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ON MY SHELF . . . Louise Penny, Norman Townsend & Jim Pinnells

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KINGDOM OF THE BLIND by Louise Penny

KOTBChief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec has been entertaining readers since 2005 when he made his debut in Still Life and his creator, Louise Penny, has a shelf full of literary awards for her efforts. In his latest case, Gamache has a very personal interest. An elderly woman whom he has never heard of, let alone met, has named his as the executor of her will. The document is full of odd bequests and instructions that suggest the old lady had long since taken leave of her senses, but when murder intrudes, Gamache finds himself involved in a case so full of menace, that a dotty senior citzen is the least of his problems. Kingdom of The Blind is published by Sphere and will be available in hardback and Kindle on 27th November.

 

TRASHED by Norman Townsend

TrashedSome ex-military men find that civilian life is hard to deal with, but Paul Stafford is coping well. He has used his retirement pot to start a small recycling business and everything in the scrapyard seems to be rosy, until he wins a lucrative contract to run a further five sites. What should be a business triumph turns into a nightmare for Stafford when he realises that his new sites have been previously used by a powerful criminal organisation, and the bad guys do not take kindly to their work being interrupted. Murder and violence come as second nature to them, and when his own employees begin to feel the full clout of the gangsters, Stafford must stand and fight – both for them and his own integrity. Trashed, from Troubador Publishing is available now.

REFLECTIONS by Jim Pinnells

ReflctrionsJim Pinnells is an international project manager who has worked in such diverse concerns as the oil industry, military hardware, renewable technology and national security. His knowledge of Thailand stems from a spell there working for the UN, and Reflections is set in Bangkok, where a poignant human drama is played out against a backdrop of one of the world’s most secretive criminal enterprises – the trade in human blood. Ed and Diana seem to have it all – beauty, talent and love for each other – but when their first child is born irreparably brain damaged, their world fall apart. Ed pursues the heartbroken to Diana to Thailand but a case of mistaken identity plunges him into a nightmare world of violence, kidnap and espionage. Reflections is published by Troubador and is out now.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Learner & Oswald

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THE MAGICK OF MASTER LILLY by Tobsha Learner

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Rumour had it that both Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess were obsessed with astrology, despite the Nazi regime having banned the dark art in 1934. A belief that the future could be told by studying the alignment of the planets, is, however, as old as human history itself. Tobsha Learner’s latest novel is centred on a real-life seventeenth century astrologer, William Lilly, and you can read a straightforward account of his life in this article by David Plant.

Learner has the luxury of being able to use her imagination to enhance what is already a fascinating biography, as Lilly was to be involved in one of the most turbulent periods of English history – the struggle between King and Parliament, 1642-1651. Not only did the Civil War set father against son and brother against brother, it ushered in two decades where natural disasters were to take their to toll on the country, particularly in London, where first pestilence and then apocalyptic fire would come down on the hapless citizens like outriders of the Four Horsemen.

Lilly is living as far as possible from the political heartbeat of the country, since Parliament has a vengeful way with anyone who appears to be dabbling in the occult, but as King Charles is blissfully unaware of his unpopularity and his fate, the astrologer is summoned to court. What he sees in the alignment of the planets is disaster heaped upon disaster. Will he be believed, and will his vision alter the course of history? The Magick of William Lully is published by Little, Brown and came out in Kindle earlier this year. This paperback edition is due to be on the shelves on 1st November.

NO TIME TO CRY by James Oswald

JOThe Tony McLean novels have established James Oswald as one of the stars in the current British crime fiction firmament. We reviewed the most recent, The Gathering Dark, and it was powerful stuff, leaving the likeable detective to deal with a devastating episode in his personal life. The sequel, Cold As The Grave (the ninth in the series) is due out next year, but fans of the writer, who keeps himself very busy running a farm in Scotland, have the first in a new series to tide them over.

Oswald takes us south of the border (but not Down Mexico Way) and we are introduced to a new heroine, undercover cop, DC Constance Fairchild. I don’t know if they exist so much in real life, but within the pages of crime novels, they are guaranteed to provoke bitten nails and deep anxiety. How good is their cover? Do the crims suspect them? How far will they go to maintain the illusion?

Fairchild’s already nervy existence is thrown into turmoil when she finds her boss dead. Executed, to be precise. The single shot to the head is something of a giveaway. Professionals are involved, and things get no better when Fairchild is made the scapegoat for an undercover sting which has gone badly wrong. Her grief at DI Pete Copperthwaite’s death fuses with anger at her professional betrayal. The mix is a toxic hatred for those who are responsible and, even though she becomes a target herself, she will not take a backward step until the guilty are punished. No Time To Cry is published by Wildfire Books, came out in Kindle in the summer, and will be available in paperback on 1st November.

