Later, by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, 2021)

A young boy has the ability to see and to speak with the recently-deceased. As he grows, this leads to conflict with both the living and the dead. A pacy yarn from the master, balancing crime-related thrills with the paranormal in line with much of his recent output. Won’t win any converts, but again emphasises that King is a supremely confident storyteller. Recommended.

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

Write It In Blood, by Rory McConville & Joe Palmer, with Chris O’Halloran and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Image Comics, 2021)

Hitmen brothers are working on getting out, but matters go South, Texas-style. Very effective visually-driven neo-noir working within genre expectations to produce something that’s both distinctive and affecting. Lots to enjoy here if this is your kinda thing. Recommended.

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

Based On A True Story (Not A Memoir), by Norm Macdonald (Random House, 2016)

Challenged to write a memoir, a stand-up comedian instead hires a ghostwriter. A meta spin on the celebrity autobiography, As with much of his career, the impression here is that Macdonald’s prime audience is himself: that’s a good thing, as this is funny, challenging in places, and wholly dishonest throughout. I loved it.

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

That Texas Blood, Volume One, by Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips (Image Comics, 2021)

A man returns to Texas after the killing of his brother: trouble ensues. Decent if ever-so-slightly overwritten Lone Star State neo-noir (anthologising issues 1-6). Wears its influences (No Country For Old Men, Taylor Sheridan screenplays etc) on its sleeve, so there’s no real surprises, even if it’s all capably done, and makes Volume Two a worthwhile prospect.

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

The Black Archive #50: The Day of the Doctor, by Alasdair Stuart (Obverse Books, 2020)

A monograph discussing the 2013 Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. An engaging and freewheeling exploration, too, probing the episode’s links to wider Who canon, its storytelling approach, and to the ways it exemplifies a postmodern attitude to story. By no means the final word on the episode, but Stuart offers plenty to think about, and makes some interesting connections.

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

Bad Weekend, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, with Jacob Phillips (Image Comics, 2019)

Jacob is tasked with chaperoning a cantankerous comics veteran at a convention: matters soon spiral. Excellent and slightly meta stand-alone story with links to the wider Criminal universe. Plenty to relish, not least in its playing with comic book industry legends, noir tropes, and the flipside of niche fame and success.

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

If I Only Had The Time: How To Keep Writing When The World Stops Moving, by Dave Cohen (TTTTTT Publications, 2021)

Reflections on creative writing: access, opportunities, and restrictions in 2021. An excellent short overview, with comedy writer Cohen bringing his decades of experience to the table. A focus throughout on the impacts of coronavirus and the internet, and on the need to both re-evaluate goals and directions while seeing new realities as chances. Recommended.

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

Criminal, Vol. 3: The Dead and the Dying, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 2015).

Three linked stories: a boxer, a bar worker, a gang lord’s son. Polyperspective genre thrills, plus something of a meditation on the codes and conventions of noir fiction. Plenty to enjoy here, as Brubaker and Phillips continue to both abide by and challenge the limitations and interstices of the genre. Recommended.

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

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 2018)

A young woman with secrets, fresh to rehab, finds love and with it, a reason to abscond. Smart, melancholic story of crime, addiction, inevitability, and trust. Billed as a Criminal novella, this stand-alone graphic story comes at noir from an unusual – though fitting – angle. Recommended.

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