Thriller and Suspense

All engrossing, pure escapist, nail-biting anxiety, mind bending terror and psychological twists. We’re not sure why it’s so appealing. Good though, isn’t it! You might also like to browse our Crime and Mystery category.

November 2021 Featured Books

Reflection

Reflection

Author: John Righten Format: Ebook Release Date: 26/11/2021

‘Reflection’ by John Righten is the third in The Lenka Trilogy, a story set in the 1990s across Ireland, Romania and Bosnia. The narrative follows Lenka and a motley crew of ‘loveable rogues’ as they travel through war zones to deliver aid and offer support to innocent families and children caught up in conflicts. I haven’t read parts 1 and 2 of the trilogy, but a detailed summary of the action has been helpfully supplied in the prologue of this final installment. I would recommend starting with ‘Heartbreak’, the first book in the series, as it would appear a lot has already happened and this will allow you to appreciate the storyline as a whole. ‘Reflection’ takes us from 1995 in Bosnia onwards as Lenka leaves the orphanage that she manages in Ireland for one last aid run, delivering vital medical supplies to hospitals. But the Wolves, a team of deadly mercenaries, are still on Lenka’s trail and they want the incriminating photo album she has in her possession detailing their atrocities. I think that this is a fitting end to what seems to be an action-packed and thrilling trilogy. There’s plenty of exposition throughout so I didn’t feel lost reading ‘Reflection’ first and would serve as a helpful reminder for those who've been waiting for this third instalment to be released. I thought the plotline was complex and well-thought out with no loose strings as it flips from Lenka’s journey to the orphanage in Ireland. In all, an entertaining climax to a trilogy filled with action and thrills. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Lost Girls

The Lost Girls

Author: Heather Young Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/11/2021

A stunning novel that examines the price of loyalty, the burden of regret, the meaning of salvation, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, told in the voices of two unforgettable women linked by a decades-old family mystery at a picturesque lake house. In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family's summer house on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family - her father takes his own life, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child. Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability - a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. The house is cold and dilapidated. The dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he's telling. Soon Justine's troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily's disappearance, her absent mother reappears, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

The Killing Hills

The Killing Hills

Author: Chris Offutt Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/11/2021

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.

Fire and Earth

Fire and Earth

Author: David West Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/11/2021

 ‘Fire and Earth’ by David West is an interesting mystery set in the 1600s, when heliocentricity (the idea that the earth orbited the sun) was considered heresy. When a number of priests are found dead on Saint’s days, burned and circled by a mound of earth, it is thought that the culprit may be one of these heretic, scientific thinkers. Employed to investigate is Sir Antony Standen, a retired spy with an open mind and a unique skill set. I enjoyed this story, I could tell that a great deal of research has been put into the story in order to ensure that the setting felt authentic, with historical events and figures interwoven into the plot. I found the lead characters, Sir Anthony Standen and his fellow detective Hugh, the exiled Early of Tyrone, were entertaining, although I did find Hugh’s Irish dialect to be from time to time, more akin to Yoda in phrasing than Irish “ With Francesca safe and sound you’ll be,” (p.19 as a small example). However, aside from bringing a bit of a smile to my face as I read, it didn’t detract from the story too much. The prologue did a very good job at drawing the reader in, being witness to one of the crimes we are about to see investigated raised lots of questions and naturally entices the reader to keep reading. In all I enjoyed the story, I can see the scope for more books connected to these characters and I would be interested in reading future books. I think fans of historical fiction, perhaps those that enjoyed ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and fans of mysteries more broadly would enjoy this book.

Indie Books We Love
Stop at Nothing

Stop at Nothing

Author: Lucy Martin Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

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.

Debut Books of the Month
Into the Fire

Into the Fire

Author: Rachael Blok Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

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...

Books of the Month
Cold Boy's Wood

Cold Boy's Wood

Author: Carol Birch Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

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. 

eBooks of the Month
Never

Never

Author: Ken Follett Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/11/2021

In Follett’s first contemporary thriller for more than a decade, he imagines the unimaginable, a cat and mouse game of brinkmanship between nuclear powers.  Expertly researched and brilliantly crafted, this 800 page epic is unputdownable. It’s a cover-to-cover action-packed mammoth tale of weaving multiple interrelated story lines, with captivating characters and intriguing plots with tension, terror, heartache, love, betrayal.  US President Pauline Green fights at home and abroad to prevent nuclear disaster as the book moves from Defcon 5, the lowest state of readiness, to Defcon 1, the brink of war. We follow the incredible work of Abdul Haddad, a spy working undercover with jihadis in Chad. Nearby, a beautiful young widow Kiah and her son Naji want to leave the shrinking shores of Lake Chad, escape their fate and travel illegally to Europe, no matter how terrifying the journey is with human traffickers. We fall for Tamara Levit a CIA operative attached to the American embassy in N’Djamena and her French counterpart Tab Sadoul, an attaché at the European Union Mission who are following the trail of a powerful group of drug-smuggling terrorists. In China, we support the machinations of Chinese spymaster Kai Chang, an ambitious senior government official battling against the old guard. Covert operations, terrorist activities, arms dealers, drug smugglers, human traffickers, government coups, military skirmishes – it has it all. And Ken Follett delivers it with aplomb. Hold on to your seats, it’s a bumpy rollercoaster ride!  

