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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Heaton and Whitelaw

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KNOXLEY HALL by Eddie Heaton

This gritty police procedural is acted out against the backdrop of the ruinous London riots of 2011, and also focuses on what remains an unresolved scandal – the historic allegations of paedophilia among the great and the good of British political life. Terry DeHaviland has made his mark as a journalist by digging for dirt in the fertile ground of the celebrity secrets, but when he is murdered, Detective Sergeant Todd has to risk his career to find the killer, who is at the beck and call of some of the most powerful – and ruthless – people in the land. Knoxley Hall, by Eddie Heaton (below left) is published by Matador and is on sale now.

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HELLCORP by Jonathan Whitelaw

There has to be something satisfying about a book whose first page describes how the Pope, tired after a long day’s infallibility, trudges back to his private apartment and lets rip a luxuriously long and relieving fart. That being done, however, his life becomes a whole lot more complicated. One hell of a lot, one might say, as he is visited by none other than his adversary, The Devil. Back on earth to solve an ancient crime, he of the scaly tail leaves The Vatican reeling in his wake before blundering his way through twenty-first century Scotland in this highly original – and occasionally scabrous – black comedy from Jonathan Whitelaw (above right). Hellcorp is published by Urbane Publications and will be available in early July.

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ON MY SHELF . . . May 2018 (2)

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LONDON, TOKYO, ROME, RURAL ENGLAND, WASHINGTON DC – and TRANSYLVANIA! Anyone fancy a round the world trip via the pages of crime and mystery thrillers? If so, stay tuned. We are hardly ten days into May, and the intriguing books keep thudding onto my front door-mat.

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Kill Angel

rocambolesqueTHEY SAY THAT YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN – and reading the Amazon description of Dazieri’s novels I came across the amazing word Rocambolesque. As ever, Google had an answer of sorts, and I am now waiting for the opportunity to drop the word into casual conversation with my friends and family. That aside, Dazieri returns with another case for detectives Torre and Caselli. An express train from Milan arrives in Rome, but several of its passengers and train crew won’t be disembarking, at least without the help of medical teams, stretchers and body bags. This is Italian Noir at its finest, and not for the faint of heart. Published by Simon & Schuster, Kill The Angel is translated by Anthony Shugaar, and is out now.

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I’LL RISK A SMALL WAGER WITH YOU. I say a word, and you respond instantly with another word. Yes, I know, it’s that old word association game associated with bogus psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Anyway, I have written two words on a slip of paper, and I win if either is the word you come up with. Ready? OK, here goes…

“TRANSYLVANIA”

VVIf you said either “Dracula” or “Vampire”, I win. But maybe you’ve been reading the novel by Irish-Hungarian actress and poet, Vivienne Vermes? If so, you’ll know that her novel The Barefoot Road definitely doesn’t involve teeth, cloaks, garlic or unconventional blood transfusions. It dos however, involve blood which is shed by violence. A young woman is found near a Romanian village. She is unconscious, half -starved, and barely alive. She is from an ethnic group which were brutally expelled by the ancestors of the present villagers. Humanity temporarily triumphs over tribal bigotry and she is nursed back to health, but when she begins a relationship with one of the villagers, and a child disappears, the embers of old hatreds burst into flames. The Barefoot Road is published by Matador, and is available as a Kindle or a paperback.

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ON MY SHELF, MAY 2018 . . . Kent, Michael, Weaver & Wignall

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AFTER A BLISSFUL – AND VERY HOT WEEKEND IN FRANCE – where sun cream and hay fever tablets were de rigeur, it’s back to a very cold earth with a bump. Maybe a squelch would be more accurate. Today is the fabled first day of May, and last night the central heating was on full blast, and my over-confidence that the electric blanket could be laundered and stowed away for the season was severely punished. Still, there are always books to keep me warm, even if they look destined to be read curled up on the sofa in a warm room rather than under the verandah with an ice-tinkling glass of something cold and juniper tinged close to hand.

