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march 2018 - crime and thrillers

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Stuart MacBride: A Dark So Deadly

Published by HarperFiction 8th February 2018


Gripping standalone thriller from the Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series. Beware of the dark… Welcome to the Misfit Mob – where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy is found at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to track down its owner. But then Callum uncovers links between his mummified corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting. No one expects the Misfit Mob to solve anything, but right now they’re all that stands between a killer’s victims and a slow lingering death. Can they prove everyone wrong before someone else dies?

Only the third non-Logan MacRae books to be written by Stuart, and although the setting is similar to his MacRae and Ash Henderson books, there's nothing too familiar or overlapping, with the result that you just hope he can find the time to write more books about Callum as well... There is one character who has appeared in previous MacBride books, but I'll leave you to discover her for yourself. Stuart MacBride simply gets better and better, and there's a new Logan MacRae out later this year. Superb entertainment from the King of police thrillers.





three super crime crackers...

Stuart MacBride - Alex Gray - Robert Galbraith

Alex Gray: Only The Dead Can Tell

Published by Sphere 22nd March 2018

'You think he killed his wife? 'Don't you?' When Dorothy Guildford is found stabbed to death in her home, all signs point to her husband, Peter. The forensic psychologist is convinced there's more to the case that meets the eye but Police Scotland are certain they have their man. While DC Kirsty Wilson searches for evidence that will put Peter away for good, she is shocked to discover a link with a vast human-trafficking operation that Detective Superintendent William Lorimer has been investigating for months. But before they can interrogate him, Peter is brutally attacked. With one person dead and another barely hanging on, the clock is ticking for DC Wilson and DSI Lorimer. And the stakes grow higher still when one of their own is kidnapped . . .


This is the fifteenth William Lorimer tale from the brilliant Alex Gray, whose fantastic books I only discovered this year quite by chance when I picked one up at random in one of the local charity shops. The story has everything you would want and expect from a police thriller - the characters are excellent, the story simply rocks along. I can't fault Alex's books in any way, they are pure enjoyment and some of the best Police Scotland adventures I've ever read, ranking her, for me, alongside the two very best: Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin. Absolutely brilliant!


Robert Galbraith: Career of Evil

Published by Sphere 22nd February 2018

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them... A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is the third in the number one bestselling series featuring Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott.


This third Strike novel is published as a TV tie-in to coincide with the BBC TV draa series that introduced us to him last year. I sincerely hope that J K Rowling continues to produce thrillers of this exceptionally high calibre because they are simply superb. The thing I like most about Strike is the length of the novels - this latest is getting on for 600 pages, and is one of the most un-put-down-able novels I have read. In this third caper, Robin seems to be more vulnerable than ever, but her determination not to go to pieces in light of everything that happens to her along the way is so beautifully endearing, and marks her as one of the greatest fictional heroines in modern literature. Strike is a larger than life character, as are many of his friends and acquaintances, along with his extraordinary background. This is one of the very best thriller series so far this century, and here's hoping the author has more Strikes up her sleeve. Brilliant!


M J Ford: Hold my Hand

Published by Avon 8th March 2018

A horrible vanishing act… When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared… Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether? And then another child disappears…


There is something about clowns that was simply reinforced by Stephen King when he introduced the world to Pennywise in IT. M J Ford's debut book has everything - tension, fear, murder, brilliant characters and plot... and a terrifying clown that owes something to Pennywise but not that much, really, making this a wonderful read, a story that will haunt you as you make your way through it and give you nightmares when you're asleep. Absolutely first class, every parent's worst nightmare comes true in a truly superb thriller...



John Connolly: A Game of Ghosts

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 8th March 2018

It is deep winter. The darkness is unending. The private detective named Jaycob Eklund has vanished, and Charlie Parker is dispatched to track him down. Parker's employer, Edgar Ross, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has his own reasons for wanting Eklund found. Eklund is no ordinary investigator. He is obsessively tracking a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to reports of hauntings. Now Parker will be drawn into Eklund's world, a realm in which the monstrous Mother rules a crumbling criminal empire, in which men strike bargains with angels, and in which the innocent and guilty alike are pawns in a game of ghosts . . .


This Latest in the Charlie Parker series sees the famed PI tracking down another PI who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Time they made a TV series, if you ask me...




Carolyn McCrae: Hostage To Fortune

Published by Matador 28th January 2018

Husband and wife team, Skye and Fergal Shepherd, specialise in researching family histories but also act as consultant investigators to a section of the Security Services run by Gordon Hamilton. Having met in A Set of Lies they completed their first assignment in Second Strand and are called upon again in Hostage to Fortune.

Gordon asks them to investigate the disappearance of Diane Hammill, a keeper of a safe house. Within a few days they believe they have located her but, against direct instructions, they then involve themselves in two other, seemingly unconnected, events that occur in Diane s home town within days of her disappearance: the assassination of prominent politician, Warwick Eden, and the apparent suicide of Ryan O Donnell, a crew-member on Eden s luxury yacht.

