Bank Holiday book binge

Folks in the UK have a long weekend looming – the perfect opportunity to grab some quality time with your favourite author. Or maybe experiment with new writers, different characters and strange situations. Here’s some suggestions from the MMM TBR shelf: crime-thrillers, murder-mysteries, Nordic noir, cosy crime, sci-fi, fantasy and crossover titles from well-known and indie authors; ebooks and paperbacks aplenty. Maybe you’d better book an extra day’s annual leave…

KINNARA by Kevin Ansbro

KinnaraA killer-on-the-loose / modern romance / beach read with an outlandish difference. In Germany, uncompromising detective Otto Netzer leads the manhunt for a brutal serial killer who targets expectant mothers. In Thailand, 20-something Calum imagined Phuket would be the perfect beach getaway. What he saw – and did – on that holiday has far-reaching consequences, not only for himself, but for those closest to him. Neither Calum nor the killer could imagine that their destinies depend on a mythical creature who resides beneath the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea.

Has attracted stacks of five-star reviews for its ‘elements of romance, crime, mythology and even a hint of science fiction all cleverly woven together.’ We’re taking it to the beach…

EUROPA BLUES by Arne Dahl

EuropaWe really rate this author’s sophisticated and richly rewarding approach to the Scandinavian police procedural. He brings a level of intensity to an ensemble team which most writers struggle to achieve with just a couple of leading characters. As a result, there can be a long wait between books in the Intercrime series – but they’re worth every day of the hiatus. Pitch-perfect plotting, credible suspense, compelling characters. Can’t wait to sit back down with Hjelm and Holm. Thoroughly recommended – but if you haven’t read any before then start with The Blinded Man to best enjoy the developing relationships between this complicated team.

FOUR CORNERED by Frank Westworth

FourCornerThe fourth stand-alone short story featuring covert operative JJ Stoner, although you don’t need to have read any of the others to enjoy this episode of carefully choreographed action and intrigue. Set 10 years or so ago, a static stake-out rapidly escalates into live fire. Stoner is distracted by two killer women, each of them deadly in very different ways. Suddenly, what should have been a ‘routine conversation’ with a disenchanted weapons inspector veers into violence… As usual, Stoner wields black humour and blunt instruments – but this is far from being mindless violence. There’s a more than one meaning to every scene, making this quick thriller especially rewarding for those who’re following the series.

AN AMERICAN KILL by John Stonehouse

AmericanKillThe author’s first book, An American Outlaw, was one of our best books of 2014; a modern day manhunt of attention-grabbing accomplishment. The sequel has come out this summer and it turns out it’s a prequel. John Whicher is a US Marshal, not long out of training and barely twelve months back from serving in the Gulf war. In south Texas, he’s working his first case when a multiple shooting on the US / Mexico border leaves the ground littered with bodies. The county decides to limit any inquest; money’s tight, deaths among illegals are notoriously hard to crack. But Whicher, new to law enforcement, is not about to let his first case slide…

SMALL WARS by Lee Child

SmallWarsJack Reacher fans seem divided by these spin-off short stories. They can be something of a stop-gap between full-length novels, not necessarily fulfilling in their own right. Or they can be intriguing glimpses into the character’s back story. This new episode is set in 1989, when Reacher is still a serving officer in the military police. A young lieutenant colonel, in a stylish handmade uniform, roars through the backwoods in her shiny new Porsche – until she meets a very tall soldier with a broken-down car. What connects a cold-blooded off-post shooting with Reacher, his elder brother Joe, and a secretive unit from the Pentagon?

 LEFT TO DARKNESS by Craig Saunders

LeftDarknessWe discovered Craig Saunders earlier this year; his writing leans towards the ‘blistering’ end of the dark fusion spectrum. It’s almost impossible to categorise because he seems to delight in blurring genre boundaries, and his books veer from neo noir to high-end horror to speculative sci-fi, touching many bases in between. In his latest post-apocalyptic offering, a meteor strikes the Earth. Dirt and dust fill the air. Only a few people remain under the setting skies, and those who still live find it’s not God’s England anymore. It’s the Devil’s turn… We’re rationing ourselves to one Saunders’ title a month, to make his back catalogue last. This one just jumped the queue.

