Enter the criminal underworld and solve a complex case all from the comfort of your favourite reading nook. Have a look at our Crime/Mystery selection to get your hands on the latest and greatest case and get mystery solving! You might also be interested in our Thriller and Suspense categories.
Auctioneer Rilke has been trying to stay out of trouble, keeping his life more or less respectable. Business has been slow at Bowery Auctions, so when an old friend, Jojo, gives Rilke a tip-off for a house clearance, life seems to be looking up. The next day Jojo washes up dead. Jojo liked Grindr hook-ups and recreational drugs - is that the reason the police won't investigate? And if Rilke doesn't find out what happened to Jojo, who will? Thrilling and atmospheric, The Second Cut delves into the dark side of twenty-first century Glasgow. Twenty years on from his appearance in The Cutting Room, Rilke is still walking a moral tightrope between good and bad, saint and sinner.
I read this beautifully stormy dark gothic mystery while perched high up on the edge of my seat. A dreadful fire has haunted Ivy for years, she mourns two deaths, and now seeks the truth. Beth Underdown’s debut The Witchfinder's Sister was a bestseller and winner of the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award 2017, this is her second novel and it more than lived up to my expectations. The two time frames, sitting either side of the First World War, are initially fractured before they gradually fuze together. Information dripped and then seeped into the pages before hiding in my thoughts. The story is secretive, occasionally sullen as it begins to unfurl. Cornwall, and the house in particular cast a brooding presence which adds to the intensity of this tale. The characters are perfectly imperfect, trust is a scare commodity, and each casts a deep shadow. I was held in limbo while I read, totally immersed in the writing. Expressively powerful The Key in the Lock thrills and chills in equal measure. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book, this historical mystery is a worthy contender for the very top of your reading list.
A compelling, tense, and emotional family drama focusing on two young women whose stories shatter then fuse together with disturbing consequences. A fight for civil rights takes place in 1960’s North Carolina, while in 2010 a newly built house is cause for contention. The land within this corner of the South is seeped in a burning history, be prepared to be pummelled. Each time frame sucked me in whole, yet when in 1965 I completely forgot that 2010 existed. 1965 felt completely separate, in its own contained fiery universe and I re-entered the future with a bump. As 1965 plays a role in 2010 I had a totally different experience in that story, and was able to see how and why the past had a hand in the future. Diane Chamberlain builds the intricate detailed layers of the plot with such care and attention. The mood of the story as it blends felt as though I was walking on a crumbling cliff edge. Hate, love, despair and hope are constant companions during this novel. The Author’s Notes have huge impact, not only explaining the aspects of history that are built into the story, but also the politics that are still in play. The Last House on the Street is a powerfully dramatic tale that encourages more research into the history of this time.
Edel Coffey’s Breaking Point delivers an absolute page-turner all with the compelling, “can’t-look-away-for-a-moment” power of a primetime TV thriller. Pointing a sharp finger at the heavy, unjust weight of expectations heaped on working mothers as the finger of the law is pointed at its successful female doctor protagonist, this page-turner is easy to get into, with functional, unflorid writing that serves the plot and protagonists to deliver a gripping story that’s likely to be read in very few sittings. Susannah is one of life’s success stories. A dedicated doctor with a lucrative publishing deal and a TV career that’s given her fame and fortune as Dr Sue. She also has two young daughters, and an also-successful husband - the full works, though it’s often tricky to balance having it all. One hot New York morning, when her usual routine is disrupted, Susannah makes a terrible mistake - she forgets to drop her baby daughter at nursery and the baby dies in the heat of the car. A tensely-evoked court case ensues, with the media and prosecution lawyer going into overdrive to present Dr Sue has a negligent mother who put career before kids. One of the reporters assigned to the case is CNN’s Adelaide, a woman who has connections to Sue, and understands a thing or two about loss herself. As the case and two women’s stories unfold, readers will be on the edge of their seats willing justice to be done, with the final twist in the tale coming as an entirely unexpected surprise.
Slicing through traditional and throwing convention up in the air, this novel received a standing ovation from me. A murder on a psychiatric ward is investigated by DC Alice Armitage, she also just happens to be one of the patients. Using the most exquisite balance of irreverence, biting humour, and compassion, Mark Billingham has created a character who will forever reside in my mind (hmm, lucky me!). I was mesmerised by the narrator Alice, incredibly complex yet beautifully simple, she blazes into life. The residents and staff of Fleet Ward are introduced in the most perfect way, making a large list of characters instantly memorable. Trust disappears out the nearest window as the plot wheedles, cajoles, screams and shouts as it buckets along. I found myself entering an unknown world, and looking around with eyes and mouth wide, wide open before realising I actually felt right at home. Mark Billingham has created an absolute monster of a read, it pulls you in close for a hug as it slaps your awareness. A LoveReading Star Book and Book of the Month, Rabbit Hole is quite simply an outstanding and wondrous ride. - Liz Robinson * Billingham is a master of pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat in many of this thrillers. While this book, his latest, is something of a departure for Billingham – it’s not part of a series and the entire novel takes place within a psychiatric facility, a kind of Jane Tennison meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – it still has an ending that will leave you reeling. You know how the first time you saw The Sixth Sense, you wanted to watch it again almost immediately to see how it could have all been there in front of you, but you missed it? It’s that kind of book. - Linwood Barclay Selected by Linwood Barclay, Our Autumn 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.
