Booktopia Crime 
Buzz
June 2010 | Edition Four
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Welcome to the June Crime and Mystery Buzz
SPECIAL NOTE: A very big thanks to Chris Bilkey for putting this list of new Crime and Mystery new releases together. It is inspiring to see so many Aussie authors doing so well amongst our international bestselling authors. I challenge you to read each review and synopsis and not be tempted to buy at least one or two. If you choose not to buy then try and resist adding it to your Wish List... or as we like to refer to it in the Crime Genre... your "Death Wish" List.
Enjoy. Regards, Tony Nash, Booktopia CEO


Welcome to the June edition of Crime Buzz. There's lots to get excited about in this bag, not the least of which are some great new Australian crime titles.

My favourite is the spectacularly good Gunshot Road by Adrian Hyland, which leaves you with the smells, sights and sounds of the tough outback singing in your mind. And it's a great story too.

Other Australian Crime novels that premiere this month are Leigh Redhead's new Simone Kirsch thriller Thrill City, Robert Engwarda's atmospheric historical crime story Mosquito Creek, Leah Giarratano's newest white knuckle ride Watch the World Burn, and Kathryn Fox's latest forensic crime offering, Blood Born. And for the sports lovers, Peter Klein's Silk Chaser is a wonderful read set around the Australian racing industry.

From further afield there are new titles from James Patterson, John Connolly, Declan Hughes and a host of others. One worth special mention is Zoe Ferraris' City of Veils, a daring crime story set in that most veiled society, Saudi Arabia. Lots to think about in that one!

So, whatever your taste in crime, it's sure to be met in this month's new releases. And with our discounts on all titles, you can really let your head go!

Good reading.

Chris Bilkey
Editor
Crime Buzz
Book of the Month
Gunshot Road

Adrian Hyland

There are not many writers that capture the essence of Australia in a way that makes you exclaim "Yes! They've got it!" Matthew Condon is one. If you haven't read The Trout Opera then you've missed a treat. It's not a crime novel, but it speaks to me more clearly about the nature and origins of Australia and Australians than any book I've recently read. It's beautifully written, full of humour and truth. Well worth the admission price!

But this is by way of introduction to this latest offering of Adrian Hyland. Gunshot Road "IS" a crime novel, and a beauty at that. The second to feature Emily Tempest (the first was Diamond Dove), Gunshot Road is set in the forbidding mining country of the north-west, where traditional indigenous owners, big business and white blow-ins (well-meaning and otherwise) share the landscape. Uncomfortably.

Emily Tempest is small, black, and tough as fencing wire. She is the woman least likely ever to embark on a career in policing. But her old mate Superintendent Tom MacGillivray has persuaded her to sign on as the Aboriginal Community Police Officer for the outback  township of Bluebush.

Then Tom is hospitalised and Emily finds herself working for a new bloke instead: an east-coast martinet called Cockburn. Being allergic both to authority and to keeping her big mouth shut, Emily is immediately at odds with the new boss. And the death at the Green Swamp Well Roadhouse only complicates things. Cockburn thinks it’s a simple case of two old drunks and a hammer. Emily’s not convinced.

Adrian Hyland takes us to the outback—a place we think we know, and have mostly never seen. He introduces  us to the people who belong there—a different people, as wise, foolish and fallible as the rest of us. The writing is witty, gritty and shot through with a lyrical beauty that reminds me of some of Matthew Condon's language magic. Hyland spent many years in the Northern Territory, living and working among indigenous people. And boy, it really shows!

Get Gunshot Road!

Love it like I did.

Click here to buy Gunshot Road
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Best of British
The Third Rail   From Aberystwyth With Love
Michael Harvey

The ferocious new novel from the author of The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor finds Michael Harvey at the top of his game in an expertly plotted, impossible to put down thriller set in Chicago's public transit system.

Harvey's tough talking, Aeschylus quoting, former Irish cop turned PI, Michael Kelly, is back in another sizzling murder mystery that pits him against a merciless sniper on the loose in Chicago's public transportation system. After witnessing a shooting on an L-platform - and receiving a phone call from the killer himself - Kelly is drawn toward a murderer with an unnerving link to his own past, to a crime he witnessed as a child, and to the consequences it had on his relationship with his father, a subject Kelly would prefer to leave unexamined.