Skye and Fergal focus their attention on Guy Cliffe, another member of Eden s yacht crew, whose family appears to be linked to Warwick Eden s dead brother, Barford. What they learn of four generations of the Eden family leads them to Southern Spain, to the horrific events of 1936 and that country s Civil War and it is there that they find the solution to the mystery Gordon had intended them to investigate all along; not Diane s disappearance, not the assassination, nor the subsequent murders, but something altogether more interesting.

Set in Devon, the Caribbean and Spain, Hostage to Fortune will appeal to fans of non-formulaic crime and mystery fiction.



Chris Carter: Gallery Of The Dead

Published by Simon and Schuster 8th February 2018

The compulsive new novel from the author of the Sunday Times Number One bestseller THE CALLER.

Thirty-seven years in the force, and if I was allowed to choose just one thing to erase from my mind, what’s inside that room would be it.
That’s what a LAPD Lieutenant tells Detectives Hunter and Garcia of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit as they arrive at one of the most shocking crime scenes they have ever attended. 
In a completely unexpected turn of events, the detectives find themselves joining forces with the FBI to track down a serial killer whose hunting ground sees no borders; a psychopath who loves what he does because to him murder is much more than just killing – it’s an art form.
Welcome to The Gallery of the Dead.


Just a little too grim for me...




Jack Grimwood: Nightfall Berlin

Published by Michael Joseph 17th May 2018

Major Tom Fox is despatched to East Berlin to bring home a traitor who defected to escape justice. But it's clear that there's more at stake than an old man wanting to return home to face the music. Powerful forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain stand to lose if the defector is given his day in court. Fox soon finds that in the upside-down world of Cold War Berlin he's operating alone in the enemy's backyard, unsure of who he can trust. And if Fox is going to succeed in his mission, let alone escape with his life, he will need to draw on skills learned during a past he's trying to forget . . .


Fans of BBC TV's Spooks series will love this one... as will more mature fans of James Bond...





R K Salters: Butterfly Ranch

Published by Matador 28th January 2018


Tristan Griffin is a household name and the author of a universally popular detective series. For the past few years he has lived in self-exile in a remote jungle lodge nestled in the Mayan hills of Southern Belize, with his partner Hedda. The novel begins as he attempts suicide and Hedda disappears. Altamont Stanbury, an old Kriol police constable posted to the local backwater of San Antonio, rushes to the scene with his daughter Philomena, the village nurse. 

Philomena saves Tristan but he remains unconscious. Altamont, a bumbler and long-time reader of crime novels, launches a half-hearted search for Hedda by radio but decides to remain at the lodge. In truth his reverence for Tristan the writer consumes all else, and he becomes obsessed with the Griffin books he finds at the lodge. 

When Tristan comes to, he is distraught and at times delirious, haunted by flashbacks of his uncompromising, cursed love for Hedda and the dark secret behind her disappearance. His anger and increasingly erratic behavior only find respite in the presence of Altamont’s innocent daughter. But he feels nothing but spite for Altamont himself, and the relationship between the two threatens to have fatal consequences for one or both. 

Butterfly Ranch is a story of obsessive love, self-destruction and unexpected redemption.




Howard of Warwick: The Tapestry of Death

Published by The Funny Book Company 14th February 2018


England 1067: Briston the weaver has been murdered – in a very special way – and it is up to his old friend Wat to avenge his death. Brother Hermitage will naturally support his companion in the quest, but the young monk worries as the number of suspects keeps rising. He's never been good with crowds. When events take a turn for the truly bizarre, Hermitage and Wat find themselves up to their Saxon socks in people who want them dead, people who want one another dead and people who seem to want everyone dead. They must find a missing maiden, placate a giant killer and reveal the awful secret of the Tapestry of Death before matters are resolved. Resolved largely unsatisfactorily, but then that's life. With a monk, tradesmen, priests, Normans and Saxons, The Tapestry of Death should be a solid, traditional medieval who-done-it, but it isn't. Really, it isn't. Authentic and accurate representation of the time? Barely. Historically informative? Certainly not. Hilarious and very silly? Now you're getting warm.


The only thing I can find wrong with this is the name: Brother Hermitage... In every other respect, I have nothing but admiration for the attention to historical detail lavished on the plot by the author. Most excellent!


Camilla Lackberg: The Girl in the Woods

Published by HarperCollins 22nd February 2018


No. 1 international bestseller and Swedish crime sensation Camilla Lackberg’s new psychological thriller featuring Detective Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck – irresistible for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo.

A missing child
When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjällbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered.

A murder
Back then, two teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could it really be a coincidence that one of the girls – now a world-famous actress – has just returned to Fjällbacka? Detective Patrik Hedström starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.

A community torn apart
But as Patrik and Erica dig deeper, the truth becomes ever murkier, because it seems that everyone in the tight-knit community is hiding something. And soon, the residents must confront the fact that they could be harbouring a murderer in their midst…


Camilla's books are crammed full of atmosphere and tension. A really good alternative to Wallander, and guaranteed to keep you entertained for a long time. A simply terrific read.




The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twenty-first year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.