Hello and welcome to the LJ Ross Book Club!

I created this space for book lovers, to spark positive conversations about our shared love of reading! Here, you can discover my monthly picks of the best classic and new titles (when you’re not reading the latest DCI Ryan, of course!) and look out for monthly competitions, giveaways and live Q & A’s with guest authors. Join in the conversation online, or sign up to the newsletter to find out more. #LJBookClub

This Month’s Picks

Brighton Rock

Graham Greene

About

Behind the tourist façade and bright lights of 1930s Brighton, a gang war is raging. The book’s antihero, ‘Pinkie’, is a seventeen-year-old psychopath and up-and-coming leader of the ‘mob’ who has killed a man with merciless relish. He believes he can escape retribution by silencing the witness to his crime—but he doesn’t account for Ida Arnold, a decent woman with a relentless thirst for justice…

LJ's thoughts

This is an unforgettable read, from start to finish. Gritty and clever, even the title of the novel is imbued with meaning—it refers to the confectionary sold at seaside resorts, with the name of the resort traditionally embedded through the centre, only revealed when the stick of rock is broken in half. Greene used this as a metaphor for Pinkie’s character in the novel, which is to say that his black character was the same all the way through to his core. This story has gravitas from the very first page, forcing the reader to consider ‘big’ questions of good versus evil; of the tenacity of the human spirit; of faith and other moral questions—without detracting from the main thrust of the storyline, which remains thrilling throughout. If you’ve never read any of Greene’s work before, you can’t beat this for an introduction!

Where to find it

Surfeit of Suspects

George Bellairs

About

‘At 8 o’clock in the evening on the 8th November, there was a terrific explosion in Green Lane, Evingden.’ The offices of the Excelsior Joinery Company have been blown to smithereens and three of the company directors lie dead amongst the rubble. Littlejohn’s investigation is soon confounded by an impressive cast of suspicious persons, each concealing their own axe to grind, in this classic thriller described by some as a 'gripping masterpiece of misdirection'.

LJ's thoughts

I love these British Crime Classics! Surfeit of Suspects has enough to keep your brain teased, whilst being accessible enough to read comfortably in the bath or at the end of a hard week. Perfect escapism!

Where to find it

Previous Picks

Quick Curtain

Alan Melville

About

In this British Library Crime Classic, the show opens at The Grosvenor theatre to a packed house, where the lead actor is shot and another actor is found dead. Initial appearances suggest a straightforward case of murder followed by suicide. Inspector Wilson of Scotland Yard and his son, an enthusiastic young reporter are both in the audience that night and they suspect foul play...

LJ's thoughts

Alan Melville found his audience during the 'Golden Age' of crime fiction but, with the passage of time, his work was gradually forgotten. However, thanks to its revival as part of the series of British Crime Classics, new audiences have been able to discover his accessible, nostalgic storytelling with its humorous flavour. I loved it, and have set one of my own books in London's Theatreland, so I appreciate a dramatic setting..!

Where to find it

Kiss the Girls

James Patterson

About

It’s the second of Patterson's blockbusting novels to feature his main protagonist, Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist and police detective often known as ‘Doctor Detective’. In this outing, he finds himself pitted against two serial killers calling themselves, ‘Casanova’ and ‘The Gentleman Caller’, the former of whom is responsible for abducting Cross’ niece, Naomi, a talented student and musician. Cross travels to North Carolina to investigate personally, and is immediately embroiled in the case.

LJ's thoughts

When you’re a household name like James Patterson, familiarity can sometimes breed contempt. However, picking up Kiss the Girls is a salutary reminder of how Patterson came to find worldwide success: whilst remaining eminently accessible, the book is a finely-crafted thriller, full of pace and tension, and takes good care to orientate the reader in whichever city or country setting Cross happens to be in. The protagonist is likeable — a feat, as any author will tell you, which is not always easy to achieve — and the antagonists deadly, ruthless and compelling, as the best baddies surely ought to be. Though the novel was adapted for the screen during the nineties featuring Morgan Freeman in the title role, this is one of those instances where the book is every bit as cinematic, and turning the pages isn’t far from reading a screenplay. Satisfying reading, for those wintry nights!

Where to find it

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