Val McDermid’s summer reading selections

As part of yesterday's (Saturday) Times books "supplement"* on holiday reading, Val McDermid recommends her choice of crime and thrillers. Crime fiction may at first glance seem an odd choice for relaxing reading, she writes, but it lifts the spirits to "pick up on our favourite characters' latest travails. It can be like catching up with old friends – the ones you always go on holiday with." She also opines that murder mysteries divert the reader from committing domestic violence when cooped up for two weeks with their families, but I think I part company with her on that.

Here's what Val McDermid, a generous blurb writer with a great turn of phrase, recommends. Links are to reviews of the books at Euro Crime, Richard T. Kelly's blog, Picador blog, International Noir Fiction and It's a Crime.

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill – "a complex story packed into 24 hours. It's a witty, wise and warm read, with rich characterisation and emotional depth".

The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri– "a cold, twisted tale of love and exploitation at its heart, but Montalbano and his team are the perfect counterweight to its darkness."

When Will There be Good News? by Kate Atkinson– thick and fast plotlines, and the coinicidences "explanations waiting to happen".

The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler– "devishly clever and mordantly funny".

The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah – "a corkscrew plot that performs a danse macabre around the passions and rivalries of artists".

Woman With Birthmark by Hakan Nesser– an intriguing series in which "Nesser displays more optimism in his social commentary than do most of his fellow Nordic writers."

All the Dead Voices by Declan Hughes – Irish crime that is "energetic, pacy and vivid."

Singing to the Dead by Caro Ramsay – "Well-drawn characters and a great sense of place set this head and shoulders above most of the competition."

Shatter by Michael Robotham – "a haunting read that niggles in the mind for a long time."

All the Colours of the Town by Liam McIlvanney – "Tough and uncompromising, beautifully written", it's a debut about a Glasgow journalist, due out in the UK in August.

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey – a reissue of this "bewildering devious tale of how lies devour lives" – which in part inspired Sarah Waters' "brilliant and unsettling" new novel, The Little Stranger.

A final addition from me: you could do a great deal worse than to take Val McDermid's A Darker Domain with you, if you have room in your suitcase.

*No longer a supplement but a few pages clinging on to the end of a "Review" section.


3 thoughts on “Val McDermid’s summer reading selections

  1. Addedum. I forgot to include Grumpy Old Bookman in the list of links to reviews. The review of The Franchise Affair is one of his from 2005.

  2. As you know, I could bring Val McDermid with me, but I plan to bring one book only and buy some in Scotland. Anything else would be really silly. I finished Kate Atkinson´s Case Histories yesterday, and I am certainly going to look for more in Edinburgh.
    I think her selection shows quite good taste, however.

  3. Agreed, Dorte, she has not just gone for the obvious big sellers. You should be able to get very cheap books in the UK, eg paperbacks on offer for £3.99 or “buy one get one half price” in Smiths, Waterstones etc. I paid £3.99 for my copy of A Darker Domain, for example.

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