Vapour Trails: deep in the international underbelly

International crime fiction really can take you places, places you might never have considered visiting in person. In these times, when we’re physically anchored to a single geographic location, this can be utterly exhilarating. And Vapour Trails is an especially wild ride, an extraordinary rendition (pun entirely intended) of hardboiled noir superimposed on an unfamiliar…

A Last Act of Charity: meet JJ Stoner and the Killing Sisters

The opening episode of the Killing Sisters trilogy introduces a cast of unique characters – three women who’ve made murder their business, and a world-weary warrior who’s had his fill of killing. Their paths cross in brutal, sometimes sensual encounters as we meet the underworld manipulators who support them, their victims who may not be…

Crime Time: recent releases and the best new books

The days are getting shorter and autumn’s storms have started to arrive. Time to settle down with a gripping thriller and ignore what’s going on in the world outside. This time we have two top-notch Scandi crime novels from best-selling Nordic noir authors; an historic spy story set in WW2; the Lincoln Lawyer’s most important…

She’s As Good As Dead: a new Agent Starling?

Lara Jones isn’t your typical, hard-bitten FBI investigator. In fact, she’s unusually vulnerable for a veteran of the specialist behavioural science unit, who used to spend her time profiling the worst of America’s criminals. We meet her at a troubling time in her life: starting a new job in a local field office, trying to…

Rapid Reviews: the weird and the wonderful

This week’s selection of criminal encounters goes beyond the usual police procedurals to uncover murder in the desert and monsters on the movie lot; eugenics in tomorrow’s world and courtroom dramas from yesteryear, and an assassin who kills for kindness… THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael ConnellyIt may be a touch long in the tooth –…

Masters of Murder: short, sharp stabs

This is a clever confection of 15 tales of the unexpected, in which someone deserving dies an appropriate death – and the killer gets away scot-free thanks to meticulous planning and fancy footwork. For such a dark subject, these stories offer an implausible helping of fun as you attempt to second-guess the plot twists: who…

The Dirty South: introducing Charlie Parker

If you’ve never read any of the Charlie Parker books before then this is a great place to start. Never mind that it appears to be the umpteenth in the series; it might be the new-for-2020 story but it’s set back in the mists of time, in the late 1990s, shortly after the murderous events…

The Conviction: vigilante action

This would make a great movie. In fact, The Conviction strongly reminds me of a sci-fi flick from the late 1990s, Cube, in which a group of strangers navigate their way through a sequence of lethal puzzles trying to discover why they’ve been abducted. The Conviction features a similar theme, with locked rooms containing potentially…

Rapid Reviews: killers and twists

Bit of a mixed bag this month – several stand-out  thrillers which think wicked and don’t disappoint… and a couple of distinctly duff examples of mainstream mush. A big name on the cover doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to pick up a great book and, just to prove that point, a couple of our faves…

Stake: who wants to believe?

Imagine you’re a vampire hunter, trying to eradicate an unmitigated menace. To the creatures that you hunt, you’re the ultimate enemy. To the modern world, you’re a psychopathic serial killer. When objective truth is blurred by personal perceptions, either extreme could be possible. And that’s the entertaining territory which author Kevin J Anderson explores in…