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Author of the Month for November is the wonderful wordsmith and storyteller, Jeffrey Archer who has been writing massive bestsellers since 1976, and over forty years later he is still writing and still selling worldwide! Archer, of course, has always divided readers, critics and his fellow writers. There is a snobbish vein that shows now and again as some look down their nose at Archer and his writing, (hasn’t Christie always been a victim of this snobbery?), but his longevity and continued sales mean that Archer, as much as Christie has had the last laugh.

As with Christie, Archer is one of the first adult books I read as my Dad recommended, (the one and only time as Dad was never a big reader), a book called ‘Kane and Abel’ which he thought was brilliant. And it was, and still is a book that is one of those stand-out books of that time. I have read many Archer books and have recently got back into reading his books which is why I am loving the William Warwick books so much. I feel I have been re-acquainted with an old uncle I haven’t seen for years. Now I am understanding why Archer has sold so many books, he really is the true definition of a storyteller, one that will enthral and beguile you.

Fresh Blood is ‘Sins of the Father’ by Sharon Bairden. This is a taut psychological novel that delves into the psyche of Rebecca, a damage woman since childhood, but not of her own doing. A victim of abuse, Rebecca’s only reason to live is revenge, but when it comes it won’t go entirely to plan. This is an amazing and assured debut that shows Bairden has a huge talent that has only just got started.

Reviews this month includes a number of new writers alongside established writers. They include Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin, Barbara Nadel, Robert Bryndza, Sheila Bugler and many more plus a 80s classic Dalgliesh from P.D. James.

Not only have I been re-reading P.D. James this year, but I have also been reliving the joy of Minette Walters and have a new understanding as to why this writer arrived on the crime scene like “BAM!” and she was the hottest psychological crime writer for the next fifteen years. Walters won every award, The John Creasey, The Edgar, The Gold Dagger twice… and then nothing. Walters disappeared as quick as she appeared. Why this writer whose every book was greeted with a fanfare on publication, was one of the big mysteries of recent times.

Since 2007 there have been a couple of Quick Reads, a novella and two Historical novels, but nothing on the same level as her early work. I would love to one day hold a new Minette Walters psychological novel in my hands! But for now, on Classic Crime I will be celebrating Walters’ 2000 novel, The Shape of Snakes. Dealing with the issues of racism and mental health, I feel this is a book that is just as relevant, if not more so after the rollercoaster that has been 2020.

Events show a plethora of reviews of Agatha Christie novels I have loved for decades, ones I have re-visited and others I have a new-found appreciation for. I have read more Christie this year than any other for decades. I gobbled up all of Christie’s books as a teen, some stayed with me while others didn’t quite leave as much of an impression. That is the joy of coming back to a book and with older eyes seeing where Christie was coming from, the nuances of her writing and realise that Christie was quite the chronicler during her fifty-six years of writing.

My Lockdown Christmas Top Ten features books that feature the festive season and hopefully, despite all that is going on in the world, will get you into the Christmas spirit.

To check out all our past reviews use the Review Archive. Search under author surname and author Christian name if you can’t recall the surname. And for good measure you can also search under the title of the book. Simply click on the box at the top of the page and then click on to the letter of the author/title you would like to find. As you will see, we have reviewed a huge number of books during Crimesquad.com's thirteen years. Have a wander round our archives and I hope you will find something you might have missed first time around!

If you have any comments or have a particular author you would like to see highlighted on this website please e-mail me at chrissimmons@crimesquad.com.

Chris Simmons
Online Editor.