Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee @radiomukhers @VintageBooks @styx_hope #DeathintheEast

Source: Review copy
Publication: 6th August 2020 from Vintage Books
PP: 432
ISBN-13: 978-1784708535

Calcutta police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-not Banerjee, are back for another rip-roaring adventure set in 1920s India.

1905, London. As a young constable, Sam Wyndham is on his usual East London beat when he comes across an old flame, Bessie Drummond, attacked in the streets. The next day, when Bessie is found brutally beaten in her own room, locked from the inside, Wyndham promises to get to the bottom of her murder. But the case will cost the young constable more than he ever imagined.

1922, India. Leaving Calcutta, Captain Sam Wyndham heads for the hills of Assam, to the ashram of a sainted monk where he hopes to conquer his opium addiction. But when he arrives, he sees a ghost from his life in London – a man thought to be long dead, a man Wyndham hoped he would never see again.

Wyndham knows he must call his friend and colleague Sergeant Banerjee for help. He is certain this figure from his past isn’t here by coincidence. He is here for revenge . . .

Abir Mukherjee’s Sam Wyndham/ Surendranath Banerjee series is one of the best crime series around and I loved Death in the East so much that I am re-sharing my original review to celebrate the paperback publication. Death in the East is another sure fire hit.

Mukherjee’s writing has grown throughout this series and here he shows confidence in his characters by giving Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee lead status in the locked room mystery that poses a real conundrum for our two investigators.

The case this time has its origins in Sam Wyndham’s past. As a young Police Constable, Wyndham came up against a rich and vicious thug whom he suspects of being behind the death of Bessie Drummond, a young woman whom Sam had once had feelings for. The narrative switches between the young P.C. in 1905 where he is stationed in the heart of London’s deeply impoverished East End and 1922, where a seriously opium addicted Wyndham is determined once and for all to throw off his addiction. He travels to Assam for treatment from a Hindu holy man who treats addictions through a strict regime which brooks no recidivism.

Wyndham is travelling when he sees someone that he thought long gone; a foe he will never forget.   That sighting brings alive all his memories of Bessie Drummond and her murder in a locked room that Sam knows was wrongly attributed to someone else. So when that man whom Sam knows to be the murderer is found dead, also in a locked room, it is clear that Sam cannot be an impartial investigator. Fortunately, he has already called on Sergeant Banerjee for assistance.

Mukherjee draws attention to the decades of prejudice and ill treatment meted out to those who arrive in Britain as immigrants; poor and in need of refuge. In 1905 it is the Jews who are the brunt of prejudice and racism; in later decades it will be the Bengalis and then the Serbs and Romanians. Britain’s history is one of deeply ingrained prejudice against those who seek asylum and to make their living in our country and Mukherjee shows us how deeply ingrained it is in out psyche when he portrays the relationship between Sam and Surendranath. Because Sam is not a bad man, but he is simply unable to get over his own sense of cultural superiority and ingrained racism to Surendranath, a man whose name he has never bothered to learn to pronounce, despite calling him a friend.

But this book is set predominantly in 1922 and in India things are changing and changing rapidly. The move towards self-rule is gaining pace thanks to the adoption of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s policy of non-violence and civil disobedience, and the days of the Raj, while by no means over are beginning to look at least numbered.

This is reflected in the way that Surendranath and Sam interact in this book. Sam, because of his previous experience with the dead man, is deemed inappropriate to lead on the case, and so Surendranath finds himself in the position of being the lead police investigator in the death of a rich Englishman, working from a member’s club in Jatinga which would never allow any Indian to be a member.

It was terrific to see Surendranath taking more of the centre stage, albeit towards the end of the book. His relationship with Sam is changing, just as India’s relationship with the British is changing. The British see no irony at all in being incomers to India and yet asserting their (self-perceived) authority, while simultaneously doing all they can to suppress immigrants to Britain’s shores.

Mukherjee is beginning to assert Sergeant Banerjee’s character more now and as the Sergeant gains confidence so we should see the relationship between Sam and Surendranath shift to one which is more based on equals than the previous ‘enlightened colonialism’.

Oh, and the locked room mystery is a good one, which is solved neatly and with style. But this book is about so much more and Mukherjee’s characters grow in depth and complexity with every book. I think this is the best one yet and can’t wait for more.

Verdict: An elegant double locked room mystery layered with complex characterisation, atmospheric descriptions and conveying messages which resonate from 1905 through to the present day. This is top class storytelling of importance in a series not to be missed.

