L’AMOUR, Louis

 B- Sitka   1957    Action

Slightly variant heroic Alaskan western



  A       The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy 1)   2006    Crime

Satisfying, cold, intellectual, brutal, spare, engaging, original


 B+      The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium Triology 2)   2006    Action

Capable thriller, at heart deeply conventional, but originally wrapped heroine


 B+      The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest (Millennium Triology 3) 2006    Action

A little repetitive, but impressively weaves a final story into the overstory


LAWHEAD, Stephen

 B-       Dream Thief    1983    SF

Heavily influenced by Lewis’ Christian fiction and Asimov’s settings and cardboard characters


 B-       Taliesin (Book 1 of the Pendragon Cycle)      1987    Fantasy

Another version of the Arthur myth incorporating Atlantis and Christianity


LAXNESS, Halldór

 C        Independent People   1935, 36    Novel

Highly praised. Highly tedious.


LE CARRÉ, John       

 B        A Murder of Quality (George Smiley investigates)     1962    Crime

Competent enough episode


 B+      The Spy who came in from the Cold            1963    Action

Dark, trendsetting, anti-heroic cold war machinations


LE GUIN, Ursula K.

 B        April in Paris (in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)   1962    Short Story/SF

Competent early Le Guin magazine time travel ‘what if’; understandably (and unusually) twee


 C        The Masters (in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)     1963    Short Story

Dumb, preachy demonising


 A- Semley's Necklace (in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)     1964    Short Story/Fantasy/SF

Wonderful evocation of a fantasy legend somehow effectively incorporating SF elements


 B+      The Darkness Box (in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)      1964    Short Story/Fantasy

Clever realisation of an evocative idea


 B+      The Word of Unbinding         1964    Fantasy/Short Stories

Great key elements already in place in early Earthsea musings


  A       A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea, Book 1)      1968    Fantasy

Real sense of magic, depth, legend


 A- The Left Hand of Darkness    1969    SF

Manages a rare gravity and dignity


 B+      Tales from Earthsea         2001    Fantasy/Short Stories

Five tales, one great, three good, and one disappointing


 B       The Other Wind (Earthsea, Book 5)   2001    Fantasy

Evocative skills, but this story hinged on some weak plot devices and characters


LEE, Harper    

 A-       To Kill a Mockingbird      1960    Novel

Effectively following Twain’s tradition of dry narration from a child’s perspective to comment on America, community, morality and race


LEE, Tanith     

 B        Delusion’s Master      1981    Fantasy

Grand scope, discomforting, Clive Barker-ish


 B        The Silver Metal Lover     1982    SF

Teen romance in a Blade Runner-ish setting


LEHANE, Dennis

  A       A Drink Before the War    (Kenzie/Gennaro 1)     1994    Crime

Thoroughly enjoyable


 B- Darkness Take My Hand (Kenzie/Gennaro 2)      1996    Crime

Disappointing: Lehane uses the same dodgy tropes he ridicules


 B+      Sacred (Kenzie/Gennaro 3)    1997    Crime

Some nice pacing, humour and dialogue. Still problems of scale


 B+      Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie/Gennaro 4)    1998    Crime

Flawed, but not the scale problem of previous novels in the series. Killer moral dilemma climax.


 B+      Prayers For Rain (Kenzie/Gennaro 5)      1999    Crime

Mostly a great ride, just skirts around another dealbreaking scale flaw, vigilantism oversimplified


LEIBER, Fritz  

 B        Swords Against Wizardry (Book 4 in the Swords series)      1968    Fantasy

Classic sword and sorcery heroes (plus wisecracks and wenches)


 B        The Swords of Lankhmar (Book 5 in the Swords series)       1968    Fantasy

Classic sword and sorcery heroes (plus wisecracks and wenches)


 C        The Knight and Knave of Swords (Book 7 in the ‘Swords’ series)    1990    Fantasy

Original ideas, good mood and lead characters undermined by frequent voyeurism


LEON, Donna 

 B        Doctored Evidence    2004    Crime

Capable, avoids cliché, original dealing with bureaucratic context … but never soars

LEONARD, Elmore   

 B        Bandits     1987    Crime

Leonard knows what he’s doing


 B        Rum Punch     1992    Crime



LEVI, Primo

  A       If This Is A Man    1947    Autobiography

Potent witness testimony of eleven months in Auschwitz


 B+      The Wrench    1978    Novel/Short Stories

Gracefully narrated stories of a tradesman’s jobs and values


 B+      A Tranquil Star     2005 (1946-86)      Short Stories

Understated yet engaging style. Mainly SF type ‘what if’s’


LEWIS, C.S.     

