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This is an unusual thriller set on the fringes of the modern art world that is dark, haunting, twisted - and, in its own way, unforgettable. She is horrified, of course, but even more horrified to find that Flood uses a video camera to film most of his life (it’s art, apparently). The book switches from Mia’s story to descriptions of Flood’s self-obsessed videos, featuring his daily life, his exhibitions, and the women he meets and exploits. It takes rather too long a build-up (until about page 160) for Mia to swing into action, but overall this is a smart modern thriller, with a strongly feminine outlook (still unusual in crime fiction). Jason Starr is the author of a group of fine psychological thrillers dating back more than 15 years, including Cold Caller, Nothing Personal and Fake I.D. Starr has since branched out into werewolf novels and comic books, but Savage Lane sees him return to his old familiar world, although this time his characters are a little more grown up and they have moved from New York to the city’s greener, affluent suburbs. As usual in fiction, suburban life may look comfortable on the surface, but underneath things are seriously wrong. But while this is a hard-to-put-down book - you are likely to find yourself repeatedly thinking ‘I’ll read just one more chapter’ - the smartly set-up story seems to run out steam towards the end, with no real sense of a climax (apart from a clumsy stand-off scene).
In the bitter winter of 1951 Brighton, two young children have gone missing and it is down to Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens to lead the hunt for them, in this atmospheric period mystery. Author Elly Griffiths has deservedly built up a band of followers for her series of mysteries featuring forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway.
The disappearance of little Annie and Mark, and the shock it brings to the town, are eloquently captured by Griffiths as she transports the reader back to the spartan, uncomfortable world of rationing, gas fires and frozen pipes. This is Denise Mina’s 12th book and she is showing no sign of losing her power to draw readers into a shadowy world of crime.
These two story lines appear separate though, of course, we know they are destined to come together; but, despite that predictability, the book keeps both strands intriguingly and carefully balanced, sucking us into their respective worlds. This haunting debut novel by American Maggie Mitchell comes with a cover emblazoned with “Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train”, which might sell a few copies but does great disservice to a book that is a highly original piece of work in its own right. The story centres on two women who, when they were 12, were abducted by a mysterious man and held captive until they were found and ‘saved’ a few weeks later.
They no longer know each other but are both still troubled by what happened all those years ago. This novel is dense and unsettling, with a structure more akin to a literary novel than a straightforward crime story (the author is a university English teacher). The rights for this debut novel by a British writer have already sold across Europe and in the US and the publishers have high hopes for huge seller.
So, it’s a shame, with a good set-up and an author who can clearly write, that the plotting becomes predictable, the denouement is lumberingly obvious and the book simply goes on for too long.
The debut novel by Karen Perry, The Boy That Never Was, was set in modern-day Ireland and North Africa several years earlier, where a momentous event had taken place. Now, years later, Luke disappears, and it becomes clear that those childhood events are still haunting everyone's lives.
Although similar in structure to The Boy That Never Was, this novel has a different feel to it, and the flashbacks are more poignant, as they draw a contrast between the naive children of that time and the adults they have become. This psychological thriller has been a bestseller in its author’s native Germany, and it is not hard to see why. But Henry is not a man to let that happen, so with calculated coldness he sets about dealing with the problems, creating a dark and enveloping web of lies and deception - not to mention a trail of bodies.
This is the fourth and final book in the re-released Eighties crime series by Dan Kavanagh - aka the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Julian Barnes. This tale plays for more laughs than the London trio, which have gritty city realism to counterbalance Barnes’s acerbic humour. While it is great to have these classics back in print, it seems a shame the publisher went for individual hardbacks of each novel.
Following the hellish time he endured on a remote Welsh island, it may be surprising that DI Tom Thorne is back just weeks later (in the world of the books) with a new murder case to solve.
After the dramatic events of the last book, The Bones Beneath, he is supposed to be enjoying a well-earned holiday in the Cotswolds with his girlfriend, Helen. For townie Thorne the prospect of country walks and green wellies is as appealing as root canal work. The partner of Helen's friend has been held by the police on suspicion of abduction, the town is crawling with reporters and the local police are sure they've got their man.
In a story that reveals as much about Helen's background as it does about the claustrophobia of small-town life, the writing displays the virtues that have made Mark Billingham a bestseller: wit, careful plotting, attention to detail (some of it gruesome) and great characterisation – not just Thorne and Helen but subsidiary figures such as the e-cigarette-puffing local police chief. On a note of yearning: I know writers like to bring a bit of variation to their work – and you might call me a stick-in-the-mud – but after Thorne novels set in Wales and the Midlands, I am looking forward to the time he gets back to his old London stamping ground.