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Abir Mukherjee grew up in the west of Scotland. At the age of fifteen, his best friend made him read Gorky Park and he’s been a fan of crime fiction ever since. The child of immigrants from India, A Rising Man, his debut novel, was inspired by a desire to learn more about a crucial period in Anglo-Indian history that seems to have been almost forgotten. A Rising Man won the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition and became the first in a series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee. It went on to win the CWA Historical Dagger and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. Abir lives in Surrey with his wife and two sons.

The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne @KarenDionne @BooksSphere @TheCrimeVault

Source; Review copy
Publication: 4 August 2020 from Sphere
PP: 304
ISBN-13: 978-0751567427

She thought she’d buried her past. But what if it’s been hunting her this whole time?

You have been cut off from society for fifteen years, shut away in a mental hospital in self-imposed exile as punishment for the terrible thing you did when you were a child.

But what if nothing about your past is as it seems?

And if you didn’t accidentally shoot and kill your mother, then whoever did is still out there. Waiting for you.

For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents’ deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns, in a quest for answers, to the place where she once felt safest: her family’s sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan.

As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns – as her mother did years earlier – that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all.

I loved The Marsh King’s Daughter and so was never going to turn down the opportunity to read The Wicked Sister. The story centres on Rachel Cunningham, a 26 year old young woman who voluntarily committed herself to a psychiatric hospital at the tender age of 11 years old. She did so because she was responsible for her parents’ death and knew she deserved to be locked up.

Set in the wilds of remote wild, Michigan, this is the story of Rachel and her highly dysfunctional family. Rachel’s parents, Jenny and Peter, had taken her and her sister Diana to a hunting lodge in a remote location while they used their scientific skills to study the biology of the wildlife around them.

Rachel receives no visitors and has one friend at the Newberry Psychiatric Hospital and that’s Scotty, whom she looks after. She has also got to know Scotty’s brother Trevor quite well on his regular visits to see Scotty. It is Trevor, a journalist, who shows her the Police and Medical Examiner’s reports of her parents’ deaths and she realises that all along she has been innocent. Her self-imposed 15 year isolation was all for nothing as she could not have been responsible.

So she checks herself out of the hospital and with Trevor’s help, travels back to the family home in the wilds of Upper Michigan where her sister Diana and Aunt Charlotte are now happily ensconced. Rachel’s memories are distorted by the trauma she has endured, coupled with the passage of time and she needs to return home in order to understand exactly what happened. If she didn’t kill her parents, who did? Why didn’t Charlotte and Diana tell her what really happened? Secrets abound and Rachel is determined to find answers.

Utilising a dual timeline, Dionne shows us through Rachel’s mother’s eyes, the events that led to the family moving into a wild isolation and what then ensued. Two sisters, who only had each other as playmates, with a huge natural canvas to play in as their parents grew ever more anxious about their futures.

What we learn is incredibly chilling as Jenny tries hard to reconcile her parenting with the development of one of her daughters from a demanding bright child into a deeply cruel and manipulative psychopath without empathy. It is heart-breaking to read of Jenny and Peter’s struggles with their domineering daughter as they first of all seek to downplay the signs and then realise that nothing they can do will halt what’s happening and many more will be hurt unless they take action.

Jenny is relieved when her sister Charlotte comes to live with them, providing her with help and support. At last she will not have to bear the burden alone, for Peter is rather an absent parent.

The return of Rachel to the cabin unannounced is the catalyst for a host of revelations as a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues.  Dionne does a remarkable job of building a layered picture of cold and calculating acts of cruelty which ultimately and inevitably leading to death.

She creates an atmosphere in which the landscape and its beasts play an integral part in showing the brutality of nature and this book is a clear advocate of nature not nurture when it comes to psychopathy.

Her portrait of psychopathy is incredibly well done and very scary as we see the characters develop from childhood onwards and the terrifying impact it has on the whole family as they try and fail to deal with the hand they have been dealt.

Though there are moments when for plot purposes a suspension of disbelief is required, this does not detract from one of the most trenchant description of psychopathy I have come across. Add to that the wilderness setting which is at once vast and yet claustrophobic, a lot of action and a rapid pace and what you get is a book that you will race through as you hold your breath waiting to find out what will happen.

It is unnerving, twisty and full of some pretty gruesome moments but the overall depiction of mental health issues is a riveting one as we find Rachel talking to the animals and getting answers.