YIN TANG TATTOO by Ron McMillan

YinYangThis hard-boiled thriller is set in South Korea, where Alec Brodie renews an acquaintance with an old lover and a new, beautiful hooker. Soon he’s in the frame for a corporate scam and murder – and in Korea the maximum penalty for murder is death… This book’s been around for five years, but readers (including us) are just discovering the author’s novels set in the Far East. ‘The author vividly paints South Korea, but it’s not the cute and pastel Kpop world that many of us know. The characters are realistic and the plot has so many twists and turns it’s hard to tell if the protagonist will make it to the end. Sometimes shocking, but always gripping.’

TRANSACTIONS by Chris Graham

TransactionsThere have been a couple of short story prequels already released, and now here’s the full-length novel in the ‘Lena’s Friends’ series. Two middle-class schoolgirls, working as prostitutes, are forced off the streets, supposedly for their own good. They become the playthings of rich businessmen, each with differing agendas. The plot thickens when trafficked young women are discovered hidden in the back of a truck. The two girls ply their trade, as connections with Africa and in France are revealed. Diamonds and gold are being smuggled, and there is now a risk that the operation may be discovered. This means that somebody must die…

SMARTYELLOW by JA Christy

SmartYellowA new offering from Elsewhen Press, SmartYellow™ offers a worryingly plausible and chilling glimpse into an alternate Britain. For the sake of order and for the benefit of more fortunate members of society, those seen as socially undesirable are marked with SmartYellow™, making it easier for them to be controlled and maintained in a state of fruitless inactivity. ‘Following in the tradition of Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World, the writer has created an utterly convincing dystopian scenario. Highly recommended for fans of intelligent, thought provoking speculative fiction.’

HEAD BOY by Mark Wilson

HeadBoyThis smart, snarky, stand-alone novella is ‘a head-on collision between American Psycho and Ferris Bueller’s Day Out, set in the post-industrial wastelands of Scotland’s old steel belt.’ We follow Davie Diller through one week of his turbulent life. A scheming sod both in and out of school, Diller screws, drinks, snorts, cons and kills his way through the Lanarkshire underworld and attempts to survive the attention of his local drug-lord. ‘This dynamic anti-hero pulled my by the short hairs into a world of unsavoury characters and dark situations.’

N OR M? by Agatha Christie

NMCosy crime doesn’t feature too prominently on MMM, so here’s one for traditional murder-mystery fans who’ve been watching the BBC’s Partners In Crime series. This is where the TV story started, in their third adventure when Tommy and Tuppence are hired to track down wartime spies at a seaside resort. It’s World War 2, and while the RAF struggles to keep the Luftwaffe at bay, Britain faces an even more sinister threat from ‘the enemy within’ – Nazis posing as ordinary citizens…

TRADING WITH DEATH by Ann Girdharry

TradingThe first short story in a new ‘tales of the unexpected’ series, this 4000-word blend of mystery, suspense and speculative fiction is available at Smashwords (and may still be on offer). An older sister is tormented by her younger sister’s illness. Then one dark day, in the middle of the woods, she is faced with an opportunity to change fate. With the end drawing near, what choices will she make and what will be the consequences?

 ABDUCTED by Bill Ward

AbductedTaking trafficking as its theme, this novel tackles cultural and religious differences head on. Protagonist Powell attempts to recover two children from Saudi Arabia, where they’ve been taken abducted by their father. In a culture where women are second class citizens, a woman holds the key to the success or failure of his mission. Back home, Romanian gangsters threaten his nearest and dearest. From the streets of Brighton to Riyadh, Powell must take the law into his own hands.

FEAR THE DARKNESS by Becky Masterman

FearDarknessThe first Brigid Quinn thriller was promising: an unusual heroine, self-reliant if emotionally repressed. In this sequel Brigid has retired from the FBI and is investigating the death of a teenage boy when she suffers unexplained bouts of paranoia, hallucination and memory loss. For the first time in her life, she feels vulnerable… and then there’s a mass poisoning at the local church. The paperback comes out on August 27; the ebook is available now but at an eye-watering £10. We liked the first one – but maybe not to the tune of a tenner. Add this one to the ‘buy later’ list.

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More ripping reads to follow in our next round-up. Authors / publishers: feel free to drop an email (info at murdermayhemandmore.net) or find us on Facebook if you’d like your title to be mentioned next time around…

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