This is the 18th outing for Inspector Montalbano, the gastronome, would-be womaniser and police detective (who’d probably put his own attributes in that order, too).
The case starts with a mysterious bomb explosion outside an empty warehouse – mysterious because it appears that someone has gone to quite a lot of trouble in order to cause damage worth a handful of euros. At the same time, there is the equally curious matter of Montalbano’s attractive female neighbour, who seems to be taking rather an interest in the easily distracted inspector. The plot in Game of Mirrors is perhaps not Camilleri’s finest, but his slyly witty writing remains on form (even at the age of 85 – which he was when this book was first published in Italian in 2011).
Montalbano is as charming as ever, and the good news is that there are another five books in the series awaiting translation.
Add a febrile plot involving Arab plotters, the CIA, a nuclear power station and a headless, handless body washed up on an English beach, and you have the ingredients for a book that is bang on the mood of the moment. At the heart of the story is Kate Pendragon, a financial investigator seconded to MI5, who makes a likeable central character with a memorable penchant for cocktails and random one-night stands. Doward appears to have been trying hard to create a bang-up-to-the-minute thriller and, even if it falls short, Toxic is a promising debut. With the UK publication of this Inspector Montalbano story, the publishers celebrated the fact that the veteran Italian author Camilleri has reached 90. The good Inspector has lost none of his charm - not just for readers, but for attractive women. The Montalbano books rely on style and charm as much as plot, which is just as well - even by the series’ laid-back standards, the plot of Blade of Light is weak.
And just think - Camilleri is still going strong and it seems there are at least another four books in the pipeline to the UK. This spiky, grisly and satirical crime caper is set around the New York Mail, a tabloid scandal sheet, and the journalists who work on it.
The portrait of New York life is sharp, the story is twisty and fast-moving and the portrait of tabloid journalism is cynical and knowing (the author is an award-winning journalist himself). Hack may be slightly overlong, and you have to get through the strangely lacklustre opening pages before the fun starts, but there is a feast of sardonic entertainment here.
The welcome Penguin reissues of the Maigret novels by Georges Simenon (there are more than 70 of them) in new translations has reached number 19 in the series. So, this 1933 story of Maigret in retirement was supposed to bring down the curtain on the Parisian detective. This story finds the detective, who is living in chilly isolation in the countryside, having to come to the rescue of his policeman nephew, who has fled the scene of a crime and got himself into all sorts of trouble. And on the subject of reissues, this year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of the classic The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith and to mark the occasion, Virago are reissuing it in the Modern Classics series, with an introduction by John Sutherland. This is the seventh instalment in Elly Griffiths' highly likeable series of Ruth Galloway investigations. The story starts with a digger driver at a new Norfolk housing development uncovering the wreckage of a World War Two plane, complete with a body sitting at the controls. Naturally, there is more to this than meets the eye and forensic archaeologist Ruth is soon on the case, once again helping her friend and former lover DCI Harry Nelson. Griffiths seems to be having some fun here with the Agatha Christie style of country house mystery – she sets much of the story in the rambling, forbidding Blackstock Hall, home of the Blackstock family, who seem to have as many skeletons as they do cupboards (which is a lot).
This deliciously modern take on the psychological thriller caused quite a stir well before it hit the bookshops, as it was the subject of a serious bidding war between publishers.


The story is based on the notion that, in years gone by, when a young girl such as Alice Salmon died, her memory might soon fade away. Alice, an aspiring journalist, dies when she tumbles from a bridge, but was it an accident, suicide or something more sinister? While Cooke is creepy, Alice is carefully revealed to be a sparky, intelligent, infuriatingly self-absorbed, ambitious girl with a tendency to drink too much.
DETECTIVES and sleuths sift the clues to solve the murders in Jake Kerridge’s thrilling selection of crime fiction. It centres on Mia, an art student in Nottingham, who gets seduced by Jack Flood, the cold, heartless enfant terrible of modern art.
While the sections that deal with Mia are sharp, gripping and well-written, the chapters about the videos are often as self-indulgent as Flood’s character and, unfortunately, slow the pace down. They tended to depict ordinary people (usually male) who made one bad decision (such as borrowing money from the wrong person) which trapped them in an inexorable plot of betrayal, fear and death. The story centres on Mark and Deb, who are married with children and live in the well-to-do community of Savage Lane. When their bodies are found in the frozen ground, surrounded by sweets, the mystery takes on a grim (as well as Grimm) fairy-tale aspect, with the papers dubbing them ‘Hansel and Gretel’. ButSmoke and Mirrors is the second novel in her other series, featuring Stephens and Mephisto and evocatively chronicling the shabby gentility and shadowy theatrical world of post-war seaside Britain. The contrasting duo of the workmanlike Stephens and theatrical Mephisto are likeable central characters, while the inspector’s sidekick, Emma Holmes feels like she could spin off into a series of her own.