But when his girlfriend - the gorgeous Chicago judge Rachel Swenson - is abducted, Kelly has no choice but to find the killer by excavating his own stormy past.

The Third Rail is sophisticated,  stylish, edge-of-your-seat suspense from a new modern master.

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  Malcolm Pryce

If crime with more than a twist of manic humour is your bag, then Malcolm Pryce's series featuring Aberystwyth's only private detective, Louie Knight, is for you. It's an hilarious Welsh take on the Raymond Chandler genre with genuinely good writing and strong plotting.

It is a sweltering August in Aberystwyth. A man wearing a Soviet museum curator's uniform walks into Louie Knight's office and spins a wild and impossible tale of love, death, madness and betrayal. Sure, Louie had heard about Hughesovka, the legendary replica of Aberystwyth built in the Ukraine by some crazy nineteenth-century czar. But he hadn't believed that it really existed until he met Uncle Vanya. Now the old man's story catapults him into the neon-drenched wilderness of Aberystwyth Prom in search of a girl who mysteriously disappeared thirty years ago. Soon Louie finds his fate depending on two most unlikely talismans - a ticket to Hughesovka and a Russia cosmonaut's sock.

Get on board - it's a great ride!

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From Aberystwyth with Love

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City of Lost Girls   There are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union
Declan Hughes

Declan Hughes' fifth novel featuring the baggage-toting Irishman Ed Loy is as gritty and lyrical as his first four. Ed is drawn reluctantly into investigating threatening letters received by Jack Donovan, an old friend in the movie business. During the digging, two young women disappear from the film set, and Ed is reminded of the disappearance of women during the production of one of Jack's movies years ago in Los Angeles. Jack becomes a suspect, and Ed returns to LA to get to the bottom of, hoping that what he finds does not confirm his suspicions about his mate.

Told in a number of voices, including the killer's and Ed's first-person narrative, City of Lost Girls climbs above the private eye genre with its beautiful, poetic passages and its evocation of an Ireland at odds with romantic perceptions. Declan Hughes is one of my favourite writers who refuses to succumb to stereotypical characters and plots, but can still tell a suspenseful and satisfying story.

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  Reginald Hill

This is actually a new edition of a collection of stories that first appeared in the 80's. And it's well worth a reprise, which is why I've included it here.
The main piece is a novella set in the Soviet Union and features Inspector Chislenko. It alone is worth the admission. It's beautifully written, with a fully developed character. Why have three people just witnessed a 50-year-old murder?

Joe Sixsmith, one of Hill's characters in a later series, takes his first tentative detective steps in a charming story that starts unpromisingly with a missing cat.

And there's an "out there" story set around the filming of one of the Dalziell and Pascoe novels - it's a weird art imitating art imitating art kind of feeling, and very satisfying

This all adds up to Reginald Hill at his conniving devilish best. Enjoy!!

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There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet
Union
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Literary Crime
City of Veils

Zoe Ferraris

There has recently been a spate of biographical accounts of life as an Islamic woman in various Middle Eastern countries. Many tell of the suppression of rights and the domination of women by patriarchal and religion-dominated societies.

Here is a remarkable novel addressing many of the same issues in an unputdownable crime novel set in Saudi Arabia.
The burkha-clad body of a young woman is discovered on the grimy sands of Jeddah beach. Soon afterwards, a strong-minded American woman, Miriam Walker, finds herself alone and afraid in the most repressive city on Earth when her husband suddenly disappears.

The two events intersect when investigating policeman Osama Ibrahim, forensic scientist Katya Hijazi and her friend, the strictly devout Bedouin guide Nayir Sharqi discover a connection. The murdered woman turns out to be film-maker Leila Nawar who has made enemies with her work critical of religious hypocrisy, and the missing husband has had dealings with her. As they seek answers to the murder and the disappearance, the team confronts the hidden powerbase in Jeddah, and brings into sharp focus their own views about the strictures and tenets of Islam.

