Although I have never read either of Stig Abell’s non-fiction works and have seen him only briefly on TV I was actually quite excited to read his debut novel- a literary crime thriller. Stig is without doubt a high achiever – a double first English degree from Cambridge led to him joining the Press Complaints Commission, which doesn’t seem the most natural route to the role of the managing editor of The Sun newspaper and from there he went on to become the editor of The Times Literary Supplement. He has since been the Launch Director for Times Radio where he presents the Breakfast Show. I was intrigued by this mixture of the literary and the mainstream – here is a man who is able to put his ideas across and he is equally at home with the academic as popular culture (he’s also quite easy on the eye) and here he is opting to write a novel within the crime genre because of his deep love of detective fiction. Could this be where he falls flat on his face? Not as far as I am concerned as this novel is very good indeed.
We meet main character Jake Jackson at the start of the novel getting out of a taxi in the middle of nowhere in an unspecified part of the English countryside. He walks to a house he has inherited from an uncle where he intends to embrace a solitary, rural life, giving up his career in the police. As much as it is a crime thriller this is a novel of escaping and of adapting to circumstances, all feeling rather relevant in this post-Covid 19 world. Jack is going to wing it- he is happy to give up technology, has no transport and no real survival plan. What he does have is his uncle’s impressive library of detective fiction which Jake believes initially will do. I really like this man.
However, this is a crime novel and things will not stay quiet, even though for a considerable time the thriller aspect just simmers alongside Jake’s coming to grips with his new life but slowly the author ramps up the pressure and we get a highly satisfactory crime fiction set-up.
As you might expect it is well written and the grounding Jake has in police-work and detective fiction gives the novel a huge respect for the genre which elevates it onto a higher level. Stig Abell knows exactly what he is doing here- his love and absorption of crime novels and his years of professional analysis of literary works is so evident and has resulted in this first-class example. Is there anything this man does not excel in?
Death Under A Little Sky is published by Harper Collins on 13th April 2023. Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the advance review copy.
2 thoughts on “Death Under A Little Sky – Stig Abell (Harper Collins 2023)”
Perhaps FOUND A REPLACEMENT FOR PHILIP KERR. PERHAPS A DIFFERENT STYLE….
Perhaps, give it a go, see what you think!