Verdict: A gripping, twisted and propulsive thriller with bags of atmosphere which is enhanced by strong writing making for a very enjoyable read.

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Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of the award-winning psychological suspense novel The Marsh King’s Daughter published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in 25 other languages. Her next psychological suspense, The Wicked Sister, will publish from G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and Little, Brown in the UK August 4, 2020. Karen enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband in Detroit’s northern suburbs. Photo:Robert Bruce

Final Cut by S.J.Watson @TransworldBooks

Source: Review copy
Publication: 6th August 2020 from Doubleday
PP: 416
ISBN-13: 978-0857523051

Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to ordinary people.

It used to be a buzzing seaside destination. But now, ravaged by the effects of dwindling tourism and economic downturn, it’s a ghost town – and the perfect place for film-maker Alex to shoot her new documentary.

But the community is deeply suspicious of her intentions. After all, nothing exciting ever happens in Blackwood Bay – or does it?

Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to an extraordinary secret.

Alex is a documentary film-maker, whose first film garnered her some excellent praise, but she’s struggled to find a new idea that inspires her and the commissions are not rolling in. An idea she has pitched to a production company has merit and they’re keen for her to proceed with it, but they want it attached to a place with a story to give the film a real hook.

So Alex arrives in Blackwood Bay, a place that she never wanted to be. Once a pretty enough place with a bit of a tourism industry, now it is run down and somewhat neglected and the atmosphere is one of distrust, especially to newcomers. That’s not surprising, since the media have crawled all over it after three young girls disappeared 10 years ago.

Alex is our narrator and we quickly learn that her documentary style is to seek film and video from users wherever she is filming and she uses that to stitch together a portrait of the place she is portraying.

S. J. Watson does an excellent job of building a picture of the town and its key characters and creating an atmospheric, oppressive feeling that lingers as Alex – herself struggling with being in Blackwood and showing signs of not being an entirely reliable narrator – tries to get to the bottom of who or what caused these young women to disappear.

There are those who don’t want her raking up the past, understandably, and Alex is a bit quick to judge based on rumour and hearsay. What becomes clear though is that there is still a malevolent force in this town and that whoever is behind it is not taking well to Alex digging into the past.

S.J. Watson does write a fabulously dark and well plotted story and on the whole I enjoyed reading this and found the many twisted moments entertaining as the plot unfurled. But if you read a lot of psychological thrillers, this plot will not stun you, and it won’t come as a complete surprise when you find out what really been going on.

Final Cut has a solid pace for most of the book then ramps up towards the end as the town’s secrets start to spill out at an unstoppable rate and the tension jumps several notches for the dramatic conclusion of this psychological thriller.

Verdict: Verdict: A solid and enjoyable read with a nicely claustrophobic, oppressive atmosphere and some creepy characters but which at times felt a little too guessable – but then I read an awful lot of psychological thrillers.

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S. J. Watson’s first novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal international success and has now sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide. It won the Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year and has been translated into more than 40 languages.The film of the book, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, and directed by Rowan Joffe, was released in September 2014. S J Watson’s second novel, Second Life, a psychological thriller, was published to acclaim in 2015.

We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin @juliathrillers @MJBooks

Source: Review copy
Publication: 6th August 2020 from Michael Joseph
PP: 352
ISBN-13: 978-0241385494

It’s been a decade since the town’s sweetheart Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind.

Since her disappearance, Tru’s brother, Wyatt, has lived as an outcast, desperate to know what happened to his sister.

So when Wyatt finds a lost girl, he believes she is a sign.

But for new cop, Odette Tucker, this girl’s appearance reopens old wounds.

Determined to solve both cases, Odette fights to save a lost girl in the present and in doing so digs up a shocking truth about that fateful night in the past . . .

I love Julia Heaberlin’s ability to tell a cracking story. She writes beautifully, giving weight to her characters and crafting them so that they feel authentic and when they hurt, the reader hurts right along with them. She has the ability to at once create tough but vulnerable women, to give them personality, depth and flaws so that they stand out in the mind. All of this in a setting that is rich, vivid and deeply atmospheric.

Rural Texas is the location and this story will be told from three perspectives. Odette Tucker is a cop in a small Texas town. Her father Marshall Tucker was a cop too. Odette is a little unusual in that she is an amputee and has a range of legs that she can put on as she goes about her daily business, including one that allows her to understand what Oscar Pistorius had to go through to get out of bed on any given day.

