The summer holidays are almost here; time to kick back and turn pages. Here’s a selection of cracking crime-thrillers, murder-mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy and crossover titles from established and new authors, small publishers and indie outlets. Heaps to keep you entertained on the beach or while waiting for your flight to be called…
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Harry Dresden, here come a new private investigator with a unique ability: the gift of second sight. Samuel Black’s talent is a boon to his professional life and a hindrance to his personal one. It comes in handy when he’s tasked with finding the four horsemen of the apocalypse and preventing armageddon. Sam faces up to demons, angels, bikers and all manner of biblical terrors. The finale promises to be (literally) apocalyptic… The first part of the Angels of Chicago series is released at the beginning of July and is available as an ebook at Amazon.
If you enjoy Nordic noir and Scandinavian police procedurals, but sometimes struggle with reading translated works which were originally written in a very different language, then this compact murder-mystery is an excellent introduction to Bates’ Icelandic criminal investigations. The author spent 15 years in Iceland so writes with first-hand experience and natural fluency. In this novella, it’s the tail end of a hot summer. Half of Reykjavík is on holiday and the other half wishes it was. A man is reported missing, and as Gunna and Helgi investigate it becomes clear he was keeping secrets. These lead to a sinister set of friends, and to someone with little to lose who is a fugitive from both justice and the underworld… Summerchill is available as an ebook
Hunter normally writes contemporary thrillers, stacked with technical detail and the oily, insidious mechanismo of armed conflict – especially the art of the sniper. He’s leaned more towards historical thrillers of late, first exploring the assassination of JFK from a new angle, and then introducing an unknown Russian sniper from the brutal battlefields of WW2. His latest thriller goes even further back in time to the most infamous serial killer in history, to re-imagine Jack’s personal story as his stalks through London’s sordid sidestreets. We’re promised plot twists and scenes of cackling madness… Might want to wait for the paperback to be published, as prices for the hardback are still stratospheric: I, Ripper
In the dog days of summer, Danny Daggers is about to die. He just doesn’t realise it yet… This blend of black humour and unflinching social commentary mixes a Korean student doing work experience at the South Wales Post, her alcoholic veteran journalist mentor and Danny himself, a uni student with a YouTube following. It all adds up to carnage in Cardiff; blitz-boozing, drugs and ultraviolence; a dystopian view of modern Britain. The Death of Danny Daggers is available as an ebook.
THE DEADUCTION AGENCY, Terry Tumbler
If the title’s anything to go by, this paranormal thriller is likely to contain plenty of one-line witticisms. Details of the plot are minimal: a group of extra-special investigators with psychic abilities set up a new agency to resolve criminal cases. The Deaduction Agencyis available as an ebook
Inevitably compared to Dick Francis, this rural investigation also has a lot in common with Midsomer Murders and Morse in its style and tone. There’s been a shooting on the Earl of Ditchburn’s country estate. The Earl’s activities have angered animal rights and environmental groups, but subsequent deaths suggest Elmsgrove Racehorse Yard is the target. There is more at stake than a horse race and the culprit is preparing to kill again… A traditional English murder mystery, with plenty of plot and page-turning pace. Bells On Her Toesis available as an ebook.
This rapid-fire novella follows on from earlier short stories in the JJ Stoner series, but can be read as a stand-alone. It’s set in Ireland, not so very long after the Good Friday agreement. The cease-fires are holding firm… so far, but someone wants to put a cat among the peace process pigeons. Stoner, independent operative, covert investigator and occasional contract killer, doesn’t have a dog in this fight. But someone wants to involve him in their business, and the action quickly turns bloody and brutal. A short, sharp and satisfying interlude in the life of a gun for hire, Third Person: A JJ Stoner short story (The Stoner Series Book 3)is available as an ebook.
In this dystopian future, there are few Untamed humans left in the world. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides—because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being; hooked on artificial augmenters which erode humanity more than they enhance it. A YA title with a forceful female protagonist, Untamed (Untamed Series Book 1)is available in paperback and ebook formats.
Lena Fox is strikingly beautiful, with copper coloured hair and a figure that women envy and men lust after. She wants for little. She sells herself. She enjoys her work immensely and has done very well from it. But Lena’s real passion has wheels. She prefers well-worn jeans, Doc Marten boots and an old black leather jacket. At a bike rally, Lena lends a hand to a victim of a crime, and meets up with Tony, someone she knows from her professional career… A short story which will strike a chord with anyone familiar with bike rallies and the alternative way of life; includes (as you might expect) explicit sexual references). Recreation: Yes, you do look a little familiar… (Lena’s Friends) is available as an ebook; free to d/load during promotions.
If you’ve become a little fatigued with the increasingly unlikely life of Alex Delaware, this new protagonist from JK promises a fresh perspective in a stand-alone psychological thriller. Grace Blades is a brilliant and dedicated psychologist with a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches, because she bears her own invisible scars. Only five years old when she watched her parents die in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect. As an adult she has a secret life, an insatiable desire for the addictive thrills of sexual trysts with strangers. When her two worlds unexpectedly converge, Grace’s past returns with a vengeance… The Murderer’s Daughteris available in hardback, paperback and ebook formats.
The author has a background in the armed forces and military intelligence. Using that experience he’s created an intriguing team of private investigators, Kara Wright and Tien Tran, former members of an elite intelligence team. Normally they tracks errant spouses or highlight dishonest employees. Once in a while, they take on more significant cases that allow them to use all their skills. This first novel in the series is one such investigation, when an intelligence analyst appears to be involved with an enigmatic Russian thug and then goes missing. Nothing in this darkening world is that nothing and no one can be taken at face value. Face Value: A Wright & Tran Novel (Wright & Tran series Book 1)is available as an ebook
In this humorous sci-fi thriller set a few years hence, everyone on earth sneezes. Simultaneously. Soon after, an alien spacecraft appears over New York City and broadcasts a dire message of impending doom. The future of the human race depends on the whims of a solitary extra-terrestrial, and this alien has some nasty surprises for the residents of Earth. The race is on to figure out his true motives and the meaning of the sneeze event… One for fans of Niven and Pournelle but with less hard-science and more laughs. Contact Us: A Jake Corby Sci-Fi Thrilleris available as a paperback or ebook.
THE BLACK WIDOWS, Jane Finch
What makes a woman kill the man she has loved? Three women from different backgrounds are brought together by their determination to make a fortune from their unsuspecting husbands. Carefully selected, the men are lured into the widow’s trap, completely beguiled, until their ultimate disposal. Three separate stories are interwoven to give insights into the women’s determination to seek revenge on the men they marry. Even in death, all is not as it seems… THE BLACK WIDOWSis available as an ebook or paperback.
The 25th (!) book in the Prey series sees the emphasis shift away from Lucas Davenport and to his adopted daughter, Letty. As ever, Sandford supplies solid plotting, deft dialogue and skilled writing to move the manhunt along at a decent clip… even if his recent offerings have lost the edge and emotional heft of the extraordinary early episodes. A perfect book for airport lounges and long-haul flights, Gathering Preys is available in paperback and hardback.
More ripping reads to follow 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…