Audiobooks of the Month
A Memory for Murder

A Memory for Murder

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

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.”

The Rabbit Factor

The Rabbit Factor

Author: Antti Tuomainen Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

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.

Star Books
Cold as Hell

Cold as Hell

Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/10/2021

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.

Femlandia

Femlandia

Author: Christina Dalcher Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

In this her third dystopian thriller, Dalcher gives another chilling look into an alternative future where a woman and her daughter seek refuge in a women-only colony after the country sinks into total economic collapse. Darker than her other reads, but still female-centric and speculative, this tells the tale of widowed Miranda Reynolds and her sixteen-year-old Emma whose only hope for survival is Femlandia, a male-free colony set up decades earlier by Miranda's estranged mother.  It's another twisty turny rollercoaster ride of emotion and thought-provoking themes. It's raw, it's disturbing in places, the characters are incredibly flawed and I flew through it at pace. Pulled in from the very first few pages and hooked until the end, for me Dalcher is firmly becoming the queen of speculative fiction.

Books of the Month
Better Off Dead

Better Off Dead

Author: Lee Child, Andrew Child Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/10/2021

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.

The Judge's List

The Judge's List

Author: John Grisham Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/10/2021

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.

Silverview

Silverview

Author: John le Carré Format: Audiobook Release Date: 14/10/2021

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.

Audiobooks of the Month
Killing Queens

Killing Queens

Author: Raechel Sands Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/09/2021

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.

From A Position Of Strength

From A Position Of Strength

Author: Sean Heary Format: Ebook Release Date: 13/09/2021

Former head of the Vatican police Lorenzo Rossi is back in ‘From a Position of Strength’ by Sean Heary. Following his previous escapades in ‘The Concordat’ and ‘The Circle-A Killings’, Rossi and his ex-fiancée CIA agent Cathy Doherty must work to uncover why a Russian agent crashed on a quiet road leading to Rossi’s family farm. Although this isn’t the first opportunity we’ve had to meet Rossi and Doherty, I don't think you necessarily need to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy ‘From a Position of Strength’. However you may want to start with ‘The Concordat’ to watch the full relationship dynamic between Rossi and Doherty unfold over the course of the series. This is an action packed story filled with espionage, double and triple agents, disinformation and a plot that, if genuine, could lead to the end of the world as we know it. ‘From a Position of Strength’ is most definitely full to the brim with lots of twists along the way, as the characters work to reveal the truth, and discover who are actually their allies. I thought that this was a gripping read and it’s another great addition to the series. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Regardless Of The Consequences

Regardless Of The Consequences

Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/08/2021

‘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

Indie Books We Love
Mirrorland

Mirrorland

Author: Carole Johnstone Format: Ebook Release Date: 01/04/2021

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. 

eBooks of the Month
HAUNTED

HAUNTED

Author: Tony Marturano Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/11/2020

The second book in the series ‘Haunted’ by Tony Marturano continues the story of Marco Battista who, after the events of the first book, heads to the small village of Porthcoe with his wife to recuperate and renovate his late father’s holiday home. It is encouraged before and as you start reading that you begin the ‘Haunted’ series with book number one: Psychosis, and it is something I would also recommend as the events of that first book are referred to a lot. This is a tense thriller filled with ghosts, secrets and questions. I liked the style of narration, for the duration of this book we the reader are a constant confidant to Marco as he tells us of the strange occurrences within the house, even seeking confirmation at times which sent me scooting back up the page to double check. I felt like this added to the creepiness and at least in a bookish sense had me double checking every corner and looking over my shoulder as I read. Also, the references to the events in the previous book, even for those that haven’t read it, suggests that Marco may be an unreliable narrator which is something I liked for adding tension and uncertainty to the story.  Tension, strange dreams, a couple that enjoy jumpscaring each other and the jumpscares built into the plot all amount to a brilliant horror story, ideal for the darker winter months. The scene with the moth still sends shivers up my spine even after I’ve finished reading, eugh! With the addition of character developments and a storyline that you can get invested in (this book is most certainly not all about the scare), I think that this is a brilliantly thrilling, page-turning horror.

Indie Books We Love
Supersized Blues

Supersized Blues

Author: Roger St. John Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/12/2019

 ‘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

Indie Books We Love

October 2021 Featured Books

A Gambling Man

A Gambling Man

Author: David Baldacci Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Evoking the golden age of crime, and for fans of Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, comes the second book in the Aloysius Archer series, A Gambling Man from one of the world's bestselling thriller writers, David Baldacci. A lucky roll of the dice California, 1949. Aloysius Archer is on his way to start a new job with a renowned Private Investigator in Bay Town. Feeling lucky, he stops off at a casino in Reno, where he meets an aspiring actress, Liberty Callahan. Together, they head west on a journey filled with danger and surprises - because Archer isn't the only one with a secretive past. A risk worth taking Arriving in a town rife with corruption, Archer is tasked with finding out who is doing everything they can to disrupt the appointment of a top official. Then two seemingly unconnected people are murdered at a burlesque club. In a tight-lipped community, Archer must dig deep to reveal the connection between the victims. All bets are off As the final perilous showdown unfurls, Archer will need all of his skills to decipher the truth from the lies and finally, to prove she's a star in the making, will Liberty have her moment in the spotlight?