Silver Pebbles is the first crime novel I've read that's set in Switzerland, giving interesting insight into the country and culture. This was an easy and entertaining read, thanks to its vivid descriptions and seamless translation by Mike Mitchell. Unlike many police procedurals, the book doesn't feature a murder investigation. Instead, it provides a fresh approach by following police as they close in on a diamond-smuggling drug mule who has managed to become separated from his sparkling haul. The book focuses heavily on the main character, Inspector Hunkeler, with all his flaws, as he embarks on a search for the diamonds before the drug mule finds them again. It also follows the sewage worker who discovers the diamonds stuck in a blocked pipe - and his mistress, who has a few ideas of what to do with them. As expected, none of the characters have an easy ride. Silver Pebbles is a short read, but there's plenty going on and a lot of shifty characters, turning it into an (almost) one-sitting read for me.
Fortune favours the fraud... When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy. In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she's been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined...
A fierce and fiery beast of a crime novel, definitely one to add to the top of your reading lists. A crucified opal miner brings investigators Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan to outback town Finnigans Gap in Australia. I have absolutely loved the Martin Scarsden Thriller series, believe me when I say they are fabulous. Opal Country, I think, is Chris Hammer’s best yet, it’s linked to the series, yet highlights detective Ivan Lucic rather than Scarsden who is only mentioned in passing. Although this book can easily be read as a standalone, I would still recommend starting with award-winning Scrublands and working your way through, as you really don’t want to miss out. Chris Hammer has the ability to paint the most vividly vibrant picture while delving into the inner workings of his characters. The location is in essence a character, and a starring one at that. Every aspect is felt, I soaked up the smallest details as they steered me towards the difficulties of living in a ferocious land that can easily destroy the unaware. There is beauty to be found too, an admiration that encourages you to look beyond the obvious. Ivan and Nell make an interesting pairing, and I hope we see more of them. The plot circles and twists, allowing connections to form, and pieces to slide into place. With dynamic strength and a sharp edge Opal Country hammers home to become a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month. Highly recommended.
The Taskforce and Mossad join forces to bring down a fanatical organisation in this action-fuelled thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former special forces officer, Brad Taylor. Was it an accident or assassination? When the former head of Israeli intelligence is killed on a paragliding trip, it's the latest in a series of 'accidental' deaths befalling key members of the American and Israeli governments. Mossad bring in terrorist hunters Aaron and Shoshana to investigate - and they know just who to call. Taskforce operator Pike Logan has been out of action for too long, so he jumps at the chance to take on the mission. An Iranian-funded militia group, operating in Iraq, has recently claimed responsibility for the deaths. But something doesn't add up, and Logan is determined to uncover the truth. He'll have to wade deep into the complex religious and political currents of the Israeli-Palestinian region, and it's up to the Taskforce to determine who is pulling the strings. What they find could have disastrous consequences not only for the Middle East, but for the entire world... Read the latest book in the electrifying Taskforce thrillers. Perfect for fans of Lee Child, Vince Flynn and Jack Ryan.
If you get your reading kicks diving into an espionage thriller full of heart-pounding action running alongside a wickedly intricate plot, then hello, THIS is your book. Former Foreign Legion operative Dan Raglan is called to support a Pentagon intelligence officer and ex-comrade. Joining the first novel The Englishman as a LoveReading Star Book, Betrayal continues The Englishman Series in fine style and cements these books as ones to follow. This is a series where you can just throw yourself in with abandon and trust in David Gilman. The main man Raglan is most definitely someone you would want on your side, however he operates within a murky field of grey obeying his own set of rules and conscience. The other characters support the energy that builds around Raglan, and highlight his essence and caliber. The highly volatile nature of work within the intelligence community is confirmed and trust is in very short supply. As with the first novel Raglan travels to different countries, and the fiery finale plays out in the Honduran rainforest. Charging around the world works so successfully as it not only adds to the intensity but also confirms Raglan’s skills and willingness to do whatever is needed. Allowing a much-needed escape from reality, Betrayal is an absolute corker of a read and as energising and satisfying as can be.
No. 36 Westeryk Road, an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A house of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it's what lies under the house that is extraordinary - Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what? Now in her thirties, Cat receives the shocking news that her sister has disappeared. Forced to return to Edinburgh, Cat finds herself irresistibly drawn back into Mirrorland. Because El has a plan. She's left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets... A sharply crafted mystery about the power of imagination and the price of freedom, perfect for fans of Erin Kelly and Tana French.
In a marriage built on lies, the truth will destroy BOTH OF YOU. Happy. Married. Missing. Leigh Fletcher, devoted wife and stepmum, goes to work one day and never returns home. Same week, different world ... Kai Janssen leaves her sexy, wealthy husband and their luxurious penthouse, and vanishes into thin air. Both husbands seem distraught, claiming they have no idea where their wives have gone. DC Clements wants answers. Did these women run away or were they taken? Most importantly, where are they now? When the detective discovers a shocking link between the missing women, it's clear the truth can devastate. Now Clements must work against a ticking clock, before both wives disappear forever. The Sunday Times Number One bestseller Adele Parks returns with her most provocative book to date: Both Of You.
