Newest Crime Reviews

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The Night Stalker by Clare Donoghue

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DI Mike Lockyer and his preferred sidekick DS Jane Bennett are back – but this time not on home turf. Lewisham's finest are sent to the country for this outing. There's been a death down in Somerset. It's not the sort of thing you'd expect the regional murder squad to get involved in, it looks like a hit-and-run on a remote road in the Quantocks, probably just some drunk driving a big four-by-four who didn't even know he'd done it. Full review...

The Long Arm of the Law by Martin Edwards (editor)

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When we think of the 'golden age' of crime fiction, we think of the brilliant amateur forever putting the official P.C. Plod to shame. Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Father Brown and so on. I'll admit to being a fan of all of those, but they aren't the whole story. The other side of the coin shows the official police doing their job and getting their man. Full review...

Insidious Intent: (Tony Hill and Carol Jordan, Book 10) by Val McDermid

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When we meet Kathryn McCormick we know that she's got less than three weeks to live. Had Kathryn known that she might have made different choices. I've a suspicion that she might not have wasted time being at the wedding, but it was there that she met her killer. He said his name was David and he was charming, respectful, unwilling to rush anything as he was still getting over the death of his wife. Kathryn was left with the feeling that he was still more than a little bit in love with Tricia. They went on a couple of dates and then David took her to a cottage in the Dales for the weekend. By the end of the weekend Kathryn would be dead in her burned-out car. Full review...

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

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In the small town of Grace, fifteen-year-old Summer Ryan suddenly goes missing. A model student with exceptional musical talent and beloved by all that know her, the incident rocks the entire town. It is even more terrifying set against the backdrop of recent crimes; for over the course of the year, five young church-attending girls have gone missing from all corners of Briar County. The kidnapper and murderer responsible for the disappearance of these girls is nicknamed Bird by law enforcement, and has so far evaded capture. Whilst he roams the streets, no one is safe. Full review...

I Am Missing: David Raker Missing Persons by Tim Weaver

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David Raker is an investigator, specialising in missing persons cases. Over the course of his work, he's seen plenty of unusual things, but he’s never encountered a case quite like this one. A man, Richard Kite, has approached him for help, but explains that his request is quite unusual. You see, Richard Kite isn't trying to locate a missing person. He IS the missing person. Found unconscious at the mouth of Southampton Water 10 months previously, Richard is now suffering from dissociative amnesia, which means that he can't remember anything about his life. He's not even sure that his real name is Richard Kite. Richard is frustrated because he cannot move on with his life. Nobody seems to know who he is, despite news and press coverage of his case, and without a National Insurance number, he is basically 'off the grid,' unable to get a job, pay tax or own a home. This desperate and confused man needs Raker's help to discover the truth. But the truth can be a dangerous thing. Full review...

Good Friday (Tennison 3) by Lynda La Plante

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Jane Tennison's a fully-fledged detective now after her ten-week course at Hendon: she's back at Bow Street waiting for her first posting. She'd like the Flying Squad, but she's not got the experience, nor, it has to be said, the necessary physical attributes. This is 1976 and male chauvinism was rampant. It was also London just after the extensive IRA bombing campaign of 1974 and 75 and no one believes that it's going to be over any time soon. Passing through Covent Garden station one morning Jane was caught up in the latest incident in which a bomb killed five people - and she's one of only two people who got a good look at the bomber. Full review...

The Mermaid's Scream (Wesley Peterson) by Kate Ellis

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In 1884 a wealthy young woman became infatuated with the man who ran a travelling puppet show. We'll follow the story of John Lipton's courtship through excerpts from his journal.

In August 2016 Zac Wilkinson was writing the biography of the reclusive novelist Wynn Staniland. It's not easy work as Staniland isn't inclined to give more away than he has to and is unwilling to discuss the one thing which the public will want to know about: his wife's suicide which seemed to follow a scene from his most famous book. Wilkinson is doing his best to drum up interest in the forthcoming book: he does talks at local libraries which are well attended and he was seemingly on his way to one of these talks when he disappeared. Full review...