Blood, Salt, Water opens in the tiny Scottish seaside town of Helensburgh with small-time criminal Iain beating to death a woman, on the orders of his crime boss. Alex Morrow, at the heart of the police investigation, is an engaging and sharp character while, such is the skill of Denise Mina’s writing, that we even have sympathy for Iain, the diminished-responsibility killer wrestling with his demons. A subtle but steely crime story that worms its way into the reader’s head. Now, as grown women, Chloe (who has changed her name from Carly-May) is a fading actress who drinks too much; Lois is a professor of literature with a student who seems in some way concerned with her past.
Lois has written a book based on the kidnap (under a pen name - there’s a lot of hiding of identities going on)  and, when it’s adapted for a film, the screenplay finds its way to Chloe, who realises it is based on her own background. There are alternating viewpoints, between Chloe and Lois, and a section which is a lengthy extract from Lois’s novel, and the result is multilayered and memorable. If the excited publishers had imposed a bit more stringent editing, they might have got the best-seller they were hoping for.
This follow-up sticks to that basic pattern: the story is set in Dublin, 2013 and Kenya, 1982, where there was a day that none of the main protagonists will forget. And when threatening messages start to arrive, it seems that someone else knows what happened in 1982. They have compelling voices and the book is beautifully written, with just the right balance of teasing the reader with clues and hitting them with revelations. If I had to nitpick, Only We Know is probably 50 pages longer than it needs to be, but otherwise this a fine psychological suspense story that polishes and hones the style of the debut. It is a sharp, dark and slyly witty story about a charming sociopath, Henry Hayden (who may remind some readers of Tom Ripley). This last story sees the regular central character Duffy, the bisexual copper turned security adviser, taken out of his normal urban London setting and becoming involved in shenanigans in the Home Counties. Going to the Dogs is more knockabout and the satire of noveau riche types is a little laboured and perhaps showed that Barnes had exhausted the sardonic fun of the series - this story appeared in 1987 and the author has never gone back to write another Duffy adventure. More new readers might have been attracted by a reprint of Penguin’s paperback Duffy Omnibus of 1991 which put all four short books into one volume at a reasonable price.
So, when Helen discovers that an old schoolfriend in her home town is caught up in the case of two missing schoolgirls, he does not put up much resistance to the idea of paying a visit. Even if Time of Death does, perhaps, go on a bit longer than the story really justifies, and the perpetrator is not exactly hard to spot, it is an entertaining read. There is often a female distraction in Montalbano stories, but it looks like there could be more to this than mere flirtation.
And, as always, his work is given a seemingly effortless translation by Stephen Sartarelli.
And a good line it is too, as it captures the spirit of the times: banks are not just untrustworthy but evil, with the power to bring down the Western world. Unfortunately, some of the secondary characters are less well drawn and can be tricky to differentiate.
As usual in a Montalbano story, there is a femme fatale, and here she bowles him over in almost record time (by page 18) and he remains infatuated despite (or maybe because of) the fact that she decamps to Milan for most of the book, leaving him to concentrate on investigating the robbery of a local businessman’s wife and a killing that has been staged to look like a Mafia job. It rambles and then speeds to a conclusion, failing to convincingly pull its different threads together.