On The Edge

On The Edge

Author: Jane Jesmond Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/10/2021

A twisty thriller set against the windswept shores of Cornwall? It’s a premise that may hint at another writer whose dark tales are synonymous with the county. Yet debut novelist, Jane Jesmond, takes an effective (and bloody) stab at taking readers on a thrill ride amongst these same rocky outposts and smugglers coves. Our protagonist is, however, very different to Daphne du Maurier’s. Jen Shaw, a free climber, is in trouble. She might be out of rehab from her high-octane addiction, but she’s not on terra firma for long. This time, though, it’s a mystery how she finds herself swinging from a lighthouse – and even perhaps, who she really is. Done well, this kind of puzzle-solving story is the holy grail for publishers of commercial fiction, captivating fans of The Girl On The Train or Before I Go To Sleep. And if you loved them, On The Edge will certainly satisfy your crime cravings.

Lemon

Lemon

Author: Kwon Yeo-sun Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Taking in the absurdities of life, misfortune and tragedy, Kwon Yeo-sun’s Lemon is an engaging, read-in-one-sitting novella of remarkable intensity. In some regards, it’s a crime novel, but one that turns the genre on its head to create an enigmatic emotional puzzle in which a woman warped by grief engages with the person she believes killed her sister. Back in 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became called the High School Beauty Murder. There were only ever two suspects, one of whom had an alibi, while no evidence was found to convict the second, so the case was never solved. Seventeen years later, Kim Hae-on’s younger sister, Da-on, remains utterly eaten up by the murder. Her life is on hold, her mind trapped in twisted stasis. Fixated on finding out what happened to her sister, she discovers unexpected truths that strike her to the core. Told from multiple perspectives and times, the story sparks with descriptive perfection, such as this evocation of the victim: “She was very pretty, but not in a typical way. How could I describe it? Her beauty was urgent, precarious, like the piercing wail of a speeding ambulance. I could not look away”.  It also swirls with powerful undercurrents of raw emotion - desperation, regret, longing, guilt, the brutal ripples of grief. Presented in all their ludicrous complexities, such raw states are overlaid with the mundanities of everyday life. Though short, this is an intensely gripping and profound reading experience. As Lemon ponders: “Couldn’t each moment we’re living now be the meaning of life?”

Debut Books of the Month
Silverview

Silverview

Author: John le Carré Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

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 emigre 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 Carre asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.

Left You Dead

Left You Dead

Author: Peter James Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/10/2021

NO BODY. NO TRACE. NO CRIME? Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do – with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home. But this Sunday ends differently – because while Niall waits and waits in the car park for Eden to pick up supplies, Eden never returns. She’s not waiting for him at home, and none of their family or friends have heard from her. Gone without a trace, Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder. When DS Roy Grace is called in to investigate, it doesn’t take long to realize that nothing is quite as it seems – and this might be his most mysterious case yet . . . Sunday Times number one bestseller Peter James returns with the latest installment in his award-winning Roy Grace novels – now a major TV series.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Bone Code

The Bone Code

Author: Kathy Reichs Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/10/2021

THE NEW EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER IN THE NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING TEMPERANCE BRENNAN SERIES NO CRIME CAN STAY HIDDEN FOREVER When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years. At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable. With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases - and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause . . .

Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body

Author: Jeffrey Archer Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/10/2021

In an age of publishing that is obsessed with sales figures, Archer’s writing statistics, 275 million copies published in 97 countries, are not only hugely impressive and utterly enviable but more importantly, hard earned and thoroughly deserved. They are the incontestable evidence that he is a supremely gifted storyteller, whose talent for narrative and character has been honed and applied many times over in the crafting of fully immersive stories that delight his armies of readers, and Over My Dead Body, is no exception. In this fourth outing for Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick (not including his appearance in the Clifton Chronicles series) we are take through various investigations that take us onboard a luxury liner and into the often murky world of art dealing, Archer deftly moves between scenes and worlds to deliver a master class in how to structure a story and populate it with characters that are instantly recognisable and wonderfully drawn. All the qualities that we have come to expect from Jeffery’s books are here; wonderful, fully drawn characters  (you are going to love James Buchanan!) the sense that he really does know of what he writes (his attention to detail when researching his books is legendary) and that he really cares about crafting his stories in an interview with him, he explained that he writes all his early drafts long hand and reworks them many, many times until everything is just right. But here’s the thing, he once told me, with tears in his eyes, just how much he appreciate his readers and how hard he works to make each story as good as he can make it, to create as enjoyable a read as possible. Over My Dead Body is no exception and is a fabulous addition to the extraordinary canon of a supreme storyteller.

eBooks of the Month
State of Terror

State of Terror

Author: Louise Penny, Hillary Rodham Clinton Format: Audiobook Release Date: 12/10/2021

STATE OF TERROR follows a novice Secretary of State who has joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage. A series of terrorist attacks throws the global order into disarray, and the secretary is tasked with assembling a team to unravel the deadly conspiracy, a scheme carefully designed to take advantage of an American government dangerously out of touch and out of power in the places where it counts the most. This high-stakes thriller of international intrigue features behind-the-scenes global drama informed by details only an insider could know.

