the ages, Telling Tales, Melissa Katsoulis chronicles a variety of fraudsters and fibsters, and their motives for hoodwinking the public.

New departures

For a crime writer, success comes with its dark side.

Good women and bad men

Just in case you hadn’t guessed after nearly 1,800 pages of the ‘Millennium’ trilogy, the late Stieg Larsson has his alter-ego hero Mikel Blomkvist spell it out.

A dogged foe

Old detectives rarely die — or age, for that matter: Poirot is forever 60, Sherlock Holmes 50, P. D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh a handsome 38 or so. 

At sixes and fives

Inside British Intelligence: 100 Years of MI5 and MI6, by Gordon Thomas

Fatal attractions

The Oxford Despoiler, by Gary Dexter
Twisted Wing, by Ruth Newman
Windows on the Moon, by Alan Brownjohn

Recent crime novels

The Ignorance of Blood (Harper Collins, £17.99) is the fourth of Robert Wilson’s novels to feature Inspector Javier Falcon of Seville, and it completes a planned quartet examining some of the demons, old and new, plaguing modern Spain.


Mysteries of Paris

The Chalk Circle Man, by Fred Vargas, translated

A choice of crime novels

Andrew Taylor reviews a selection of recent crime novels

Plagued by plagiarism

And Then There Was No One, by Gilbert Adair