A beautiful, eerie hotel in the Swiss Alps, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, is the last place Detective Elin Warner wants to be. But her estranged brother has invited her there for his engagement party, and she feels she has no choice but to accept. Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. And things only get worse when they wake the next morning to find her brother's fiancee is missing. With access to the hotel cut off, the guests begin to panic. But this is only the first disappearance. Everyone's in danger - and anyone could be next . . .
This thought-provoking and exquisitely written novel has touched my heart. In 1923, Esme Nicholls travels to Cornwall in the hope of learning more about her husband who died in the First World War. This is the first book I’ve read by Caroline Scott, and it won’t be my last. Her debut The Photographer of the Lost set in 1921 was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, and When I Come Home Again set in 1918, was one of The Times Best books of 2020. The Visitors is so eloquently emotional and earthy it will stay with me for some time. The Cornish setting just sings, the house full of former soldiers where Esme stays made me feel welcome. The garden and natural surroundings soothe and act as a foil for the feelings of the people who reside there. Diary entries and articles add hidden thoughts and an awareness of the war. I adored the ending, the closing information so simply imparted, yet so satisfying and fulfilling, made me smile. The Visitors is beautifully expressive and heartfelt, and I’ve chosen this gorgeous novel as both a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month.
"Mum, there's some people here from college, they asked me back to theirs. Just for an hour or so. Is that OK?" Midsummer 2017: teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim. At 11pm she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30am Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home. Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place. Tallulah never returns. 2018: walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head-teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence. A sign that says: DIG HERE . . .
The most wonderfully wild, smart, and hugely entertaining novel awaits your reading pleasure. It’s 1946 and Lillian Pentecost and Willowjean Parker find themselves at the circus when one of Will’s friends from her performing days is murdered. I kept a beady eye out for this, the second in the Pentecost and Parker series, as Stephen Spotswood’s debut Fortune Favours the Dead was an absolute delight. I have to say that the cast list alone had me at hello. The circus comes to roaring vividly vivacious life, with the ups and downs of life on the road making the investigation particularly tricky. Little digs and pokes of humour nestle themselves in alongside the social issues of the day. The concerns faced by the residents of the sideshow in particular ensure that while this heads towards cosy crime, it comes with a sharply provocative edge. The writing is so visual, the descriptions come to colourfully dramatic life and as I read, I could see. The cunning ending ensured a resounding round of applause from me, Stephen Spotswood has done it again! A Liz Pick of the Month, and another LoveReading Star Book, Murder Under Her Skin is a charming, darkly amusing, and fabulously stimulating read.
If you love a page-turning police-procedural with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, then stop right now. Cleave has become one of my go-to authors for a chilling slice of cleverly crafted crime. You feel the heat intensifying chapter by chapter as you burn through the book, unable to put it down. Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are a successful crime writing duo living in Christchurch, New Zealand. The book opens with Cameron and their 7 year old Zach at a funfair where there’s an altercation when Cameron loses sight of his son for a second and it escalates. Zach is a challenging child, prone to frequent outbursts and after threatening to run away that night, he disappears and the guilt, recriminations and remonstrations set in and start eating away at their seemingly perfect marriage. They know better than anyone, that the parents are always the first to be suspected. The pace rockets as the community turns against the Murdochs and jokes on the promotional circuit are remembered and paraded for all to judge. Comments like: “I have no doubt that we could plot the perfect crime if we had to” comes to haunt them. Did they, or didn’t they? You decide for yourself in this cracking adrenalin rush of a crime thriller. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, I promise.
With sharp stinging humour and a bleakly dark plot this is a book to propel thoughts into a confrontational abyss. When Maeve considers changing her relationship with alcohol along with her need to murder men, and can't find the help she requires, she begins a support group for psychopaths. Every time you think Will Carver has pushed reading boundaries as far as he can go, along comes the next book. I’ve read a lot of thrillers and crime books over the years and I don’t think anything has made me flinch as much as this one. Here he took me to the edge of reasonable and with a great big shove sent me sprawling out into the unknown. It’s so deliberate, so combative, and yet it also feels desperately sad too. There were parts of this read that I absolutely flew through, others packed such a punch that I had to take a break before carrying on. The plot not only feels antagonistic, the characters also reach though your thoughts to what lies behind and beneath. Psychopaths Anonymous is so in-your-face it’s almost claustrophobic, it’s also a compulsive and unforgettable reading experience.