Audiobooks of the Month
1414º

1414º

Author: Paul Bradley Carr Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/10/2021

The synopsis of ‘1414º’ by Paul Bradley Carr gripped me as soon as I read it. I was really curious and wanted to know more about this thriller that sees Journalist Lou McCarthy track down the person responsible for the deaths of two powerful Silicon Valley predators but then potentially turn her efforts to aiding them sent my expectations for this storyline off kilter. Lou works tirelessly at her job as a Journalist for the Herald to uncover and expose scandal and criminal behaviour committed by some of the most powerful people in San Francisco’s tech giants. But people that are powerful have a way of failing upwards. When her latest expose goes terribly wrong, her career is in disgrace and when events spiral even more drastically and dangerously out of control, Lou works with an unlikely ally to find out who is behind the deaths. I liked this storyline and that there’s a cast of strong female characters that take the lead. This thriller takes a lot of modern societal issues in order to develop a chillingly believable basis for ‘1414º’ and I was gripped by every twist and turn of the plot. The characters are all well developed, each with their own secrets and flaws, and Lou’s investigative skills as a journalist fit well into the storyline. An entertaining thriller that I enjoyed in a day and would recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Nesting

The Nesting

Author: C.J. Cooke Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Atmospheric, gothic, spine-chilling... The new thriller from C.J Cooke will haunt you long after you turn the last page... It was like something out of a fairytale... The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it's as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale. But this family has a history - and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory. Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don't make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care. But protect them from what?

Star Books
Girl A

Girl A

Author: Abigail Dean Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

'Girl A,' she said. 'The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.' Lex Gracie doesn't want to think about her family. She doesn't want to think about growing up in her parents' House of Horrors. And she doesn't want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can't run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings - and with the childhood they shared. Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love. 

eBooks of the Month
The Final Twist

The Final Twist

Author: Jeffery Deaver Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The gripping new thriller from the No.1 Sunday Times bestseller Jeffery Deaver Twist left. Unique Investigator Colter Shaw is searching for the answer to his father's final, posthumous riddle. It will lead him to evidence that will topple the secretive espionage company, BlackBridge. Twist right. He believes BlackBridge to be responsible for his father's murder and brother's disappearance. They can outmanoeuvre anyone, as the long trail of bodies behind them can confirm. But they haven't yet met Colter Shaw. Don't slip up. This time the stakes are huge - the fate of a nation is in Colter's hands. He must find the solution as to why his father died - but to do that he needs to stay alive...

Audiobooks of the Month
Whitesands

Whitesands

Author: Johann Thorsson Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/09/2021

What a debut supernatural thriller! The main character is Detective John Dark, still trying to find his missing daughter after two years of looking while at the same time trying to repair his credibility as a detective. As such, a completely relatable character. Murders are committed, bodies staged, with the husbands all looking to be the obvious culprit. John Dark thinks differently, bringing him into conflict both with his boss and police partner. Supernatural elements appear as the book progresses. Confident and assured writing, all the more exciting considering this is a debut novel.  Helen Lowry, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Whitesands

Whitesands

Author: Johann Thorsson Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/09/2021

What a debut supernatural thriller! The main character is Detective John Dark, still trying to find his missing daughter after two years of looking while at the same time trying to repair his credibility as a detective. As such, a completely relatable character. Murders are committed, bodies staged, with the husbands all looking to be the obvious culprit. John Dark thinks differently, bringing him into conflict both with his boss and police partner. Supernatural elements appear as the book progresses. Confident and assured writing, all the more exciting considering this is a debut novel. Helen Lowry, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Whitesands

Whitesands

Author: Johann Thorsson Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/09/2021

What a debut supernatural thriller! The main character is Detective John Dark, still trying to find his missing daughter after two years of looking while at the same time trying to repair his credibility as a detective. As such, a completely relatable character. Murders are committed, bodies staged, with the husbands all looking to be the obvious culprit. John Dark thinks differently, bringing him into conflict both with his boss and police partner. Supernatural elements appear as the book progresses. Confident and assured writing, all the more exciting considering this is a debut novel.  Helen Lowry, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Whitesands

Whitesands

Author: Johann Thorsson Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/09/2021

What a debut supernatural thriller! The main character is Detective John Dark, still trying to find his missing daughter after two years of looking while at the same time trying to repair his credibility as a detective. As such, a completely relatable character. Murders are committed, bodies staged, with the husbands all looking to be the obvious culprit. John Dark thinks differently, bringing him into conflict both with his boss and police partner. Supernatural elements appear as the book progresses. Confident and assured writing, all the more exciting considering this is a debut novel. Helen Lowry, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Last House on Needless Street

The Last House on Needless Street

Author: Catriona Ward Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies. You think you know what's inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you've read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it's not what you think...

