Friday 28 December 2018


At some point I'll have to give serious consideration to closing the doors on the library, and start concentrating on reading some of the books I already own. However, I shall defer it for a while longer.

Here's six pre-ordered books I'm excited about getting my teeth into during 2019. Knowing me they will probably get benched for about ten years when I do eventually get my hands on them.

TR Pearson - Serpent of Old (2019)

I loved Pearson's East Jesus South, a year or two ago and really ought to try his Ray Tatum series. This one drops mid-January

When a decent, regular guy in Virginia does his thieving neighbor a favor by driving him out to a seemingly abandoned farm to steal an old panel truck, the two spark the ire of the hidden, quasi-occult residents of the place who prove eager to inflict Old Testament vengeance on just about everybody in a story of moral anxiety, misguided romance, and the age-old wages of sin.

Rachel Kushner - The Mars Room (2018)

If I was in a rush, I could buy the kindle copy or the hardback, but I've stuffed my kindle up and I can wait until March.


'An unforgettable novel.' DAILY TELEGRAPH
'More knowing about prison life [than Orange Is The New Black]... so powerful.' NEW YORK TIMES
'One of America's finest writers.' VOGUE

Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And her seven-year-old son, Jackson, now in the care of Romy’s estranged mother.

Inside is a new reality to adapt to: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive. The deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner details with humour and precision. Daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Allegiances formed over liquor brewed in socks, and stories shared through sewage pipes.

Romy sees the future stretch out ahead of her in a long, unwavering line – until news from outside brings a ferocious urgency to her existence, challenging her to escape her own destiny and culminating in a climax of almost unbearable intensity. Through Romy – and through a cast of astonishing characters populating The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner presents not just a bold and unsentimental panorama of life on the margins of contemporary America, but an excoriating attack on the prison-industrial complex.

Dave Warner - River of Salt (2019)
I've enjoyed Dave Warner's work before - City of Light was read a year or two back. Since then this Australian author has scooped the Ned Kelly Prize for Before it Breaks (2015)

In 1963, former hitman Blake Saunders flees the Philadelphia Mob for a quieter existence in a tiny coastal Australian town. Life in Coral Shoals is perfect and Blake is a new man – running a club called the Surf Shack, and playing nights there with his surf music band, The Twang.

But then a young woman’s body is found at a local motel, a matchbook from the Surf Shack on her bedside table. When Blake’s friend is arrested for her murder and the local sergeant doesn’t want to know, it becomes clear that it is up to Blake – a man who knows about cold-blooded killing – to protect his corner of paradise.

Max Allan Collins - Girl Most Likely (2019)

I've enjoyed Max Allan Collins' work before. I've read all of his Nolan series and got stalled a few books into his Quarry books, a series I'm hoping to get back to in 2019. I'm not so drawn to his historical series ie Nathan Heller - though I'd probably enjoy them if I gave them a shot. This standalone looks good.

It’s never too late for revenge in this thrilling novel by New York Times bestselling and award-winning crime master Max Allan Collins.

In a small Midwest town, twenty-eight-year-old Krista Larson has made her mark as the youngest female police chief in the country. She’s learned from the best: her father, Keith, a decorated former detective. But as accustomed as they are to the relative quiet of their idyllic tourist town, things quickly turn with Krista’s ten-year high school reunion.

With the out-of-towners holed up in a lakefront lodge, it doesn’t take long to stir up old grudges and resentments. Now a successful TV host, Astrid Lund, voted the “Girl Most Likely to Succeed”—and then some—is back in town. Her reputation as a dogged reporter has made the stunning blonde famous. Her reputation among her former classmates and rivals has made her infamous. Astrid’s list of enemies is a long one. And as the reunion begins, so does a triple murder investigation.

Krista and her father are following leads and opening long-locked doors from their hometown to the Florida suburbs to Chicago’s underworld. They just never imagined what would be revealed: the secrets and scandals of Krista’s own past.

Mick Herron - ???? (2019)
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it's the sixth entry in Herron's Slough House series and it drops June, 2019. No title, no cover, no worries. I'd read his shopping list and be entertained. And it gives me time to catch up on the three I haven't yet read.

Thoughts on the ones I have read - Slow Horses, Dead Lions, and the shorties - The List, The Marylebone Drop,

'We're spies,' said Lamb. 'All kinds of outlandish shit goes on.'

Like the ringing of a dead man's phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . .

In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.

Meanwhile, in Regent's Park, Diana Taverner's tenure as First Desk is running into difficulties. If she's going to make the Service fit for purpose, she might have to make deals with a familiar old devil . . .

And with winter taking its grip Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can't ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.

This time, they're heading into joe country.

And they're not all coming home.

Malcolm Mackay - A Line of Forgotten Blood (2019)

My favourite Scottish author bar none - I adored his Glasgow Trilogy
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (2013), How a Gunman Says Goodbye (2013), The Sudden Arrival of Violence (2014) and the short Anatomy of a Hit (2013)

I still have four of his standalone books oin the TBR pile, a couple of which have crossover characters from the Glasgow series. Maybe I'll pull my finger out and catch up before this one drops in June. Unlikely.

Scotland has been a proudly independent country for centuries. But success has now turned sour. Malcolm Mackay's remarkable novel of crime and corruption is set in a brooding, rain-swept Scottish city that is compellingly different from the one we think we know.

The Scottish city of Challaid is corruption-riddled place where people frequently go off the radar. So when PC Vinny Reno discovers his ex-wife, Freya, has disappeared, he turns to private detectives Darian Ross and Sholto Douglas. 

Their search will lead them to a collision between Freya and a wealthy banking family. But it also leads to more quesitions. What does Freya's dissappearance have to do with a year-old murder case? What is the involvement of a young man who never leaves his house? As they dig deeper into the past, Darian and Sholto realise they must stand against the most powerful people in the city if they are to unearth the truth...


  1. Col, I need a method to my reading, plan the books I intend reading every year. Hopefully, I will read more that way.

    1. Prashant, when you hit on one, let me know. I need a bit of structure to my reading.

  2. I like Mackay, too, Col, and it's good to see he has a new one. And a Mick Herron as well. Yes, I think you've got some good reading ahead of you. And you've reminded me that I must read some of Collins' work.

    1. Thanks Margot. I think you might enjoy the Heller series from Collins if you decide to dig into his work.

  3. I still have not read anything by Max Allan Collins. I have got to remedy that. And I have some of his books to read.

    Spook Street by Herron will be one of my first books in 2019.

    I enjoyed the first Mackay and have the others in the trilogy, got to get going on those too.

    1. Tracy, I think you liked the look of his Nate Heller series, so I hope you can get to them and enjoy his work. Hopefully we will both enjoy some more Herron and Mackay in 2019!

    2. You are right, Col. Last night I started True Detective, the first Nate Heller, and have read about a quarter of it, and I am enjoying it. Too bad I waited so many years to try it.

    3. BOOM - that was quick! Glad it's working out well so far.

  4. The Kushner's the one that stands out for me there, Col. Definitely in my sights.

    1. I've heard good things about it. No doubt you'll be on it before me.

  5. Col – I’ve enjoyed Max Allan Collins’s books. Mick Herron is on my list. I need to look into the others you mentioned.

    1. Elgin, I'd especially recommend Mackay's Glasgow trilogy. Him, Collins and Herron are known quantities for me. Warner and Pearson, I've enjoyed once each before and Kushner is a punt.

  6. The Mick Herron book is definitely the point where our tastes collide - am really looking forward to that one myself.

    1. Yep me too! Can't tempt you with anything else.....