Set in a future where Kilgarney in Ireland is a Mediterranean style holiday destination for those fleeing the brutal, global warming induced summer heat across Europe, ‘Sixty Positions with Pleasure’ by Sahlan Diver spans genres, offering mystery, relationships and political drama. The story flowed well, with humour and comic characters throughout to give this book a light-hearted feel despite a murder mystery being at its heart. IT worker Charlie Gibbs finds himself co-opted into a police investigation when his boss is killed under mysterious circumstances. Charlie’s experience working in The Netherlands and fluent Dutch seems to make him indispensable to a lot of key characters, and he may be able to uncover what’s going on. Running alongside this mystery narrative is one that is slightly more risqué. Replacing Charlie’s now deceased boss is a woman who has an interesting hobby, looking to rewrite the Karma Sutra for mature women and needs Charlie for the practical research for her book. Although these scenes are detailed throughout the book, the couple's escapades aren’t too graphic and sometimes lead to the odd humorous close call. I found that the writing flowed well and I found all of the characters interesting and entertaining. This book is set in the future and references the increasing impacts on climate change and the more commonplace introduction of robots, but other than that seems to remain fairly recognisable. I’m not sure I understood the connection between the mystery and the almost farcical political sub plot of the Gallagher cousins, although it provided an interesting change of pace on occasion. ‘Sixty Positions with Pleasure’ is an entertaining, satirical story, with mystery, intrigue and plenty of steam. Not a story for anyone looking for a darker, more serious crime fiction, nor those who dislike bedroom scenes, but an entertaining story for anyone looking for something a bit quirky and different. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Driven by protagonist DS Veronica “Ronnie” Delmar, Lucy Martin’s Stop at Nothing heralds a refreshing new voice in female-fronted crime fiction. It’s a bona fide page-turner that’ll keep thriller fans on their toes, and reading long after bedtime. Secrets, lies and betrayals abound throughout the novel, which sees divorcee DS Ronnie Delmar drawn into a complex case (and a complex family) when a teenage girl, Amie, is abused by the caretaker at her suburban school. With teenage kids of her own, and the case resonating with her life, Ronnie is driven to see justice done, while her own life feels like it’s unravelling. Putting the caretaker behind bars is only the first piece of this complicated puzzle, as Ronnie discovers when he’s released. As both Ronnie and Amie feel ransacked by betrayal, the action ramps up when Ronnie starts to truly untangle the mess - but not before a succession of edge-of-your-seat twists and action scenes, and the truth coming as an unexpected shock.
‘Fall Out’ by M. N. Grenside is an international thriller set amongst the glamour and lifestyle of movie makers. A screenwriter is killed shortly after finishing the script of a blockbuster thriller. A screenplay is sent to a group connected to a movie that suddenly stopped shooting. There’s a lethal puzzle to solve, mysteries to unravel and secrets that need to come to light. The plot has many twists and turns, and with all the different characters to follow this is a book you need to give your full attention to in order to keep hold of all of the threads. ‘Fall Out’ is an imaginative thriller that will keep you guessing until the last moment while you revel in the different exotic locations. A great concept that’s executed at a fast pace, this book has a lot packed into it’s 270 pages, once you start reading you won’t be given much of a chance to pause for breath. If you like thrilling mysteries with lots of vibrant characters, set in an already interesting and drama-filled world. If you’re looking for a new book that will give you the runaround, keep you intrigued but without all the answers until the end, then this would be a great book for you.
A life changing journey into a family’s past takes a peter-natural turn. Set against the safari backdrop of Tanzania, ‘Conspiracy of Cats’ by B C Harris follows Jos Ferguson as she leaves her home with her reclusive Aunt in Edinburgh to visit Africa and the white house her Uncle had built before he died. A journey of discovery but perhaps not in the way you’d expect, Jos must face the horrors of her own past as well as uncover the secrets buried abroad in order to secure her future. This book gently reveals itself as a murder mystery, lulling you in to the a theme of self-discovery as Jos steps out of her very small comfort zone to head to Tanzania. There’s lots of detail and imagery added to make the reader feel like they have travelled to Africa with Jos, and the characters we meet along the way are just as vibrant and interesting. The introduction of the supernatural through the Massai traditions and magic was seamless, and the interactions between Peter and Jos were entertaining, humorous in places and put me in mind of the Goldberg/Swayze interactions in ‘Ghost’ at times. ‘Conspiracy of Cats’ builds to a tense, sometimes frantic but satisfying conclusion, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a supernatural mystery to sink their teeth into.
Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it’s all about Pip. Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? And it’s not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . . A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is The New York Times No.1 bestselling YA crime thriller and WINNER of The British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year 2020.
Escaping to the new world and lured in by the luxury and glamour of a smooth con-man, May Sharpe is determined to escape from her tortured past and live a life of respectible elegance and comfort. We see May’s character develop from a naive Irish farm girl, desperate to reach New York to a wiley lady with plenty of imaginative ideas for new money making schemes or getting herself out of a tight spot. Although not blameless throughout the plot I found May quite endearing, and even when she’s in the thick of a con, there’s a naivety there that makes the possibility of her redemption believable. Persistently hounded by a young upstart Cop, keen to stay clean from bribes and eager to save this mysterious young Irish girl from herself and the notorious ‘Society’ Eddie Young, Joe Perski matches May in her naivety and hopefulness, a contrast to the backdrop of prohibition New York and underground bribes and dealings. I found ‘Chicago May’ an entertaining historical crime fiction with a decent romance tale throughout. I liked the contrast in worlds that the author manages to demonstrate, sharing stories of May’s impoverished and brutal rural Irish upbringing and the rich opulence of 20s New York in all it’s Gatsby-esque glamour. There’s plenty of twists throughout the book to keep the reader guessing as to how this book will end: will May be caught in her cons? Will she do whatever it takes to hold on to the lifestyle Eddie offers? Or, will Eddie’s dealings put her and everyone she cares about at risk? Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘The Dark Frontier’ by A.B. Decker is an intriguing and detailed tale with historical and thrilling twists. Recently married reporter Frank Goss jumps at the opportunity to travel to Switzerland to cover the 1971 vote on Women’s suffrage. Once there things start to get interesting, as his wife Ellen receives a phone call to say he’s had an accident. We are then sent back to 1937, where Frank Eigenmann has managed to catch himself in a web of espionage and intrigue in a Swiss border town, shadowed by the Third Reich. This is an interesting plot, with detailed characters, changing timelines, secrets and mysteries that unfold slowly. Ellen’s story, the cat and mouse hints and sightings about the whereabouts of her husband and her developing connections with Dr Zellwegger and his wife, Marthe is as interesting as Frank’s murkier tale of subterfuge. This is an interesting and slow burning thriller, this book compels you to keep reading to work out the mystery at the heart of this plot. Playing with the idea of past lives and their effects, this plotline held echoes of ‘Cloud Atlas’ for me. ‘The Dark Frontier’ is a complex and absorbing read, I was left guessing about how it was going to end until the final pages.
