Long a valued stalwart of Crime Time, Russell James is a crime writer (and historian of the genre) who absolutely refuses to be categorised; he is as adept at a kind of unsparing British hard-boiled writing as he is at black comedy — and entries in that genre rarely come blacker than The Newly Discovered Diaries of Doctor Kristal. James has set his quirky and beguiling comedy in the swinging 60s, and the format consists of the diaries of a doctor, a virginal 35-year-old with a predilection for homicide (the wordy subtitle is ‘whose strange obsessions cause him to murder some annoying patients’). The eponymous Doctor Kristal is a really unusual creation in a genre which has had its fair share of eccentric murderers, and one of the particular pleasures of the book is seeing how the old Adam — sexual desire— can upset the best laid plans of even those who regard themselves as safely above such things. Now Russell James has a problem: how does he follow something as quirky as this?

The Newly Discovered Diaries of Doctor Kristal by Russell James is published by Prospero Books

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