She has history with the town recluse, Wyatt whose sister, Trumanelle and father disappeared ten years ago and were never seen again. Most people think Wyatt was responsible and give him a wide berth, but nothing has ever been proved.

Odette and Wyatt were close once and there’s still something of a spark between them, and Odette mostly doesn’t believe Wyatt is guilty of anything. Odette’s partner Rusty is less sure of that, but then he’s the kind of cop that Odette’s daddy would have liked. The kind that’s prepared to deliver justice first and ask questions later.

The book opens with Wyatt finding a young girl lying on a patch of deserted ground by the road, injured and not speaking. He takes her home to look after her, but he’s hardly on the road before a concerned citizen calls it in to the police and so Odette is once more at Wyatt’s door wanting to know what’s going on.

Haeaberlin takes Angel’s (the girl’s) story and the disappearance of Wyatt’s father and sister as Odette and Wyatt together seek to find out just what Angel’s story is and as they do we see how it impacts on Wyatt’s history.

Heaberlin creates a deep Southern mystery here, slowly peeling back layers of secrecy, contempt for the law and shocking betrayals to reveal a picture of lies and secrets. Heritage and history play their part in hiding all the secrets and lies that are buried in a shallow grave covered by a thin veneer of dust.

The novel takes place over a course of years but it never feels long or slow, just rich and redolent like a slow cooked casserole where every morsel is rich and tender. Though disappearances and a murder are the mainstay of the story, it is the characters and relationships that make this a symphony rather than a good tune and we can hear the timbre of the music change as the time passes.

There are some genuinely surprising moments and times when you wonder what’s going on but this just adds to the dark, unsettling feeling that being immersed in this book is already giving you.

Verdict: Beautifully written, emotionally charged, full of richness and depth, this is a fabulous, evocative read and one I highly recommend.

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Julia Heaberlin is the author of the international bestseller Black-Eyed Susans and Paper Ghosts. Heaberlin’s psychological thrillers, all set in Texas, have sold to more than eighteen countries. She worked as a features editor at The Detroit News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Dallas Morning News and has always been especially interested in true crime and how events play out years later. The Star-Telegram Life & Arts section was named one of the Top 10 sections in the country during her tenure as its editor. Heaberlin, who grew up in Texas, lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she is at work on her next novel.

You can follow Julia on Twitter @Juliathrillers

COVER REVEAL #SMOKESCREEN @OrendaBooks @LierHorst @EngerThomas @meganeturney

I am delighted to welcome you to the unveiling of the cover for the brand new Blix and Ramm novel, Smoke Screen which is coming your way in e-book this December and in paperback in February 2021.

Regular readers will know that I am a fan of Jørn Lier Horst’s William Wisting series – where he uses painstaking, careful police work in his police procedural series to unravel the perpetrators of the crime. I’m also a huge Thomas Enger supporter; his prose is sublime and he has the capacity to infuse strong emotional resonance into strong, three dimensional characters and to couple this with acute observation of social issues.

So when two of my favourite Nordic writers join forces what would we get? The answer is both surprising and delightful, in a macabre way. Way more than the sum of their parts, that’s for sure. Death Deserved, the first Blix and Ramm book is a brilliantly paced, devastatingly plotted, crime fiction work with a contemporary slant, as a policeman and a blogger work together to unmask a lethal serial killer.

Now we have the second Blix and Ramm novel, SMOKE SCREEN on the way. I AM SO EXCITED!!!

So what is it about you ask?

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, Blix instantly recognises her as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Semplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

Doesn’t that sound AWESOME!!!??? You can pre-order here

Let’s find out a little more about these two authors…

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

Smoke Screen is translated by Megan Turney.  

Megan grew up in Stoke-on-Trent, and went on to complete a MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, achieving a distinction in Norwegian. After six years of living between the UK and Norway, she moved back to the West Midlands to work as an editorial assistant for a small, independent publishing house in Staffordshire. In 2019, she began her MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies at the University of Manchester, specialising in translation from Norwegian and Danish into English, focussing on the translation of commercial and literary texts, and translating for international organisations. She is a member of the Emerging Translators Network.

Now…are you ready for the cover of Smoke Screen???

Isn’t it just chilling and gorgeous all at the same time?? I cannot wait!!!