WHAT WE DID by Christobel Kent

WWDTeachers taking advantage of their unique position of trust is nothing if not topical, and few teachers can become so connected to their pupils’ progress and personality as music teachers. In Christobel Kent’s latest domestic thriller we meet Anthony Carmichael, one such person. The student he abused has now grown up and married. Bridget has a loving husband, a delightful son, and a business that demands her full attention. When Carmichael reappears, the fences protecting her comfortable life are torn down, and events take a sinister turn. Published by Sphere, What We Did is out on 17th May.

CORRUPTED by Simon Michael

CorruptedCharles Holborne is a brilliant and successful barrister specialising in criminal cases, and his work brings him into contact with the most corrupt and manipulative people in 1960s London. It will be no surprise to learn that these characters are not all associates of the notorious Kray twins, but men and women who are normally seen on the other side of the justice system. The deeply psychotic Ronnie Kray has already had a terrifying influence on Holborne’s life, and if the barrister thought that the episode was over, he is very much mistaken as he becomes involved in a sex scandal that threatens the very government of the country itself. Corrupted is published by Urbane Publications and will be available on 21st June. I was very impressed with an earlier novel in the Charles Holborne series, The Lighterman, and the review can be read here.

YOU WERE GONE by Tim Weaver

YWGTim Weaver’s investigator David Raker is now a well established member of fictional PI royalty in British fiction, and he is just that little bit different. His speciality is finding people – whether they wish to be found or not. This is the ninth in the series and, with existing fans well aware that Weaver is a master of plot surprises, readers new to the series are presented with another audacious premise. Raker’s late wife – repeat late wife – reappears and accuses him of faking her disappearance and death. With the police suspecting him of the crime, Raker is faced with a baffling conundrum which will ruin him if he fails to find the answers? Is this woman a clever and convincing opportunist, or does the solution lie in a breakdown of his own sanity? I have been a fan of the Tim Weaver/David Raker partnership for a good while – read why  by checking out my review of I Am Missing. The latest case for David Raker is out on 17th May and is  published by Michael Joseph.

TO DIE IN VIENNA by Kevin Wignall

TDIVIt seems there is nowhere quite like Vienna for mystery, intrigue and international back stabbing – both literal and figurative. For so long the major crossroads between East and West, the Austrian city once again is the backdrop to a dangerous game of bluff and counter bluff and deception. Freddie Makin is a surveillance expert who is paid to watch ‘people of interest’ and report back to his paymasters. His problem is that this a risky profession; powerful people are likely to feel threatened, and when their discomposure reaches a certain level, they will lash out. After following a suspected Chinese intelligence agent, Makin is now the hunted man. Who is trying to kill him? What has he learned that has pushed his name to the top of the kill list? Thomas and Mercer are publishing To Die In Vienna on 14th June.

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Bartram, Connolly & Hall

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THE TANGO SCHOOL MYSTERY by Peter Bartram

PBWelcome to Brighton, England – where they do like to murder beside the seaside…Want to know what it’s like when a quiet romantic dinner ends in murder? Ace reporter Colin Crampton and his feisty girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith are tucking into their meal when Shirley discovers more blood on her rare steak than she’d expected.

And once again Colin is on the trail of a big story that can only end in more murder. Colin reckons he’s cracked the story when he uncovers a plot involving a sinister figure from the past. A Tango Academy seems to lie at the heart of the conspiracy.

But nothing is quite what it seems as Colin peels away the layers of the mystery. He tangles with a cast of memorable characters including a professor of witchcraft, the former commander of an army mobile latrine unit, and a tango instructor with two left feet. Join Colin and Shirley for another madcap mystery in Swinging Sixties’ Brighton, where the laughs are never far from the action. The Tango School Mystery is out now, and a full review will be posted on https://fullybooked2017.com very soon.