Murder in Saint-Germain by Cara Black

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Who is Aimee Leduc? I have to be honest and say that though this novel may be seventeenth in series from the best-selling Cara Black, it is in fact my first outing with the deft Parisienne detective. And so, if I'm honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. How does a character with so many investigations under her belt retain the gusto we've come to expect from all good literary detectives? Moreover, how does an author with so well established a character as Aimee Leduc keep her interesting enough for those of us coming late to the party? After reading Murder in Saint-Germain I would suggest that Black manages it quite easily. Full review...

Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre and Frank Wynne (translator)

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Christmas week, 1999, and Antoine hasn't got the best of situations. Some of his friends have parted company with him because of the new-fangled Playstation, which his mother refuses to let him waste his time on. He's built a treehouse all by himself, and decided it was solely to woo the girl next door that he loves, but she's rejected it. And his best company, the dog from the other house next door, was injured in a hit and run, and shot to be put out of its misery. In the process of angrily demolishing the treehouse, he's visited by his very friendly and adorable neighbour, the dog's six-year-old owner, and Antoine's swung some of the wood at him – and killed him with one fell and very foul sweep. As the title suggests, there will be a very tense few days and nights while the guilt amasses with the lad – and/or a lifetime of living on a knife-edge, where any false move could lead to him being found out… Full review...

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

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18 year old Rachel Fullsmith returns home to Kenya after being away at school in England and finds a lot can change in 6 years. Of course she realises her mother's death would alter things but she's not prepared for her father's live-in 'companion' Sara nor Sara's son Harold sleeping in Rachel's old room. Michael the Kikuyu servant boy she grew up with is still there though and now a man with his own ideas. Meanwhile the unrest between the British rulers and the local Mau Mau fighters is increasing and about to blow. Full review...

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello and Alex Valente (translator)

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In 1978, in a small town in Northern Italy Elia Furenti is sixteen and troubled. His mundanely stable, loving and ordered life is rocked by the murder of a young boy and the disappearance of a young woman, who vanishes into the woods. As Elia struggles to make sense of his shifting relationship with his increasingly erratic and unpredictable father, he begins to question what role this volatile man may play in these acts of senseless violence. Into this steps Anna, the mother of Elia's friend, a woman bowed under the strain of life and haunted by her choices. As the heat of summer intensifies, so does Elia's certainty that something is desperately wrong in his home. Drawn, seemingly inevitably, to the mysteriously sensual and sad Anna, Elia feels the ground start to shift under his feet, to feel the wind whipping his face from the cliff edge of adolescence and the unavoidable pull of adulthood. Full review...

The King of Fools by Frederic Dard and Louise Rogers Lalaurie (translator)

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Having sort of split up with his partner, Jean-Marie is on holiday alone on the southern French coast, when he chances to meet a married English woman, Marjorie. They meet in the most unusual ways – with two identical cars parked next to each other, she gets in the wrong one by mistake, then leaves her beach bag behind. Lo and behold they find each other at the casino, and the following day, when she arrives at his hotel to reclaim her bag, they meet heart to heart. Jean-Marie sees her to be a very unhappily married woman, and not even the arrival of his partner and make-up sex can convince him he is not in love with Marjorie. But finding her again will take him to Edinburgh – and into no end of trouble… Full review...

Death Makes A Prophet by John Bude

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Two pages into this Crime Classic I had to check the first publication date. Reading the first two pages, it could easily have been written in 1967, or '87, or even (possibly as a pastiche) in 2017. Given that Bude's witty caper originally came out in 1947, it's slightly criminal that it's taken this long to resurface. Full review...

Dead in the Dark (Cooper and Fry) by Stephen Booth

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It's ten years since Reece Bower was accused of the murder of his wife, but the case never came to trial: Annette Bower's body was never found and although a murder can be prosecuted without a body there was an added problem here. Annette's father said that he'd seen his daughter a couple of days after she'd apparently disappeared. Had Annette simply left the marriage that was in difficulties or was something more sinister going on? Then, a decade later, Reece Bower disappears without trace. His new partner wants some answers. Full review...

The Breaking of Liam Glass by Charles Harris

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A flawed but reasonably entertaining swipe at modern media. There's plenty here to like, and plenty not to. But good structure and scramjet pace keep this one flying to the final page. Full review...