While being a terrific crime novel in its own right, City of Veils is much more than that, and will leave you thinking long after you put it down. It is a good example of a genre novel transcending the category and exploring issues beyond the murder mystery elements of the plot. It follows Ferraris' first novel The Night of the Mi'raj which introduced the main female characters.


Click here to buy City of Veils
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Thrillers and Chillers
Think of a Number   So Cold the River
John Verdon

It begins with a letter ... the letter contains a simple request – think of a number, any number – and a sealed envelope. Inside the sealed envelope is that number.

When Dave Gurney, retired NYPD homicide detective, is contacted by an old college acquaintance about some startling letters he's been receiving, it is at first little more than a diverting but sinister puzzle. Until the acquaintance is brutally killed.

Suddenly Gurney finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation that makes no sense. The killer seems to have known his victim intimately. How else was he able to predict his thoughts, even his actions? How did he know his darkest secrets?

The killer is smart and he is playing with the police. Gurney needs to be smarter if he's going to catch him, but this seems only to be the beginning. And the killer alone knows where it will end.

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Michael Koryta

This is very well written and terrifyingly real. So Cold The River will appeal to fans of Stephen King, Peter Straub and Dean Koontz and readers of investigation-driven authors such as Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane and John Connolly.

It started with a documentary. The beautiful Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to unearth the life story of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose childhood is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job, even though the only clues to Bradford's past are his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept all his life.

In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary past - a glorious domed hotel that has just been restored to its former grandeur.

But something else has been restored too - a long forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to settle a decades-old score.  It's lights on territory!

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Random   The Burning Wire
Craig Robertson

"I was fascinated by the idea of the perfect, motiveless crime and the problems that presents for those investigating it. I also wanted to toy with people's perceptions of right and wrong. Mostly wrong."

So said Craig Robertson, author of this very polished chiller. Written through the eyes of the killer, it spares little in terms of graphic detail and gore. The Glasgow police are baffled. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason behind the killings; no kind of pattern or motive; an entirely different method of murder each time, and nothing that connects the victims except for the fact that the little fingers of their right hands have been severed.

It's a strangely hypnotic novel that augurs well for Robertson in the future. Just be warned - it will challenge your ideas of the right and wrong, and leave you pondering the creation of sociopaths!

Click here to buy Random
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  Jeffrey Deaver

Lincoln Rhyme, the quadriplegic forensic investigator, is back.

Manhattan is under attack from what appears to be terrorists targeting the electricity grid. A bus is reduced to molten metal, victims set on fire.

Panic sets in.

Struggling with his health and running two major investigations at once, Rhyme needs all his wits and the help of his key colleagues to get to grips with the onslaught. More attacks, demand letters and public panic make it a frantic race to identify and catch the perpetrators.

This is a cut above the normal commercial thriller, and cries out for a movie. Great escapist reading based on a scarily possible premise. You won't be disappointed.

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Something a Little Different
Thrill City

Leigh Redhead

If you haven't caught up with Simone Kirsch yet, you've been missing a treat! Ex-stripper, sleuth and bad girl, she's back in business - but before she has time to crack a bottle of cheap champagne to celebrate the opening of her very own detective agency, she's up to her neck in trouble.

It all starts off quite innocently, when a best-selling crime novelist, Nick Austin, wants to follow her around for a few days as background research for his next novel. But the day after he, his ex-wife and her new lover all appear on the same panel at a writers festival, his ex-wife is found brutally murdered and Nick disappears, leaving Simone with more than she can handle.

While she can take murderous bikies, desperate publishers, poetry slams and a crystal meth-addicted psycho killer with literary ambitions in her stride, Simone is also juggling her very pregnant and possibly hormonally unbalanced best friend, Chloe; her ongoing attraction to ex-cop, Alex; and her boyfriend, Sean, who wants her to give up her agency and move to Vietnam.

Lovers of Janet Evanovich will appreciate the attitude; Leigh Redhead has done it again with a gritty, funny and very edgy thriller that is up there with the best Australian crime fiction.

