2015 has already produced some criminally good books. Here’s a selection of chilling crime-thrillers, murder-mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy and crossover titles from new writers, indie authors and small publishers which are waiting in our scarily huge TBR stack…
A SONG OF SHADOWS, John Connolly
The Charlie Parker series continues to blend gritty, real world investigations with subtle insinuations of the supernatural. Each new book contains its own distinct plot, but the back-story and ongoing arc are key to understanding the nuances of the narrative. So if you haven’t read the rest of the series then this probably isn’t the place to start. If you’re up to speed with Parker, Louis, Angel et al, then this promises to be another utterly absorbing episode.
Still recovering from his life-threatening wounds, Parker retreats to a small town in Maine to lick his wounds. He ends up helping a widow in a case which dates back to a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. Old atrocities are about to be unearthed, and old sinners will kill to hide their sins. Parker (as usual) puts his own life on the line – this time for a woman he barely knows, one who fears him almost as much as she fears those who are coming for her. Meanwhile, Parker’s own enemies are gathering against him, mistakenly believing he is alone and vulnerable…
THE LIGHT BENEATH THE WAVES, Stuart Farquhar
An entertaining blend of fiction and folklore, legend and myth and what might be – blessed with brilliantly creepy cover art. Mermaids are usually portrayed as being beautiful seducers but more sinister interpretations of water elementals have been surfacing of late… The people of Anterwendt firmly believe that mermaids exist – there’s one in the museum – and when a young couple arrive on their way to the New World, they get caught up in local tensions, imperial intrigue and some ancient and powerful folklore. Then the circus comes to town displaying an array of self-proclaimed freaks. Increasingly strange new arrivals inflame old prejudices and expose dark secrets in a fishing community where shipwrecks are a part of daily life and something unseen haunts the shoreline.
THE BREAKS, Eden Sharp
Set in here-and-now San Francisco, this hard-boiled mystery kicks off a new series featuring a vigilante investigator whose intriguing skill set promises much: a bad attitude, a dab hand at hacking, and matter-of-fact martial arts expertise. Oh, and she’s a woman which makes for a refreshing change. The author says she wanted to write a ‘fast paced thriller, with some sassy dialogue, a badass chick and plenty of action shot through with sexual tension.’ Enter Angela McGlynn who engages in vigilante activism in an attempt to dismiss self-destructive thoughts. When she employs a recently discharged veteran to aid her in the search for a missing girl, she soon comes to realise that war has left him broken. As they both become embroiled ever deeper into a vortex of danger and half-truths rapidly spinning out of control, his need to rescue the girl and her insistence on exacting justice compel each of them to pursue a course of action with no regard for the potential psychological fallout.
FATAL FORGERY, Susan Grossey
This historical ‘whydunnit’ starts a series of financial crimes set in 1820s London, with six more novels in the series due to lift the view on the corrupt bankers, investment fraudsters and blackmailers of the day. Back in 1824 trust in the virtual money of the day – new paper financial instruments – was so fragile that anyone forging them was sent to the scaffold. So why would one of London’s most respected bankers start forging his clients’ signatures? Sent to arrest Henry Fauntleroy, Constable Samuel Plank is determined to find out why the banker has risked his reputation, his banking house and his neck – and why he is so determined to plead guilty. As the case makes its way through the Regency justice system, exercising the finest legal minds of their generation and dividing London society into the banker’s supporters and detractors, Plank races against time to find the answers that can save Fauntleroy’s life.
MOCKINGBIRD SONGS, RJ Ellory
Ellory’s novels are all stand-alone stories but they typically explore similar themes of loss, redemption and the ability of everyman to overcome evil, exploring in detail the inner lives of a tight cast of characters against the sprawling backdrop of American society.
His latest release (out May 2015) starts where most crime novels end, in prison. The only reason Henry Quinn survived three years inside was because of Evan Riggs, a one-time country singer, one-time killer, now serving a life sentence. No parole. On the day he gets out, Quinn promises Evan he will find his daughter, the daughter he never met, and deliver a letter. Keeping that promise turns out to be harder than expected and takes Quinn to Texas where the girl has disappeared and her uncle denies all knowledge. Quinn realises that there are dark secrets buried at the heart of this quiet town. What terrible thing drove the brothers apart and what happened to the missing girl?
THE MIND’S EYE, Christopher Nuttall
What if… telepathy really existed? For centuries, men have been dreaming of telepathy, the power to read and influence the minds of others. Now, all around the world, telepaths are finally appear. Men and women develop awesome powers with the potential to dramatically change society. Governments recruit them, while striving to keep knowledge of their abilities hidden from the general public. But how would the general populace react to mind-readers in their midst? How would telepaths respond when threatened by a frightened mob?
Set someday soon, The Mind’s Eye offers entirely plausible speculation on how the emergence of psi-abilities might play out, and how society might adapt to accommodate Humanity 2.0.
