the literary lounge

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      I typed in my usual search (Douglas Jordan Dead Cave Floodwater) and one of the hits … was  a listing on a baby names website. Douglas (boy). Means. Dark Water. Ever since then I’ve blamed myself and Gill, accidental prophets. I blame us for choosing a name that turned out to be … Continue readings

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    Fargo is one of those films, you either absolutely love with an almost cultish adoration, or just don’t get: it’s too screwball, too noir, too dark, too odd. We sit firmly in the former camp and, when we first saw it, in a small press screening in Soho, in 1996, it was mesmerising. … Continue readings

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  Romance is one of the most underrated genres, which is an outrage as so many talented authors write within it. Liz Jones’ The Queen of Romance celebrates one of the late greats – and, no doubt, to many, unknowns – Marguerite Jervis. A prolific writer, better known by her pen names, among them Countess … Continue readings

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      We’ve been fans of Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan for a long time and it’s a huge pleasure to meet her again in The Bone Code, her twentieth outing. It’s rather like catching up with an old friend. Set between South Carolina and Montreal predominantly, here we find the forensic anthropologist living in … Continue readings

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      Identical twins, a Gothic-esque house, mysteries from the past and a missing woman – oh, and a fantasy place created by said children in said house – that’s Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone’s psychological novel, in its most simplified form and what’s not to like? It takes its title from the escapist world sisters … Continue readings

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    It feels fitting to review Together on this day, 12 April 2021, when the world, or at least our little part of it, begins to open up again, easing our return we hope to a better, brighter, safer and healthier new world. We hope. And that’s what Luke Adam Hawker and Marianne Laidlaw’s … Continue readings

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    We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and yet most of us do, particularly in this age of having to buy online, without flicking through pages or sniffing paper. In the case of Song, Michelle Jana Chan’s acclaimed novel, published in paperback this month by Unbound, we’re pleased to say that it’s … Continue readings

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      Coming shortly after the week we’ve had, the months we’ve had, the years, a book essentially celebrating the achievements of a group of very fine women (and, yes, men) who essentially helped save the day for the Allies during the Second World War, is both timely and great. Kate Quinn’s The Rose … Continue readings

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    We love Bitter Lemon’s list, especially its crime-fiction in translation, and The Measure of Time, by award-winning author Gianrico Carofiglio, joins its ranks this month. Set in Bari, in southern Italy, it’s the sixth book in Carofiglio’s series featuring aging lawyer Guido Guerrieri, a philosophical man coming to terms with the passing of … Continue readings

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    We are great fans of a good island-set crime-fiction novel. Scandinavian writer Maria Adolfsson’s Fatal Isles, translated into English by Agnes Broome, is set on the fictional Doggerland, a cluster of islands which lie between Denmark and the UK, and a melting pot of cultures. Recently returned to Doggerland after many years in … Continue readings

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      Acclaimed Scottish writer Ewan Morrison sets his latest book, How To Survive Everything, in a pandemic world. Sound familiar? Here though, we witness it through the eyes of young Haley, fifteen years old when she and brother Ben are first spirited away to a secret hideaway carefully prepared by their seemingly paranoid … Continue readings

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        Stop worrying about your heart and try and have a better brain.” —Elizabeth Bowen   If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Bowen, The Shadowy Third by Julia Parry is totally unmissable. Drawing on the letters that Bowen and Parry’s grandfather, Humphry House, exchanged from 1933 onwards, the book is a lyrical … Continue readings

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    It’s always a joy to be introduced to a new character by a writer one’s never read before. Even, with that in mind, Joe Ide’s LA-based private eye Isaiah Quintabe, also known as IQ, is a revelation, a brilliant, twenty-first century African American Sherlock Holmes. In Smoke, published this month by W&N, he … Continue readings

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    Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series is smart, contemporary and sinister. Using the format of Scott King’s much-watched podcasts to explore a particular crime, he mixes folklore, crime-fiction and elements of horror and the supernatural to play on his characters’ and the reader’s paranoia and fear. It’s a masterclass in audience manipulation, but the … Continue readings

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    My grandmother, a wise woman and some would say witch, used to say, treat the plants with the most beautiful flowers with respect and care, as they hide the best and worst of secrets. Of course, as a child, I ignored her – to my detriment, in fact, when I stupidly consumed a … Continue readings

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