THE WOMAN in the WOODS by John Connolly

JCCharlie Parker – crime fiction’s most haunted private investigator – is back. As fans of the Portland, Maine detective know, death isn’t just part of the his natural human life cycle – it often assumes corporal form and walks alongside the living. The remains of a young woman are uncovered when a tree is uprooted, and when the body is examined, it is discovered that she had given birth shortly before her death. A Star of David has been carved in the bark of a tree, and Parker is hired by a Jewish lawyer to learn if the death has any anti-semitic overtones.

A mysterious – and  deadly – man named Quayle is also keen to learn more about the dead woman, but even more anxious to discover what became of the new-born child. Along with his companion – a creature named Mors who is truly from hell – Quayle’s path is destined to cross that of Parker. Charlie’s deadly pals Louis and Angel are in attendance, but Angel is there in spirit only, as he is recovering from an operation to remove a deadly tumour. Louis cannot comprehend why his partner has been chosen by the Cancer God, and his incomprehension turns to anger, which he vents on a young man who is unwise enough to have Confederate flags flying from his truck. The Woman In The Woods is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is out now.

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY by Araminta Hall

AHObsession, deception, emotional perversion, sexual mania, psychological sadism…? Yes, indeed. Araminta Hall ticks all of those toxic boxes in her eagerly awaited new thriller, which tells the tale of Mike and Verity. At the very heart of their unusual relationship is a game of seduction and danger, but with Verity’s impending marriage, the game has to end. At least it would in any normal relationship, but of all the adjectives that could be applied to what Mike and Verity get up to, the word ‘normal’ comes way, way, way down the list. So, what happens? Death is what has to happen, but the Grim Reaper seldom walks alone.

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Our Kind of Cruelty is published by Century; it will be available as a Kindle on 19th April, in hardback on 3rd may, and in January 2019 as a paperback.

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PHILIP KERR . . . 1956 – 2018

philip-kerrDUE TO THE AWFUL NEWS that Philip Kerr has died, the current prize draw for a copy of Greeks Bearing Gifts will be suspended for the time being. I will be writing a tribute to Philip, one of our finest writers, in due course. The competition will be re-run later in the year. People who have already entered will have their names carried forward.

ON MY SHELF . . . James, Turner & Pattison

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IN FOR THE KILL by ED James

ed-jamesEast London cop DI Steve Fenchurch makes a welcome return for the fourth book in this popular series by Ed James (left). It is part of urban folklore that attractive female students are sometimes tempted to use their charms to attract Sugar Daddies who will help with their fees and living costs. When one such young woman is found strangled in her bedroom, Fenchurch soon discovers that she was in the pay of a notorious city gangster. With his superiors poised to pounce on him at the first sign of a professional mistake, and his family in mortal danger, Fenchurch is faced with a no-win dilemma. If he persists in finding out who killed the young woman, he will attract incoming fire from very powerful people. If he just keeps his head down and allows the investigation to drift into the ‘unsolved’ file, his bosses will have him clearing his desk and locker before he can utter the word ‘sacked’. In For The Kill is published by Thomas & Mercer and will be available from 19 April in Kindle, paperback and MP3 CD.

ROGUE by JB Turner

TurnerThis is first in what promises to be a popular series with readers who love their novels spiced with the double-dealing and other shenanigans which are part and parcel of the work of American intelligence organisations.  Nathan Stone is a former CIA covert operative who has been critically wounded, and thought to be dead. But behind closed doors, he has been rehabilitated by a highly secretive government organization known as the Commission, given a new identity and appearance, and remoulded into a lethal assassin. His brief: to execute kill orders drawn up by the Commission, all in the name of national security. Turner (right) provides enough thrills to keep even the most jaded reader on their toes. Rogue is published by  Thomas & Mercer, and will be available in June.

