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Posted by on 16 Sep, 2021 in British Crime, British Historical Crime, Canberra Weekly, Crime | 2 comments



Canberra Weekly 9 September 2021

In last week’s Canberra Weekly, I reviewed new novels by three of the world’s best crime fiction writers.

Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea (Bantam)

First up is the timely Twenty Years Later (Bantam) by the always entertaining Charlie Donlea.

The story revolves around the identification of remains from the collapse of the Twin Towers, which has just been mirrored in real life by the news that the New York Chief Medical Examiners Officer recently identified two more victims from September 11.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Charlie Donlea is the master of the cold case mystery and his latest is another intriguing tale. The basic premise is that accused murderess Victoria Ford was consulting with her lawyer when the planes hit the Twin Towers killing her.  Her last known action was to call her sister proclaiming her innocence. Now twenty years later her remains have finally been identified, prompting popular TV host Avery Mason to look into her story.   However, as Avery digs into the original murder, she comes to realise that the evidence against Victoria was far from simple and that no one wants the case re-investigated. Recommended.”

I also recently did a longer review:

The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin (Canongate)

Ian Rankin’s completion of The Dark Remains, an unfinished novel by ‘tartan noir godfather’ William McIlvanney, is one of the stand-out crime novels of 2021. It is a terrific book that seamlessly captures the style of William McIlvanney and smoothly transports the reader back to the grit, grime and crime of Glasgow in 1972.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Often referred to as the ‘godfather of tartan noir’, William McIlvanney changed the face of Scottish crime fiction with his famous trilogy about Glasgow detective Jack Laidlaw. When McIlvanney died in 2015 he left behind some scrappy notes, which have now been turned into a fourth book by acclaimed author Ian Rankin.  Set in Glasgow in 1972, The Dark Remains is a tough, gritty tale that convincingly captures the style of the original novels. The dialogue sparkles and the tension steadily mounts as Rankin takes Laidlaw down some dark streets in search of the killer of a major criminal. Top notch!”

I also did a longer review a couple of weeks ago:

1979 by Val McDermid (Little Brown)

1979 is the start of an ambitious new series by Britain’s Queen of Crime, Val McDermid. It is the first in a five-novel sequence, set at 10-year intervals, which will follow Edinburgh journalist Allie Burns as she becomes involved in crimes that track the changing state of Scotland’s criminal, social and political landscape over the decades.

The eponymous 1979 is set in the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys’ club to take her seriously. With fellow journalist Danny Sullivan she sets about exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies, especially when they stumble on a home-grown terrorist threat.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Also set in Glasgow in the 1970s is the latest novel by veteran author Val McDermid. 1979 is the first in a new series, which follows journalist Allie Burns as she becomes involved in crimes that reflect the changing state of Scotland’s criminal and social landscape over the decades. In 1979 she is chasing her first scoop as she tries to track down a killer amidst the turmoil of Scotland’s winter of discontent.  The book opens briskly and McDermid keeps a good grip on the reader’s attention as the story weaves its way to a tense and unexpected conclusion.  Very enjoyable.”

So some good Spring reading! Thanks to the publishers and the Canberra Weekly for the books.

This review and many others can also be seen on the informative Canberra Weekly site:


  1. I really want to read ‘1979’ and the others tempt me as well 🙂

    • The Charlie Donlea one is good

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