French, Nicci. Tuesday’s Gone.

NY: Penguin, 2012.

I greatly enjoyed Blue Monday, the first installment in this superior series that combines British police procedural with psychological thriller and semi-domestic drama, and this second one is even better. Dr. Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist in London, a stubborn and often bloody-minded woman who only recently acquired a cell phone (it’s nearly always turned off), both loves and hates her city, and frequently spends the night walking long distances alone as a way of dealing with her own demons.



Gaiman, Neil, Fábio Moon, & Gabriel Bá. How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2016.

In 2006, Neil wrote a short story by this title, and it was nominated for a Hugo. A decade later, he teamed up with two of the most original graphic artists around and they produced a visual rendition of the story that works so well, you’ll be replaying it in your head for weeks afterward. It’s about a couple of young lads, see, in south London in the early ’80s, who are out looking for a party that Vic — the experienced player of the two — has heard about.


French, Nicci. Blue Monday.

NY: Penguin, 2013.

This is the first in a new (well, new to me) mystery-thriller series set in London and featuring psychoanalyst Dr. Frieda Klein, who has nearly as many personal boogeymen as some of her patients. She’s a loner, doesn’t own a cell phone, and tries to relieve her frequent insomnia with long night-walks through the city. (She especially likes to trace the course of the underground and nearly forgotten River Fleet.)


Smith, Jennifer E. The Geography of You and Me.

NY: Little, Brown, 2014.

Smith has become one of my favorite authors of Young Adult novels. She writes unabashed, deeply affecting romances and she does it very, very well. Lucy is sixteen and has lived all her life on the twenty-fourth floor of a very nice New York apartment building. Owen is seventeen, the son of the building’s new super, and he lives in a dark flat in the basement. It’s the first of September, the day before the school year starts, and Lucy’s parents have left her alone — again — while they go off to Paris.


Doughton, Autumn & Erica Cope. Steering the Stars.

np: Amazon Digital Services, 2015.

Budding writer Hannah Vaughn is about to start her junior year in a backwater Oklahoma high school, but she has dreams. And one of them comes true when she wins a competition to attend a private school in London with a highly-regarded creative writing program. She’ll be glad to get away from her mother and brother, and also the boy friend from whom she has recently probably broken up (He couldn’t understand why she would ever want to leave Oklahoma. . . .)


Jewell, Lisa. Then She Was Gone.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

This suspense-filled novel is frankly hard to read in places, but you should try it anyway. It’s 2005 and fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack of London is a “golden girl” — gorgeous, a top student, self-confident, and in love for the first time. Her parents adore her — though Hanna, her less-gifted older sister, has trouble competing at times. And then, shortly before her GCSEs, Ellie goes to the local library, a fifteen-minute walk away, and is never seen again.


Le Carré, John. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

NY: Coward, 1964.

Although this was LeCarré’s third novel, it was the first one that really got him noticed, both by the critics and by the reading public. It spent some time at the top of the bestsellers lists and it pretty much established him as a new master of the modern espionage novel. The funny thing is, LeCarré was working for the British security service when he wrote it, and so it had to be vetted by the people upstairs as not giving away anything about the real-life spy business — and they okayed it.


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Galbraith, Robert. Lethal White.

NY: Little Brown, 2018.

The very entertaining “Cormoran Strike” mystery series has put paid to any question that J. K. Rowling couldn’t write anything but fantasy for children. This fourth entry may be the best yet. The sheer complexity of the plot and the interaction of the characters also gives it a Dickensian flavor.


Stratford, Sarah-Jane. Radio Girls.

NY: New American Library, 2016.

It’s the fall of 1926 and young Maisie Musgrave, born in Toronto and raised in New York by whomever her actress mother was able to dump her on, has returned to her adopted home of London. Moreover, after several years as one of the barely-working poor, she has just been hired as a secretary at the four-year-old BBC up on Savoy Hill. Mostly, she’s the typing assistant to the executive assistant to the Director General, John Reith, who hates being forced to hire so many women.


Keen, Greg. Soho Dead.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2017.

Kenny Gabriel is a couple years short of his sixtieth birthday and with less than three hundred quid in the bank. He’s a creature of Soho, having lived and worked in that London neighborhood since supposedly going off to university in the mid-’70s, and both he and Soho have changed over the years. He’s a skip-tracer most of the time, working for a corpulent, agoraphobic computer nerd who hasn’t left his flat in a decade.