Click here to buy Thrill City
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Crime from Oz
Watch the World Burn   Blood Born
Leah Giarratano

This is a home-grown chiller from the Australian mistress of the genre!

Miriam Caine, is dining with her son when she bursts into flames in an upmarket restaurant. The manager, Troy Berrigan, is first to her aid, but the old woman later dies of her injuries. When accelerants are found on the victim, police attention is turned to
Berrigan, a fallen hero cop, who fits the arsonist profile.

Her death preludes a spate of apparently unconnected acid and arson attacks around Sydney. Is it the beginning of an orchestrated campaign
of terror? And is Troy Berrigan the perpetrator or an innocent bystander caught up in a terrible train of events?
 
While on study leave, Detective Sergeant Jill Jackson becomes caught up in the investigation. Working with Federal Agent Gabriel Delahunt, she is determined to find out what happened, because this case for her is not only about murder and maiming in Sydney: this case will change her life forever.

Tautly written, and drawing on the author's background as a clinician dealing with psychopathology, the story rings true as a bell, and does not let go.

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  Kathryn Fox

Australian fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs are legion. Many are unaware that Australia boasts a worthy rival in Sydney-based physician Kathryn Fox. Her novels featuring pathologist and forensic physician Dr Anya Crichton more than stack up beside her international colleagues.

Her latest offering is Blood Born, and it is her best yet.

The death of a gang rape victim hours before she is due to give evidence at trial is more than only a tragedy. The psychotic Harbourn brothers, the girl's accused attackers, now look like getting away with two horrific crimes.

But the Harbourns' trail of destruction doesn't end there. When two sisters are brutally assaulted and one of them is killed, Anya begins working round the clock to catch the Harbourns and nail their ringleader, the deviously clever Gary. With the help of Detective Kate Farrer and star litigator Dan Brody, she begins to discover just how twisted this family really is, and what they're capable of.

Kathryn Fox is a medical practitioner with a special interest in forensic medicine, and it shows. Moreover she knows the writing business, and ratchets up the tension very effectively. Her previous titles, Malicious Intent, Without Consent and Skin and Bone are all great reads, so you don't need to look overseas for great forensic crime!

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Silk Chaser   Mosquito Creek
Peter Klein

The racing industry has a strange pull on the affections of the Australian public. And racing crime has almost become a genre in itself - witness the success of Dick Francis. So it's good to see a local author tap into that, and to do it as well as Peter Klein has.

He starts from a position of strength, having worked for icons of the industry such as Bart Cummings and T J Smith, in a lifetime devoted to horses. And he backs up that experience with an engaging laconic style reminiscent of the early Peter Temple novels and of Shane Maloney.

In Silk Chaser, John Punter is starry-eyed about his new girlfriend. Trackside, a killer is stalking young, female strappers.  The police and the race clubs seem powerless to do anything. The women are terrified and the union is threatening to go on strike and close down the entire racing industry unless security can be guaranteed and the killer caught.

Meanwhile there's a protection racket afoot and Punter's restaurant, Gino's, is getting lent on. Back at the track, the body count mounts and Punter finds himself involved in a desperate race against time to find a crazed killer.

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  Robert Engwerda

When the Murray River floods, it really floods. Despite the dams and weirs we have installed in the last 100 years. Before that, in the 19th century, the floods were things of legend. In the town where I live there are old photos of passengers stepping from paddle-steamers onto the first floor balconies of hotels in the main street!

Such a flood is the setting for this atmospheric novel by Robert Engwerda. A gold-mining settlement is engulfed and Sergeant Niall Kennedy is in the firing line.

While trying to deal with the emergencies of diggers trapped by flood waters, an emerging disease threat and sudden death, Kennedy's boss is playing games behind his back.

Kennedy is a very well drawn character, and Mosquito Creek is a rare treat, combining fine historical fiction with a crime story that vividly evokes the harshness of Australia's past. Don't miss it!