Mysteries are best served cold. At Justine’s new house in chilly Minnesota, there are no warm comforts, not even a working hob. There’s only relief at having escaped a turbulent life – even if that happened to be in sunny San Diego. In her lakeside retreat, remote and beautiful, Justine begins to unravel a secret that has haunted her family for decades. A diary, written by her grandaunt Lucy before she died, holds the key to what happened that summer in 1935 when Lucy’s six-year-old sister went missing from the house. The narration shifts between past and present, piecing together the mystery with each turn. The novel, which is a debut from Heather Young, takes its time at first, building on character and scene. You can hear the water lapping and feel the chill in the air. If you’re prone to pacey dramas, though, stick with it – you’ll be repaid in full for your patience by the end.
Ok, so, whaddya know about Eastern Kentucky? Perhaps you spent some of lockdowns 1, 2 and 3 bingeing on the “Justified” box sets? Maybe you have the footstamping brilliance of the Ruby Friedman Orchestra as she sings “ In the deep, dark, hills of Eastern Kentucky, that’s the place where I trace my bloodline…” ringing in your ears? Or maybe you know of Chris Offutt and his superb storytelling? Either way, whether through the close communities of Harlan County and their interactions with the US Marshal Service on screen or through Chris’s acclaimed short stories and novels, you will know that it is a place of hills and ‘hollers’, music and moonshine, families, feuds and fistfights and is therefore a rich setting for tales of some of America’s poorer folk. Offutt, a son of Lexington, Kentucky, whose writing career has won him fans and accolades aplenty, not to mention Guggenheim and Lannan foundation fellowships, opens his series in fictional Eldridge County with AWOL Army CID agent, Mick Hardin, his Rockash town Sheriff sister, Linda and a dead body. But such bald facts belie Offutt’s gift for straight-talking, tobacco-chewing narrative that takes you off the tarmac blacktop and along the dusty roads and fire tracks of Kentucky’s lumber and coal scented, wooded wilderness. In this world of old cabins and ancient pickup trucks, of mules and mayhem, your standing in the community is as much about who your grandparents were as the badge you wear. With wonderful descriptives of the wildlife and the people. this is fantastically stripped back, pared down storytelling with such superbly written depth and sense of place, I’m going to call it; this is Kentucky Noir, it gleams dark, is as hard as anthracite and Offutt is its undisputed Pappy.
Whoopee, isn’t this just the bee’s knees of a murder mystery! I’ll stop with the 1920’s slang now, but seriously, this really does rather beautifully conjure up the years after World War One. Sleuth and reporter Poppy investigates the death of a female scientist in Oxford. I have just adored every one of the Poppy Denby Investigates series which began with the Crime Writers’ Association Endeavour Historical Dagger Award shortlisted The Jazz Files, a wonderful historical mystery that I described as: “supplying oodles of 1920’s fizz and fun alongside a firm foundation from the suffragette movement and scars of the First World War”. These books could be classed as cosy as well as historical crime, but I’d say the cosy comes with a good twist of provocative nudges and digs. The Crystal Crypt is the sixth to feature Poppy, is it the last? Potentially, as a few of the loose ends from the series are rather nicely tied up. Poppy really does know her onions (sorry, sorry, definitely no more 1920’s sayings from me), she’s likeable, bright, and forward-thinking. The surrounding characters are fabulous too, though a favourite of mine has to be the wonderfully witty Rollo Rolandson. Fiona Veitch Smith encourages the plot to sing, while allowing the reader to investigate not only the crime, but also the social and political issues of the time. The Crystal Crypt is a wonderfully entertaining, vivid, yet thoughtful historical murder mystery that I can most definitely recommend.
