Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Michael Russell’s first thriller, The City of Shadows, burst upon the crime-writing world in 2012, and The City of Strangers is a first class successor.
He is no newcomer to crime writing as before he turned his gifts to novels he was a TV scriptwriter and producer, contributing among others to Midsummer Murders and A Touch of Frost.
The City of Strangers stars, as did its predecessor, Garda Sergeant Stefan Gillespie, and it’s far away from the scene of Midsummer Murders geographically, in time and in style. Stefan Gillespie’s new case takes him from his native Ireland to New York and Canada; it’s set in 1939; and the measured solving of dirty deeds in Midsummer is replaced with a well plotted, complex and gripping political thriller.
What begins as a straightforward mission for Gillespie when he is ordered to New York to escort back to Dublin a man suspected of murdering his mother pitchforks him into the centre of the tense days when Europe was about to be plunged into war. The machinations of the IRA, Irish sympathisers in the US, and German agents embroil Stefan into dangerous waters where murder and violence are tools to an end which it’s his task to untangle.
This is no ordinary thriller. In many, the atmosphere of the location is sacrificed to the need for fast pace; unusually in The City of Strangers the immense depth and loving detail the author has poured into creating the Ireland that Gillespie inhabits and the contrasting world of 1939 New York are the glue that grips the reader. He keeps his characters at a certain distance but his recreation of the volatile world of 1939 makes this novel a powerful and memorable one.