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce @Wildfirebks @headlinepg @lararosetamara

Source: Review copy
Publication: Available now in e-book and out on 23rd August in hardback from Wildfire
PP: 384
ISBN-13: 978-1472252784

Can you tell the truth from the lies?

Sadie loves her daughter and will do anything to keep her safe.

She can’t tell her why they had to leave home so quickly – or why Robin’s father won’t be coming with them to London.

She can’t tell her why she hates being back in her dead mother’s house, with its ivy-covered walls and its poisonous memories.

And she can’t tell her the truth about the school Robin’s set to start at – a school that doesn’t welcome newcomers.

Sadie just wants to get their lives back on track.

But even lies with the best intentions can have deadly consequences…

Meet Sadie Roper, a woman who has so many secrets; a woman who doesn’t want to talk about the past. She has recently moved back to London from Brooklyn with her pre-teenage daughter Robin, leaving Robin’s father, her husband Andrew, behind.

She’s come back to the house she lived in as a child. Her mother is now dead but Sadie has always hated the house. Unhappy memories seep from every corner. But we see that Sadie has no choice if she is to afford to live here and to send Robin to school.

We don’t know why Sadie had such a terrible childhood; nor do we know why she has fled her marital home and travelled across the Atlantic to come back to a house she hates. But we do know that it has to be serious.

She only has one friend left here, and it is through those conversations that we learn a little of the reason Sadie left. Sadie enrols Robin in her own alma mater; finding to her surprise that there is a late vacancy and thanking her lucky stars that she had put Robin’s name down some time ago as a just in case measure.

But on the very first day she hits her first stumbling block. For the school gates are metaphorically guarded by a group of rather formidable women and their first sight of Sadie is not one that leaves them with a favourable impression. Tyce describes these women so well. Instantly unlikeable; territorial, competitive and remarkably snooty. Sadie feels at once out of place in the face of these coiffed, designer clad mums who clearly are not taken with the somewhat flustered and slightly rumpled Sadie.

And as Tyce makes deliciously clear, if the mummy’s face doesn’t fit, then the child is not going to enjoy an easy life. Tyce writes these women with something that feels like acidic glee – it’s almost as if she knows these women and is taking her revenge, for these are not likeable characters.

At the same time, though, it is quite difficult to get a grip on Sadie’s own character; there is so much that is hidden that we don’t know whether she is a reliable narrator. What is clear though is that she would do anything to protect Robin.

Keen to earn money and to have something of a life of her own, Sadie manages to use an old connection to find some legal work as a junior barrister on a high profile case of child abuse and grooming. Tyce excels when writing about the law. Her knowledge and experience, not just of the law and the jury system, but of the rampant sexism, bullying and snobbery that exists in the courtroom and behind the scenes in Chambers shines through and makes for a highly entertaining and enjoyable read.

The case itself is a real tension builder and it doesn’t take long before the reader is immersed in the trial, wanting to understand what is going on; needing to know the rights and wrongs, rooting for Sadie to find the key that would unlock the mystery of their client’s guilt or innocence.

Meanwhile, after many false starts, Sadie is slowly being accepted into the mothers’ circle, but that acceptance comes at a hidden price that Sadie has no idea she will have to pay….

As the pace speeds up in the second half of the book, so the tension ramps up exponentially. The legal case, which has taken centre stage, falls into the background as the school story surges back to the foreground with a vengeance.

Tyce has created interlocking stories, each having some bearing on the other, either through reflected themes or having a causal relationship, but this isn’t always obvious as you read and this can make the novel seem disjointed at times. I’d have liked to have seen some elements more fully explored – Sadie’s own childhood and relationship with her mother if gone into a little more could have made her a slightly more rounded and sympathetic character. The relationship with the school mothers changed almost too rapidly for comfort and her relationship split with Andrew felt somewhat glibly tied up.

Verdict: The Lies You Told is an engrossing, dark and addictive read with moments of real tension and some cracking scenes. Harriet Tyce is a writer who can write really well about injustices and her legal background makes those scenes crackle as her clearly held passionate views come across on the page. The various plot strands could have stood a little more integration though and I found that the ending, while as tense and twisty as I’d like, still felt rushed.

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Harriet Tyce was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She did a degree in English Literature at Oxford University before a law conversion course at City University, following which she was a criminal barrister for nearly ten years.Having escaped law and early motherhood, she started writing, and completed the MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. Blood Orange was her first novel, and The Lies You Told is published this month. She lives in north London with her husband and children, and two rather demanding pets, a cat and a dog.