 B+      Out of the Silent Planet   1938    SF

Characters personify philosophical viewpoints in a classically Wellsian setting


  A       The Screwtape Letters    1942    SF

Honesty, insight, wit


  A       Voyage to Venus (or Perelandra)      1943    SF

Christian insights in imagined dialogue with contemporary unfallen Eve


 B+      That Hideous Strength    1945    SF

Lewis incorporates his love of Christianity, renaissance angelic conceits and Merlin in SF conspiracy novel


 A+      The Great Divorce     1946    Fantasy

Brief, potent, inspiring theological speculative allegory


  A       The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (Book 2 of the Narnia series)  1950    Fantasy/Juvenile

Fabulous Christian allegory


 A- Prince Caspian (Book 4 of the Narnia series) 1951    Fantasy/Juvenile

‘The Return to Narnia’


 A-       The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book 5 of the Narnia series)  1952    Fantasy/Juvenile

Narnia’s Odyssey


A-    The Silver Chair (Book 6 of the Narnia series)    1953    Fantasy/Juvenile

Slightly darker tale of rescue


A-    The Silver Chair (Book 6 of the Narnia series)    1953    Fantasy/Juvenile

Slightly darker tale of rescue


A-    The Horse and His Boy (Book 3 of the Narnia series)    1954    Fantasy/Juvenile

Cracking adventure in Narnia spin-off


A-    The Last Battle (Book 7 of the Narnia series)     1956    Fantasy/Juvenile

Antichrist, eschatology and Armageddon for kids! Courageous undertaking


LIVELY, Penelope

 B        The Voyage of QV66 1978    Juvenile

Odd post-apocalyptic setting for talking animals’ adventures


 B+      Judgement Day    1980    Novel

Clinical, able, honest, searching, manipulative


  A       Moon Tiger     1987    Novel

Great mood, characters, and potent historical settings


 A- Passing On    1989    Novel

Some good characters, patient story with a kick, a bit preachy


 B+      Heat Wave      1996    Novel

Potent, capable, slow-moving, tragic, venomous


 B        Making It Up   2005    Short Stories

Typically professional alternative biographical musing


LODGE, David      

 B+      Ginger, You’re Barmy      1962    Novel

Honest picture of the inanities of national service


 B        The British Museum is Falling Down           1965    Novel/Novelette/Humour

More broad comedy and less perception than usual, literary in-jokes, and bemoaning Catholic birth control


 B+      Out of the Shelter      1970    Novel

Semi-autobiographical coming of age story of English youth in post-war Germany


 B+      Changing Places  1975     Novel/Humour

A middle-aged daydream


 A-       How Far Can You Go?     1980    Novel

Perceptive case studies of how Vatican II, the pill, and changing social values affected adherents


 B+      Small World    1984    Novel/Humour

Second of the clever and funny Rummidge Uni series


 B+      Nice Work       1988    Novel

Industry meets academia: inevitable Lodge humour, lecture and adultery


 B+      Paradise News     1991    Novel

Funny, touching, insightful, morally & thematically flawed


 B+      Therapy    1995    Novel

Standard Lodge: insight, humour, alternative forms, incorporated lecture (Kierkegaard), adulterous resolution


 A-       Home Truths 1999    Novella

Assured, fluid, clever, insightful, entertaining – Lodge enjoying his strengths


 B+      Thinks      2001    Novel

Standard Lodge, but less substance and more cheap stylistic and prurient tricks


 B+      Deaf Sentence      2008     Novel

Honest, articulate, fluid, and (refreshingly) not that seedy



 B+      The Call of the Wild (and other stories)   1903    Action

Robust, Conan-style, over the top mythical dog stories



 B        For the Patriarch 1981     Short Stories

Greek Australian perspective



 B+      The Lurker at the Threshold 1968     Short Stories/Horror/SF

Original. Not ‘boo!’ horror, but creeping suspicion that there’s something much bigger than humanity out there


LUDLUM, Robert

 B        The Bourne Identity   1980    Action

Classic thriller. Amnesiac gradually realises he’s a super-spy



 C        Second Skin   1995    Action

OK standard action novel with absurd philosophical pretensions