Now to the East Coast; a study in contrasts. First we have Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels. The heroine is an archeologist at what seems like a rather shambolic new University on the Norfolk coast; her cases all involve old bones of some sort, but the murders are, mostly, reasonably recent. The world is about as cozy as you’ll find in new crime fiction; people basically like each other though you may not like the central cop, a self-absorbed Lancastrian who is partly redeemed for the reader by the mysterious liking that an oddly named Druid who works in a technical capacity at the University (yep) has for him. The plots are satisfying, the writing fluent, the characters predictable but (with the exception of the cop) broadly likeable. They’ll each take you a few hours to read—frivolous fun, like a Cosmo. Warning (which MIGHT be a minor spoiler): as with Sophie Hannah, but more so, the first book will make you anxious that the supernatural is going to play some sort of explanatory role—its ok, it doesn’t. Start with The Crossing Places .
David Mark’s Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy books do not resemble a cosmo at all. Set in Hull, they are as dark as you imagine the worst winter day being there—in fact, I only know Hull through these novels, and I don’t think that I have once imagined sunshine there. It’s noir, without relief. The villains are evil and ruthless and some of the cops no better. McAvoy starts the series as an officer suffering the consequences of whistle-blowing on some sort of corruption in the force. He’s lucky to be under the protection of a capable senior officer, Trish Pharaoh, and also to have a spouse who is (I think implausibly) adoring and understanding. But the plots are satisfying, and after the first novel, The Dark Winter, McAvoy grew on me quite a bit. Through several of the novels we see the emergence of a shadowy and apparently invincible organized crime syndicate, which Pharaoh and McAvoy are required to deal with, if not defeat. Mark is excellent with minor characters and subplots, and presents a world which, despite (or maybe because of) the prevalence of evil, is much less black and white than most crime writers prefer. Highly recommended if you have a reasonable tolerance for particularly vicious murders.
IS there a series set in Lowestoft? Or Southwold?