CAPITAL CRIME BOOK CLUB NEWS! @LizzieCurle @David_Headley @adamhamdy

Last year saw the first ever Capital Crime Festival, a festival that organisers wanted to be inclusive and with a strong sense of community, held in central London. They largely succeeded in that, I think. We’re all hoping that there will be a second festival in October and there’s a note about that at the end of this post, because of course, everything is up in the air with Co-Vid19 right now.

So it’s brilliant news that the team behind the festival have come up with an affordable way to keep crime fiction fans part of that community, and to enable new fans to join in.

Capital Crime has today announced the launch of the Capital Crime Book Club. The Capital Crime Book Club is an affordable monthly subscription service that will be a year-round, inclusive home for readers, and a regular link between authors and fans.

Each month, subscribers will receive two carefully curated paperbacks along with exclusive access to great author content and community activities. The Capital Crime Book Club offers away for authors and publishers to connect with readers, maintaining the ethos at the heart of the Capital Crime festival. It will provide readers with great value for money, and a greater sense of community.

Capital Crime co-founder Adam Hamdy, says “Capital Crime is an inclusive festival with a strong sense of community. It is in this spirit that we’re launching the Capital Crime Book Club, a home for all fans of crime fiction. With a monthly subscription fee in the region of £10 for two paperbacks and access to exclusive community content, we’re intent on offering a great value service that’s accessible to everyone.”

Capital Crime co-founder and Goldsboro Books Managing Director, David Headley, says: “Capital Crime has always been about connecting fans of crime fiction with their favourite writers. We see this as another string to our bow complementing our physical festival and platform. We’re supporting authors and publishers and helping them connect with readers in celebration of this much-loved genre.

The Capital Crime Book Club will officially launch on September 1st 2020. If you’d like to be among the first to experience The Capital Crime Book Club – register here.

NOTE: Capital Crime 2020 is due to take place on 1st – 3rd October 2020. Capital Crime organisers are monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic closely and while they are not yet able to take a decision on the 2020 festival, their priority is keeping their delegates and guests safe. The Capital Crime Book Club will run alongside the festival in the event it goes ahead, or act as a substitute if it gets cancelled. If the 2020 festival does not go ahead, existing Capital Crime 2020 pass holders will have the opportunity to convert to membership of the Capital Crime Book Club, transfer their purchase to a 2021 pass or get full refunds as they see fit. Capital Crime will be sharing more details with existing Capital Crime 2020 pass holders in
the coming weeks.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A.Cosby @blacklionking73 @lararosetamara @headlinepg

Source: Review copy
Publication: 4th August 2020 from Headline
PP: 304
ISBN-13: 978-1472273710

Beauregard “Bug” Montage: honest mechanic, loving husband, devoted parent. He’s no longer the criminal he once was – the sharpest wheelman on the east coast, infamous from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida.

But when his respectable life begins to crumble, a shady associate comes calling with a clean, one-time job: a diamond heist promising a get-rich payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver’s seat – and haunted by the ghost of his outlaw father – Bug is yanked back into a savage world of bullets and betrayal, which soon endangers all he holds dear…

Hold on to your hats because this book is going to be HUGE. This is an amazing book from a brilliant voice whose prose is like liquid gold, so soft and viscous is it as it flows through your veins when you are reading.

A strong contender for Book of the Year, S.A. Cosby’s book is raw, painful and deeply empathetic. Beauregard Montague is a good man. He’s made mistakes in the past and he has paid for them. He loves his children and he loves his wife. He’s also devoted to his Duster car – all that’s now left of his daddy who left them when Bug was a child and never came back.

Bug and his family live in rural Southern America and are piss poor. He has an auto repair shop and he’s good at what he does, but he has completion undercutting him at every turn as well as the fact that they’re white and he’s black, so he’ll get fewer customers to begin with.

On top of that, there’s a problem with his mother’s Medicaid and it looks like she’s about to get thrown out of her care home. Bug is between a rock and a hard place – and his options for survival are narrowing by the hour.

At once a heist thriller and a Southern noir novel with deep bite, Blacktop Wasteland is a portrait of a drugs raddled, poverty stricken America where even a good man earns a kick in the teeth and the struggle for survival is a daily battle.