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American Crime
Private   The Liar's Lullaby
James Patterson

All Patterson's slick skills in writing page-turning thrillers are on display in this new series opener.

Former Marine helicopter pilot Jack Morgan runs Private, a renowned investigation company with branches around the globe.  It is where you go when you need maximum force and maximum discretion.  The secrets of the most influential men and women on the planet come to Jack daily - and his staff of investigators use the world's most advanced forensic tools to make and break their cases.

Jack is already deep into the investigation of a multimillion-dollar gambling scandal and the unsolved slayings of thirteen schoolgirls when he learns of a horrific murder close to home: his best friend's wife.  Jack devotes all of Private's resources to tracking down her killer.

But Jack doesn't have to play by the rules.  As he closes in on the killer and chooses between revenge and justice, he also has to navigate a workplace love affair, his own.

Don't plan to read this book a chapter at a time. It will drag you in and make it a one-sitting affair!

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  Meg Gardiner

Jo Beckett is a specialist in - wait for it - psychological autopsies! It's a great entree to crimes, acting as a police consultant to flesh out (pardon the pun) the lives of them what turn up dead.

When a rock singer is killed onstage during a concert, Jo is called in to perform a psychological autopsy. But Tasia McFarland's death causes Jo all kinds of problems, because Tasia is the ex-wife of the President of the United States.

The White House pressures Jo to declare Tasia's death an accident, but Jo has learnt of an obsessed fan who was stalking Tasia and her new boyfriend, a famous country singer. Jo calls the police but she's too late; the stalker has killed again and the police, in turn, have killed the stalker.

The case seems to have come to a spectacular conclusion. But now Jo's not so sure that it was the stalker that killed Tasia after all. And she's nervous, because the President is on his way to San Francisco to attend the memorial service.

Gardiner writes well and delivers a great finale to this celebrity crime thriller. Prepare to stay up late!

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Silent Scream   The Whisperers   In the Blood
Karen Rose

I couldn't quite decide whether this was a romance wrapped in a thriller or a thriller with a  love story. Either way it works very very well.

Four college kids set fire to a supposedly empty condominium block. But when they see the young girl at an upper-floor window they realise their mistake. Although they don't all agree, the group leave the girl to her certain death, little realising that someone is there, watching their every move. Someone who has a nasty habit of blackmail and sees an opportunity for profit which is far greater than any they have ever had before.

Firefighter David Hunter finds the girl's body he realises that this arson attack has become a murder case. He is thrown together with Detective Olivia Sutherland, with whom he has history - one-night stand history. What follows is a beautifully balanced race to uncover a murdering blackmailer, and a re-evaluation of a relationship that got off to a rocky start. On any level this is a great crime novel (uh, I mean, love story).

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Silent Scream
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  John Connolly

John Connolly, like Lee Child, sets his plots in the US while living on the other side of the Atlantic. Connolly is an Irishman, and writes pitch-perfect thrillers. This one succeeds spectacularly as such, and along the way throws more than a few barbs at the Bush administration's treatment of its Middle East veterans.

The border between Maine and Canada is porous. Anything can be smuggled across it: drugs, cash, weapons, people. Now a group of disenchanted former soldiers has begun a smuggling operation across the US Canadian border. But it's not drugs or weapons or people. It's very different indeed. And it attracts the attention of the distinctly nasty Herod.

Charlie Parker is drawn in to investigate the operation via apparent suicides of veterans. Soon he realises that this is much more than that, and that Herod is capable of something terrifying and lethal. Charlie is forced into uneasy alliance with another killer to make inroads.

And all the time he is dealing with demons of his own. This is Connolly at the top of his game. I dare you to put it down!

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The Whisperers
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  Jack Kerley

Jack Kerley has been steadily building a  strong reputation as a skilled story-teller, focusing on the crimes of the psychotic serial killer, and setting them in the steamy heat of the American South.

In the Blood puts his protagonist, Carson Ryder, up against a deranged killer threatening Mobile, Alabama. Meanwhile his own brother, himself a serial killer, (now that takes some authorial nerve!) is on the loose.

