On Monday evening (yes, I’m late putting this post up this week, I’m sorry) the book club met and discussed Dead Man’s Grave by Neil Lancaster. It was a popular book with a well-defined sense of place. Neil kindly joined us for a Q&A for the first twenty-five minutes. To watch the interview and the discussion afterward, see the video below. Be aware, the video contains spoilers (though I don’t think the interview does if you only want to watch that.)
The next meeting falls in this month again – on Monday 30th October. So anyone who found the beginning of the month an issue, may find this meeting easier to attend.
The theme for this book is fiction based/jumped off from a true crime/true events. That’s a very jumbled sentence, but you get the idea!
Below are the books awaiting your vote. Because of the delay in putting this post up, I have extended the voting time and you have until the end of Saturday 7th October to cast your vote. So, read the blurbs carefully and leave your decision in the comments.
The Long Drop by Denise Mina
A stand-alone true crime thriller from the acclaimed author of the Alex Morrow novels that exposes the dark hearts of the guilty . . . and the innocent.
True 1958, Glasgow. Peter Manuel broke into a suburban villa in Glasgow and murdered three members of the Watt family. William Watt, the father, a successful businessman and entrepreneur, was arrested and jailed for the crime, but the police couldn’t find enough evidence to charge him and he was released. Watt was determined to clear his own name and let it be known that he would pay for information. Peter Manuel contacted him and offered to help. The two men met in a bar and spent the next twelve hours drinking together.
No one knows what happened that night.
When Manuel was finally arrested weeks later on another murder charge, he represented himself in what the newspapers called the trial of the century.
The Long Drop is Denise Mina’s reimagining of the mysterious night Peter Manuel and William Watt spent together, intercut with the transcripted trial. Through a careful reconstruction of events, Mina’s riveting prose attempts to make sense of one of the most baffling and intriguing true crime cases in legal history.
The Black Dhalia by James Ellroy
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia—and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia—driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches—into a region of total madness.
The Fear by C L Taylor
Lou Smith is used to being headline news as, aged seventeen, she ran away with her 37-year-old teacher, Mike, during a short-lived affair.
Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is now grooming a young 15-year-old girl called Chloe.
Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey…
Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
Bible John killed three women, and took three souvenirs. Johnny Bible killed to steal his namesake’s glory. Oilman Allan Mitchelson died for his principles. And convict Lenny Spaven died just to prove a point. “Bible John” terrorized Glasgow in the sixties and seventies, murdering three women he met in a local ballroom–and he was never caught. Now a copycat is at work. Nicknamed “Bible Johnny” by the media, he is a new menace with violent ambitions.
The Bible Johnny case would be perfect for Inspector John Rebus, but after a run-in with a crooked senior officer, he’s been shunted aside to one of Edinburgh’s toughest suburbs, where he investigates the murder of an off-duty oilman. His investigation takes him north to the oil rigs of Aberdeen, where he meets the Bible Johnny media circus head-on. Suddenly caught in the glare of the television cameras and in the middle of more than one investigation, Rebus must proceed wiht caution: One mistake could mean an unpleasant and not particularly speedy death, or, worse still, losing his job.
The Hiking Trip by Jenny Blackhurst
The trip of a lifetime ends in murder
Maisie leaves her precarious home life in the UK to hike the West Coast Trail in Canada. She meets brother and sister Sera and Ric, and what begins as a fun-filled experience in a beautiful secluded setting quickly turns sour.
Twenty-five years later, a woman named Laura is panicked to learn that a body was found near the trail and the police suspect they’re the bones of Sera. The secret she’s been hiding for a quarter of a century is about to come out – and someone is determined to make sure she tells the truth, and pays the price, as she should have done back then. But what lengths will Laura go to in order to protect her carefully constructed family life?
Little Deaths by Emma Flint
Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths, like celebrated novels by Sarah Waters and Megan Abbott, is compelling literary crime fiction that explores the capacity for good and evil in us all.
It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone – a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress – wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.
As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman – and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.
Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance – or is there something more sinister at play?