Crime and mystery: women sleuths

The Quiet People

The Quiet People

Author: Paul Cleave Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/11/2021

Suspicion is cast on two successful crime writers, when their seven-year-old son goes missing. Are they trying to show that they can commit the perfect crime? A mesmerisingly twisty, dark thriller from number-one bestselling author Paul Cleave... Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time... Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? Electrifying, taut and immaculately plotted, The Quiet People is a chilling, tantalisingly twisted thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing to the last explosive page. 

The Crystal Crypt

The Crystal Crypt

Author: Fiona Veitch Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/11/2021

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 the Word 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.

Books of the Month
The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter

Author: Nicola Upson Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/11/2021

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.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
A Memory for Murder

A Memory for Murder

Author: Anne Holt Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/11/2021

To Remember the truth, she'll have to forget the lies... When former high-powered lawyer turned PI Selma Falck is shot and her oldest friend, a junior MP, is killed in a sniper attack, everyone - including the police - assume that Selma was the prime target. But when two other people with connections to the MP are also found murdered, it becomes clear that there is a wider conspiracy at play. As Selma sets out to avenge her friend's death, and discover the truth behind the conspiracy, her own life is threatened once again. Only this time, the danger may be closer to home than she could possibly have realised...

The Couple at No 9

The Couple at No 9

Author: Claire Douglas Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

It was the house of their dreams. Until the bodies were found . . . BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body. Two bodies, in fact. POLICE INVESTIGATE Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years, which leads the police to question the cottage's former owner - Saffy's grandmother, Rose. OWNER QUESTIONED Rose's Alzheimer's means her memory is increasingly confused. She can't help the police - but it is clear she remembers something. A KILLER AT LARGE? As Rose's fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched . . . What happened thirty years ago? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger? . . .

Daggers Drawn

Daggers Drawn

Author: Maxim Jakubowski Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2021

Dive in and discover 19 winning short stories by some of the greats in the crime writing world. You can sink in and totally immerse yourself in the writing, or pick and choose at your leisure. The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) was founded in 1953, and they have run their annual awards, The Daggers, since 1956. Take a look at the shortlists of each Dagger and you are set up with a beautifully meaty reading list, the Short Story Dagger is no exception. Maxim Jakubowski, the current chair, has assembled this collection and as he declares in his introduction: “Every story a winner!”. The first, Swiftwing 98 by Peter O’Donnell in 1985 was from a time when the Short Story Dagger had to submitted and include certain ingredients. He had to work in a bottle of champagne, a cryptic message on a micro computer screen, a beautiful blonde Hungarian pianist and Victoria Station, and it is fascinating to see how these feature in the story. Maxim explains that not long after, the rules changed, and the award was given to what was judged to be just the best crime short story of that year. Particular stand outs for me were the amusing intrigue of Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin, the slicing horror of the Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah, and the heartbreak of Martha Grace by Stella Duffy. Chosen as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, Daggers Drawn is a perfect gift for any crime fiction lovers and short story aficionados out there.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
A Necessary Death

A Necessary Death

Author: Anne Holt Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

The snow is falling Selma Falck is living a nightmare. Trapped in a burning cabin on a freezing snow-covered mountain, she has no idea where she is or how she got there. Bruised, bleeding and naked, she barely makes it out in time as the flames engulf the cabin. With no signs of human habitation nearby, the temperature rapidly dropping, and a blizzard approaching, how will she survive? She's lost in the wilderness As Selma fights the cold, the hunger and her own wounds, she eventually forms a frightening picture of the past six months. Not only does she have to find a way to stay alive, she needs to make it back to civilization, quickly. Murder has been committed, and a great injustice must be stopped. The very future of the nation itself is at stake... If the cold doesn't kill her, they will...

