to the March Crime and Mystery Buzz|
terrific month of crime we have! There's a mixture of familiar authors
with new titles, and great debut novels from stars of the future.|
fans should not miss the new Jack Reacher novel 61 Hours. It's a beauty! I
read it in a sitting and I can tell you, Jack is back at his best!
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Lee Child just
answered Booktopia's Ten Terrifying Questions and you can read his
responses in our Blog. Read Lee's and many other great responses by clicking here.
Hurley returns with his Portsmouth detective DI Faraday in another
gripping yarn Beyond Reach, and Sophie Hannah adds to her growing
reputation as the best writer of psychological thrillers going round
with A Room Swept White.
Among the debut
writers, I can't recommend Belinda Bauer's Blacklands highly enough.
Salati Case by Tobias Jones is a wonderful new addition to the
European crime list and I hope it's the first of many.
treats include Kel Robertson's Smoke and Mirrors, an example of very classy
Australian crime writing, and, for the true crime buffs, Escobar,
by Roberto Escobar. Chilling and uncompromising!
And much more.
So, lots to get your teeth into, to set the pulse racing and the mind
Booktopia Crime Buzz Editor
|Book of the Month|
Reacher is back!
And this time he's doing what he does best -
teaming up with the underdog against the forces of evil. The setting is
a small community in bitterly cold South Dakota, and the enemy is a
ruthless assassin under orders from an even more ruthless crime boss in
Lee Child's series (61 Hours
is the fourteenth) featuring the enigmatic nomad Jack Reacher is the
top of the tree of adult boy's own adventure. All the hallmarks are
there. He defends the weak, he's smart, laconic and a fearless and
lethal fighter. And a drifter.
Baggage? He carries a toothbrush
and an ATM card. Emotionally, however, he's weighed down by the ghost
of his brother, whose death he blames on himself (see Killing Floor,
the first in the series).
is a return to the format that works best for me: the isolated community
with small town issues being visited by an external threat. And a
tough courageous woman to share the stage with Jack, although this one
isn't a potential romantic involvement. (But maybe the one on the end
of the phone is!)
This is escapism at its best. Get your hands on it
and put up the "Do Not Disturb" sign.
Click here to buy 61 Hours
Booktopia Price: $27.95
|Best of British|
| BEYOND REACH|
Faraday is a distinct and immensely likeable creation, with depth and
contradictions. Hurley's plots are superb, and Beyond Reach
is no exception. The twists are well hidden but logical in retrospect,
and the story unrolls at a cracking pace.
A boy dies in a hit
and run, and a desperate mother reveals a string of previous attacks on
the victim... and a link to a terrible crime from the 80s. Despite
resistance from the family, the police hierarchy want this cold case
cleared up, never mind the human cost.
Graham Hurley gets a lot
of comparisons to Ian Rankin, and while there are differences, it's
easy to see why. In his Faraday series (Beyond Reach
is the tenth), one of Hurley's themes is the moral decay of cities,
and Portsmouth is a good setting to explore that. Likewise he's not a
fan of the trend of statistic-driven policing, a recurring theme in
Rankin's Rebus novels.
won't disappoint existing Hurley fans, and is sure to gather more. Get
Click here to buy Beyond Reach
Booktopia Price: $27.99
Griffiths introduced her heroine Ruth Galloway in Crossing
Places, a marvellously atmo- spheric mystery set in the Norfolk fen
Galloway is an archaeologist with a forensic bent and a
chaotic private life.
In The Janus
Stone, Galloway returns, as messy as ever, with the added
complication of unexpected pregnancy (the father is DCI Nelson, her
co-investigator). The headless skeleton of a small child is discovered
during the demolition of an old children's home. Is it linked to the
disappearance of two children from the home 40 years ago?
writing reminds me of the early novels of PD James. The writing is
certainly a cut above the standard pot-boiler, and Griffiths gently
explores the issues encountered by profess- ional women in
male-dominated roles. The characters live and breathe, their
foibles and shortcomings ring cast iron true.
If you like
English mysteries with a nod to their origins, you'll love The Janus
Click here to buy The Janus Stone
Booktopia Price: $27.95 SAVE 15%
I read Minette Walters' first novel The Ice House
I knew that a star had arrived. It was that good.
Bauer's Blacklands prod-
uces the same effect. It is an extraordinarily accomplished debut that
explores some very dark places.
Steven Lamb is a
twelve-year-old living in a family overshadowed by the disappearance
and presumed murder of his Uncle Billy. He sets out to find his corpse
by digging holes on Exmoor where Billy was supposedly buried. The
futility of the search leads him to more direct action - beginning a
correspondence with the imprisoned child killer Arnold Avery, a
Having a child protagonist is a tough
assignment for a writer. The temptation to over-endow them with
knowledge and insight is immense. Bauer manages the task beautifully,
preserving the innocence and frailty of Steven, and contrasting it with
the undiluted malevolence of Avery's presence.
we'll be hearing a lot more about Belinda Bauer. Blacklands
is the real deal.
