The Hollow Ones, by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan (Del Rey Books, 2021)

A suspended young FBI agent finds that their colleague’s death is linked to an ancient demonic evil. The first of a new series from The Strain collaborators Del Toro and Hogan, this is all set-up. While ambitious – immortal demonologists, John Dee, civil rights and slavery, and backstory-a-gogo all involved – it’s also a bit insubstantial. Brisk enough though.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

City On Fire, by Don Winslow (HarperCollins, 2022)

Providence, Rhode Island, 1980s. Irish and Italian crime families go to war: a reluctant leader emerges in Danny Ryan. A smart, breathless gangland take on The Iliad – the first part of a trilogy – that does precisely what you’d expect it might, and with some verve. Long-time fans will know what to expect and new genre-friendly readers will wonder what they’ve been missing out on all these years. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Department of Truth, Volume Two: The City Upon a Hill, by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds & Aditya Bidikar (Image Comics, 2021)

Cole Turner learns more about Lee Harvey Oswald, and about the different factions involved in both suppressing and engineering manifestations of conspiracy theories into real life. The series (issues 6-10 collected here) is now in its stride: cannily assuming that readers either know – or will find out about – Bigfoot, Jim Jones, JFK and the like, we get full-on with the interdimensional weirdness. Volume Three (Free Country) looms.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Cervantes’s Don Quixote: A Graphic Novel, volume 1, by Rob Davies (Self Made Hero, 2011)

A delusional bibliophile believes himself to be a knight on a quest. Excellent graphic novel adaptation of the Cervantes classic (the first half here, with Volume 2 to follow). An emphasis on slapstick humour throughout, on the value of stories, and on there being no harm in following your dreams. Lots of fun, and great to look at too.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Park Bench, by Chabouté (Faber and Faber, 2017)

Seasons pass, and a range of people (and a dog) make different uses of the same park bench. Unfolding like a silent documentary, this dialogue-free monochrome graphic novel takes a simple idea and uses it well to tell a series of overlapping stories, linked by place and association. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England. But if you’re fond of park benches or of public seating in general – and who isn’t? – then try Benches of Louth.

Hostage, by Guy DeLisle [trans. Helge Dascher] (Jonathan Cape, 2017)

An NGO administrator in Chechnya is kidnapped: he spends the next months cuffed to a radiator. Low-key biographic study (of Doctors Without Borders worker Christophe André) of resilience: effective, moving, and at times hypnotic in its study of rhythm, of being alone, and of working up to take the opportunities and relish the details that even the worst circumstances may bring. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

That Texas Blood, Volume Two, by Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips (Image Comics, 2022)

A veteran lawman recounts a story from forty years earlier, of cultists, a lost child, and regret. This second stand-alone story (anthologising issues 7-12) introduces a horror element: as before, it’s all very capably done if a little on the nose. Nevertheless, if you like tall but bittersweet cop stories and tales told in diners over pie, you’ll be right at home.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Delicacy, by James Albon (Top Shelf Productions/IDW, 2021)

Brothers collaborate on a farm-to-table restaurant: a rare ingredient promises success. While there’s some wonky plotting and not all the story and character threads pay off, this graphic novel is nevertheless a hugely entertaining, brilliantly paced (a rushed coda aside), and authentic-feeling exploration of foodie hubris. Lots to recommend it.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

In Praise of Walking, by Shane O’Mara (Vintage, 2020)

Why walking is good for you, and why we should all walk more. An interdisciplinary popular science approach is offered, linking health in both physical and mental terms, town planning, social interactions, and evolutionary theory. Basically, humans are built and socialized to walk – it’s a key distinction between homo sapiens and other animals – and so we should. Takes a little time to settle into its pace, but worth your perseverance. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Walking: One Step At A Time, by Erling Kagge [trans. Becky L Crook] (Penguin, 2019)

Philosophical musings on walking, drawing on both personal experiences (both poles and Everest included) and wider literature. Maybe a touch whimsical for some readers, but nevertheless a useful first-hand perspective about how and why walking is necessary for being both human and centred.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.