SAVAGE LIBERTY by Eliot Pattison

Pattison-2I first came across Pattison (left) and his Revolutionary Wars hero Duncan McCallum when I was writing for Crime Fiction Lover. I reviewed Blood Of The Oak in March 2016, and you can read the piece by following the blue link. More recently, wearing my Fully Booked hat, I enjoyed Pattison’s Skeleton God, set in Tibet, light years away both in time and context from eighteenth century America. Savage Liberty brings us a further chapter in the eventful life of Duncan McCallum. The action begins in 1768. We are in Boston, where a ship from London has exploded, leaving the body parts of its crew and passengers scattered like flotsam in the cold waters. McCallum is a trained physician and his analytical mind soon detects the work of French secret agents. His investigations bring him onto extreme peril, however, and he finds himself in a jail cell accused of treason, with the hangman’s rope just days away. McCallum realises that his only hope is to escape and bring the true villains to justice. Savage Liberty is published by Counterpoint, and will be available in June

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WELCOME TO CAMP NIGHTINGALE . . . but the birds aren’t singing

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SUMMER CAMP – that particularly American institution which, for those of us in our dotage, evokes memories of Allan Sherman’s letter home from Camp Granada.

 

Camp Nightingale017RILEY SAGER (aka Todd Ritter) however takes a darker view. When Emma goes to Camp Nightingale, it is her first summer away from home. She learns how to play games, but she also learns a more sinister skill – how to lie. That golden summer dream becomes a twisted and feverish nightmare when three of Emma’s new-found friends set off to explore the woods, but are never seen again. It is inevitable that he subsequent furore spells the end for Camp Nightingale as a safe holiday destination for teenage girls. But times change. memories fade. Years after the terrible events of that summer, Emma is asked to return to the newly reopened camp. Will her return lay old ghosts to rest, or wake the spirits of the dead and rip away the veil of innocence to reveal a much darker truth?

LAST TIME I LIED  is published by Ebury Press/Penguin Random House, and will be available later this year. To find out more about Riley Sager, you can follow these links.

https://www.rileysagerbooks.com/

@riley_sager

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THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . FUDGEGATE!

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The Death of Mrs Westaway will be published in hardback and Kindle by Harvill Secker/Vintage Digital in June 2018.

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler

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Have you ever heard of Chip Taylor? No, me neither until I researched this post. He is still with us, and was born James Wesley Voight in 1940 and, yes, he is the brother of John and uncle to the fragrant Angelina Jolie. His claim to fame? He penned the immortal line (if you’re a fan of The Troggs, that is)

“Wild Thing – you make my heart sing..”

 Some things, wild or otherwise, do make my heart sing. For example, in no particular order, the first heady sip from a glass of the luxury single malt, Lagavulin. Hearing, via Test Match Special, the unique subdued hum of thousands of spectators at Lords. Fishing on my favourite water in the tiny French hamlet of Aizelles, and feeling the line scream off the reel as a fat carp takes my bait. Snuggling in an armchair with my little granddaughter as we watch yet another re-run of a classic Tom and Jerry cartoon. And – this one is special – opening a parcel to reveal a new Bryant & May book by one of my favourite authors – Christopher Fowler.

HOMThe dust jackets of the Bryant & May novels are a work of art in themselves, but between the covers is where the true genius lies. Arthur Bryant and John May are detectives working for the Peculiar Crimes Unit, an imaginary department of London’s Metropolitan Police. Their adventures take them mostly to curious and forgotten corners of London where the past is just below the modern surface. Fowler has many talents as a writer, not least of which is his comedic talent. He is a direct descendant of English humourists such as George and Weedon Grossmith and HV Morton, and the jokes come thick and fast amid the serious business of solving murders or strange crimes.

The new book? It’s called Hall of Mirrors, and takes us back to 1969. Our intrepid pair are sent to Tavistock Hall to investigate dark deeds on a country house weekend. I’ve already started to read the book, so look out for a full review very soon. The publicist, in full alliteration mode, warns us to expect ‘murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion,’ but me? I’m looking forward to meeting the one-armed brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf!

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