Tuesday, 27 April 2021

What I'm reading: Art theft and murder in the Christie style

BEA GREEN: Stealing the Spanish Princess

A painting recently identified as a "lost masterpiece" by El Greco is stolen from the London flat of its Russian billionaire owner and his girlfriend left murdered. Art theft specialist DCI Richard Langley’s investigation takes him to St Petersburg and Madrid and uncovers two more killings and a trail of ruthless international art thieves.

I’m used to reading US crime fiction, which tends to be gory and garish. Stealing the Spanish Princess is in the more workaday tradition of television police procedurals like Morse or Foyle’s War. Bea Green writes in an unaffected style that has echoes of Agatha Christie, the ‘grandmother’ of British crime authors. The pace is good and the art history well researched.

Monday, 19 April 2021

What I'm reading: Murder and Covid go hand-in-hand

MICHAEL CONNELLY: The Law of Innocence

A body is found in the trunk of Mickey Haller’s Lincoln in LA, and Haller is charged with murder: no bail, sent to a jail where he has many enemies. Clearly one of his enemies has framed him. Suddenly the “Lincoln Lawyer” has to defend himself against a possible life sentence.

This is a mixture of crime thriller and courtroom drama. Harry Bosch, Haller’s half-brother, is one of his team of investigators, so we have high hopes that the truth will set Mickey free. Despite being in and out of jail he finds time to romance two ex-wives and a new lady. And to add some topicality, a new virus from China is pushing crime off the news headlines.

As is often the case with Haller, it takes a mixture of luck and skill to resolve the issue. This is another guaranteed page-turner from Michael Connelly. 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

What I'm reading: the brutal reality of ladyboy bars


Forty-year-old Londoner Graham leaves his wife to start a new life in Bangkok, opening a cabaret bar with a ladyboy lover. The obstacles to this enterprise include corrupt policemen and an American hardman who muscles in on both the business and Graham’s lover. Other rivals meet grisly deaths.

Robin Newbold does not dwell on the glamour and camp of the cabaret scene. He highlights the squalid streets of Patpong and the intense trafficking of young flesh for those visitors who are not in Thailand to admire its temples and beaches. When Graham goes to Cambodia to renew his visa he doesn’t tour Angkor Wat: he visits a genocide museum and bars with teenage prostitutes. Bangkok Burning is a grim, unflinching read.