Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith

Reviewed by Harriet Subtitled ‘A Christmas Crime Story’, this is a remarkably accomplished and fascinating novel by a writer better known under her other pseudonym, Anthony Gilbert. It was much praised when it appeared in 1933: Dorothy Sayers called it ‘powerful and impressive’ and wrote of the ‘fine inevitability in the plot structure which gives…

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

Reviewed by Harriet Nine Lessons is the seventh of Nicola Upson’s crime novels featuring the mystery writer Josephine Tey (1896-1952). I normally have a few reservations about the seemingly fashionable trend of making real writers the subject of fictional books, but I’ve been a fan of Josephine Tey’s brilliant crime novels for as long as…

Shaun Greenhalgh Forgers tale

A Forger’s Tale by Shaun Greenhalgh

Reviewed by Harriet The subtitle of this fascinating book is ‘Confessions of the Bolton Forger’. Does that ring any bells? If you were keeping half an eye on the news ten or so years ago, you could not have missed the story, which exploded all over the media. A quiet, pleasant-seeming man in his mid-forties…

The Other Woman by Laura Wilson

Reviewed by Harriet A couple of years ago on Shiny I reviewed Laura Wilson’s The Wrong Girl. That was a tense psychological thriller centring on family relationships, and so, in a sense, is this one. It’s certainly a page-turner – I whizzed through it in record time – but it’s in a very different mode.…

Questions for Laura Wilson

Questions by Harriet   Harriet: Hi Laura – thanks for agreeing to answer some questions. I really loved The Other Woman and have some questions specifically about that. But first, our readers always enjoy hearing about how peoples’ writing lives began. When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? Laura: I don’t…

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

Reviewed by Harriet I’ve always admired Maggie O’Farrell’s fiction, and greatly loved her most recent novel, This Must Be the Place, which I reviewed on Shiny last year. I didn’t know much about her personal life, though, so I seized on this recently published autobiographical work hoping to fill in the blanks. Well, let me…

Sugar Money by Jane Harris

Reviewed by Harriet Jane Harris is not exactly a prolific novelist. Five years passed between the publication of her debut novel The Observations (2006) and her second outing Gillespie and I (2011). Now her many fans will be breathing a sigh of relief that the waiting is over for her third, Sugar Money, just published.…

Questions for Jane Harris

Questions by Harriet Hi Jane – I really loved Sugar Money (as I did your other two novels). We’re very grateful to you for agreeing to answer some questions. First of all, the thing everyone always wants to hear – how did you become a writer? Hi Harriet. Thanks so much for asking me to…

Roffey Tryst

The Tryst by Monique Roffey

Reviewed by Harriet This is a remarkable book by any standard. It’s marketed by the publisher, Dodo Ink, as a literary erotic novella, which sounds about right, as long as you remember the emphasis on the literary bit. There is certainly a huge amount of vivid, sometimes violent, sex here, but it’s about as far…

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

Reviewed by Harriet A kickass debut from start to finish’ screams the cover of this highly readable, somewhat bizarre, debut novel. It’s a book that defies categorisation – perhaps best described as a picaresque coming-of-age novel, it manages to combine urban exploration, the Darknet, secret societies, the exploitation of teenagers, and the life and works…

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

Translated by Paul Russell Garrett Reviewed by Harriet For me my mother was a scent, she was a warmth. A leg I clung to. A breath of something blue; a dress I remember her wearing. She fired me into the world with a bowstring, I told myself, and when I shaped my memories of her,…

The End of the Web by George Sims

Reviewed by Harriet No, the title doesn’t refer to a predicted end of the internet. This is a 1976 novel, written before such things were even invented. It’s taken from a quotation about death, which is apt because death does crop up a bit in this excellent novel, a British Library Classic Thriller. At the…

Secret Sisterhood Midorikawa Sweeney

A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Reviewed by Harriet The subtitle of this book is ‘The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf’, which sounds very promising. I’ll start by saying that I found some of the sections worked better than others, but that might have been a matter of how well-informed I was to start with. Overall, though, this…

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards

Reviewed by Harriet Here at Shiny we love our classic crime, and we have been delighted to review a number of excellent novels that have recently made available through the British Library’s Crime Classics series. The editor of the series is of course the indefatigable Martin Edwards, who also manages to be a bestselling author,…

Separation Sally Emerson

Separation by Sally Emerson

Reviewed by Harriet I have to admit I’d never heard of Sally Emerson before the publishers offered me a couple of their recent reprints. Though she’s till around and still writing, her six novels were published between 1980 and 2001; since then she has concentrated on travel writing, journalism and anthologising. Separation was published in…

The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin

Reviewed by Harriet Soon after midnight she would wake; and again at half past two; and again at four. As the months went by, I found myself quite distracted by lack of sleep; my eyes would fall shut while I peeled the potatoes or ironed shirts. I remember one night sitting on the bottom step…

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

Reviewed by Harriet If you’re a watcher of historical TV documentaries, you won’t need introducing to Lucy Worsley, who presents history programmes for the BBC, in which she often dresses up in the costumes of the period. She’s also produced a number of popular history books, frequently tied in to the series she’s been presenting.…

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Reviewed by Harriet It’s every parent’s nightmare – one minute your child is there, next minute they’re gone. My own three-year-old daughter once wandered off in a busy market in central London, and the hour or so before we tracked her down to a nearby police station was one of the most agonising of my…

Maigret Goes to School by Georges Simenon

Reviewed by Harriet Translated by Linda Coverdale What was he doing there? A hundred times, in the middle of an investigation, he’d had the same feeling of helplessness or, rather, futility. He would find himself abruptly plunged into the lives of people he had never met before, and his job was to discover their most…