A tele-evangelist turns up very dead, the apparent victim of an S&M ritual, and a baby in a boat drifts in with the tide. Add a mysterious but brilliant geneticist working on - who knows what?

 Kerley handles these apparently unconnected elements - and more - with panache and more than a touch of grim humour. The tension is worked extremely well, and the story evolves beautifully.

It's a great read for those with a taste for the dark side of the human psyche.

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In the Blood
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European Crime
Woman with Birthmark   Fatal Tango
Hakan Nesser

Hakan Nesser's series featuring Chief Inspector Van Veeteren has won many fans - and no wonder. At first blush they are police procedurals, but they are also much more than that. The wry commentary on the world, criminality and a host of subjects make them a delight. In The Woman with Birthmark, Nesser gives us the killer's eyes (but not the identity) as well as the perspective of the police.

Why in hell's name should anybody march up to somebody's door, ring the bell and shoot whoever opened it?

A young woman shivers in the December cold as her mother's body is laid to rest in a cemetery. The only thing that warms her is the thought of the revenge she will soon take...

Then a middle-aged man is killed at his home, shot twice in the chest and twice below the belt. He had recently received a series of bizarre phone calls where an old song is played down the line – evoking an eerie sense of both familiarity and unease. Before the police can find the culprit, a second man is killed in the same way.

Van Veeteren and his team must dig far back into each man's past – but with few clues at each crime scene, can they find the killer before anyone else dies?

Terrific Scandinavian crime!

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  Wolfram Fleischhauer

Here's a mystery and a love story entwined. It is smart, sexy and exotic. Its literate execution does nothing to impede the narrative pull, and it delivers as a page-turner and a book of substance. For those of us suffering from Stieg Larsson withdrawal, it's a great antidote.

Giulietta Battin is a ballerina at the conservative Berlin opera. She falls in love with the dashing Argentinean tango champion, Damian Alsina, and unwittingly embarks on an intoxicating but dangerous journey.

Having fled his country's political horrors, Damian has found sanctuary in northern Europe. But is he there for another reason? He is connected to Giulietta's powerful politician father – but neither man will tell her the truth of their association.

When Damian bizarrely starts sabotaging his own tango routines and then, without warning, flees to Argentina, Giulietta is determined to unravel the mystery once and for all and follows him. But he is nowhere to be found.

In a desperate attempt to track down her lover and unlock her father's dark secrets, Giulietta embarks on an odyssey through the fascinating tango universe of Buenos Aires, where Damian's strange dancing style gradually reveals itself to be an elaborate code, a way of speaking about unspeakable horrors of the past.
Thrilling and sexy, Fatal Tango combines art an passion and suspense into a highly original mix. You'll love it!

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Crimes Past
Revenger

Rory Clements

There are some terrific writers of English historical fiction around. Rory Clements is surely one of those. Mining that rich vein of history, Elizabethan England, Clements has produced a masterpiece of court intrigue and derring-do with Revenger.

It's 1590, and the death of her trusted spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham has left Queen Elizabeth vulnerable. Conspiracies multiply. The quiet life of John Shakespeare is shattered by a summons from Robert Cecil, the cold but deadly young statesman who dominated the last years of the Queen's long reign, insisting Shakespeare re-enter government service. His mission: to find vital papers, now in the possession of the Earl of Essex aspirant to the throne. Shakespeare must face implacable forces who believe themselves above the law: men and women who kill without compunction. And in a world of shifting allegiances, just how far he can trust Robert Cecil, his devious new master?

High adventure has never been more exciting, and a life-and-death shoot-out at a lonely Masham farm makes for a storming climax.

Click here to buy Revenger
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Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile   The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath   The Last Train to Scarborough
Gyles Brandreth

As intelligent as it is beguiling, this third instalment in the richly historical mystery series is sure to captivate and entertain.

Wilde's good friend and colleague, poet Robert Sherard chronicles a new adventure that spans over a year in his life in Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile, the third mystery in this series by Gyles Brandreth.

