The Allegations (2016) by Mark Lawson. Lawson’s novel provides an inevitable response to what the author considers the age of trial-by-public opinion. It’s exactly what you’d expect, and, if you agree philosophically with Lawson, you’ll probably enjoy it. He is a satirist for those who don’t wish to challenge the status quo. They might as well have one.
Fallet (STV, 2017). This 8-part Swedish television is the inevitable parody of Nordic Noir, and, while there are some missed opportunities, the overall result is inspired. An incompetent Swedish detective, the tortured, introspect Sophie Borg (Lisa Henni) teams up with an even more incompetent English policeman, the overly polite and reticent DCI Tom Brown (Adam Godley) to solve a ritualised and apparently religious murder with links in their own disparate pasts. There are a great many English and Swedish puns (some of which I certainly didn’t get, as my Swedish is poor), in the title sequence and throughout – the police chief is called Klas Wall, for instance, and a chunk of the plot is spent chasing around after a product called McGuffin. There’s also a great set of characters, my favourite of which is a dark, death-obsessed forensic scientist from Finland. A strong supporting cast includes Dag Malmberg of The Bridge fame. I hope there will be another series; I know that the Americans are planning to remake it although I can’t imagine that will end well. ‘Fallet’, by the way, means ‘The Case’. Which is perfect.
100 Greatest Literary Detectives (2018) edited by Eric Sandberg. I was thrilled to contribute to this volume, the title of which is pretty self-explanatory, and can’t do better than linking to fellow contributor (and superior blogger) Kate Jackson’s review.
The Death of Mrs Westaway (2018) by Ruth Ware. Ruth Ware evokes Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier in this excellent fourth novel, proving herself the heir to both. The plot concerns an unscrupulous tarot-card reader who comes into an unexpected inheritance – unexpected because it seems to have been meant for someone else. The Westaway family at the heart of this novel is full of secrets and dilemmas, unravelling as quickly as one turns the pages. A highly recommended mystery thriller.
Social Creatureby Tara Isabella Burton (2018). Marketed as ‘[t]he missing link between Bret Easton Ellis and The Secret History’ (Emma Flint) and ‘[a] Ripley story for the Instagram age’, the influences on Burton’s debut are plain for all to see. The plotting is highly indebted to Patricia Highsmith, the characterisation to Bret Easton Ellis, and the graceful unfurling of the story to Donna Tartt. There’s also a very deliberate Gatsby vibe. Take four pastiches and mix in a truly unique social media-influenced type of language (everything is ‘so’ something and/or introduced with ‘Here’s the thing’) and you have Social Creature. It’s very good (but not original enough to be great), and it sticks with you. The central character is excellent. I can imagine this being filmed. I have no idea what the author will do for her second novel, because she can’t really repeat the tone here. But, as a debut, Social Creatureis hugely promising.