Star Books
Fresh Start

Fresh Start

Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

‘Fresh Start’ by Mark Shaiken is a legal procedural with plenty of twists and turns. Quincy Witherman, a man with an eccentric penchant for family history and seemingly a chip on his shoulder about the fate of his ancestor is in court filing for bankruptcy. But will he be able to keep his secrets out of the courtroom? Stacy Milne, an unnecessarily hard-nosed special assets manager has her own grievances and she’s determined to take them all out on Quincy to discover what he’s hiding. Caught in the middle, Josephina Jillian Jones (3J) and Pascale, Quincy’s bankruptcy lawyers, and the other asset managers at a host of banks looking to recuperate their money for Witherman. This is a story filled with drama and twists, though not too many likeable characters. I found Quincy almost seemed to be looking for an opportunity to go bankrupt in order to get some form of revenge for his ancestor’s fate, to the point I was quite glad to see everything start to go wrong for him. If this is the response I’m meant to have to the character then the author has done a very good job constructing Quincy G. Witherman. I’m at a loss to see how Stacy Milne was hired and promoted given her attitude and how she represents a company, but she offers a strong and relentless antagonist to Witherman throughout to drive the plot forward. There’s enough detail and intrigue that I didn’t know how it was going to end, and all the technical speak and court processes felt authentic. This would be a good story for anyone looking for a slightly melodramatic legal drama and mystery with eccentric characte. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Agenda Indiscriminate

Agenda Indiscriminate

Author: Peter Harper Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/06/2021

This tense and twisty thriller featuring an El Salvadoran filmmaker teems with revenge, mystery and international intrigue. Packed with characterful details of people and places, Peter Harper’s Agenda Indiscriminate is a page-turning thriller that teems with tension as it entertains. The absorbing set-up of a film-maker becoming enmeshed in a world of criminal gangs, governmental schemes and global terror makes for a heady mix that will surely satisfy readers who like their mysteries meaty, and their thrillers to reel with international intrigue. Following the brutal murder of his lover, filmmaker Rafael leaves London for his native El Salvador in a state of turmoil. Having abandoned his script-in-progress, he agrees to help the government liaise with a dangerous gang to try to curtail an epidemic of violence and death. But it’s not long before Rafael decides to get out while he can, so he returns to London to pick up his incendiary script. Cue encounters with a mad gunman and uncontrollable revenge impulses that unfold through suspenseful plotting and perceptive dialogue.  Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador

September 2021 Featured Books

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
Turn a Blind Eye

Turn a Blind Eye

Author: Jeffrey Archer Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

In the third instalment in the life of Detective William Warwick, following on from Hidden in Plain Sight, international bestseller Jeffrey Archer once again displays his mastery at the art of storytelling. Detective Inspector William Warwick is tasked with a dangerous new line of work, to go undercover and expose corruption at the heart of the Metropolitan Police Force. His team focuses on Detective Sergeant Jerry Summers, a young officer living an extravagant lifestyle. But Summers develops a personal relationship with a WPC on William's team and the investigation hangs in the balance. As his undercover officers draw the threads together, William realizes that the corruption may go far higher than his initial assessment, and that more of his colleagues than he thought possible might be willing to turn a blind eye . . .

Several People Are Typing

Several People Are Typing

Author: Calvin Kasulke Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/09/2021

Super smart and a little weird (in the best possible way), Several People are Typing comes served with a huge dollop of darkly quirky, smirky humour. This novel, which comes in at under 250 pages, is all written in the workplace chat function of the app Slack. Gerald is uploaded into the Slack while working on a spreadsheet, his pleas for help initially go unanswered by his work colleagues. We use Slack at LoveReading, but you really don’t need to be aware of it in order to ‘get’ this book, anyone who uses a workplace communications channel, apps or social media will just slide into this book and within a couple of pages feel right at home. Gerald and his colleagues could be anyone, anywhere, the little darts of jealousy, humour, support, showboating, flirting, and all the other emotions that highlight office life can be found on display. In terms of characters, Slackbot is a particular favourite of mine, the horror of the situation is deftly handled with humour by Calvin Kasulke. While office politics and shenanigans are front and foremost, I really enjoyed the relationship element sneaking in to stir things up. And it really did stir things up as it also poked a thought-provoking elbow into sexual consent. Several People are Typing is a fabulously ballsy read that edges along a tightrope between provocative and humour.  

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Black Reed Bay

Black Reed Bay

Author: Rod Reynolds Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

When Orenda Books decides to back an author, whether they write in - or are translated into - English, it’s wise to pay attention as they have an uncanny knack for finding and signing up writers of great quality in publishing’s busiest and most competitive genre. Rod Reynolds is no exception. Having gained plaudits aplenty for his excellent Charlie Yates 1940’s noir series; The Dark Inside, Black Night Falling and Cold Desert Sky, Reynolds then diverted to the brutal London-based stand-alone thriller, Blood Red City, and gained a long-listing for the CWA Steel Dagger for his troubles.  Pivoting ‘back to black’ with Black Reed Bay, Reynolds introduces us to his newest creation, Detective Casey “Big Case” Wray, through a superbly crafted contemporary who-why-how-dunnit.  Set in the fictitious Hampstead County - which bears a striking resemblance to Nassau County N.Y - on Long Island, with windswept Atlantic beaches and the cookie cutter beachfront McMansions of a comfortable community, each scene is imbued with a sense of location so real, you can feel the salt spray and neighbourly judgment sting your skin. On the face of it it’s a standard crime/thriller narrative: something bad happens and the police investigate. For some the female victim trope will rankle, but the story and cast are introduced with such nuance and style and then, credentials established, around the 100 page mark Reynolds moves up through the gears to deliver a beautifully paced, smartly plotted read that really delivers. And Wray? Well she is the real star of the story. Somewhere between Frances McDormand’s “Marge Gunderson” in Fargo and Helen Mirren as “Jane Tennison” in Prime Suspect; too good a human and too big hearted to be hard boiled, but à point cynical and with a great store of whip-crack one-liners. Mark these words, Reynolds is going to good places fast if he can repeat the magic of Black Reed Bay in his next few books. Join in and get reading, it’s going to be quite the journey.

