Category Archives: Fiction

Tim Haigh – Z is for Zeugma

“Since his death in 1960, Timothy J Haigh has been widely recognised as the least gifted of the great mystery novelists of the golden age of travel writing…” So begins the introduction to Z is for Zeugma. Yes, Tim has killed himself off for fun. Switching chairs for the purpose, he finds himself as interviewee rather than -er, for this playful little book. John Mindlin is obliged to step and ask the questions just this once. In this not-really-a-novel-at-all Tim gives free rein to his propensity for embracing any joke that occurs to him in a loose narrative that sends up every cliché of crime writing, and quite a lot … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction, Humour | Leave a comment

Lawrence Block – The Girl With The Deep Blue Eyes

We last spoke to the great American crime writer, Lawrence Block, nearly two years ago. Although Larry is one of the world’s great travelers – he has visited something like 135 different countries – he was at home in New York on this occasion, while we are in London, England. We toyed with the idea of going to the shore and rigging up a transatlantic telephone with two tin cans and a very long piece of string, but opted instead for the technological wizardry of Skype. The new book finds Larry very much on form: The Girl With The Deep Blue Eyes is a steamy noir thriller of sex and … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

Mike Ripley – Angels And Others

I first met Mike Ripley at a beano in 1990 to celebrate Collins Crime Club, for which occasion a special collection of stories was published. I can prove my claim about my whereabouts on that nefarious occasion in 1990, and by way of evidence we present  Exhibit #1, the bloodied corpse of my contemporary account of the assembly of (literary) killers for Collins Crime Club. I barely escaped with my life! I still have that book (well, of course I do!), and it contains the story which was my first encounter with Fitzroy Maclean Angel. It says something about the story that I have a remarkably vivid recollection of it. … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toby Litt – Lifelike

If your taste runs to the dead-pan, you could do worse than read Toby Litt. By turns funny, scabrous, touching, serious, playful and obsessive, his twelfth book, Life-like is presented with an absolutely straight face. How are you supposed to take this? Are you intended to laugh? Is it OK to be aroused? Does that passage really belong in this book? Toby never blinks. Toby’s interest in form and experimentation is well-established, and so this book is neither properly a novel nor a simple story collection, with the focus flying apart from the starting point of the marriage of Agatha and Paddy, with whom we are familiar from Toby’s eighth … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christopher Fowler – Nyctophobia

Callie is a young woman with a bit of a past (and a mild case of nyctophobia), an adoring husband and a home filled with light … but where there is light there must also be darkness… Christopher Fowler made his name with chiller fiction, and Nyctophobia is a splendid return to the genre. It takes a gleeful inventory of the elements of the ghost story, and finds new ways to creep up on you, and most importantly of all – it is scary. Tim spent the night he read it nervously going round his house turning all the lights on. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_thebookspodcast_christopherfowler-nyctophobia.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anne McCaffrey from the archive – Renegades of Pern

Anne McCaffrey was the first woman to win the prestigious Hugo award for science fiction, and also the first woman to win a Nebula award. In her Dragonriders of Pern series she created one of the great fantasy novels sequence. It comprises more than thirty novels, most of which include dragons, and is notable for pioneering the inclusion of strong and effective women in science fiction. Anne McCaffrey died in 2011 at the age of 85, but back in 1990 Tim had the great pleasure of meeting her to discuss the  fourteenth book in the series, Renegades of Pern. They got on like a house on fire.   http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_thebookspodcast-archive-annemccafrey.mp3Podcast: Play … Continue reading






Posted in Archive, Fiction | Leave a comment

Margery Allingham’s Mr Campion’s Farewell: the Return of Albert Campion Completed by Mike Ripley

In Albert Campion, Margery Allingham created one of the timeless golden age detectives, often spoken of in the same breath as Lord Peter Wimsey and Inspector Alleyn. When she died in 1963 her husband and collaborator Philip Youngman Carter continued the series for two more books. A third was left incomplete. Well, we say incomplete. There was merely a fragment, four chapters kicking off a new Campion novel, but with no plot outline or notes for how it was supposed to continue. Mike Ripley made his name with the brilliant comedy thriller ‘Angel’ series. In 2012 the Margery Allingham Society asked him to finish the incomplete Campion book, which he … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

Lawrence Block – The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons

Bernie Rhodenbarr is the owner of an antiquarian bookshop in New York City. He is best friends with a lesbian who owns the nearby dog grooming parlour, and they eat lunch together every day. He is nearly friends with the local cop, Ray Kirshman, who regards him as an unofficial consultant. But most of all, Bernie is a burglar. When a man named Smith comes into the store and asks him to steal an original manuscript of an F Scott Fitzgerald story, Bernie finds himself embroiled in a couple of tangled webs, which he is uniquely qualified to untangle. Lawrence Block is a past master at this kind of thing, … Continue reading






Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

Larry Watson – Let Him Go

“I’d follow you anywhere. If you don’t know that, what do you know?”. So says George to his wife Margaret as they journey, at her behest, to try and get back their grandson. In a beautiful and utterly memorable novel, Larry Watson takes us to the bleak and unforgiving landscape of the Badlands of North Dakota in 1951 and into the lives of complex and vivid characters. The book is the road trip and the confrontation at the end of it. It is a journey that Tim was thrilled to follow every step of the way. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks_larrywatson-lethimgo.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Android | RSS






Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

Iain Banks from the Archives

Yesterday, we heard the sad news of the death of Iain Banks at the unacceptably young age of 59. Iain was never the darling of the literary establishment, but he was the favourite author of hundreds of thousands of passionate readers, and Tim had rated him one of the best of his generation since his stunning debut with The Wasp Factory in 1984. In 1995 Tim interviewed Iain on the occasion of the publication of his fourteenth novel, Whit. Iain was unfailingly friendly and forthcoming whenever we asked for access to him. With grateful thanks to Iain for his kindness to this site, we present this slightly edited version of … Continue reading






Posted in Archive, Fiction, Religion | Leave a comment