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8 Unexpectedly Humorous Novels

On the face of things and before diving in, these aren’t novels that you would immediately classify as humorous. In this short collection we introduce crime, science fiction and fantasy novels with murder, robbery, and corruption swaggering through the pages. So, these aren’t novels where you should expect a laugh a minute, and yet humour does lurk, waiting with a smirk to trip you up. Sometimes a smile relieves incredible tension or helps make a point, sometimes it's way beneath the surface or in a traded insult. Whether initiating a smile or full on guffaw these are books where a beautiful balance is maintained between serious and humorous. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

Thirty-One Bones

Thirty-One Bones

Author: Morgan Cry Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/07/2020

A thoroughly entertaining, fast-moving and smirky crime caper. When Daniella arrives in Spain for her estranged mother’s funeral, she finds herself in the middle of a property scam, things soon get rather… complicated. The storyline has the feel of an old black and white crime comedy film, but this is bang up to date and in spectacular colour. The chapter titles act as a heads up and several times Morgan Cry tells you what is to come, which just ratchets up the tension. Words jabbed at my awareness, the characters are larger than life, and even when being vile, have the potential to be somewhat loveable. The police transcripts that are scattered through the book are extremely diverting and left me smiling. I read this in one sitting, and the ending arrived with a blast. I would describe Thirty-One Bones as a crime-laden romp, it is pure escapism, and I enjoyed it so much, I’ve included it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.  

The Coffinmaker's Garden

The Coffinmaker's Garden

Author: Stuart MacBride Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Outrageously good reading entertainment awaits in this punchy, smirky, dark crime thriller set in Scotland. Ex-DI Ash Henderson from the Lateral Investigative and Review Unit finds himself working two cases after human remains are found in a garden that is collapsing into the sea. Ash has previously been central to two of the Oldcastle Novels by Stuart MacBride, do you need to have read the other Ash Henderson thrillers first? I really think you do, as though it is possible to read The Coffinmaker’s Garden as a standalone, you will miss out if you don’t know the back story. I threw all my thoughts and knowledge out of the window as I read and just enjoyed the spunky characters and blood-tingling plot. Spinning between the two investigations kept my armchair-sleuth thoughts from settling too deeply. Instead I rode the wave, fell for the repartee and characters, and found my eyebrows more than once shooting skywards. A round of applause to Stuart MacBride for ensuring a balance between the horror and tragedy of the storyline with the humour that peppers the pages (the inventive insults are hugely diverting). The Coffinmaker’s Garden played out in gloriously vivid colour in my mind, atmospheric and gripping, this is a corker of a read and comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval.

Bear Head

Bear Head

Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/01/2021

An absolute whammy of a read, and a must for anyone who enjoys a smart, fast-paced, hugely entertaining blast of speculative fiction. When Jimmy agrees to smuggle data in his headspace, he really didn’t expect it to start talking to him. Honey the bioform bear needs to make contact with an entity on Mars, and Jimmy finds himself an unwitting accessory. While you could definitely read this as a standalone, I really do recommend reading Dogs of War, in which Honey also appears, as an introduction to this fabulous bioform world. Arthur C Clarke Award winning Adrian Tchaikovsky has successfully combined weighty, thought-provoking moments, with a Trump-like baddie, full-on action and smirky humour. And oh, how I smirked, Jimmy acts as a beautifully timed foil to the powerfully intense Honey. This is one of those books where you can just throw yourself and abandon yourself to a fabulous story, knowing you will be entertained throughout. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, Bear Head comes with a colossal thumbs up from me. 

Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears

Author: Mercedes Rosende Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2021

Containing more than a smirk of humour, this is a bold, vibrant crime caper set in Uruguay. When Diego is released from prison he reluctantly agrees to hold up an armoured truck. Along the way we also meet a crooked lawyer, brutal psychopath, amateur con artist, and police inspector, two of whom are women and fighting to hold their own with the men. Award-winning author Mercedes Rosende from Uruguay is also a lawyer and journalist. Her writing is sharp and pointed yet rich and earthy. I initially felt as though I was observing from a distance, then as I got to know each character I edged closer and closer to the action. I found myself completely caught up in the words, the translation by Tim Gutteridge placed me within a country I don’t know, yet enabled me to feel a connection. I didn’t question, just sank completely into the storyline, and as the synopsis declares: “never, ever underestimate the women”. Hugely entertaining, Crocodile Tears is a full-on, fresh yet heady read.  The LoveReading LitFest invited Mercedes Rosende and translator Tim Gutteridge to the festival to talk about Crocodile Tears. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Mercedes and Tim in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why people are talking about this stunning thriller. The Sunday Times called it "a marvellous mash-up of Anita Brookner and Quentin Tarantino." Check out a preview of the event here

