Criminal Activity: new books and recent releases

Serial killers, cosy crime and Nordic noir: it’s all in our selection of murder and mystery featuring top-flight writers, exciting indie authors and a few new names you should definitely get to know. The action tracks between gritty BritCrime, the Russian mafia, Los Angeles in wartime, a typically English mystery, Weimar Berlin and small-town Sweden.…

Eighteen Below: a twist at every turn

Although it’s set in Sweden, this ripping thriller has more in common with mainstream American crime-fiction than the typical thoughtful, slow-burn Scandi crime. It’s all about the action and less about atmosphere – a fast-paced ensemble investigation, not a moody, windswept sonnet to the isolated solitude of the Nordic spirit. It’s certainly a lot more…

A Book Of Bones: 21st century gothic

This gargantuan beast of a book concludes a story arc which began some six volumes ago in The Wolf In Winter. Far from being bare bones, A Book Of Bones is an extended, immersive and intense reading experience which delightfully disrupts commercial publishing conventions. For one thing, this is a 700 page epic – a…

Outsourced: action-packed and unpredictable

A genre-blending, boundary-bending combination of high concept science, mythic mystery and high-tech thriller, Outsourced explores the practical possibilities of quantum entanglement when applied to the cold-blooded actions of a contract killer. It starts with a splendid scenario – the authorities know that the hitman standing trial has committed hundreds of murders, but he’s totally Teflon.…

Three Bullets: dead shot

Kennedy. JFK. The words inevitably scream out ‘assassination’ — then ‘controversy’, ‘conspiracy’. There can be nothing new to say on the subject, surely? RJ Ellory has a lot that’s new to say, and he says it with magnificent effectiveness in Three Bullets. You’ve read the blurb (it’s below, in case you missed it), so I’ll…

Metropolis: a goodbye to Bernie

Long before it was fashionable to write detective fiction set in Nazi Germany, Philip Kerr created his Berlin Noir trilogy. That series established an entire genre and inspired a generation of crime writers to set their stories not in Agatha Christie’s golden age of the English upper class but instead in Berlin’s sleazy backstreets. Unlike…

Witness Statement: author Jan Edwards

Welcome to author Jan Edwards, whose new wartime mystery novel In Her Defence has just hit the shelves. Heroine Bunch Courtney – who we met in Winter Downs two years ago – first witnesses the death of a Dutch refugee in a quiet English market town. Just days later she learns of a similar murder…

The Island: isolation and intrigue

In a minor masterstroke, Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson is telling his ‘Hidden Iceland’ series in reverse order. That’s not obvious when you read the first book to feature detective Hulda Hermannsdottir, The Darkness, which gets the ball rolling in the twilight of her career. But then all becomes obvious with The Island, set fifteen years…

55: deceit and dishonesty

Ambiguous characters, devious cliffhangers and sneaky-cheat disclosures are all the rage in crime fiction right now. It’s almost as if readers have dared authors to deceive them, to invent improbable scenarios and craft them into something convincingly credible. This debut novel does something similar but different. It hooks us with a superb set-up… and then…

The Conviction Of Cora Burns: a fight for freedom

This might be an historical crime novel, set below stairs in Victorian England, but it’s about a far from cosy crime as you can imagine. This is a gritty, character-driven thriller with a deeply conflicted yet credible protagonist. Cora Burns pretty much sums up the capacity of the human spirit to overcome adversity… although the…