16th May – Hadley Freeman
4th June – Julie Myerson
13th June – Peter Bradshaw
29th June – Jeffrey Deaver
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Forget Crimewatch, in NW6 it’s all about West End Lane Crooks.
2012 saw the Crooks, our thriller reading book club, tackling crime everywhere from Arizona and the Middle East to Iceland, Highgate to , er Belsize Park.
In our quest to sample fine crime we read page turners and slow burners, greats from the Golden Age and new thrillers from exciting new talents.
Among the star performers earning unanimous approval were the splendidly dark and poetic The Poison Tree by young English writer Erin Kelly and clearly we weren’t the only ones hooked by her talent: several months after we enjoyed the fiendishly unputdownable book ITV screened an adaptation shortly before Christmas. And fine as this was, you really need to read the book to appreciate Erin’s talents. [Early warning:We were sent, very kindly, a proof of her upcoming book, The Burning Air, recently and are delighted to discover it's her best to date. In the meantime you can always feast upon The Sick Rose which is also a fine read]
A more surprising discovery was probably Dorothy Hughes’ 60s masterpiece (yes, really) The Expendable Man which had all the Crooks pouring praise for its elegant and cinematic shocking slow burn denouement. This is one of only 2 thriller currently published by the ever impressive Persephone books (the other being the also gripping must-read The Blank Wall) and what a find it was. If you are looking for something utterly classic, your quest ends now. Buy it, read it and be prepared to evangelise.
Honourable mentions too to Josephine Tey, Anthony Horowitz and Johan Theorin for making those long winter evenings fly by.
West End Lane Crooks meets monthly at 7pm and is an informal, social group. If you’d like to join us, drop us an email at email@example.com marking the email Crime Club—or keep an eye on the website for the current book choice.
Posted by Danny @ 9:46 am on Friday, January 4th, 2013
Heather from West End Lane Book Club reflects on the group’s year of reading
We have read a whole host of weird and wonderful novels throughout 2012, from the hilarious to the horrifying and everywhere in between!
We began with The Railway Man by Eric Lomax, which is due to be released in cinemas in May 2013. Poignant and powerful, this autobiographical experience of his capture and torture on the Japanese ‘Railway of Death’ brought home the brutal reality of the Second World War.
The Kilburn Social Club by Robert Hudson was our second choice and we were honoured to have the author himself attend Book Club and tell us all about his work. Initially, we were grabbed by the local connections in the title. However, a novel about the goings-on behind the scenes at a fictional Premiership football club scored a mixed reaction within the group.
Robert Hudson recommended the next book, War With The Newts by Karel Capek. This satirical Czech novel is about what would happen if walking, talking, pearl-diving newts were enslaved by humans and then bred out of control. Again, the group was split down the middle as the novel challenged both our taste in fiction and in make-believe non-fiction too!
As we moved towards the summer, we next chose King of The Badgers by Philip Hensher. After football and politics, it was time for gay orgies and a tongue-in-cheek look at a little middle-class town in the West Country. Enjoyed by the group as a whole, this was a surprise favourite and inspired many of us to read Hensher’s 2008 novel, The Northern Clemency.
We read two novels over the summer holidays, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson and Rabbit, Run by John Updike. Winterson’s follow-up to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit disappointed, especially as so many of us enjoyed her first semi-autobiographical novel. Shame she had to go and explain how most of Oranges was just made up. Hmph. Rabbit, Run was a sexy and ugly 60s novel with a most unlikeable anti-hero which again split the group.
Back to school time and we chose a novel about school children doing very naughty things indeed in Amanda Coe’s What They Do In The Dark. This gritty, messed-up tale challenged and shocked us all and stuck with many of us long after we had finished reading.
We took a change of direction in Behind The Beautiful Forevers, a narrative non-fiction about the Mumbai slums by journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Katherine Boo. The story follows is a series of shocking and miserable events showing how difficult life can be in a world of poverty and corruption, and was widely praised by the group.
As the nights drew in, we chose the award-winning Room by Emma Donogue. A real page-turner, we all ravenously devoured the book and discussed the pros and cons of the dreaded Child Narrator.
Our Christmas novel was The Underground Man by Mick Jackson and was discussed over mulled wine and mince pies. Those who finished it really rated it but the stream of consciousness ramblings of a syphilis-ridden aristocrat were not to everyone’s taste.
Join us in the New Year for more Book Club as we reconvene on Monday 7th January at 7pm to discuss Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. All welcome!
Posted by Danny @ 11:11 am on Monday, December 31st, 2012
Eyes were on stalks at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards this week as it was a bit of a star studded affair with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s Sherlock of course) plus Watsonian sidekick Martin Freeman and Steven Berkoff in the audience to applaud the worthy winners.
KathyReichs picked up the Specsaver Bestseller Dagger gong, with the Gold Dagger going to Gene Kerrigan for The Rage. Meanwhile the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger was awarded to Charles Cumming for A Foreign Country and the John Creasey New Blood Dagger was picked up by Wiley Cash for A Land More Kind Than Home. Lock up your awards people, there’s a lot of crime about!
If crime’s your thing, don’t forget to sign up for West End Lane Crooks, our thriller reading book group, which meets in the shop each month
Posted by Danny @ 10:41 am on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012