Books of the Month
Terms of Restitution

Terms of Restitution

Author: Denzil Meyrick Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/09/2021

When his son is brutally murdered, gangland boss Zander Finn leaves the Scottish underworld, goes underground and tries to transform his life with a move to London. When he’s pulled back into his old world to fight the Albanian mobsters threatening his family, it’s an action-packed adventure with thrills aplenty and promises that you’ll be on the edge of your seat every step of the way. Meyrick’s inimitable dark humour threads throughout and peppers Finn’s intense fight for survival.

eBooks of the Month
 Rizzio: Darkland Tales

Rizzio: Darkland Tales

Author: Denise Mina Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/09/2021

At once historically evocative and infused with the rapier-sharp universality of basic drives and emotions (love, lust, envy and revenge), Denise Mina’s Rizzio is an immensely engaging novella. Wise, inventive and un-put-down-able, it’s a riveting read-in-one-sitting road-trip through a shadowy episode in Scottish history. It’s 1566 and Mary, Queen of Scots, is six months pregnant, unaware that her Palace of Holyrood is surrounded by an army intent on murdering her private secretary and confidante, handsome, charismatic David Rizzio. And all this was arranged by Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley who, intoxicated, relishes “thinking about how sorry they’ll all be when he is king, they’ll all be sorry then. He’ll see they are". Recounting the events of a fateful, bloody night, Mina’s present tense narrative is delivered with verve, taut dexterity and atmosphere, with a powerfully palpable sense of mounting tension.

eBooks of the Month
Find You First

Find You First

Author: Linwood Barclay Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

It’s a deadly race against time… Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past. Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister. So Miles decides to track down his missing children. But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Untraceable

Untraceable

Author: Sergei Lebedev Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

An extraordinary and angry Russian novel about poisons of all kinds: physical, moral and political. Untraceable is a wonderful piece of fiction rooted in the recent history of Russia's state assassinations, especially the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Professor Kalitin is a ruthless, narcissistic chemist who has developed an untraceable, extremely lethal poison called Neophyte while working in a secret city on an island in the Russian far east. When the Soviet Union collapses, he defects and is given a new identity in Germany. After an unrelated Russian is murdered with Kalitin's poison, his cover is blown and he's drawn into the German investigation of the death. Two special forces killers with a lot of Chechen blood on their hands are sent to silence him - using his own undetectable poison. Their journey to their target is full of blunders, mishaps, holdups and accidents. Urgently topical and compellingly readable.

Star Books
Edge of the Grave

Edge of the Grave

Author: Robbie Morrison Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Shortlisted for The Bloody Scotland Crime Debut of the Year 2021 Longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2021 and the HWA Debut Crown 2021  Glasgow, 1932. When the son-in-law of one of the city's wealthiest shipbuilders is found floating in the River Clyde with his throat cut, it falls to Inspector Jimmy Dreghorn to lead the murder case - despite sharing a troubled history with the victim's widow, Isla Lockhart. From the flying fists and flashing blades of Glasgow's gangland underworld, to the backstabbing upper echelons of government and big business, Dreghorn and his partner 'Bonnie' Archie McDaid will have to dig deep into Glasgow society to find out who wanted the man dead and why. All the while, a sadistic murderer stalks the post-war city leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake. As the case deepens, will Dreghorn find the killer - or lose his own life in the process? Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison is a dark historical crime novel set in Glasgow, 1932. A city still recovering from the Great War; split by religious division and swarming with razor gangs. For fans of William McIlvanney's Laidlaw, Denise Mina and Philip Kerr.

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...

The Secret Life of Mr Roos

The Secret Life of Mr Roos

Author: Hakan Nesser Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

A secluded hut in the middle of the woods. A double life that could be his downfall. The Secret Life of Mr Roos is the third Inspector Barbarotti novel from the 'Godfather of Swedish crime' (Metro), Hakan Nesser. At fifty-nine years old, Valdemar Roos is tired of life. Working a job he hates, with a wife he barely talks to and two step-daughters he doesn't get on with, he doesn't have a lot to look forward to. Then, one day, a winning lottery ticket gives him an opportunity to start afresh. Without telling a soul, he quits his job and buys a hut in the remote Swedish countryside. Every day he travels down to this man-made oasis, returning each evening to his unsuspecting wife. Life couldn't be better, until a young woman arrives in paradise . . . Anna Gambowska is a twenty-one-year-old recovering drug addict. On the run from the rehab centre she hated and an abusive relationship she can't go back to, all Anna's prayers are answered when she comes across a seemingly vacant hut in the Swedish woodland. But it's not long before Anna's ex discovers her location, and an incident occurs that will mar the lives of both Anna and Valdemar forever. Inspector Barbarotti doesn't take much interest when a woman reports her husband as missing. That is, until a dead body is found near the missing man's newly bought hut, and Mr Roos becomes the number one murder suspect . . . The Secret Life of Mr Roos is the third novel in Hakan Nesser's Inspector Barbarotti quintet.

