Pittsburgh is not a famous city, at least by the standards of the north-eastern United States. I can think of half a dozen bigger places I could have set Soul Murder: New York, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia.
Which is, of course, why I chose Pittsburgh.
Daniel Blake’s 10 favourite writers, in alphabetical order:
In Cobenland, the suburbs are not white and shiny behind their picket fences; they’re dark, scary places where everyone carries secrets, and danger occurs when those secrets collide. The familiarity of the settings and the characters seduce the reader; these are people like you, Coben says, barely pausing to strap you in before starting the rollercoaster. His writing is pacy, vivid and often laugh-out-loud funny, almost physically impelling you to turn the page. Plot twists come thick and fast – Coben puts a rug under your feet with the express intention of pulling it out again when you least expect it – but rarely do they feel contrived or overdone.
Martin Cruz Smith.
The Arkady Renko series tick all the boxes of superior crime fiction. Expert characterisation? Check. Tack-sharp dialogue? Check. Sense of place? Check. Deft prose style? Check. Not since Greene has a writer managed to combine character and thrills so seamlessly. Renko is a man we root for, simple as that. He is moral without being a prig, humble and compassionate without being a saint, smart without being pedantic, loyal without being blind, wryly cynical without being bitter, and optimistic without being gullible. A good man, in other words; one with flaws which make us empathise with him, and with qualities which make us aspire to be him.
The search for the ‘new Le Carre’ is one of the publishing industry’s most perennial exercises, and there’s no shortage of contenders. Cumming is arguably the frontrunner. His writing is sharp and deft, and he has the confidence to let his characters drive the story rather than throw in otiose plot twists for the sake of it. He also gets better with every book; his most recent, the China-set Typhoon, is his most ambitious and accomplished work yet. The apprentice may one day overtake the master.