 

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Sheila Parker

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MERCY OR MERCENARY by Sheila Parker

mercyThis very English mystery revolves around the death of a distinguished biographer, Ralph Maguire. Maguire is in the terminal throes of dementia, and in his moments of lucidity he is trying finish his book about a celebrated actor.

When he is found dead, and the post mortem points to an overdose, the net of suspicion falls upon those around him, including his wife and those around him. The police investigation, led by Detective Inspector Kershaw uncovers family secrets as well as certain people who stand to gain by the biography remaining unpublished.

Mercy or Mercenary is published by Matador/Troubador and is out now.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Hugh Fraser

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There aren’t too many female assassins out there in crime fiction, and even fewer English ones, so Hugh Fraser’s Rina Walker is a person of interest. For fans of the series – this is the fourth – Ms Walker will need no introduction, but for newbies, she had a childhood which shaped her future. Notting Hill, London, in the 1950s was not the chic neighbourhood it is today. 15 year-old Rina is a thief and a scavenger, of necessity. She avenges an attack on her younger sister, by killing the perpetrator – a local gangster. From here on it is either downhill – or uphill, depending on your view – all the way.

Stealth sees the fearsome lady back on the revenge trail. This time it is 1967 and the victim is a London ‘working girl’; Rina’s actions, however bring her face to face not only with the usual gangland suspects, but the faceless power brokers of British Military Intelligence, and Cold War spooks.

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Stealth will be available from 8th October in paperback, and is brought to us by Urbane Publications. Watch for alerts on Twitter and Facebook pointing you in the direction of the full review. Meanwhile, you can follow the author on Twitter at @realhughfraser and he is, incidentally, a great fan of the East Anglian county of Suffolk.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Knight & Scragg

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OH….SEPTEMBER … Such a cause for melancholy. Even though it is six years since the end of August, for me, meant one terrible truth. The days ahead would mean a return to work. A return to the classroom.  A return to hour upon hour of dreadful, pointless and unproductive staff meetings. A return to the sight of six hundred – well maybe twenty or thirty – shining young faces turned in my direction, desperate to hear my wise words, to share my hard-earned wisdom, to rejoice in a mutual love of learning. (Spot the bare-faced lie or three)

OH….SEPTEMBER … even though I am retired your first dawns still bring a little shiver of fear, but then I roll over in bed, hug my Teddy, and lapse into a smug sleep, safe in the knowledge that I am no longer responsible for shaping the lives of Britain’s future leaders, scientists, composers, authors and philosophers. Nor the lives of apprentice muggers, drug dealers, drunk drivers, sex pests, wife beaters and Jeremy Kyle guests.

OH….SEPTEMBER … thank you for new books, new plots, new writers and the prospect of afternoons spent feet up on the sofa, worlds away from the beige mundanities of small town Cambridgeshire, transported to the world of murder, deception, intrigue and violence. New books, then.

KNIGHTSCRAGGS2Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries before beginning her writing career. She has written television and film scripts for the BBC, Channel Four and Capital Films. Her first screenplay, Mother’s Day, made it onto the 2010 Brit List of best unproduced scripts of that year.

Her first novel, Disclaimer, was published by Transworld in 2015, and she is currently adapting for the screen for Fox Searchlight. Renée lives in London with her husband and two children.

Her new novel, The Secretary, is a psychological thriller based around the concept of someone who is largely ignored and taken for granted, but is always there listening, making mental notes of indiscretions, weaknesses and fallibility. What if that someone, Christine Butcher for example, is pushed to her limit and needs to strike out? Her knowledge and little book of secrets may well prove to be fatally powerful. The Secretary is published by Doubleday, and will be out in early 2019.

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KNIGHTSCRAGGS2What Falls Between The Cracks is the first published novel from Robert Scragg.He is a northerner born and bred, and has had a random mix of jobs to date, including bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor, and Football Coach. He originally intended to join the legal profession, but after getting his degree, ended up with a job in Telecoms.

Writing was something he hadn’t done much of since he left school, until around seven years ago when an idea for a book popped up that he found too interesting to ignore, and his lead character, Jake Porter, plus his partner Nick Styles started to nag him to write it. His first novel, What Falls Between the Cracks, is the first in the Porter & Styles series. It was pitched during the 2016 Theakston’s Crime Festival at the “Dragon’s Pen”, to a panel of agents and editors, managing to get four ‘yes’ votes, and has since been picked up by Allison & Busby. It was released in hardback and e-book on 19th April 2018, and the paperback follows on 20th September.

