As Christmas approaches I thought I’d recommend Stuff that I’ve loved, and which I want to get my hands on (which might turn out a pile of warm reindeer droppings – but I doubt very much).

James Oswald Natural Causes

Scottish farmer James Oswald’s Natural causes starts off with a really horrific ritual murder which comes to light decades later when Edinburgh cop Detective Inspector McClean investigates the preserved body walled up in an old house. A slew of gruesome murders keep the police on their toes, with each murderer killing themselves after each act.

A brilliant book, with a hint of the supernatural to make sure the hairs on your neck constantly point to the ceiling.

Craig Stone made himself homeless for a while in order to write a story about a homeless man, Colossus Sosloss, aiming for freedom by living in a park, and ending up in a murder mystery involving a lot of chewed up and mutilated park animals, and a crazed park ranger. It’s worth buying for brilliant paragraphs like this: ‘He mutters a conglomerate of inebriated obscenities at me but they are laden with so much alcohol the words are heavy and fall from his mouth to the floor, dying from liver failure before they have any chance of reaching my ears.’

Brilliant.

A bunch of short horror stories by Chris Allinotte that read like a mad version of The Twilight Zone. Though a couple miss the mark, most will either make you laugh at their out there weirdness (a good thing), or make your eyes dry from not blinking (what if you miss that monster through closing your eyes for a nano-second). The best story is Devil’s Night. Anything involving a Ronald Reagan mask is enough to make you hide behind the sofa.

CJ Sansom’s Tudor mysteries are a hit with my wife. I haven’t read them yet, but she raves about them so much that I’ll have to get involved. Her enthusiasm didn’t rub off on me initially, thinking they would read like a Sunday night ITV drama, the sort which makes you nod off long before you want to go to bed. However, as an American with a possible Disney-fied view of ye olde Englande, she kept going on about how grimy and dirty Sansom paints Tudor England (why she’s surprised at English dirt I don’t know, she has passed through Hillsborough, Sheffield) got my attention. I like my crime dirty, stained, and read with a pint of Guinness.

I read about Guillermo Paxton’s The Plaza on the brilliant Crime Fiction Lover website, and if the brutal drug ‘war’ in Mexico interests you, then so should this. Set in Juarez, the story follows a journalist (Saul Saavedra), and two killers (Felipe, who falls for a prostitute, and Juan, a psychopathic killer) who work for the city’s drug cartels. Again, not read it, but it’s definitely on the to-read list.

Marc Nash’s style takes some getting used to, but the effort is often worth it, and this barmy science fiction novel is the place you should start. The future is female, so a man goes back in time to kill the mother of the future. That woman is a single mother living in a 21st century sink estate run by two brothers, one a DJ who sends messages to foot soldiers through music. Okay, I’m hooked. The Terminator?

Nope. The assassin cannot use violence, he doesn’t know what it is. So he has to seduce her, something he has to learn on the job, multiple times in different parallel universes, in order to make history into one thread. The author has the DJ play music on the author’s Spotify account. What is there not to like?

Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind is about Jennifer, a surgeon with Alzheimer’s, accused of murdering her best friend. As she was seen with the victim before her death, suspicion inevitably rests on her, especially as the woman’s fingers have all been cut off. What sounds so good about it is the protagonist’s failing memory, so not only do others question her, she also questions herself and the motives of her family who seemingly protect her from the police.

BOZBLOGS (http://www.bozblogs.com/) OK, as a blogsite, you can hardly wrap this one up (I think it would wriggle out of the wrapping anyway and bite your baubles), but if you want a good laugh, about everything from sport, to films, to social media, you can’t go wrong with this one. I woke my wife up one night laughing like a loon at it. She wasn’t happy.

 

Chuck Wendig has written five books this year, meaning he must have splints on his fingers by now. Blackbirds, and its sequel Mockingbird, is about a woman who sees how people die just by touching them. When she meets a man called Louis and sees his murder in the days to come, she knows she has to save him – because she is the next victim. Sounds brilliant, and if it reads anything like his blog, or his daily novel length amount of tweets, then I’m there.

Not only that, but the cover art for both books are worth the admission price just by themselves.

Book photos taken from Goodreads.

Over the Shoulder is now available from Amazon US, UK, India, and various European countries.
Over the Shoulder is now available from Amazon US, UK, India, and various European countries.

There’s also Over the Shoulder, a bloody crime story you might want to take a peek at.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also need to unwrap Pulp Fiction, which my wife bought me for Christmas, what, five years ago. I’ll get on it.

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