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
The Long, Long Afternoon

The Long, Long Afternoon

Author: Inga Vesper Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Well, a debut doesn't come more well-honed than Inga Vesper’s absolutely cracking slice of dark Americana, The Long, Long Afternoon, which is set in the summer of 1959 and encompasses a gripping mystery with an excoriating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are  under-estimated, silenced and diminished. Beautifully written with scenes and characters that take you right back to a time of mail-order catalogues, mother’s ‘little helper’ and the appalling casualness of race and gender inequality, Inga has created a breath-taking, chromium-shiny, tale of how dark the sunniest places can be and how very desperate things can get. The LoveReading LitFest invited Inga to the festival to talk about The Long, Long Afternoon. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Inga in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone is talking about this book. Check out a preview of the event here.

Debut Books of the Month
A Line to Kill

A Line to Kill

Author: Anthony Horowitz Format: Audiobook Release Date: 19/08/2021

I couldn't see the sea from my bedroom but I could hear the waves breaking in the distance. They reminded me that I was on a tiny island. And I was trapped.**** There has never been a murder on Alderney. It's a tiny island, just three miles long and a mile and a half wide. The perfect location for a brand-new literary festival. Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne has been invited to talk about his new book. The writer, Anthony Horowitz, travels with him. Very soon they discover that all is not as it should be. Alderney is in turmoil over a planned power line that will cut through it, desecrating a war cemetery and turning neighbour against neighbour. The visiting authors - including a blind medium, a French performance poet and a celebrity chef - seem to be harbouring any number of unpleasant secrets. When the festival's wealthy sponsor is found brutally killed, Alderney goes into lockdown and Hawthorne knows that he doesn't have to look too far for suspects. There's no escape. The killer is still on the island. And there's about to be a second death...

Audiobooks of the Month
Such a Quiet Place

Such a Quiet Place

Author: Megan Miranda Format: Audiobook Release Date: 19/08/2021

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest, a Reese's Book Club pick. We had no warning that she would come back... Welcome to Hollow's Edge - a picture-perfect neighbourhood where everyone has each other's backs. At least, that's how it used to be, until the night Brandon and Fiona Truett were found dead... Two years ago, branded a grifter, thief and sociopath by her friends and neighbours, Ruby Fletcher was convicted of murdering the Truetts. Now, freed by mistrial, Ruby has returned to Hollow's Edge. But why would she come back? No one wants her there, least of all her old housemate, Harper Nash. As Ruby's return sends shockwaves through the community, terrified residents turn on each other, and it soon becomes clear that not everyone was honest about the night the Truetts died. When Harper begins to receive threatening, anonymous notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else gets hurt... Someone like her.

Audiobooks of the Month
1979

1979

Author: Val McDermid Format: Audiobook Release Date: 19/08/2021

The unmissable first thriller in an electrifying, brand-new series from the Queen of Crime. The shadows hide a deadly story . . . 1979. It is the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys' club to take her seriously. Soon Allie and fellow journalist Danny Sullivan are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies - and Allie won't stop there. When she discovers a home-grown terrorist threat, Allie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the group and make her name. But she's a woman in a man's world . . . and putting a foot wrong could be fatal.

Audiobooks of the Month
My Name is Jensen

My Name is Jensen

Author: Heidi Amsinck Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

Copenhagen-born Heidi Amsinck, acclaimed for her BBC Radio 4-performed short stories, sure knows how to craft Scandi-noir with style. My Name is Jensen, her debut novel, is a gripping, twisty treat for fans of chic, gusty thrillers; an un-put-down-able rollercoaster through Copenhagen’s underbelly. Journalist Jensen has returned to her native Copenhagen following the closure of the London branch of her newspaper. She goes to work one morning to find a dead young man in a doorway, the word “Guilty” emblazoned on a cardboard sign. This is the second such victim in a few weeks, and Jensen needs to know who did it, and why. When her ex-lover, DI Henrik Jungersen, turns up on the scene, they play a kind-of cat and mouse game as a third body is found. At the same time, Jensen’s having work trouble. She hasn’t filed a big story since returning from London, and she lets a colleague take lead of reporting on these murders, all the while doing her own investigation and discovering more before anyone else, including her ex.  The case (and story) unfolds at carefully controlled, intriguing pace - always unpredictable, it will keep readers on their snow-chilled toes. As steeped in atmosphere as it’s driven by Jensen’s dogged commitment to discovering the truth, one hopes this setting and intriguing character feature in future novels.

