Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2021)

Los Angeles, 1969. The lives of a TV actor and his stuntman buddy intersect with others, including members of the Manson family. A quasi-novelisation of Tarantino’s 2019 movie, taking a different path through the material. Lots of movie and TV arcana, some fun digressions, and a sense of confident ease throughout. Not sure how it’d stand up for those who haven’t seen the film, but it makes the prospect of an original novel an intriguing one.

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

Moon Lake, by Joe R Lansdale (Mulholland Books, 2021)

A young writer returns to his childhood hometown to reinvestigate his father’s suicide and his mother’s disappearance. A touch of Stephen King, East Texas-style, in this standalone novel which balances investigative thriller and the gothic with this writer’s concern for probing the underbelly of prejudice. Plenty to enjoy here: a solid, professional job all around from a modern master.

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

Criminal, Vol. 4: Bad Night, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, with Val Staples (Image Comics, 2015)

A cartoonist and former forger gets drawn back into crime by a femme fatale. Another high-quality yarn of dark deeds on the wrong side of midnight; another man in over his head and head over heels at the same time. Series fans won’t be disappointed, and there’s much to relish for those new to the BrubakerPhillipsVerse.

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

Scene of the Crime, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark & Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 1999/2021)

A young San Francisco private eye’s missing persons case turns out to be more complex than it originally appears. This fresh paperback collection of a four-part comic from 1999 preserves a smart contemporary noir-ish story that doesn’t overstay its welcome and which pleasingly plays around with genre and location-specific tropes. Well worth your time.

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

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.

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.

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.