Bug is an intelligent man. He can think and plan his way out of most things, but mounting debt and business problems leave him with no option but to consider one last job to get him out of the hole he is in. He knows that when destiny comes calling, it isn’t good news, but when she carries a shovel, he might as well pick it up and start digging.

That’s what happens when he’s approached about being a driver for a jewellery store robbery. He agrees and he lays down his conditions very clearly. But they men he’s working with don’t have the same sense of danger nor the same discipline and it all goes badly wrong. Now everyone is after his hide and his family aren’t safe.

Cosby’s writing is blissful. His rose elevates this from a strong, excellent heist story to a character study that excels in every respect. His phrasing is perfect, his emotional resonance shines out and the pain of Beauregard’s situation is as clear as a pole star in the black night sky. His rhythms and cadences are lyrical and seductive.

He shows us how systemic racism and poverty combine to make life impossible for Beauregard and how both of these issues affect the inner lives of individual men and women. Bug never did have a chance to make it. His life, his upbringing and his environment combine to reduce a fighting chance to virtually zero. Most of those around him bury their pain and their lack of hope  in drugs and drink and petty scams interspersed with spells in jail for their crimes, but he’s really trying…it’s just that the deck is always going to be stacked against him, because that’s how life is. It’s how it was for his daddy, and it’s how it’s going to be for his children and he can’t see any way out of it for him, or for them. There are no good choices.

Cosby’s raw and painful observations of what it is like for whole communities of economically deprived black Americans is wrapped up in a brilliant, visceral storyline that draws you to Beauregard and his family even as you are watching his children learn things that no child should ever have to know about.

Verdict: This is a gritty story and a compelling one, brilliantly told with a voice that rings out loud and clear. It’s mature and thoughtful and it’s also full of complexity and painful truths and it comes bundled in a crime novel that is reminiscent of the best of Walter Mosley and James Sallis. An absolute must read.

Hive Books                       Waterstones                    Amazon

S. A. Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. He won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story for “The Grass Beneath My Feet”, and his previous books include Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. He resides in Gloucester, Virginia. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.

Written in Blood by Chris Carter @SimonSchusterUK @AnneCater

Source: Review copy
Publication: 23 July 2020 from Simon & Schuster
PP: 496
ISBN-13: 978-1471179570

A serial killer will stop at nothing…

The Killer

His most valuable possession has been stolen.

Now he must retrieve it, at any cost.

The Girl

Angela Wood wanted to teach the man a lesson. It was a bag, just like all the others.

But when she opens it, the worst nightmare of her life begins.

The Detective

A journal ends up at Robert Hunter’s desk. It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose. And if he can’t stop him in time, more people will die.

If you have read it

You must die

Chris Carter has not had an easy year, so it was with some trepidation that I approached his 11th Robert Hunter book, not sure how that would have impacted his writing. I need not have worried. This book is a cracker and the Robert Hunter series shows no signs of being other than top notch.

It starts with a great character – Angela Wood. She has her own moral code and though her actions are not always on the right side of the law when it comes to finding ways to make her living, she still knows where to draw the line.

So when she sees a man in the bar she is in being aggressively rude to an elderly man, she decides to teach him her own brand of lesson. And that’s how she comes to be in possession of something that she wishes she had never seen…

And that’s enough to have the reader deep into the plot and raring to find out more. From that point, the pace never slows and the trail that leads to a deadly, devious serial killer is begun.

Part of Carter’s magic with the Hunter books is his ability to give us serious insight into the mind and method of the serial killer, all the while contrasting this with the minds of Hunter, his sidekick, Garcia and here, our unwitting potential victim, Angela.

Throughout the series, we see what a toll profiling and hunting down serial killers takes on Hunter and that makes us like him all the more. He’s given up his life – certainly any social life he might have dreamt of having, in the pursuit of such devastating but fiendishly clever killers.

Now, I like serial killer books and this series does not stint on gore and graphic details, so if that’s not your thing, then now you know, but the characters are interesting, the plot is fast moving and ingenious and the whole thing is an exercise in taut plotting and keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

Always you’re concerned as a reader that this time Hunter has come up against a foe who won’t be easy to defeat; that before the book has ended, there will be casualties you hadn’t counted on and you find yourself invested in these characters in a way that means your pulse is up and your heart is racing as the clock ticks down to the startling denouement.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Verdict: A class act in a superior series. The Hunter books keep delivering in spades. Thrilling, heart-pounding and nerve-wracking all in one delicious plot filled bundle. Highly recommended.