A Slow Fire Burning

A Slow Fire Burning

Author: Paula Hawkins Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/08/2021

Subtle and smart yet intense and thrilling, this story builds with each turn revealing another set of steps in front of you. Within a corner of London a murder sets questions hunting through secrets and the past. I was caught sleeping at the start and was given a huge shove, from that moment on my attention didn’t waver. This is all about the characters, yet the beautifully intricate plot more than holds its own. What Paula Hawkins does so successfully, is to allow you to see the inner being of people, the shadows that dwell within, without ever losing connection with their humanity. Every person in this story feels authentic, relatable, and that dreaded word, normal. It made me question what I would do in the same circumstances, could this in fact, be me. Oh, and just as an aside, great map! A Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, A Slow Fire Burning wanders through the everyday, before reaching under the surface and pulling out darkness.

Audiobooks of the Month
Daylight

Daylight

Author: David Baldacci Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Daylight is the gripping follow up to Long Road to Mercy and A Minute to Midnight featuring Special Agent Atlee Pine from one of the world's most favourite thriller writers, David Baldacci. The hunt Ever since Mercy was abducted aged six, Atlee has been relentless in her search for her. Finally, she gets her most promising breakthrough yet - the identity of her sister's kidnapper. The capture As Atlee and her assistant, Carol Blum, race to track down the suspect, they run into Pine's old friend and fellow agent, John Puller, who is investigating the suspect's family for another crime. The kill Working together, Pine and Puller must pull back the layers of deceit, lies and cover-ups that strike at the very heart of global democracy. And the truth about what happened to Mercy will finally be revealed. That truth will shock Atlee Pine to her very core.

Judas Horse

Judas Horse

Author: Lynda La Plante Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

SOME KILLERS CAN'T BE TAMED . . . 'Do you know what a Judas Horse is? When the wild mustangs are running free, you corral one and train it. When he's ready, you release him and he'll bring his team back into the corral - like Judas betraying them...' Violent burglars have been terrorising residents across the English countryside. But when a mutilated body is discovered in a Cotswolds house, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary group of opportunist thieves. As Detective Jack Warr investigates, he discovers locals with dark secrets, unearths hidden crimes - and hits countless dead ends. With few leads and the violent attacks escalating, he will have to act as audaciously as the criminals if he hopes to stop them. When Warr meets Charlotte Miles, a terrified woman with links to the group, he must use her to lure the unsuspecting killers into one last job, and into his trap. But with the law already stretched to breaking point, any failure will be on Warr's head - and any more blood spilled, on his hands...

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole

Author: Mark Billingham Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/07/2021

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. Selected by Linwood Barclay, Our Autumn 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.

The Silent Listener

The Silent Listener

Author: Lyn Yeowart Format: Ebook Release Date: 24/06/2021

Set in rural Australia in the 1940s, 1960s and 1980s (the plot smartly slips between the decades), Lyn Yeowart’s The Silent Listener - her debut novel - is a dark and stormy psychological thriller focussed on family secrets and the search to fathom terrible truths. When Joy Henderson returns to her family’s farm to care for George, her dying dad, she’s confronted with a succession of horrendous events - both those that occur in her present, and traumatic experiences from her past. The very day after her father confesses to a horrific crime, he’s found dead with his own belt around his neck. As the narrative slips back to 1960, we learn how eleven-year-old Joy existed in utter fear of her father. An abusive bully who forced her to declare herself a “lazy, good-for-nothing sinner”. A brute who scarred her for life - psychologically and physically, for Joy has been left with “thick red strips of raised flesh creeping over the top of her shoulder and under her loose bra strap, wrapping themselves around the top of her arm like the tentacles of a red octopus.” This description is representative of the author’s taut, evocative style. Then there’s the Constable investigating George’s death - Alex Shepherd, a man still haunted by an unsolved case of a missing girl from 1960, and now deeply engrained in this new case, and the Henderson family’s secrets. As Joy and Shepherd talk, Joy is struck by a sickening thought: “The bastard killed himself so that you’d think I killed him. So I’d go to jail for murdering him. It was the ultimate punishment for disobeying him.” Shepherd isn’t sure what to believe, but his instincts lead him back to that unsolved case of the missing child. Exploring coercive control, violence, abuse and revenge with edgy levels of tension through potentially unreliable narrators, this is a satisfyingly suspenseful gothic thriller.

eBooks of the Month