Crime and Punishment, By GF Newman

For readers who can think of no more delicious festive treat than a London underworld saga of murder and mayhem in low and – crucially - high places, the creator of the Law and Order TV series has a not-so-little gift for you.

There might be nothing terribly new in thug-with-a-heart Brian Oldman's rise from small-time villain in the early Fifties (a backstreet landscape drawn with warm-beer and rats'-piss relish) to drug deals, property scams and dodgy toffs up West for mates as the Thatcher era looms. But Newman knows all the moves and lands narrative punch after punch. Real-life cameos from the likes of the Krays, Tom Driberg MP and George Carman QC spice up the whole bloody stew. Bring on the sequel - soon.