Friday, December 11, 2020

Some Ideas For Your Letter to Santa

By Abir

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe that this is my last post on this blog for 2020. It seems that even when you're confined to your house for a year, time still flies.

One of the things that has made 2020 slightly more bearable, at least for me, has been reading, and we've been blessed with some fantastic books. So, if you're in the mood for petitioning Mr Claus for some Christmas, or maybe even new year's reading, or if you want some idea for presents for loved ones, here are a few of the books I really enjoyed this year.

Heaven my Home by Attica Locke

What it says on the cover:
When the young son of an Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang captain goes missing, Ranger Darren Mathews has no choice but to investigate the crime. Following the election of Donald Trump, a new wave of racial violence has swept the state. Dark, swampy and filled with skeletal trees, Caddo Lake is so large it crosses into Lousiana. This is deep country and the rule of law doesn't mean much to the Brotherhood, beyond what it can do for them.

A further complication is that the Brotherhood is squatting on the land of a former Freedmen's community, and one of the last descendants of these former slaves is actually a suspect in the possible murder of the missing boy.
Instructed by his lieutenant to use the investigation to gather more evidence that might help to take down the Texas chapter of the Brotherhood, Darren is playing very dangerous game indeed.

What I say:

Attica is, in my opinion, one of the best writers in the business right now, and Heaven my Home is the second in her series featuring an African American Texas Ranger, Darren Matthews, who’s forced to question his loyalties when he is ordered to investigate the disappearance of a white supremacist’s son. It takes place at the dawn of the Trump years. As you’d imagine, it’s highly charged, but it’s also fantastically well drawn. Like the best crime fiction it takes you on a rip roaring journey, but also makes you question your own views along the way.

The Curator by MW Craven

What it says on the cover:

It's the end of the year and serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria in the North of England, leaving a strange message at each scene.

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency's Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren't even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn't think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he's dealing with someone far, far worse - a man who calls himself the Curator.

What I say:

One of the best books I’ve read in ages. Thoughtful and intelligent but also moving at breakneck pace, with The Curator, Craven achieves the holy grail of crime fiction: a book that’ll make you think while also keeping you on the edge of your seat. And in Poe and Bradshaw, Craven has created one of the most intriguing detective duos out there. If you haven’t read MW Craven yet, now is the time to start.


Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan

What it says on the cover:

Bombay, New Year's Eve, 1949
As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city's most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India's first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift.
And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country's most sensational case falls into her lap.

What I say:

Told with warmth and humour yet tackling the biggest of historical issues, Midnight at Malabar House is that rarest of creations, a thrilling whodunnit which also informs us about a whitewashed past. Khan is at his best, introducing us to a tumultuous time and to his wonderful new detective, Inspector Persis Wadia. An absolute joy to read, I found myself hooked from the first page to the last, which came far too soon.

How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina

What it says on the cover:

Ramesh is an 'examinations consultant'. He is a cog in the wheel that keeps India's middle classes thriving. When he takes an exam for Rudi - an intolerably lazy but rich teenager - he accidently scores the highest mark in the country and propels Rudi into stardom. What follows leads to blackmail, kidnap and revenge.

In a studio filled with hot lights, with millions of eyes on the boys, and a government investigator circling, the entire country begins to question: who are they?

What I say:

Part crime novel, part satire on modern India and told with authenticity, razor-sharp wit and a biting turn of phrase, Rahul Raina’s How to Kidnap the Rich is a book I’ve been waiting a long time for. I can’t remember the last time I read such an assured debut. Raina writes like he’s been doing this all his life. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to welcome a new star to the world of international crime fiction.

A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin

What it says on the cover:

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it's not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days.

Rebus fears the worst - and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect.
He wasn't the best father - the job always came first - but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective?
As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast - and a small town with big secrets - he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn't want to find...

What I say:

It's no secret that Ian Rankin is one of my favourite authors. To consistently produce exciting and relevant novels for over two decades is quite an amazing feat, and A Song For the Dark Times is Rankin at his best (yet again!).  For me, a new Rebus novel is like reacquainting myself with an old, and now rather crotchety, friend. Rebus, like me, is feeling the ravages of time, and when he's forced to come tot he aid of his semi-estranged daughter, he begins contemplating what he's made of his life. What struck me about this book is just what a wonderful job Rankin does of showing us Rebus' inner turmoil while weaving it into another top quality plot. And my favourite villain, Big Get Cafferty plays a big role in this one too, so what's not to like?

So there you have it. Five quite different books spanning some of the spectrum of crime fiction. We all have different tastes, but I'm sure there's something in this short list for everyone.

I'll see you all next year, but in the meantime, stay safe and have a Merry Christmas.



Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Abir. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Brenda Chapman said...

Some great looking reads - Happy Holidays, Abir!

Abir said...

Cheers Brenda! Cheers Dietrich! Hope you have a great Christmas too!