OK let’s be clear, Her Majesty, the Queen, does not investigate. At least, not as far as we know. Bennett is very clear about this. She explains on her website and elsewhere, that this book, together with The Windsor Knot, the first in what is now a wonderful series, are works of fiction. They are made up for our reading pleasure. But. What if Her Majesty did? As Bennett has written, “If the Queen wanted to, she would make a great detective, with access to any expert she wants and a deep understanding of her world of politics and palaces,” where, of course, all the real crimes take place. The monarch Marple is of course an utterly wonderful idea, and Bennett is such a talented writer and storyteller that the suspension of disbelief is effortless as she draws you into a world that soon moves from seeming all too possible to become delightfully credible. A Three Dog Problem is centred on the mysterious appearance of a painting of the Royal Yacht Britannia in a Royal Naval exhibition and a body floating in a palace swimming pool, but really it doesn’t matter what the story is about. The true pleasure in this is that Bennett has really thought through how Her Majesty might actually conduct an investigation, then packed it with authentic details and more twists and turns than a palace intrigue, and created the unforgettable character of Rozie, Her Majesty’s trusted and ingenious Private Secretary, the Watson or Mma Makutsi to the Queen’s Holmes or Mma Ramotswe. Not since another authorial Bennett wrote The Uncommon Reader has our reigning monarch been so charmingly and affectionately portrayed in print and S.J. Bennett has surely put herself in the running for an MBE for “services to Royal literary inventiveness.” It is an honest-to-goodness, laugh out loud, wonder of a book filled with regal delight.
Eleven guests. Three nights. One murderer... This is the haunting and atmospheric new thriller from rising star of crime fiction, Rachael Blok. In a gorgeous mansion in the Hertfordshire countryside, sisters Lois and Ebba prepare to launch their new venture. Archipelago is an exploitation-free tech company whose virtual reality game promises to unite the worlds of technology, politics and the environment. Invited to the launch party are their investors: current and ex-politicians, international business moguls and activists, one of whom - Marieke - has been receiving online abuse and death threats for her views on eco-politics. DCI Maarten Jansen has been summoned to join the house party. He is sure the threats are from online trolls with nothing better to do - he's only offering police protection because his boss wants to put the VIP guests at ease. But when eight of the guests are involved in a suspicious helicopter crash, Maarten starts to uncover long-buried secrets - and a murderer in their midst...
Fusing the ghost story with sharp, psychological insight, this is a brilliant and timely novel about loneliness, buried secrets and the havoc they play on the mind from Booker-shortlisted author Carol Birch. Did you hear? Big landslip over by Ercol. Last night. The road into Gully's closed off. They found a body. Got police tape. All that stuff. They only do that for murder, don't they? Murder! A body has been uncovered in a mudslide just outside the village of Andwiston. In the pub they talk of murder, but Dan - sometime mechanic, constant drunk - is finding it hard to sift through his jumbled memories. Watching him from the dark is Lorna, a lost soul living in the woods, haunted by ghosts and a vision from her childhood: a cold boy standing alone in Gallinger's field.
This incredibly engaging and entertaining murder mystery set in 1938 just crackles with energy and would make a perfect Christmas read. Josephine Tey and DCI Archie Penrose spend Christmas at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, a world famous film star and two deaths throw the festivities into disarray. This is the ninth in the Josephine Tey novels, however you can easily, and quite perfectly read it as standalone. Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by writer Elizabeth MacKintosh, and just out of interest, her book The Daughter Of Time was named as the greatest crime novel of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association back in 1990. Using the real life crime writer Tey as one of the main characters works incredibly well, so do consider going back and starting at the beginning of the series with An Expert in Murder if you’ve not yet met her. The prologue for The Dead of Winter unsettles and creates intrigue before Nicola Upson sets snippets of information about Hitler and the war free to create a tone that settles over the novel.The characters are introduced with aplomb, St Micheal’s Mount and the weather are rather menacing, while the plot zips and darts along. A couple of maps also help proceedings (I love a good map!). Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, if you love the Golden Age of Crime, and enjoy the thought of a Christmas mystery then I can wholeheartedly recommend The Dead of Winter to you.
Readers of Anne Holt will know that she spent two years working for the Oslo Police Department, founded her own law firm and rose to serve as Norway’s Minister of Justice, before publishing books that have sold over 10 million copies in 30 languages. That she knows of what she writes is therefore in no doubt. What the above facts don’t tell you however, is that she is a supremely talented storyteller, who has the ability to weave page-turning tales that meld plot and procedure, suspense and revelation and, as Val McDermid put it, “… reveal how truly dark it gets in Scandinavia.” Her latest is no exception and in A Memory for Murder, Holt seems to have found another writing gear as she draws the reader into a truly troubling web of political assassination and conspiracy. Falck is an endlessly fascinating character, a former lawyer turned private investigator who is at various times as endearing as she can be unappealing, but the reformed gambling addict is never anything less than captivating as she navigates her way through a tightly woven plot that has tension and vengeance at its core. Holt’s works are translated from the original Norwegian, in this case by Anne Bruce, and are so well done, the sense of place and of the Nordic mindset so clear, that at times it’s easy to forget that you’re reading in English. If you have yet to discover Holt and love a good story of snow and blood, then this stands every chance of meeting with your approval. And along the way you’ll discover why Jo Nesbø has called Holt, “the Godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction.”