Hive Books                       Waterstones                    Amazon             

Born in Brazil of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions. He now lives in London.

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Gallows Rock by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Children’s House #4) trs Victoria Cribb @YrsaSig @victoriacribb @HodderBooks @HodderFiction

Source: Review copy
Publication: 23 July 2020 from Hodder & Stoughton
PP: 384
ISBN-13: 978-1473693395

On a jagged, bleak lava field just outside Reykjavik stands the Gallows Rock. Once a place of execution, it is now a tourist attraction. Until this morning, when a man was found hanging from it…

The nail embedded in his chest proves it wasn’t suicide. But when the police go to his flat, a further puzzle awaits: a four-year-old boy has been left there. He doesn’t seem to have any link with the victim, his parents cannot be found, and his drawings show he witnessed something terrible.

As detective Huldar hunts the killer, and child psychologist Freyja looks for the boy’s parents, the mystery unfolds: a story of violence, entitlement, and revenge.

There are cliffs known as Gallows Cliffs or Hanging Rocks in Iceland. According to an old folk story these were used to execute thieves captured from their hideout in a ravine. Now these are a tourist attraction and this is where Helgi Fredrikkson is found hanged, with a nail from a nail gun embedded in his chest, though the message that had been attached is nowhere to be found.

Not long afterwards, a young boy, Siggi, is found alone in a smart city apartment, following an anonymous complaint. The boy, who is in good health, only knows his own name and the first names of his parents…but has no idea what his address is or whose apartment he is in – or how he got there. When it transpires that the flat belongs to the murdered man, nothing is any clearer.

Freya from the Children’s House takes charge of Siggi as Huldar leads the investigation into Helgi’s death, with his boss Erla breathing down his neck as the pressure piles on to get this case solved. As ever with Sigurdardottir’s books, this is immaculately plotted with lots of smart thinking and a number of clever twisty details which add to the overall enjoyment.

This story has a number of layers to it and Huldar and the team have a major task in front of them to work out what is behind the murder. This allows us to enjoy much more of the interaction between Erla, Huldar and the others in the team, including the newcomer, Line, who is a serious young woman with a formidable brain and who Erla finds it impossible to be other than rude to.

As they assiduously follow all the leads from CCTV through to questioning his friends, the picture slowly and painstakingly starts to become clearer and we get a sense of what this case may really be about. But that still doesn’t answer the question as to why Siggi is in the murdered man’s flat.

Though in this book the key player is Huldar, there is still a frisson between him and Freya, or at least Huldar thinks so and he uses what charm he has on her to try and get her to thaw a little towards him.He takes every opportunity to try and recover some of the ground that he opened up between them in previous books, as they consult over Siggi.

Freya, meantime is looking for new accommodation and what her brother comes up with has the potential to create all sorts of mayhem in future books!

Gallows Rock touches on some very dark themes (though less gory than in previous books – I still haven’t got over those first murders in The Legacy) as we begin to see how the two story lines are linked and the whole picture painted for us is a sorry tale of violence, masculine entitlement and depravity.

The pace is slow and methodical as the investigation begins, but gathers pace as new developments occur and the tension is palpable as each lead offers a new glimpse into the case. I was completely engrossed in the story and in awe of the way that it unfolded as layer after layer was revealed, leaving a chilling and authentic trail to the exciting conclusion.

Verdict: A truly impressive and deeply chilling plot with many layers set alongside lots of interplay and development which adds depth and emotional investment to characters whom we already have grown to know and like. Highly recommended.

Hive Books                       Waterstones                   Amazon

Author of the bestselling Thora Gudmundsdottir crime series and several stand-alone thrillers, Yrsa Sigurdardottir was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1963 and works as a civil engineer. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with LAST RITUALS, the first instalment in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Her work stands ‘comparison with the finest contemporary crime writing anywhere in the world’ according to the Times Literary Supplement. The second instalment in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series, MY SOUL TO TAKE, was shortlisted for the 2010 Shamus Award. In 2011 her stand-alone horror novel I REMEMBER YOU was awarded the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award and was nominated for The Glass Key, and has been made into a film starring Jóhannes Haukur by ZikZak Filmworks. In 2015 THE SILENCE OF THE SEA won the Petrona Award for the year’s best Scandinavian crime novel, and THE LEGACY, the first novel in the Freyja and Huldar series, was nominated for The Glass Key and won the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award. All of her books have been European bestsellers.

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