Signal red: a novel based on the Great Train Robbery, by Robert Ryan. London: Headline, 2010.
I found this a riveting read, not so much for the account of the train robbery itself, which is pretty well-known, but for the background in the London of 1962, where well-known villains were using the same tailor as the Beatles, and drinking at Ronnie Scott's club. Taken as a ripping read, and not as historical fact, this is really excellent, and comes with an afterword from Bruce Reynolds, the leader of the train robbery gang, and some facts about what happened to the individuals involved. I suppose my only quibble with this one would be that because it's a novelisation, and because some of the characters have been created by Ryan rather than having actually existed, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction... This wouldn't stop me reading other books by Ryan - I gather he's given Lawrence of Arabia and Scott of the Antarctic similar treatment...
Blood harvest, by S J Bolton [audiobook]. Read by Clare Corbett. Bath: AudioGO, 2010.
S J Bolton illustrates again why she's the expert in the really quite creepy psychological thriller. I can't sum it up better than this review in the Observer, except to add that I loved both of the main characters, Evie and Harry. Harry in particular, as vicars in British crime fiction are often either sinister or inadequate... The reading is extremely good, even if Harry's Geordie accent is somewhat overdone; you can always tell who's speaking. Corbett also read the Elly Griffiths books, which I also enjoyed...
Deal breaker, by Harlan Coben. London: Orion, 2002.
The first of the Myron Bolitar novels. Bolitar was a promising young basketball player until a smashed knee in college took him out of the game; he's now working as a sports agent. One of his clients, Christian, is the ex-boyfriend of Myron's ex-girlfriend Jessica's little sister Kathy, who went missing two years before. Now Christian is receiving messages and photos of Kathy, and it's putting him off his game. Myron investigates, accompanied by the genuinely scary Windsor Horne Lockwood III, trust-fund millionaire and blackbelt tae kwon do expert. This is very well-plotted and with a genuinely surprising ending, but also extremely wittily written. Having come across one of these by accident, I'm going to read the rest in order.
The preacher, by Camilla Läckberg [audiobook]. Read by Cameron Stewart. Bath: Oakhill, [n.d.]
This was intriguing, but I think going away for the weekend in the middle of it didn't do the book any services; and nor did several characters having similar names. I'll read another of this author's books, but I'm not entirely sure what actually happened! The characters are interesting though, and it rattles along in an interesting way.
Northern sky, by Mark Radcliffe. London: Hodder, 2005.
I loved this book. It's been sitting on the shelf as a "wildcard" pick for the last couple of years, having been acquired at a now-defunct bookshop on their £1 shelf. Mark Radcliffe has been involved in music as both a player in folk bands and a DJ (Mark and Lard/Radcliffe and Maconie) for the last couple of decades, and it shows. Here, a former university lecturer who has been sacked for hitting his boss ends up back at home with his (wonderfully dotty and rude) recently-widowed mum, and getting back in touch with his old girlfriend and mates at the Northern Sky folk club. It's a touching, funny book; and probably very true if you're familiar with the way commercial interests meet with small folk clubs.