TRAFFICKING, Bill Ward
We’re promised action, violence and sex in this taut thriller about a terrible crime which revolves around a current cause célèbre. Trafficking is big business and those involved show no remorse, have no mercy, only a deadly intent to protect their income. In this story, a young Romanian girl has high expectations when she arrives in Brighton. She has of course been horribly misled: there is no job, only a life as a sex slave with her family back home held hostage to ensure her cooperation. Despite her determination, her future looks bleak.
Enter a possible rescuer – a father who loses his own daughter to these criminals and who seeks justice through acts of violent revenge.
THE FISHERMAN’S LILY, Suzanne Spiegoski
Meet Lily Dietz, a short-tempered and ambitious Asian-American homicide detective working the mean streets of New York City. Lily is strikingly beautiful, manic-depressive and alcohol dependent to the point of self-destruction. A gruesome murder case comes to close to home for comfort, when a depraved killer targets and brutally mutilates Asian-American women. A psychological game of cat-and-mouse escalates into a thrilling chase where Lily’s reality fragments. The people she depends upon have doubts about her ability to survive, not simply as a detective but as a person. Who will be able to save this damaged soul? Or who will be the one to destroy it?
THROUGH A MIRROR, DARKLY, Kevin Lucia
This collection of four novellas will be published in June 2015. It’s set at Arcane Delights, an intriguing bookstore for rare, obscure and unusual publications. The shop’s new owner Kevin Ellison has inherited far more than a family legacy, for inside are tales that will amaze, astound, thrill… and terrify. Every small town harbours its secrets. Kevin Ellison is about to discover those that lurk in the shadows of his neighbourhood: an ancient evil thirsty for lost souls. A very different kind of taxi service with destinations not on any known map. Three coins that grant the bearer’s fondest wish, and a father whose crippling grief gives birth to something dark and hungry.
These stories tie in to the author’s ‘Clifton Heights’ reality and a few characters from his previous offering, ‘Things Slip Through’, can be expected to appear.
SHALLOW WATERS, Rebecca Bradley
In this gritty police procedural, the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway in Nottingham. The post-mortem points a harrowing series of events, and a second murder in the series pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team to their limits. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths. It doesn’t stop there. When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?
The first in a new series from a debut author, this is a haunting story which tackles a tricky subject – sexual abuse of children – in a sensitive manner. The grim reality is matched with realistic procedural details to ratchet up the tension and intrigue.
EAVESDROP, Ian Coates
Smuggling and industrial espionage leave ex-MI5 operative, now a Customs Investigator James Winter’s career in tatters. Who arranged his dismissal, and what’s their link to Middle East assassins? His struggle to clear his name rapidly uncovers diamond smugglers, a police conspiracy, high tech spies and assassins intent on derailing Middle East peace talks. With the help of a dubious partner, Winter risks his life, but will he be able to stop an international conspiracy and clear his name?
WINGS OF THE OVERLORD, Morton Faulkner
This epic fantasy quest spirits the reader to Floreskand, where myth, mystery and magic reign. The sky above the city darkens as thousands of red tellars, the magnificent birds of the Overlord, wing their way towards dark Arisa. Ulran feels compelled to unravel the mystery and sets off, accompanied by a secretive travelling companion. They realise that it’s a race against time: they must get to Arisa within seventy days and unlock the secret of the scheduled magical rites. Joined by a mighty warrior, the trio must survive assassins, magical attacks, and nature’s wrath. Perfect for readers who long to return to Lothlórien…
THE SEVENTEEN COMMANDMENTS OF JIMMY SEPTEMBER, Simon Wilshire
A tense, contemporary action-adventure, set against the troubled African landscape of Niger where charismatic warlords manipulate child soldiers to secure their dictatorial regimes. An aid worker is kidnapped by the rebel army leader, General Jimmy September. The hostage’s father misappropriates three million dollars of company funds to secure his son’s release. As he negotiates a path through corrupt local officials and unhelpful government agencies to save his son, he discovers just how much he is prepared to risk to save his child.
A highly-rated indie publication, featuring well-developed characters in an unusual environment for the genre.
REPROBATE, Martyn V Halm
The first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin series which features an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters. They vie for supremacy in the subculture of the Dutch capital, giving the reader unusual insights into capital, the narcotics trade, computer hacking, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence. If you enjoy the first book, then several more full-length novels and short stories await.
The heroine, Katla Sieltjes, views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her male alter ego, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with clients through electronic means, all to protect her identity. Her solitary existence satisfies her until she meets a blind musician who wanders in on Katla’s crime scene. And Katla breaks one of her most important rules—never leave a living witness…
THE HERETIC, Lucas Bale
Earth is gone. Centuries have passed since the First Cataclysm ended life on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home. A new Republic has formed – one in which freedom no longer exists. In return for the protection of the Consulate Magistratus, citizens must concede their rights absolutely. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology – even procreation. Every citizen is implanted with a device to monitor location, health and nutrition, and emotion. All crime is punished by banishment or a lifetime of penal servitude. Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free…
The opening chapter in the ‘Beyond The Wall’ series, The Heretic promises tense, gripping hard science-fiction space opera about the future of humanity.
More ripping reads in our next round-up. Authors / publishers: feel free to drop us an email or find us on Facebook if you’d like your title to be mentioned next time around…