Good Night, Hem, by Jason (Fantagraphics Books, 2021)

Three episodes in the life of Ernest Hemingway, each involving recurring Jason character Athos the Last Musketeer. Jason’s laconic, deceptively simple style is, as ever, beguiling. The reader’s given space to think, involving them completely in the narrative, in Hemingway’s life, and the effect of the stranger on him. Recommended.

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

Park by the River, by Barney Farmer (Wrecking Ball Press, 2021)

An isolated elderly man takes daily walks during a pandemic through his local park. Barney Farmer’s third novel (after Drunken Baker and Coketown) is his best yet: more melancholic than splenetic this time out, but no less angry at the state of the world and the plight of those adrift within it. Recommended.

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

The Bomb Maker, by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, 2019)

A bomber begins a campaign targeted against the LA police’s bomb disposal squad: a security consultant is drafted in to assist the investigation. While the ending falls a bit flat, this is nevertheless a well-sustained and slick contemporary thriller, with a keen focus on plausible detail throughout. Recommended for the journey if not quite for the destination.

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

The Old Man, by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, 2017)

A long-in-hiding former intelligence officer goes on the run when his identity is compromised. Excellent pursuit procedural, strong on plausible detail and on cool rational action throughout. Plenty to appreciate in the approach, and in the confidence on display in both protagonist and author. Recommended.

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

The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix (Titan Books, 2021)

A killer is targeting the members of a support group for female survivors of serial murderers. Genre-savvy black comedy horror/thriller hybrid, packed with sneaky and overt references, as well as being a zesty read in its own right. Plenty of fun, basically, with something to say about survivor guilt, online obsessives, and our ongoing fascination with ghoulishness.

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

Billy Summers, by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton, 2021)

A professional assassin waiting for the go on a big-paying hit begins to write a novel. A superb entertainment: King’s patent mix of the implausible and the compelling – here very light indeed on the supernatural – riffs on recurring themes (the lot of the novelist, JFK, lower-middle class America) in fun and interesting ways. Plus, constant reader, this time he lands the ending. Recommended.

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

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.