The story opens with a Scoop-like twist, in which the paper’s pet columnist, F X Shepherd, gets sent on an assignment meant for the crime reporter with a similar name. Well, this was not only the first to have the detective’s name in the title, it was also supposed to be the last in the series. Except that Simenon’s career didn’t quite go the way he hoped (despite writing hundreds of novels over his lifetime) and in 1942 he returned to his greatest creation and went on to produce more than 50 further Maigret novels. Maigret goes to Paris to help the boy, but finds that the city is not quite the one he used to know so well. It’s a handsome hardback, and Highsmith’s gripping story of the charming, amoral and, ultimately, evil Tom Ripley on a mission to persuade a wealthy young American in Italy to return to the USA, remains as compelling as ever. It won't disappoint fans and deserves to win over new followers as it features one of her most atmospheric stories coupled with her usual humour, characterisation and eye for building up to a set piece. But these days, we all leave a digital trail: emails, social media posts, blogs, online journals, published articles . He finds a city in ruins and is ordered to spy on the only woman he has ever loved, left behind when he fled the Nazis before the war. As Servaz investigates the ritualistic murder of a beautiful young teacher, he sleeps with the mother of the main suspect and infuriates interfering politicians and pernickety justice officials with his quest for the truth.If this is not enough pressure for Servaz, in the background looms the spectre of Julian Alois Hirtmann, a serial killer to compare with Hannibal Lecter in both intellect and psychopathy and now on the run with the detective his avowed enemy. Her rather creepy former university teacher, Dr Jeremy Cooke – who is obsessed with Alice (and her mother) – embarks on a project collecting everything he can find about her and trying to discover the 'real' Alice. She goes back to his hotel room, has a drink and the next thing she knows, she is waking up in a state of undress on the bed. Their lives should be comfortable but Deb likes the booze rather too much and Mark likes Deb’s friend Karen rather too much. Stephens is stumped, but determined to find the killer - a task which may involve enlisting the help of his old pal Max Mephisto, magician and flamboyant star of the Theatre Royal panto, who is also a master of misdirection (a technique the killer may be using). But, unfortunately, the underlying plot is not as gripping as the descriptions of an icy Brighton, and at times the story plods rather than flies.
Meanwhile, in Glasgow, a police monitoring operation has gone awry with the sudden disappearance of the woman they were watching on suspicion of being involved in a criminal scam involving ?7m. Author Ruth Ware lays out the story well, creates a very believable group of girls and really captures the spirit of a weekend away, before turning it into a breathless race for survival. Luke, Nick and Katie were children then, and the tragic riverside incident has not been mentioned since.
Henry is at the top of his game: he is successful - a bestselling author with a loving wife, a beautiful home and a Maserati. It is more like a hit single that has a wonderful hook, chorus and verses but finishes with a fade out rather than a climax.
It all starts when an old acquaintance, Vic Crowther, finds a dead dog on his library floor, after it has been thrown through the window of his country home (which he shares with Belinda Blessing, a former Page Three model).
And, as surely as night follows day, he gets sucked into the dark events in the seedy rural town. Is this person from the CIA, MI5 or one of the Saudi Prince's advisers, you might find yourself wondering, as the action jumps between locations. The translation process and publishing time-lag means that this book was actually written a little while ago – when Camilleri was a mere 86.


He finds himself embroiled in the the bizarre murder of the gay husband of a restaurant critic, who has been found with a piece of his buttock sliced off - and, apparently, cooked and eaten.
Simenon had knocked out the previous stories in just three years and wanted to abandon his pipe-smoking policeman to pursue a more literary career. Things have changed and Simenon’s taut prose conveys a distinctly uneasy air of the end of an era. Kanon brings the hardships and moral decay of post-war Berlin to life in glorious detail, ratcheting up the suspense as Meier tries to escape the net closing in on all sides.
This outing finds him hired by MI6 to assassinate a Serbian warlord turned master criminal in Belgrade, and for such an unsympathetic character, it’s ingenious how he regularly escapes certain death. He is painstakingly assembling a jigsaw of the dead girl's life, and the book itself is like that: documents, letters all sorts of information, all coming out in a seemingly random order. Things very soon start to spiral out of control, and Starr concocts a hypnotic story of lust and obsession. Coupled with an unremarkable resolution of the mystery, Smoke and Mirrors is one of Griffiths’s less compelling plots, but the book is memorable for its chilling atmosphere.
Of course, the writer is much smarter than that, and the way information is delivered is cleverly crafted to create a shifting, mesmerising, mysterious story.
The plotting is a bit loose and there's a feeling that Doward, rather than being driven by a central idea, has picked his zeitgeist-y elements and then come up with a recipe to suit his ingredients. Add the fact that he has a mistress and she has just declared herself pregnant, and the book opens with the prospect of Henry's life falling apart. However, there's an enjoyably tense will-she won't-she climactic scene, which sees Kate risk the ultimate sacrifice. Ten years later, a dare goes horribly wrong, binding six friends together in a secret that comes back to haunt them when Claire, now a police officer in her early twenties, is called to a fatal car crash involving one of the group. When the suspect disappears, the search leads Morrow and her team to Helensburgh where career criminal Iain Fraser is struggling to live with the guilt of killing a woman for local crime boss Mark Barratt.To complicate the investigation, Morrow faces interference from police chiefs obsessed with gaining a slice of any criminal proceeds seized. Claire realises she will have to unlock the secrets of her past to stop a killer striking again. A busted cocaine deal leaves him owing so much money to a Bolivian drug gang that blackmailing the wealthy family of the dead pilot seems his only way out.Or so he thinks. Melo writes in a sharp and uncompromising style, perfect for this exploration of greed and corruption in poverty-stricken rural Brazil.