Wilde is entangled in the La Grange acting dynasty who arrive in Paris to undertake a production of Hamlet. But a series of macabre tragedies intervene, and Wilde's digging, aided by the incomparable Sarah Bernhardt, reveals horrifying secrets that threaten his life and reputation.

This heady mix of real  historical figures (Wilde, Bernhardt, Arthur Conan Doyle) and fictional ones (the La Grange family) works extraordinarily well, and the famous Oscar Wilde wit is given full rein. Great fun backed up with a terrific plot and well-drawn characters.

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Oscar Wilde and the
Dead Man's Smile
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  Jane Robins

This one isn't crime fiction; it's a retelling of a famous case from the early days of the First World War in which three recently married women were found drowned in their baths. The husband (the same bloke in all cases!) was tried for murder of one of them, and the book is about the emergence of the Sherlock Holmes style scientific investigation in the English court.

The man doing the Holmes stuff was Bernard Spilsbury, who came to fame in the Crippen murder trial. Author Jane Robins does a terrific job of bringing to life the horror of the murders, the arrogant, magnetic appeal of the accused and the courtroom battle between him and the redoubtable Marshall Hall.

Reconstructing a gripping story from court documents and newspaper accounts is no easy task, but Jane Robins has done a terrific job, producing a page-turner that is both macabre and satisfying. Whether Spilsbury really ushered in the age of forensic medicine is another matter - it's a fine read!

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The Magnificent
Spilsbury and the Case
of the Brides in the Bath
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  The 
Last Train to ScarboroughAndrew Martin

This is the latest in the charming and hugely atmospheric "Steam Detective" series by Andrew Martin featuring Jim Stringer.

It is the eve of the Great War, and Jim Stringer, railway detective, is uneasy about his next assignment.

It's not so much the prospect of Scarborough in the gloomy off-season that bothers him, or even the fact that the last railwayman to stay in the house has disappeared without trace. It's more that his governor, Chief Inspector Weatherhill, seems to be deliberately holding back details of the case - and that he's been sent to Scarborough with a trigger-happy assistant. And when Jim encounters the seductive and beautiful Amanda Rickerby a whole new personal danger enters Jim's life.

Rich with detail of England prior to the First World War, especially the almost-disappeared world of steam engines in their prime, this series is immensely satisfying and nostalgic. The Last Train to Scarborough is a terrific addition.

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The Last Train to
Scarborough
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MORE GREAT READS ...

Fallout

G J Moffat

G J Moffat is another gem from that seemingly inexhaustible vein of Scottish crime writers that just keep coming up with the goods. Fallout is his second novel (the first was Daisy Chain) and this one confirms his place as a must-read author alongside Rankin, Jardine MacBride and the rest.

Logan Finch returns, having made a new life for himself with his daughter Ellie. But a blossoming relationship with DC Rebecca Irvine is about to be put to the test. Irvine's old flame, drug-addicted rock star Roddy Hale, enters her life again. And there's the small matter of a professional killer following her every move.

Meanwhile, Alex Cahill, a close-protection operative and ex-US army special-forces soldier, has a celebrity babysitting job. He hates these roles, but maybe this time will be different. Tara Byrne is a Scots girl about to break into Hollywood and is back in Scotland for the premiere of a low-budget film as a favour for a friend. She is the target of a disturbed stalker and needs Cahill and his team to watch her back. Inevitably, violence erupts, putting everyone at risk. For Logan, there are impossible choices to be made: between his best friend and the woman he loves.

Tautly written with glimpses of grim Scottish humour, Fallout keeps you enthralled, and for lovers of quality British crime, it's a must-have!

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RRP $32.99
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Blood Harvest

S.J. Bolton

A city family moves to the idyllic rural setting of the Pennines. All is well with the new house and quiet village until weird sightings and midnight whisperings plague their children. They seek out psychiatrist Evi, a hero with baggage, to help their son Tom. Meanwhile a history of missing little blonde girls becomes a terrifying reality when their daughter Millie disappears.

The dark and grisly secrets of the village emerge as the tension escalates.

Blood Harvest probably didn't get a big tick from the Pennines Tourist Board, but it succeeds very well as a spine-tingling thriller with great characters and a well-paced plot. Keep the lights on!

