Falling, by TJ Newman (Simon & Schuster, 2021).

His family taken hostage, an airline pilot is commanded to crash his plane. Commendably brisk and straightforward old-school aviation thriller full of plausible cabin detail and with most tropes of the aircraft jeopardy subgenre cheerfully put to work. Tailor-made for a movie adaptation: make sure you read it before the film comes out.

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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.

Grendel, Kentucky, by Jeff McComsey & Tommy Lee Edwards, with Giovanna Niro and John Workman (AWA Upshot, 2021)

The leader of an all-woman biker gang returns home to avenge her father’s death. Swift, gory, fun riff on Beowulf populated by backwoods weed farmers and take-no-shit Kentuckians. The book anthologizes a four-part graphic story: there’s hell of a movie to be made of this. A straightforward thing done as well as it might be. Recommended.

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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.

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.