Little Siberia

Little Siberia

Author: Antti Tuomainen Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/10/2019

Expect the unexpected from the get-go as the prologue lights the touch paper to an intense, smirky, carnival ride of a fabulous read. You wont want it to stop! A valuable meteorite crash lands in a small Finnish town causing absolute mayhem. As Joel, the local pastor, guards the meteorite, he not only faces a crisis in his marriage but also a number of people who decide that the meteorite should be theirs, come what may! After the fiery prologue, chapter one slapped my attention to face a different direction. By the time chapter two arrived, I was sitting wide-eyed, this was setting itself up for a cracking read. I adore Antti Tuomainen’s books, he writes with a finely balanced pen, darker than dark humour hits with a provocative wallop, while feeling fresh and different. I was consumed by Little Siberia and all too soon, as the events around Joel unraveled, the ending hurtled towards me. Not only sharp, amusing, and provocative, this is also an incredibly thoughtful read, so Little Siberia receives an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

Highfire

Highfire

Author: Eoin Colfer Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/01/2021

This high-octane, smart, whip-sharp novel is one heck of a reality and fantasy clash. It perhaps shouldn’t work, but it does, it really really does and has popped itself on my list of favourite reads. Meet Vern, he is currently hiding out in a Louisiana swamp, he doesn’t trust anyone, loves his vodka, has a thing for Flashdance, oh, and he’s a dragon. Having lived a few thousand years he really doesn’t need the escalating feud between Squib Moreau and crooked Officer Hooke to spoil his peace and quiet. This is the first novel for adults from the bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer. I feel as though Highfire has been waiting for me, to welcome it to my bookshelves. The balance between the different genres is beautifully done. Different emotions skittered through me as I read, there’s violence aplenty, and some wicked smirks waiting to be found too. Highly entertaining and exciting, Highfire is my kind of book, in fact if you could marry books, I’d be Mrs Highfire in no time!

Worst Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario

Author: Helen FitzGerald Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/05/2019

A seriously fabulous, gritty, and whip-cracking humour filled read. Mary Shields is a menopausal probation officer on the edge, when a murderer is released into her care events soon spiral out of control. The first line smacked me in the face, I half flinched, half blurted with laughter. Just a note of warning, while I discovered a smirk lurking on nearly every page, some may see the humour as warped. It is the type of dark humour typical of anyone who has worked in some seriously difficult situations, where if you didn’t laugh you’d cry. Helen Fitzgerald is the author of the BBC TV series The Cry, and previously worked as a criminal justice social worker. Her knowledge shines through, I didn’t stop, I didn’t question, I simply sank into the deep murky depths of the story and believed. When I reached the oh so beautiful end I wanted to leap to my feet and give Helen Fitzgerald a standing ovation. I absolutely adored Worst Case Scenario, this is short, sharp storytelling at its very best, which has earned it a place as one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading star book.

Welcome to the Heady Heights

Welcome to the Heady Heights

Author: David F. Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/03/2019

A smirky, fierce, heartachingly provocative read set in the Glasgow of the late 1970’s. 52 year old Archie is a bus conductor, however he dreams of bigger and better things, can he leave behind Glasgow, the gangsters, the corruption and make something of himself? Within just a few paragraphs, I knew exactly where I was and who I was with, the characters sit on the page with vibrancy and in some cases brooding attitude. I could hear the voices rising from the page into my head, they took on my here and now and slapped it straight into 1975. Glasgow screams with attitude, sauntering, sulking, yet with moments of real beauty. David F. Ross doesn’t overplay the vivid characters, they feel as real as real could be, not necessarily likeable, in fact some are defiantly abhorrent, though I do have a soft spot for Archie! Each moment swaggered into being, opening a window through into another world. ‘Welcome to the Heady Heights’ is powerful and punchy, with well placed, darker than dark humour highlighting a visual feast of a read.

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