“The Franchise Affair” by Josephine Tey (published by Penguin Books)

Monstrous lie turns town against ‘odd’ women

Seemingly a fairly straightforward crime book, this one is actually deeper on a couple of levels, including that it is based on a true case in 1753 and it slips in some social commentary on media responsibility and accountability, and the way communities take ...

“Beast in the Shadows” by Edogawa Rampo (published by Penguin Books)

Mystery and imagination at play again

Considerations arise when reading a 1928 Japanese crime novel. On the plus side, we stand to learn something of a unique culture in pre-global village days. But we are in the hands of a translator – will any of the author’s style be lost? ...

”SS-GB” by Len Deighton (published by Penguin Books)

If Nazi jackboots had tramped down Whitehall

SS is an abbreviation of Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron), the black-uniformed elite corps that was one of the most feared organisations in Nazi Germany. GB is short for Great Britain. ”SS-GB” is Len Deighton’s 1978 novel imagining what might have happened if Germany had fought ...

“Call for the Dead” by John le Carré (published by Penguin Books)

Telephone sets alarm bells ringing

People who have enough spare time to enjoy themselves ranking an author’s books – and you’d need to have read all 26 of John Le Carré’s to do so – don’t often include this one among the very best. But it still fares well ...

"Fall Out: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to The Prisoner” by Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore (published by Telos)

Why a TV program continues to captivate

What a program that was. British TV viewers had never seen anything quite like it when "The Prisoner” aired for 17 episodes in 1967-68, each as inscrutable as the last. What was it – spy story, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, allegory, dream? A bit of ...

"The Night of the Hunter” by Davis Grubb (published by Penguin Books)

A good bloody yarn, or a bloody good tale

Davis Grubb’s 1953 novel about slayer Harry Powell is based on real-life Dutch-born American five-time killer Harry F. Powers, who was hanged in Moundsville, West Virginia, in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children, earning him nicknames such as "the lonely ...

“Journey Into Fear” by Eric Ambler (published by Penguin Books)

All aboard with a hired killer

“Journey Into Fear” is a title to entice, as it has been doing on and off for 83 years. Who is taking the journey? From where to where? By car, boat, train or plane (well, there is a boat sailing into the distance on ...

"The Drowning Pool” by Ross Macdonald (published by Penguin Books)

Gumshoe follows familiar noir tropes

Here is a reissue for the second of the 18 books by American author Ross Macdonald featuring private eye Lew Archer, and it’s hard not to disagree with learned opinion that, Initially at least, Archer was similar to (if not completely derivative of) Philip ...

"in a Lonely Place" by Dorothy B. Hughes (published by Penguin Books)

Noir and more from a grand master

Published 76 years ago in 1947 and notably filmed with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in 1950, this latest edition adds another captivating cover illustration to the several different editions released over the years. "In a Lonely Place” holds its place on bookshelves with ...

28th International Book Festival opens in Budapest

Hungarians are a book-loving people, Dutch Ambassador Desiree Bonis said in her address at the 28th International Book Festival that opened in Budapest on Thursday. The Netherlands is guest of honour this year.