It has been 15 years since award-winning Finnish copywriter Tuomainen launched his career as an author and in that time he has delighted readers and critics with 6 books that have seen him hailed by The Times as “the funniest writer in Europe,” and “the King of Helsinki Noir” by the Finnish press. It’s hard to really capture and express just how brilliant this man’s writing is, but imagine, if you will, Ian Rankin’s gift for crime thrillers channelled through the skew-wiff comic genius of Christopher Brookmyre, or to put it another way, think of Carl Hiaasen in thermals, Mukluks and a big, down parka for, yes, he is that good. To even think that there might be a tale to be told of a staid insurance actuary inheriting a problematic adventure park takes courage. To then be able to grip readers' imaginations for three hundred pages, to make them laugh so hard they soak the pages of the book by squirting tea from their nose and then make them weep so fiercely that the tears trickle down their thighs, takes huge talent. But there is also nigh-on writing genius here as, woven into what is essentially a crime thriller, albeit a raucous, rip-roaring comic one, is a genuine sense of pathos, a real understanding and expression of human frailties, the random doubts and failures, that make The Rabbit Factor such a wonderfully engaging and enduringly humane read. Be in no doubt, this is quality, top drawer, writing and storytelling of the sort that makes you feel good to be alive and oh-so-grateful to be literate.
Anyone who has charted the progress of “Scandi Noir” and “Nordic Noir” will be aware that Iceland has inherited the cold crown of crime through the writing of Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, Ragnar Jón, Arnaldur Indridason and, of course, multi award winning, critically acclaimed and hugely bestselling Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Her well deserved success comes from an enviable ability to create truly credible, compelling situations, with such engaging characters and a strong sense of place that readers are drawn into her worlds from the opening line, and Cold as Hell marks a new high water mark in Lilja’s superb writing. Sisters Áróra and Ísafold aren’t on speaking terms and live in different countries. When their mother loses touch with Ísafold, Áróra returns to Iceland to realise that not only has her sister disappeared without trace, but that she has a life more complicated and much darker than Áróra could have imagined. So far, so noir, but what sets Lilja’s work apart is her ability to thread dark atmospheric tension throughout her writing and to keep the tale so taut that, once you’ve started reading and are drawn into her perfectly weighted web of intrigue and manipulation, putting Cold as Hell down is just not an option. Translated from the Icelandic by Quentin Bates, himself a crime writer of note, Sigurdardóttir’s crisp writing style – perhaps due in no small part to her second talent as a playwright – scintillates like sunlight on ice as the twists and turns of Áróra’s investigation reveal ever more darkness. Books two and three of this series have already been written and Sigurdardóttir’s very canny English publishers. Orenda, will doubtless be getting them translated for us. So my advice is this, if you haven’t discovered Sigurdardóttir’s books yet, get started now and read Cold as Hell. It’s a slick, refreshing, glacial blast of a thriller and there’s more great work coming down the line from this uber-cool Queen of ice-cold crime.
Reacher never backs down from a problem. And he's about to find a big one, on a deserted Arizona road, where a Jeep has crashed into the only tree for miles around. Under the merciless desert sun, nothing is as it seems. Minutes later Reacher is heading into the nearby border town, a backwater that has seen better days. Next to him is Michaela Fenton, an army veteran turned FBI agent, who is trying to find her twin brother. He might have got mixed up with some dangerous people. And Reacher might just need to pay them a visit. Their leader has burrowed his influence deep into the town. Just to get in and meet the mysterious Dendoncker, Reacher is going to have to achieve the impossible. To get answers will be even harder. There are people in this hostile, empty place who would rather die than reveal their secrets. But then, if Reacher is coming after you, you might be better off dead.
Nonstop suspense from the Sunday Times bestselling author: Investigator Lacy Stoltz follows the trail of a serial killer, and closes in on a shocking suspect - a sitting judge. In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change. Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby's father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims. Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law. He is a judge, in Florida - under Lacy's jurisdiction. He has a list, with the names of his victims and targets, all unsuspecting people unlucky enough to have crossed his path and wronged him in some way. How can Lacy pursue him, without becoming the next name on his list? The Judge's List is by any measure John Grisham's most surprising, chilling novel yet.
Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian's evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian's family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise. When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . . Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carré asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.