Robert lives in Tyne & Wear, with his wife, children and dog. Away from work and writing, he’s a long-suffering follower of Newcastle United, fan of all things martial arts, scuba diving and mountain climbing, and self-confessed crime fiction junkie. His favourites in the genre include Harlan Coben, Robert Crais, Linwood Barclay, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Sarah Hilary, Mari Hannah, Mark Billingham and Howard Linskey to name but a few.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . McNab & Winchester

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AS THE CUSTOMARY BANK HOLIDAY MONSOON SETS IN I can at least deliver some comfort in the shape of two new crime novels. One is from an established veteran of military skullduggery both real and imaginary, while the other is written by a former copper who has picked up the proverbial pen after a career dispatching the bad guys to the penitentiary.

LINE OF FIRE by Andy McNab

LOFIt is tempting to add the cliché “who needs no introduction” but it won’t hurt to remind potential readers that the man known as Andy McNab is, in real life, a highly decorated soldier. You don’t receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal for services to military administration, nor is the Military Medal awarded for excellence in ceremonial drill. McNab’s most popular fictional hero returns in Line of Fire, and former Special Forces operator Nick Stone is, as usual, up to his eyes in trouble. He has been given the job of taking out an unusual target. One, it’s a woman and, two, she is a hacker so skilled that her clattering keyboard can potentially disrupt commerce, destroy communications and bring down governments. Line of Fire is published by Corgi/Transworld/Penguin Random House and will be available in paperback from 20th September.

AN URGENT MURDER by Alex Winchester

AUMLEx Met-Police detective Winchester says of his debut novel:

I drew on my thirty years of experience to write the book, using my personal knowledge of investigations and how different people respond to situations they find themselves in.”

An ambitious rookie police officer and a jaundiced ‘been there, done that” colleague make an unlikely pair as they investigate the suspected poisoning of a pensioner. Is their target an unscrupulous nurse, or is the old man’s death linked to the world of organised crime and, specifically, a notorious mobster? An Urgent Murder is published by Matador and will be on the shelves from 28th August.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Leigh & Lowery

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A HOLIDAY TO DIE FOR by Marion Leigh

Marion LeighBorn and educated in the United Kingdom, Marion Leigh (left) has lived in France, Germany, Indonesia, Canada, the USA and, latterly, Spain. She has also spent time in Australia and the Far East, India, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Her debut novel, The Politician’s Daughter, was the first in a series of adventure thrillers featuring feisty globetrotting Petra Minx of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Dead Man’s Legacy followed, but now Petra is in South Africa, accompanying her buddy, Carlo, to his cousin’s wedding. She becomes involved in the hunt for the attacker of two teenage girls in Cape Town and finds among her foes, in no particular order, a wicked step-brother, a phony priest, and a reluctant bride. This is out now, from Troubador Publishing. To find out more about Marion, you can visit her website.

THE MOSUL LEGACY by Christopher Lowery

The author is best known for his trilogy of best-selling thrillers set against the turbulent background of the African diamond industry.

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Christopher_Lowery-745x1024Here, though, Lowery (right) turns his attention to an equally violent centre of rage and recrimination – post-Sadam Iraq. This hard hitting and meticulously researched thriller focuses on two contrasting pairs of Iraqis. The first pair are bitter and vengeful jihadists who travel west determined to wreak havoc with bomb and bullet on a world they blame for the destruction of their homeland and an assault on their religion. The other two. a married couple – Hema and Faqir Al-Douri – flee the Mosul death trap with only one intention –  to find peace and safety in Western Europe. The Mosul Legacy is published by Urbane Publications and will be out on 27th September.

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Brabazon, Curtis & Heary

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THE BREAK LINE by James Brabazon

The Break LineIn his debut thriller, James Brabazon enlists that familiar but effective trope, the elusive and anonymous killer who does unpleasant things for his country’s government, despite the knowledge that he ever gets caught, his paymasters will, like the biblical Peter, deny him thrice. Max McLean is one such ‘invisible man’ but when his bravest and most reliable colleague falls foul of the official machine, Max tears up his contract and goes to the violent wastelands of Sierra Leone in search of the men who have destroyed his best friend. The Break Line is published by Michael Joseph/Penguin and will be available on 26th July.

