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A Long Shadow by H L Marsay

Every serious reader from time to time picks up (or, in this case, downloads) books they haven’t heard of by writers they also haven’t heard of. That’s how I came to read this book. Quite often – I might almost say usually – the experience is a disappointment, but once in a while you realise that you’ve happened on something exceptional. And that is how I feel about A Long Shadow.

I chose the book in the first place because it was set in York, a city I love. What I found was that the author uses the place as an extra character. You can feel York in this book. In fact, you can almost talk to it. And that’s something it has in common with the other characters because they are real and believable. By the end, you feel that you know them. The motivations are genuine, so are the disagreements both major and petty, and the denouement when it comes seems a natural step onwards from the point we’ve already reached.

If you like crime fiction, I recommend this very strongly. You can find it here.

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Running Behind Time by Jan Turk Petrie

I’ve expressed my admiration for Jan Turk Petrie as a writer in the past. She has a very wide range: Dystopian Nordic Noir (I’m not sure, but I think she may have invented this genre); historical fiction; contemporary fiction – and she’s done a remarkable job in all of them. And now: Time Slip.

The idea of Time Slip is so inherently at odds with everything we know about Time (it moves in only one direction) that achieving a willing suspension of disbelief requires a very high standard of authorship. And that’s exactly what you get here. The genre shares with all other forms of fiction a need for the characters to be believable and to arouse our interest (we don’t have to like them). Running Behind Time delivers that, too.

And then there are the book’s individual pleasures. Chief, for me, was that I KNEW the secret the author was concealing about her two main characters and I was almost at the end of the book before I discovered how wrong I had been. That ability to lead the reader by the nose is one of the most valuable an author can have, and it’s – not rare, exactly, but fairly unusual.

When I’m reviewing a book, I look hard for the weakness that will allow me to reduce the rating from five stars to four. I didn’t find one here.

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