Tag Archives: Val McDermid

Three Crime Books I’ve Read Recently

Your House Will Pay Steph ChaYour House Will Pay by Steph Cha is a novel about two families in Los Angeles – one Korean-American and one African-American. It is a fictionalised version of a real case in which Soon Ja Du, a Korean female convenience store owner, shot and killed a 15-year-old African-American girl called Latasha Harlins in 1991. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter but didn’t receive a jail sentence. In the novel, 15-year-old Ava Matthews is shot and killed by Jung-Ja Han who believed Ava was attempting to steal milk from her store. The narrative alternates between both families and the past and the present. Ava’s brother and cousin, Shawn and Ray, struggle to cope in the aftermath of Ava’s death while Jung-Ja changes her name to Yvonne Park and her daughter, Grace, grows up unaware of the incident until the past catches up with them. Cha takes great care to show the impact of events on both sides and the result is a powerful depiction of the background behind racial tensions in Los Angeles in the early 1990s and beyond. Continue reading


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Three Books I’ve Read Recently About Crime

I have been going through a mini crime phase in my reading across different genres recently, namely non-fiction, crime fiction and historical fiction. Here are three books I have enjoyed over the last few weeks:

Court Number One Thomas GrantCourt Number One by Thomas Grant is an anthology of 11 significant trials held at the Central Criminal Court in London, more commonly known as the Old Bailey, during the 20th century. The majority of these deal with murders, but also include espionage and treason, and as the subtitle of the book promises, Grant shows how the trials defined modern Britain, particularly where attitudes towards social change are concerned. The earlier chapters tend to involve cases which have largely been forgotten such as the Camden Town murder trial in 1907 shortly after the court opened, while those in the second half of the century mostly remain notorious such as those involving John Christie, Ruth Ellis and Jeremy Thorpe. While some chapters are a tad overlong due to the considerable amount of detail, each case is outlined in a gripping narrative, capturing the essence of courtroom drama. Grant, a practising barrister, shines a light on the tactics involved and how and why the trials had the outcomes that they did. ‘Court Number One’ is ideal for a lay reader who wants to understand more about the history of the English criminal justice system, and would be a good companion to The Secret Barrister. Continue reading


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Five Books I’ve Read Recently

I normally write a post about books I have read but haven’t reviewed at the end of the year but I may start doing review round-ups a bit more frequently so I don’t fall too far behind. Here are my thoughts about five books I’ve read in the past three months or so:

Kiss Me FirstDubbed as a “Facebook thriller”, Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach tells the story of socially awkward Leila, who is approached by Adrian Dervish to impersonate Tess Williams online to create the illusion that Tess is still alive after she has committed suicide. It’s not uncommon for me to have mixed feelings about a book but I usually have some idea of whether I either liked it or disliked it overall. However, the reason I didn’t review ‘Kiss Me First’ around the time I read it back in March was because I genuinely had no idea how I felt about it. The concept was cleverly manipulated but I still felt the  implausible elements of the story generally outweighed the plausible ones, particularly the pretence of keeping Tess “alive” online. Either way, it would certainly be an interesting novel to discuss in a book group. Continue reading


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