The Forensic Records Society, by Magnus Mills (Bloomsbury, 2017)

A pub backroom hosts a weekly record listening session; rival groups soon emerge. Another of Mills’s deadpan absurdist satires/studies of entropy, this takes a sitcom setup (blokes in a pub) and weaves it into a parable about extremism, political infighting, the limits of faith and ideological purity. Highly recommended while also being for Mills fans only.

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

 

Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Titan Books, 2007)

A career thief gets in over his head with a security truck heist. Collecting issues 1-5 of Criminal, this first collection tells a sharp downbeat noir tale with a touch of heart and depth to its characters. Plenty to relish here for genre fans, and for readers of the likes of Westlake/Stark’s Parker novels. Recommended.

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

Lowborn, by Kerry Hudson (Vintage, 2020)

A writer revisits her younger life and self. Excellent autobiographical exploration of how class, gender, substance abuse, poor mental health, homelessness, poverty and related issues may intersect and inform each other. Neither sentimental nor sensationalist, but clear and compassionate throughout. Plus, a Proustian moment (involving banana-flavoured vitamin drops) for me. Recommended.

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

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss (WH Allen, 2013)

An exploration of processed foods, in product formulation and marketing terms, and the health implications of reliance on prepackaged convenience eating. This US-centric discussion is detailed and clear on the ways major companies structure desire (the “bliss points” of food) through chemistry and psychological manipulation. Recommended.

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

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, by Adrian Tomine (Faber and Faber, 2020)

A socially-awkward cartoonist reflects on embarrassing incidents in their life. Lovely, touching and beautifully-presented kinda-memoir, that’ll ring true to anyone who’s tried to be creative and/or who’s struggled with being in public. Lots to appreciate, and wholly relatable even (or especially) if comix aren’t usually your thing.

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

Bog Bodies, by Declan Shalvey, Gavin Fullerton, Rebecca Nalty & Clayton Cowles (Image Comics, 2020)

A young man is taken to a remote Irish peat bog for execution. Excellent noir-ish one-shot that goes into interesting, if slightly anticipated, places. Lots to relish all around though, not least in the vivid dialogue and sharp characterisations of the major players.

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

Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Gillette (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

A stage magician’s account of his weight loss, and the unorthodox methods used to achieve this. A forceful, loquacious, funny and quite possibly at times too-salty-for-some diet memoir. Interesting and a fun read into the bargain, even if the approach used might not translate. As the author notes, though, this is a case study, not a recipe to follow.

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