Eve is married to a rich and famous rock star, they live in a beautiful house with an idyllic lifestyle and possible bright and happy future with a family as the couple begin the process of adoption. But this picture-perfect life all begins to fall apart when serious accusations are levelled at Nick and his band. Eve is certain of her husband's innocence, in this matter at least. But as time passes she begins to have her doubts. ‘Still Life with a Vengeance’ by Jan Turk Petrie is a brilliant story. Part relationship story, part family drama, with the mystery of the allegations and Eve’s personal history enticing the reader to keep turning the page until they reach a resolution. Eve seemed nice, down to earth and relatable throughout the story and although the lavish lifestyle is highlighted in places there’s a human aspect to this story that is central throughout: one focusing on trust and how well you know your loved ones. I enjoyed this story and the subtle parallels between Eve’s certainty about terrible events in her own past and her doubt in her current circumstances - perhaps hinting at the truth? I found this book very easy to read and I think that it could appeal to a wide contemporary fiction audience. Overall a thoroughly entertaining read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Available in Hardback Paperback and Kindle. A pacy espionage thriller, with a science fiction twist and a whole squad of strong female characters. ‘Killing Queens’ by Raechel Sands introduces us to Nearby, an MI6 intelligence officer who tells the reader about her connections and experiences with other agents she calls, the Black Queen, the White Queen and the Red queen. In a world of MI6, spies and modification to make “purple blood” super-assassins, this is the first of the Killing Queens saga. The Irish dialect used by Nearby to tell this story seems authentic although it sometimes seems to seep into the perspectives of the other characters, which I found a little jarring. I loved the author’s use of imagery throughout, “stopped with the sound of snow coming to rest” was a particular favourite. The author certainly manages to pack a lot into the book, even creating and referencing a playlist that can be listened to in accompaniment. This is a detailed story that combines noir, espionage, adventure and satire; those that enjoy the irreverence of Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’ will find similar characters here. The plot switches between past and present in order to include all three of the queens in the story, providing the reader with backstory while also continuing the action. The author has done well to structure the book so that you can follow the characters and the timelines without getting lost. One slight niggle I do have about the structure is the use of footnotes. I personally prefer any information that’s vital to the plot to be woven through it, not tagged on as a footnote, and would have preferred to not be pulled out of the action to read additional and potentially unnecessary explanations. ‘Killing Queens’ is an interesting story with a cast of strong female characters. This is an entertaining book for someone looking for a slightly unconventional action and espionage thriller with a sci-fi/fantasy twist and filled with dark humour.
It's the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He's made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn't bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?
‘Regardless Of The Consequences’ by L.D. Lauritzen follows Sheriff Lance Tallbear as he searches for answers when an old plane crash is discovered in the Superstition Mountains. Tallbear’s Apache heritage and his work as an Arizona sheriff gives him the skills and the contacts he needs to get answers about this mysterious wreckage and the identities of the fallen passengers. But with Thomas Kane, an FBI agent with ulterior motives and a myriad of other players all trying to get answers of their own, will Tallbear and his FBI agent partner Brad Hanley manage to solve the case unscathed? This is an interesting mystery with lots to unpack within its pages. Not only do we follow the mystery of the crash and uncover why it’s discovery has garnered so much attention, but we get to know the characters as they each struggle with their own demons. The main character, Lance Tallbear, is an interesting character, unsure of whether to continue on his path as part of the Arizona police force or to fulfill his grandfather’s wishes and become a shaman for the tribe he was born into. The storyline took twists I wasn’t expecting and had plenty of action to keep me turning the page. The characters had depth and made you want to find out more. The inclusion of Native American traditions were interesting and enlightening, although although I didn't like that they were referred to as ‘Indian’ throughout. The plotline was complex, well-structured and kept me guessing until the end. I think that there’s more to come from Sheriff Tallbear and I would be interested to see which cases he takes on next. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Company ethos, workplace tension and pressure result in calamity in this mystery set in Japan. When the police are called to a scene they discover a manager in one of Japan’s largest and esteemed businesses dead in the shadow of his company's headquarters. What follows in ‘Tokyo Zangyo’ by Michael Pronko is a mystery that involves company wide secrets, corporate pressures of overworking and unpaid overtime, connected by the apparent suicide of two employees. Detectives must put in the hours themselves in order to break through the closed doors of the elite business owners and their powerful friends in order to establish what really happened. I found this story engaging and wasn’t able to guess the ending at any point as I read. I felt that the author did really well to establish a sense of place by embedding the Japanese working culture and pressure into the very heart of the mystery while also making the corporate structures and work-life struggles something understandable if not relatable. There’s a number of detective characters, each distinct and interesting in their own way. I would be interested in hearing more from this cast of detectives and how they work through future cases. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Supersized Blues’ by Roger St. John is a twisting and turning relationship story full of drama secrets and revenge. They say “Hell hath new fury like a woman scorned”, but I’d say Angel City Magazine contributing editor Hal Golan hell-bent on revenge is a serious contender. We watch his relationship with research analyst Mari Carlson develop, with the complications and miscommunications that entails, when everything starts to go wrong. I’d say this is almost a trilogy in a single book. We see the relationship of Mari and Hal develop then fall apart, with Hal being sent on a much darker journey, before the pair are reunited again with more revelations. And that’s just these two characters! There’s plenty of time given to the supporting cast of the book, with Deuce and Hal’s mother Vivian going through their own personal life dramas. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot to avoid spoilers, but I found it a complex drama of epic proportions with a tinge of thrill through the middle. All of the characters, though not entirely likable, are interesting and quirky in their own way and developed enough to make this an interesting and engaging read for those looking to read a dramatic story with edge. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
From the suave to the sleazy, the saint to the sinner; from the sensitive to the sanguine, the sexy to the squalid, we just can’t resist a good sleuth. Here you’ll find immersive crime stories to feed your fascination for conspiracy, your love for psychological sorcery, to make your hairs stand up on the back of your neck, to make your blood run cold and adrenaline fill your nervous system. Whether you’re after a classic like; Poirot (Agatha Christie), Rebus (Rankin) or Morse (Colin Dexter); or a more contemporary crime confrontation from the likes of, Michael Connelly, Gillian Flynn or J.A Lance, there’s something here to float the most demanding of boats. Have a look at our Books of the Month from this and previous months for a head start to a great next read.