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RRP $32.95
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Inspector Singh Investi-gates: The Singapore School of Villainy

Shamini Flint

Detective fiction is home to a legion of endearing and off-beat investigators, from the original Sherlock Holmes through Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot to the latter day characters like Precious Ramotswe and Australia's own Jack Irish.

Into this great tradition steps Inspector Singh.
He is home again but wishes he wasn't. His wife nags him at breakfast and his superiors are whiling away their time by giving him his usual 'you're a disgrace to the force' lecture.

Fortunately for Singh, there is no rest for the wicked when he is called out to the murder of a senior partner at an international law firm, clubbed to death at his desk. Less fortunately, there is no shortage of suspects - from the victim's fellow partners to his wife and ex-wife - or motives, as many of the lawyers have secrets they would kill to protect. And very soon Singh finds himself heading up an investigation that exposes the fabric of Singapore society and the rotten core beneath.

Gentle, set-upon and derided, Inspector Singh is unfailingly determined and persistent, and is a wonderful addition to that cavalcade of eccentricity that is the beating heart of crime fiction.

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RRP $22.99
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A Loyal Spy

Simon Conway

This is sophisticated well-researched spy fiction to rival the best around. It raises questions of loyalty, morality and the intersection between them. And it is steeped in the grubbiness of modern war. But don't let this deter you - it is also a nerve-shredding thriller with lives you can believe in, and a plot that doesn't let you rest.

Jonah is an undercover operative for one of Britain's most secret agencies. Nor is the agent he befriended, recruited, then left for dead. Miranda is the woman he thought he loved enough to give up everything for.
The last time Jonah saw Nor ed-Din, he was lying face down in a pool of black water in the Khyber Pass. For many years, Jonah had been under the impression that he'd killed him there. How far can loyalty be stretched before it reaches a limit? Millions of lives are in the balance as a twisting road of betrayal and revenge leads from the mountains of Afghanistan to the heart of London.

A Loyal Spy highlights the growing vulnerability of big cities to a relatively few terrorists with modern technology at their disposal. It's a terrific read.

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A Loyal Spy
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The Courier

Ava McCarthy

Henrietta "Harry" Martinez is a wonderful creation - a reformed safecracker who can't resist a challenge. So in she goes to crack a safe for the the wife of the owner, and what does she get? An absconding client (with the diamonds, of course), and Harry at the mercy of an assassin whose latest work she witnessed.  Cops are not overly sympathetic, what with Harry's history and all. Not even an attempt on her life convinces them that her story might be worth listening to

So Harry is left to fend for herself, and that involves tangling with some very nasty types. A little discrete hacking into the dead man's computer reveals a smuggling operation with roots in South Africa. And that's where she goes.

There's a lot to like about Harry. She isn't your deadly martial arts type heroine, nor does she shrug off a beating with a wry part-of-the-job grimace. But she is determined. The showdown is a beauty, and convinces me to seek out her first Harry book, The Insider.

This is a great read, and I for one will look forward to more.

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RRP $24.99
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The Rising

Brian McGilloway

McGilloway is rapidly making a name for producing thoughtful and complex crime stories with lots to think about. It helps that he is a very good writer, and in The Rising, manages to keep several plates spinning without compromising the involvement we have with the characters.

Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin is summoned to a burning barn, he finds inside the charred remains of a man who is quickly identified as a local drug dealer, Martin Kielty.

It soon becomes clear that Kielty's death was no accident, and suspicion falls on a local vigilante group. Former paramilitaries, the men call themselves The Rising. While public opinion is somewhat sympathetic for the group, Devlin suspects their motives are more sinister.

Meanwhile personal conflict arrives in the form of Caroline Williams, a former colleague whose son has disappeared. Devlin's wife is wary of Williams' relationship with her husband, and Devlin has to tread very carefully. Family tensions are further strained when their daughter wants to go out with a boy whose father Devlin has suspicions about.

Altogether a complex but rewarding read with a very believable hero and satisfying plot twists and turns.

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