Howard's End is on the landing: a year of reading from home, by Susan Hill. London: Profile, 2009.
Susan Hill went searching for a book on her shelves, and discovered a treasure trove of unread books, or books she wanted to re-read. She decided to spend a year reading only things she found on her own shelves, and this book is the result. There are short essays on different authors, and also on themes (school stories, detective fiction etc.); all very readable and an introduction to some new-to-me authors which have now been added to my reading list. There's also a particularly moving chapter on Charles Causley. Hill has worked in the literary world since her first novel was published at the age of 18, and so has met and liked many of these authors, so personal anecdotes also feature. There are also some surprising dislikes, including an antipathy to Jane Austen, which gives this book an extra interest.
Jar city, by Arnaldur Indridason [audiobook]. Read by Saul Reichlin. Oxford: Isis, 2014. (Originally published in 2004.)
A man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat. There are no clues apart from a cryptic note left on the body, and a photo of a young girl's grave. Erlendur discovers the man was accused of a terrible crime 40 years before, but never convicted. Meanwhile Erlendur's daughter has come home after some time away living a wild life. Parents and children feature heavily in this book, and the "jar city" of the title reflects a quite recent UK scandal. Reichlin does his usual workmanlike job on the reading here, but somehow the story never really caught fire for me.
To die for, by Tessa Barclay [audiobook]. Read by Michael Tudor Barnes. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2007.
The unlikely team of a (deposed) Crown Prince of fictional Hirtenstein and a London fashion designer (Greg and Liz) investigates a murder in the rolling stacks of the Museum of Music Heritage; the victim is a friend of Greg's and companion to an elderly Chopin fanatic, who in turn believes she is in possession of a photocopy of an original manuscript. The search takes Greg and Liz to Paris, Scotland and Dover in search of the murderer. This is what you'd call a "cozy" if you were American, I think; it's quite gentle, in places over-explained (yes, we've got it, she's a fashion designer so she likes clothes) and you can see things coming a long way off, but I'll look out for other books in the series because it buzzes along nicely. And Michael Tudor Barnes is an excellent reader and does all the accents.
The outcast dead, by Elly Griffiths. London: Quercus, 2014.
Digging at the foot of Norwich Castle, Ruth Galloway unearths Victorian bones; a woman with a hook for a hand who may be the notorious murderer Jemima Green, hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care. Meanwhile DI Harry Nelson is investigating the deaths of three other infants in the same family; he's convinced the mother is responsible although others on his team think otherwise. The cases intertwine - King's Lynn and its network of mothers and babysitters is only so big - and while Ruth learns about the intricacies of TV archaeology, she's also drawn in to Nelson's case. This is well up to the usual standard of these books; I'm only sad that I read these way too fast. And finally, the mystery of the King's Lynn Campbells factory tower is solved - I've kept thinking I've just looked out of the window at the wrong time, when it turns out the tower was demolished in 2012...
Let the devil sleep, by John Verdon [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Bath: Chivers/AudioGO, [n.d.]
This is the third one in this series, and contains major plot spoilers for the second one; but a new-to-me author so I didn't realise this. I'll be going back and reading the others, anyway. This has some of the elements of the Peter Decker or Dave Robicheau books, but with an element of the supernatural more reminiscent of Greg Iles or some of Harlen Coben's standalones. An old journalist acquaintance of retired cop Dave Gurney gets in touch: her daughter is producing a documentary on a 10-year-old series of murders by the "Good Shepherd", a murderer who was never caught, and she asks Gurney to keep an eye on her daughter. Gurney becomes fascinated by the original series of murders, and as the documentary series starts appearing, on the unintended consequences it unleashes. This is very, very well-written, and I was very happy to spot the first in the series lurking in my "unread" pile, so will be picking that up soon!