Debut Books of the Month
The Tests

The Tests

Author: Robert W Kirby Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/06/2021

‘The Tests’ by Robert W. Kirby is a tense psychological thriller. When Alex Clayton loses his mother he is adrift and looking to find himself some new friends and escape a school life of bullying. But the interesting group he chooses has an initiation in order to be a part of the gang. Years later, the initiation and his time with this group come back to haunt him and Alex’s only solution to end his insomnia and nightmares is to gather the gang and work out what happened. Flipping between each group member, the present and the past the reader is taken on a twisting and turning ride that doesn’t give you much time to find your feet, let alone work out what secrets are going to be revealed. Each flash to the past entices you to read on, to work out which event exactly is at the source of Alex’s search for the truth. Each change of character allows you to know more about the whole group of friends, allowing them to have their own developed story and dimension. Gripping and brutal this is a story that I couldn't put down, a rollercoaster ride for anyone looking for a thrill. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
What About the Girl?

What About the Girl?

Author: K.T. Cavan Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/05/2021

The cold war and espionage in the 60s is the backdrop of ‘What About the Girl? Clemency White Takes Over’ by K.T. Cavan. The first in a spy series following Clemency White as she jumps at an opportunity to get involved in an undercover operation with agent Peter Aspinall. A different side of life from her work at the British Embassy in Bern, Clemency has to use strength, skills and courage she didn’t know she had as the KGB move in. I like Clemency, she seems a little amateur and makes rash decisions in the beginning and I enjoyed watching her character slowly develop as the book unfolds and I’m sure there’s more development to come as the series progresses. This is a fast paced book, full of interest and excitement and it is one that I found myself “one more chapter-ing” waiting to see what would happen next. Even though most of the focus is on Clemency and Peter, their relationship and the job in hand, the author still manages to add some dimension into the outside world, the setting and the cities the characters visit. I liked the tension building throughout the plot, the “will they won’t they” of Clemency and Peter as well as the constant risk of agents and eyes everywhere in the plot. The narrative flips perspectives during one especially dire situation and I found this further increased the tension, drawing the narrative out and left me eagerly wanting to read more. I’d recommend this book to those who love readers who love 60s espionage tales (think Man from U.N.C.L.E, or early Bond films) but want to try something with an interesting twist in perspective.

Indie Books We Love
Volta

Volta

Author: Nikki Dudley Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/05/2021

As soon as I opened the book and the title ‘Volta’ and its definition was revealed I knew this was going to be a book full of twists and turns and I looked forward to finding out exactly how this was going to be related to the plot. ‘Volta’ by Nikki Dudley throws the reader in at the deep end, when someone we later find out to be Briony wakes up covered in blood, apparently with no recollection of how she came to be in such a situation. We then pan out, taking the opportunity to meet Mari (Briony’s therapist) Aris (Mari’s detective brother) and SJ (Briony’s new lawyer with a history with Mari and a friendship with Aris). This interconnected foursome carry the plotline, each having their own turn with the narrative which I found added more dimension to the characters and the storyline. In this twisting and tense thriller there are multiple conundrums to figure out: what happened between Briony and Ed and is it connected to Briony’s past? What happened in SJ’s Past? And the ‘will they, won’t they’ of SJ and Mari which I found to be a more light-hearted aspect of the narrative that provided some much needed respite from the grittier topics although brought a different tension to the book. Having already won the Virginia Prize for Fiction, I know I will be adding my voice to a sea of others when I say that I really enjoyed this well-crafted and gripping thriller. The characters all have so much dimension and there’s a great deal of detail to the plot, this is a book I was mulling over when I wasn’t reading and will linger with me for a while now I’ve finished. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
K-666: BRUTUS — The Mongolian Virus: War through biological weapons

K-666: BRUTUS — The Mongolian Virus: War through biological weapons

Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/03/2021

 ‘K-666: BRUTUS - The Mongolian Virus: War through biological weapons’ by Alessandro Boccaletti is a Bond-esque take on a global pandemic. Sinister governing organisations setting out to manipulate a once dormant virus and use it as a biological weapon in order to expand their economy and improve their global positioning. As more and more people fall ill around the world, the unlikely co-operation of an American virologist and his Russian colleagues may just be able to find the solution needed. Based on the global experience over the past year, significantly embellished into a work of dramatic fiction with the incorporation of conspiracies and evil plots, in order to make this an entertaining medical and political narrative. With either a great deal of research or initial knowledge, the author navigates the scientific research and medical scenarios within this book in a way that appears technically detailed and believable throughout. Personally, I didn’t like the footnotes used in the book as I feel that as this is a work of fiction, information is either important enough to be included in the main narrative and should be integrated there, or else left out. However, this little pet peeve of mine didn’t stop me from following on and enjoying this medical thriller in one sitting.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Picture it. You’re going on holiday. The bags are packed and the family is ready, you’re at the gate, the plane is boarding, you’ve decided to start your brand new, especially purchased thriller right away. Suddenly, you’re immersed into the corridors of intrigue, conspiracy, murder, espionage and you don’t know who to trust. The plane has left without you. So has the family. You haven’t even noticed. At least you have a good book … and the whole house to yourself for a week!

This section is crammed with dangerously compelling adventures that will have your nails bitten and nervous system tested to the full. From Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and James Patterson to Fred Vargas, Bernard Minier and C.J Sansom, there’s enough here to keep you ‘head-down and out-of-it’ for years. There’s certainly time to read one more before the family gets back from Torremolinos … and that’s where we come in!