Winter Thrills

As the weather turns chilly, it’s time to get cosy with a gripping book for company on the long winter nights. So this issue we’ve handpicked five titles with a Clerkenwell connection, including classic crime, a historical novel set in the neighbourhood and a festive-themed collection.

London’s Glory by Christopher Fowler (Bantam)
Arthur Bryant and John May are a Golden Age detective duo in modern London. The ancient investigators feature in a series by Christopher Fowler, who lives nearby in King’s Cross (he’s written for The Post and we interviewed him in issue 11). Fowler’s publishing his 14th Bryant & May novel, Wild Chamber, next year. The decrepit duo’s bizarre cases are also suited to the short story form – just like Sherlock Holmes – so we recommend this collection of tales that includes a festive story (“On the Beat”) about a mysterious death in the Barbican. Look out, too, for EC1 based novel Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart. Out now

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Orion)
Long based in Clerkenwell, Anthony Horowitz has come up with an ingenious new novel that’s a mystery within a mystery. Magpie Murders is a detective story featuring a German sleuth in 1950s England. Atticus Pund is a rotund, precise private investigator – a bit like Hercule Poirot. The twist is that there’s a separate, modern-day narrative from the editor of the Atticus Pund novel. The book is a clever homage to Agatha Christie – Pund is even based near Florin Court, the EC1 TV home of Poirot. Horowitz wrote 11 episodes of that show, as well as creating Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders. Maybe Magpie Murders will become another TV hit. Out now

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis (Two Roads)
You may recognise the debut author of this gothic novel set in the 18th century: Janet Ellis was a 1980s Blue Peter presenter. But this is no lightweight celebrity novel – it was actually submitted under a pseudonym and has since been nominated for a literary prize. The Butcher’s Hook follows the story of a girl who’s grown up in an unhappy Georgian household with a bullying father. Anne Jaccob is a sharp-witted heroine who falls in love with the wrong person – a butcher’s boy. It’s a richly atmospheric and absorbing debut novel that will certainly appeal to fans of Sarah Waters. The Clerkenwell connection? The butchery takes place in Smithfield, London’s historic market for meat and livestock. Out now

Murder Under the Christmas Tree various authors (Profile)
Billed as 10 classic crime stories for the festive season, this anthology from Clerkenwell publisher Profile would be a welcome addition to any Christmas stocking – as long as the recipient doesn’t mind a few winter chills. Cases include a murderer who materialises in a field of snow, leaving no footprints; blackmail on Christmas Eve; and a missing jewel in a festive hiding place. The sleuths include Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown. As well as classic authors Arthur Conan Doyle, Margery Allingham (who began her writing career in Clerkenwell) and John Dickson Carr (master of the locked room mystery), contemporary author Ian Rankin makes an appearance. Out now

Without the Moon by Cathi Unsworth (Serpent’s Tail)
A former music journalist, Cathi Unsworth is a crime author who performs spoken word gigs and has given screen talks at the Barbican. Her atmospheric novels – published by Clerkenwell imprint Serpent’s Tail – are heavily influenced by noir as well as real-life characters in London. Without the Moon, her fifth book, is set during the long, dark days of the Blitz with a detective investigating organised crime and a series of killings. The cast of characters includes soldiers, petty crooks and Fleet Street reporters – one inspiration was illustrious journalist Hannen Swaffer, a socialist who conducted séances and was dubbed the ‘Pope of Fleet Street’. Out now