SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Mark Lawson

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July 11, 2019
Political thrillers can be either validated or overtaken by real events. Charles McCarry (1930-2019), a great Catholic writer who died recently, wrote a kind of legislative sci-fi. The Better Angels (1979) predicted both the use of passenger planes as terrorist weapons, and the possibility of elections being stolen by technology, more than two decades before
April 11, 2019
The newest must-read British crime novel has to overcome the obstacle of starting from one of the genre’s most-read premises. In a remote and snow-bound location, one of a group of 11 guests celebrating the new year at a hotel is murdered. The killer must logically be one of the other 10 revellers, or one
September 20, 2018
Mark Lawson on this month’s best crime fiction Fittingly, there are two new thrillers about doppelgängers, although, proving the adaptability of plot lines about worrying doubles, the only other way in which they resemble each other is quality. Bellevue Square (No Exit Press, 288pp, £8.99) won a big prize and large praise in Canada, where
July 05, 2018
Mark Lawson picks the best of this month’s crime fiction Unlike other crowns, succession to the title Queen of Crime (bestowed at various times on Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, PD James and Ruth Rendell) is, ironically, not decided by blood, but by acclaim and achievement. By which measure, certainly one of those rising through the
May 24, 2018
Mark Lawson picks this month’s best crime novels In literature, as in other areas of life, good intentions do not always guarantee beneficial effects. Accordingly, an anthology of stories in support of a charity is an uneasy product. Writers, providing their services for free, may, deliberately or subliminally, apply slightly less pressure to the keyboard.
April 05, 2018
While it would be difficult to write crime fiction that didn’t touch in some way on the subject of guilt, three new contributions to the genre are especially steeped in the themes of conscience and responsibility. Seventeen, by Japanese former journalist Hideo Yokoyama (rivverrun, 404pp, £16.999), is the second of his novels to appear in
March 01, 2018
The popularity of the adjective “Hitchcockian” in reviews of suspense fiction is a tribute to the way in which the films of Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) have become synonymous with cunning puzzles, ratcheted tension and a psychological complexity (especially involving women) that grew partly from the director’s Catholicism. His example stalks this month’s three choices
February 01, 2018
The popularity of the Netflix series House of Cards – at least until the moral defenestration of its star, Kevin Spacey – has re-energised the political conspiracy thriller across all fictional forms. The genre has also been encouraged by the scarcely credible chaos in the actual administrations of Theresa May and Donald Trump. Well built