So Say the Fallen (DCI Serena Flanagan) by Stuart Neville

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Harry Garrick had been a successful businessman until the car accident which cost him both legs and left him bedridden and beholden to his wife for even the most intimate functions, so there was not a lot of surprise when, six months later, he seemed to have taken his own life. One sachet of morphine granules, mixed in a pot of yoghurt had given him a good night's sleep. Garrick appeared to have crunched ten sachets of granules, if the empty packets were anything to go by. It seemed obvious that the case should be closed quickly: who would dispute a finding of suicide? Even DCI Serena Flanagan was just about convinced: it was just that the widow, Roberta Garrick, and the local clergyman, Peter McKay seemed suspiciously close. Perhaps a few loose ends needed tidying up before the case was closed? Full review...

Three Drops of Blood and a Cloud of Cocaine by Quentin Mouron and W Donald Wilson (translator)

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Paul McCarthy is a man of simple pleasures; Sheriff in a small town, a good husband father and neighbour, he moves through life buoyed by his faith, in both God and justice. The brutal murder of old Jimmy Henderson rocks this simple man's tenuously ordered life and drags him to the edge of the abyss. McCarthy is tasked with leading a fractured investigation whilst managing his own soul-searching questions about morality and the nature of existence. Into this quagmire steps Franck, a private detective with a shadowy agenda, a raging cocaine habit and a twisted sense of morality. As McCarthy tries to solve this apparently motiveless crime, Franck acts as a perverse Jiminy Cricket, dripping immorality and depravity into his ear with a kiss and a wink. Full review...

Merlin at War: A DCI Frank Merlin Novel by Mark Ellis

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Whilst war is raging in Europe and France is occupied, there's something of a lull in Britain. Hitler needs the Luftwaffe for other duties and London is spared the nightly blitz, but no one's under any illusions that it could start again at any time. There's been a certain relaxation in sexual relationships though and illegal abortions are on the rise and not all of them go as they should. A young woman is found dead in a London hotel room as the result of a botched operation: she has no identification and no one knows who the father of the baby was, or who performed the operation. Full review...

The Vinyl Detective - The Run-Out Groove: Vinyl Detective 2 by Andrew Cartmel

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The Vinyl Detective is not really a detective. He's just a normal bloke - though that might depend on your definition of 'normal' - who lives with his girlfriend Nevada, two cats and a collection of vinyl in a house that happens to be adjacent to the Abbey, a posh rehab place notorious for the celebrities it treats. He doesn't solve crimes or trace missing people, even if he does search for rare records. So when an odd couple turn up on his doorstep requesting his help in tracing a missing child of a 1960's female rock star whose own death was shrouded in now somewhat cultish mystery, he says no. That is, until he is told that the job would also involve tracing a rare single. Full review...

Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

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It was the sort of display which would have been better in black and white and without a sound track, but what happened at the Red Wedding, as it would come to be known, was noisy, brutal and fatal. A sniper on a distant hillside began shooting at the wedding party: three people, including the bride died immediately. Another two, including the bridegroom would die soon afterwards. Terry Gilchrist saw the shooter disappearing over the hillside, but the armed response officers were unwilling to take his word for it when they finally arrived and it was a further three-quarters of an hour before they gave clearance for the paramedics to come to the scene. It would be this delay which made the headlines before too long. Full review...

Suspicion (Inspector Barlach 2) by Friedrich Durrenmatt and Joel Agee (translator)

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Inspector Barlach is dying. We did know that, more or less, from the first book to feature him, but it's confirmed here by us opening on him in a clinic bed, with a year left to live. But his doctor is helping him in other ways – sustaining his policing career as much as his life. When his doctor blanches at the sight of a magazine photograph featuring a Nazi camp doctor at work, a story slowly starts to emerge, one that may prove to be a wicked conspiracy to keep the Nazi alive and still practicing, under someone else's name. Barlach, clearly well suited to go under cover as someone needing to go under the knife, works up a plan to check whether his suspicion is correct. What's the worst that could happen after all? – even were he to regret his decision, it would never be for long… Full review...

