Friday, May 02, 2014

3 4 Friday - Dead Bursars, Desperate Pilgrims and a Writer on the Edge - Mostly Books turns to crime...

It's tough on the High Street at the moment, so Mostly Books will be turning to crime over the coming weeks - well, crime fiction at least, with an in-shop event with CWA Gold Dagger award-winner Mick Herron. We've almost sold out of tickets, so email us if you would like us to reserve you a place.

In the meantime, here are three cracking - and very different - crime and mystery thrillers that we definitely think are worth your time and hard-earned money.

The first is ‘I Am Pilgrim’, the debut novel by legendary screenwriter Terry Hayes (who wrote, amongst many other films, the script for Dead Calm). ‘Pilgrim’ is the codename of Scott Murdoch, adopted son of a wealthy American couple, and member of the above-top-secret ‘The Department’ – which polices the actions of other US spies. Having anonymously written the ultimate book on forensic examination, he may have unwittingly allowed ‘the perfect murder’ to take place – and the NYPD need his help to solve it.

But soon there are bigger, world-threatening activities taking place as terrorist ‘The Saracen’ plans a frighteningly plausible attack on the United States. If you like your techno-thrillers weighty (in every sense), fast-paced, densely plotted, and nerve-shreddingly plausible you will definitely not be disappointed (oh, and the dialogue is everything you’d expect from a talented screenwriter). The bags under Mark’s eyes are testament to how gripping this book is – published in paperback on 10 April, and available to download as an eBookemail us to reserve a copy for you in the shop...

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair’ by Joël Dicker is another debut, but a totally different animal: a twisty, turny* whodunnit with a novelist as the main protagonist. Harry Quebert is the feted writer of ‘The Origins of Evil’ and his protégé Marcus Goldman looks to be following in Harry’s footsteps, destined to become the great American novelist. But as the deadline for his second novel ticks closer, writer’s block gives way to a sinister shock as a young girl’s body is discovered in Harry’s garden – and he is arrested for murder. Marcus sets off back to the small town of Somerset – but can he discover the truth of what happened to fifteen year-old Nola, clear the name of his mentor – and possibly complete his book?

Translated from the original French by Sam Taylor (who translated Laurent Binet's 'HhHH') the style is deceptively melodramatic and almost cod ‘noir’ which skillfully pulls you into a story far more complex than you initially think. Exploring recent US history and the turmoil lurking below the veneer of small-town America, it also contains a splendid riff on how to write a great book. Available in hardback in the shop - or downloadable here.

('Twisty, turny' is a technical bookseller term, in case you were wondering)

Thanks to Colin Dexter, we all know that you can barely move in Oxford without stepping over piles of corpses, but Oxford's association with murder mysteries is much older than that. We’ve loved the British Library Crime Classics, recently reissued, and our favourite is most definitely 'Death on the Cherwell' by Mavis Doriel Hay.

Students discover the drowned body of the college bursar floating in her canoe and begin an investigation into the tangled secrets that led to the bursar's death - and the clues that point to a fellow student. A classic mystery novel, with its evocative setting in an Oxford women's college, is now republished for the first time since the 1930s.

So, much murder and mayhem to enjoy. It's been a bumper year so far for crime, so make sure you pop into the shop for some of our other recommendations...

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