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Crime Express Novellas 4 and 5

'The Okinawa Dragon' by Nicola Monaghan; 'The Quarry' by Clare Littleford

Five Leaves have released the the next two paperbacks in their Crime Express series. Each book is a long short story at around 100 pages. The books are slightly smaller than normal paperbacks and are perfect for slipping into a small bag or pocket. June 2008's releases are 'The Okinawa Dragon' by Nicola Monaghan and 'The Quarry' by Clare Littleford. The first three novellas are reviewed here.

The Okinawa Dragon by Nicola Monaghan (79 pages, ISBN: 1905512392)
The Okinawa Dragon is a rare gaming card owned by a Japanese businessman who follows an ethical code which will not let him part with the card. Consequently, the card is prized above all others. Jack, a sleazy, American-slang using trader, knows getting the card would set him up for life and persuades a millionaire collector to bankroll a trip to Japan.

Most of THE OKINAWA DRAGON revolves around Jack spending leisure time in Osaka whilst he sees if his plan to get the card will work and wondering who the beautiful woman he keeps meeting is.

THE OKINAWA DRAGON is an unusual tale, told in the first person by an unlikeable main character, which keeps the reader's interest, however what I enjoyed most, was the glimpse afforded of Japanese culture.

The Quarry by Clare Littleford (111 pages, ISBN: 1905512422)

Jenny Carter's world is rocked when her eight-year-old daughter rings to say that she's in Quarry Woods. Jenny hasn't been back to those woods in 17 years but it's dark and her daughter's in danger. Her husband Nick, who should have been looking after Ellie, is also on his way to the woods with his policeman brother Martin at the wheel. When they find a dead body in the quarry, it means that the truth about the life-changing event of their shared childhood will finally be revealed.

The beginning to THE QUARRY is unbelievably tense and though some of the stress is removed after a few pages, the pace is maintained by the narrative switching between the main adult characters and Ellie as they look back over earlier events, as well as the current investigation.

Littleford showed in BEHOLDEN that she's good at writing an unreliable narrator. THE QUARRY isn't quite in the same league - the solution probably won't be a surprise to a seasoned crime reader - but it's atmospheric and edgy, with a strong plot which I could easily imagine being expanded to a full length novel.

Karen Meek, England
November 2008

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

Details of the authors' other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 30/11/2008 15:23