Forever and a Death by Donald E Westlake

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A lot of time and effort goes into the average movie, but this is at least double in the case of Bond. Each one is part of a decade's long institution and must excel. With this in mind there is a sea of discarded wannabe-Bond themes, wannabe-Bond stories and wannabe-Bond actors. For every successful Garbage Bond theme, there are numerous other indie bands that never made the cut. Donald E Westlake was a successful thriller writer in his own right, but once he jumped aboard the good ship Bond his work never cut it. The result was this adaptation of his failed Bond script, but did Barbara Broccoli have justification for passing? Full review...

Two Lost Boys by L F Robertson

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Janet Moodie is a seasoned death row appeals attorney. Overworked, lonely, and feeling like she's drunk her fill of desperation and sadness, she takes on one final case, determined it will be her last. Marion 'Andy' Hardy is sweet, polite, good-natured, and a little slow, but according to the state, he's also a rapist and a murderer. Moodie must untangle his aging case against the clock. She can't save his innocence, but maybe she can save his life. Full review...

The Obsession by Nora Roberts

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Naomi Carson lives in New York but she hasn't always lived there. Actually her name hasn't always been Naomi Carson. Naomi's life had to start again when, aged 11, she sneakily followed her father into the woods to see if he was hiding her birthday present. That night she saw something no child… no person... should see. As an adult she's now putting her life back together and even coping with the advances of Xander Keaton but danger still lurks. The past will one day repeat itself and this time Naomi will find she's the target. Full review...

The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse

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Lesley Pearse compares her writing process to the art of gardening: 'A seed of a plot drops into my head, I plant it with a few chapters, spend a great deal of time thinking it through, and once the green shoots come through, I water it with care. Hopefully several months later something beautiful has grown.' Certainly she carefully cultivates her characters, meticulously researches the locations for her books and is an expert at creating a fast paced plot with heart in the mouth moments. She delivers staggering surprises as her brave protagonists battle terrifying odds and draw on inner hidden strengths to triumph over adversity. Invariably her well-crafted novels, whether they be historical fiction, family sagas or crime stories are captivating best sellers. Consequently as an avid Lesley Pearse fan I had high expectations for her latest novel. Whilst it delivered on some levels, it regrettably didn't leave me in disbelief at the denouement. Full review...

The Templars' Last Secret: A Bruno Courreges Investigation by Martin Walker

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The body of a woman was found beneath the ruined Templar chateau of Commarque, but what had she been doing there? She'd apparently been climbing the structure, but using some cheap and unsuitable rope. Sprayed on the wall in orange paint were the letter IFTI. Had she been intending to write more when she fell, but if so, where was the paint - and the rope? Her neck had been broken, but was this an accidental fall when doing something stupid, or had she been pushed? She carried no identification and her fingerprints weren't known to the French police or Interpol. Full review...

Errant Blood (Duncul Mysteries) by C F Peterson

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When Eamon Ansgar's father passes away, he makes the decision to return to his home in the Scottish Highlands to take over control of his family's estate. He has been gone for many years, during which time he has pursued a career in the army and survived a posting in Afghanistan. Having failed to succeed at his subsequent attempt at city life, it seems village life back in Glencul is his only option. For most people in his position, returning home to the peaceful life of lordship over a castle and village would sound like a dream come true. But Duncul Castle and the village it overlooks are both keeping secrets – a mystery lurks in the cellars of Duncul, and some of Glencul's residents would kill for it. Full review...

Hellfire by Karin Fossum

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In July 2005 Inspector Konrad Sejer stood in the door of the caravan and surveyed the scene. The mother - she'd be in her thirties - and her four-year old son had both been brutally stabbed. There was blood everywhere and the only clue as to who had murdered them was a bloody footprint. But who would want to kill Bonnie Hayden and her son Simon? You see, Bonnie is one of those people whom you feel is due some luck. As a child she wanted to be a doctor, but when we go back to December 2004 she was working as a home help and dealing with some of the most difficult invalids in the area. Simon's father had left them and they were living a hand-to-mouth existence with both of them hating the fact that Simon had to be left at nursery so that Bonnie could go to work. Full review...