Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
How have they managed all this for £7.99? 42 stories crammed into 588 pages, blending big names with less familiar to make a crackling fireside read.
Where to dip into this splendid 42? Blood and gore, from Sally Spedding and others? Would you prefer unexpected shivers from Martin Edwards, poison dropped by Amy Myers into an Auguste Didier kitchen, or what might be the start of great caper novel by Sarah Raine? If you expect comedy from Simon Brett, you don’t perhaps from noir king Paul Johnston. These contrast with a sad little tale by Peter Turnbull – one without a crime and which therefore should not be here at all, except that it would be a crime to leave it out.
Christine Poulson recalls Josephine Tey’s famous tale in which a cold crime is solved from a hospital sick-bed, while both Neil Gaiman and Lee Child surprise with their liking for Sherlock Homes (though perhaps all crime writers owe a debt to Holmes). Ann Cleeves has Vera Stanhope coax a confession, Carol Anne Davis asks what you get if you don’t get remorse and, curiously, the shortest tale in the book takes 2 writers to pen its mere 4 pages.
You’ll find every kind of crime story here, and your only problem may be how to persuade this generous wedge of pages to stay open flat. Don’t let that stop you!