 

WHEN I FIND YOU by Emma Curtis

WIFYThere is a bona fide medical condition called face blindness, and sufferers lack the vital mental ability to retain data about another person’s appearance in order to recognise them at a future meeting. Laura is one such, but she can relate people to clothing. When she wakes up, hungover after a woks Christmas bash, she remembers that she slept with a man in a pink shirt. Or did she? When she realises that the shirt on her bedroom floor is blue, her troubles are only just beginning. Transworld Digital publish the Kindle version of When I Find You, and the paperback, from Black Swan/Penguin will be available on 9th August.

THE CONCORDAT by Sean Heary

ConcordatCentral to the story is an all-powerful Russian President who sits like a spider at the centre of a web which is designed to snare unwary political and military flies across the world. Sounds familiar? Well, maybe, but this guy is called Alexander Volkov, and he plans to boost his power by revealing a potentially damaging historical pact between the Vatican and Hitler’s Germany. Lorenzo Rossi is the Head of the modern day Vatican police and his quest to limit Volkov’s malign intentions leads him into clear and present danger. If you are minded to grab this thriller, it is available now in paperback and as a Kindle, courtesy of Troubador Publishing.

 

 

ON MY SHELF . . . Levine, McCauley & Perks

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BUM DEAL by Paul Levine

Bum Deal017Paul Levine is an American author of crime fiction, particularly legal thrillers. He has written two series, known generally by the names of the protagonists: Jake Lassiter and Solomon vs. Lord. In Bum Deal, published by Thomas & Mercer and out now  old football injuries, ostensibly healed, may have left Jake Lassister a terrifying legacy. He has begun to suffer crushing headaches and episodes of memory loss. Does Lassiter have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the fatal brain disease?

That’s the backdrop of Bum Deal in which Lassiter, after two decades as a criminal defence lawyer, switches teams and becomes a prosecutor. Why the move? Is he burned out?  Or is the reason he’s switching teams more alarming? Have all those concussions come back to haunt him? Dr. Melissa Gold, a neuropathologist, thinks so. She prescribes experimental treatments intended to stop, or at least slow, the progress of his traumatic brain injury.

Despite the health scare,  Lassiter is appointed to prosecute a prominent Miami surgeon for killing his wife. Only problem, there are no witnesses, no fingerprints, no DNA, no weapon, not even a body. How will Lassiter even prove that the missing woman is dead, much less that her husband killed her? Looming over Lassiter is a greater risk than merely losing a case. As the trial approaches, his symptoms become more severe and the jury’s verdict becomes the least of his worries.

THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT by Terrence McCauley

 

The Fairfax Incident016Terrence McCauley is an enthusiastic contributor to Thuglit, which describes itself thus:

..”the short fiction magazine that’s been kicking crime fiction’s ass since 2005. Offering eight punches to the gut, six times a year.”

Readers will not be surprised, then, to hear that McCauley’s latest novel is a violent thriller set in the maelstrom of prohibition era New York City. Charlie Doherty is a disgraced cop who has used his influence and street-smarts to set up a PI business. When a rich widow walks into his Manhattan office and asks him to prove that her husband’s suicide was actually murder, Doherty lifts his eyes to the heavens, thanks all the Irish saints he can remember, and dreams of the many ways he his going to enjoy the widow Fairfax’s fat cheque. Investigating the apparent suicide of Walter Fairfax, however, wipes the grin form Doherty’s face as he is forced to confront some of the most implacably evil men not just in New York, but much further afield.

The Fairfax Incident is published in paperback and as a Kindle by Polis Books

NIGHT DRIVER by Marcelle Perks

Night Driver015Marcelle Perks is no novice writer, but with earlier titles such as Incredible Orgasms: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Secrets of Porn Star Sex: Brilliant Ideas for No-holds Barred Pleasure, this thriller signals a temporary change of direction. Perks lives and works in Germany, and it is there that we meet Frannie, an English expat, heavily pregnant and with her marriage on the rocks. Having learnt to drive in a bid to boost her self esteem, she takes to deserted early-hours roads to build her confidence at the wheel. Fate takes a hand, however, and when her path crosses that of Lars Stigelegger, a homicidal truck driver, Frannie is drawn into a world of trafficking, prostitution and violence. Pre-publication comments suggest that Night Driver is:

♦ Tom’s Midnight Garden as a road movie with a serial killer thrown in.
♦ Duel for the post-Brexit age.
♦ A gripping Euro drama with a shocking twist.

The novel is based on the true crime case of Fritz Haarman, Germany’s most notorious serial killer. Night Driver is out on 2nd August from Urbane Publications.

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