When the burglary goes wrong, he is chased by the Wolves of London, unearthly assassins who will stop at nothing to reclaim the heart which has mysterious powers that Locke must master to survive. A dark fantasy blending crime, horror and science fiction into something new and exciting although, annoyingly, the first instalment ends mid-story.
A wronged sharpshooter on a quest for vengeance battles outlaws and Indians, learning lessons about life and love along the way.
When she double-crosses him, Joe pursues her to Los Angeles, intent on revenge, but makes an unexpected success in the movie business himself. Yet Joe R Lansdale is not an ordinary writer and Nat Love, the hero of the novel, is far from the average cowboy.
Inspector Silas Payne of Scotland Yard is tasked with catching a ruthless killer but he is hampered by inept military administrators who resent Payne’s interference. Despite his crimes, Joe’s satirical observations of the vacuousness of LA and the phoney lives of the idle rich make him seem the sanest person in the city. This leaves the determined and empathetic detective to forge a tortuous path that will lead him to a shocking secret. Jude was left battered and bruised on the banks of the river Thames and is now recovering in a private hospital.An oddly similar second attack on an elderly priest in Battersea leads detectives to think a serial killer may be on the loose. However Alice believes Jude and her family know more about the attack than they are letting on, perhaps enough to prevent future murders. Alice is a wonderfully rounded female protagonist who is vividly written, emotionally accessible and strong. Brady has some dark secrets and the local coal mining companies have few morals so Samantha finds herself engulfed in a deadly situation, As a character, though, she fails to grab the reader.
Peppered with false trails, the reader is guessing the killer’s identity right up to the last minute. While she has been inside, her sibling has taken over the business and is desperate to get her onside.
We learn about the co-founders of Positron and see behind the façade to the workings of the wildly popular franchise. As she desperately tries to stay on the straight and narrow, Kaz exposes corrupt coppers and the violence that operates on either side of the law.
Bolton portrays their intertwined lives along with the beauty and harshness of the terrain in exquisite detail and the addictive prose leaves you guessing until the last line. When the blog goes quiet her divorced parents Tom and Jo report her missing and travel to Sichuan. Set in modern-day Scotland with flashbacks to Croatia in the Nineties, it reads almost as a lesson in European history. When Rosie is discovered dead in the woods, Kate’s suspicions are confirmed but who would want to hurt the perfect daughter from the perfect family?And is the family as perfect as many believe?
This is not a fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat crime story but a psychological thriller about the dark side of suburban England where finely pruned rose bushes hide what lies beneath.
When one member of the party claims she saw a little girl’s ghost and is then found dead, local legends become intertwined with reality. Cleeves’ descriptions of summer in the north of Scotland carry the novel which is entertaining but not a standout hit.
Miss Milne is a respectable, wealthy single woman in Broughty Ferry, a suburb of Dundee, who attends church and lives alone in her grand home.Beneath her well-to-do exterior, she leads a secret life involving multiple liaisons with men in London. When she is brutally murdered, local detectives are on the case, battling with pressure from larger police forces and the complications of small-town life. Although at times distressing, Hill tackles a difficult issue without losing any tension and the finale keeps the reader gripped until the last page.
Nicoll takes a true story and builds it into a twisting piece of prose with an unexpected shift towards the end.
The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin (Createspace, £12)3. This highly satisfying story of murder, extortion and supersleuth Jeff Hinkley’s sterling detective work is big on action although the ending comes rather abruptly. Bosch is paired with Detective Lucia Soto, a gang shootout heroine who also seeks whoever torched her childhood nursery, burning to death her teacher and friends. Recht and Bergman start to fear they are deporting an innocent man and that the hijacking plot is more complicated than they thought.Ohlsson, a former counter-terrorism officer, draws on first-hand experience for a gripping edge-of-the-seat thriller. As the sick videos go viral, bodies start showing up on the streets of London and the heroines must risk everything to stop the killer. The Brethren is set in the Perigord region in the 16th-century and, with civil war looming between the Catholics and the Huguenots, it centres on two veterans of the French king’s wars, The Brethren, determined to protect their community. The Brethren is so rich in historical detail that it’s slow going in parts but the characters are engaging. India’s ambassador to the United Nations is chairing delicate talks to ease nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan when his daughter starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions.
Child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara investigates why children across the globe are clawing at their throats or self-immolating after talking in the same weird tongues.




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