December Picks

Eriksson, Kjell (2020) The Night of the Fire. Minotaur Books. Veteran detective, Ann Lindell, has retired from the Violent Crimes Unit and is now making artisan cheeses in a small town in Uppland, Sweden. When someone sets fire to the former village school, and later a bomb explodes in a Stockholm suburb, Ann’s well-honed investigative instincts are aroused and she becomes involved in the dark world of Swedish neo-Nazis, alongside her successor, Sammy Nilsson. In this eighth Lindell mystery Eriksson highlights the disturbing prejudice and tensions immigration has raged on Swedish society. Slow but topical police procedural.  Rating: 8/10.

Galbraith, Robert (2020) Troubled Blood. Sphere. PIs Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacort, in their fifth outing, are tackling a forty year old cold case. Although their chances of success are slim they nevertheless set about unravelling the clues, whilst juggling multiple other cases and difficult personal dramas.  This 900 plus page mystery is engrossing and highly inventive; JK Rowling at her best.  Although my longest read of 2020 it was one of the most gripping and satisfactory. Loved it. Rating: 9/10.

Shulman, Alexandra (2020) Clothes…and other things that matter. Cassell. British Vogue’s former Editor-in-Chief looks at her own wardrobe and recalls a mix of memories and observations of the fashion industry, and about the clothes we wear. From white shirts (and shoes), bags, hats, suits, bikinis to trainers and denim, her intention is to encourage women to consider what our own clothes mean to us, and the stories they tell. Personal memoir and wardrobe companion.  Rating: 7.5/10.

Marchant, Jo (2020) The Human Cosmos: A Secret History of the Stars. Canongate. Humanity has always had a relationship with the cosmos and celestial cycles, from early cave drawings, worshipping the solstice, understanding the nature of time, navigating by the stars, to our fate and faith, scientific advances and biology.  Marchant asserts that it is time for us to lift our eyes from our devices, and quantifiable observations, to once more rediscover and reconnect with the heavens not only for our own survival but for that of our fragile planet.  Revelatory. Rating: 8.5/10.

Tursten, Helene (2020) Snow Drift. Soho Crime. DI Embla Nyström has suffered fourteen years of terrible nightmares after the disappearance of her best friend Lollo in a Gothenburg nightclub. When three gangster brothers are found murdered Embla starts to unravel a mystery that will ultimately reunite her with Lollo. But before Embla can investigate the case, there’s the matter of the fatal stabbing of a high school athlete to solve. A winning Scandinavian crime series, with an immensely driven, physically capable and very human heroine at its heart. Rating: 8.5/10.

Gallen, Michelle (2020) Big Girl, Small Town. J. Murray.  Majella is an autistic big girl. She lives a quiet life with her lazy alcoholic mother in a small Northern Ireland border town, a few years after the Good Friday Agreement. She has no friends and works in the local takeaway shop six days a week. Her life is a hopeless cycle of repeated actions. When her grandmother is brutally murdered, as much as Majella wants things to return to normal, she starts to realise there may be more to life, and that the tragedy has provided her with an escape plan. Raw and no nonsense novel of small town life, with an Irish brogue. Memorable debut.  Rating: 8.5/10.

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