Click here to buy Blacklands
Booktopia Price: $27.95
| || RUPTURE|
This is a very
assured debut novel that doesn't fit snugly in the crime genre. The
writing is compell- ing, exploring issues of bullying, victimisation and
In a sweltering London summer, teacher Samuel
Szajkowski walks into a school assembly and opens fire. Three pupils
and a teacher are shot dead before Samuel turns the gun on himself. As
the only woman in her office at CID, DI Lucia May is finding it
difficult to be taken seriously by her colleagues.
When she is
assigned the case, she is expected to tie things up quickly and without
a fuss. As Lucia begins to piece together the testimonies of the
teachers and children at the school, a much uglier and more complex
picture of the months leading up to the incident begins to emerge.
the pressure to bury the case builds and the harassment by her
colleagues takes a more sinister turn, Lucia begins to realise that she
has more in common with Samuel Szajkowski than she could have
It's unsettling and will have you thinking long after
you have finished reading. Definitely worth the journey.
Click here to buy Rupture
Booktopia Price: $27.99
|THE SALATI CASE|
a new European-based detective to get excited about! Most Italian crime
novels have been based on central characters in various police forces.
Now meet Castagnetti, a PI who ticks all the boxes for a likeable,
determined and incorruptible hero battling bureaucracy, privilege and
Casta, as he is known to his friends, is hired to
confirm that the ne'er-do-well of the Salati family, Riccardo, is in
fact dead, as he is presumed to be. His mother has just died, and the
relatives would like to get the hands on the inheritance as soon as
possible, thanks very much, and a quick "presumed dead" finding for
Riccardo would clear the way. Unfortunately for them, Casta is not
prepared to simply file a report and collect his fee. He starts
digging, and the more he finds, the more mysterious the case becomes.
setting is a town that sounds very like Parma (where the author
lives), and the book is infused with an undercurrent of criminal
activity combined with a glorious feel for Italy and things Italian.
writing is fluid and dryly humorous; Casta has a liking for hard drink
and attractive women, and he has a hobby that is shared by another
famous fictional detective (I'm not telling!).
Fans of European
crime will lap up Castagnetti, as will lovers of the PI genre. Let's
hope that it is the start of a series!
Click here to buy The Salati Case
Booktopia Price: $15.30 SAVE 15%
|Thrillers and Chillers|
Jon Stock's spy novels have been described as a cross
between Jason Bourne action and George Smiley intrigue and
characterisation. It's easy to see how this combination of Ludlum and
Le Carre is invoked. The pace is cracking and the stakes are high, but
there is an intelligence and depth to the work that sets it apart from
other spy thrillers. Dead Spy
Running is all that and more.
Suspended MI6 agent Daniel
Marchant finds himself in a deadly London Marathon in which he must
keep running to thwart a competitor strapped with explosives. His
heroism in preventing carnage on the street is not enough to clear his
name. He is caught in the crossfire between the CIA and the British
agencies, with horrendous personal cost.
He has more than his own
reputation at stake. His father was hounded out of MI6 at the behest
of the Americans, and Daniel is determined to restore his good name as
well. With few friends and plenty of enemies, Daniel pursues the trail
from England to Poland to India and back again.
Running portrays this world of hidden alliances, terrorist moles
and agency politics better than anything I have read since George
And that is saying an awful lot!
Click here to buy Dead Spy Running
Booktopia Price: $16.99
David Harwood is a normal guy in a normal job with a
normal wife and family.
And then he isn't.
His wife Jan
disappears during a family trip to the local amusement park, and
David's life begins to unravel. A hunt for the missing woman reveals
little to confirm David's version of her disappearance, and suspicion
accumulates around him. He starts to question the bedrock of his
marriage - is my wife who she says she is?
While the police seem
focused on building a case against him, David starts digging into the
story his wife has told him of her background. And things are not as
they seem. A trip to her home town reveals a dreadful secret with awful
implications. The ground has shifted below his feet, and if he is to
survive and protect his son, he must confront some serious vested
Plots involving people with normal lives that spin
out of control can lose their grip on the reader out of sheer
improbability. Linwood Barclay keeps you enthralled by adding small bits
at a time, each one very credible and consistent. My empathy for the
hero didn't waver, and I had to know what happened.
I read it
in a day, and will certainly back up for more.
Click here to buy Never Look Away
|A ROOM SWEPT WHITE|
Sophie Hannah has quite quickly built a reputation as a
superb writer of the psychological thriller built around domestic
situations. And deservedly so.
Her novels transcend the crime
genre through the quality of the writing and the exploration of themes
relevant to all our lives - jealousy, love, justice and retribution.
Hannah is also a poet, and it shows. Elegant, bright phrases gleam like
gold thread through the tapestry of the novels, making them a pleasure
In A Room Swept
White, a title taken from a poem, TV producer Fliss
Benson sets to work on a documentary on cot death and miscarriages
of justice. Three women were accused of the murder of their children
and pursued by the zealous child protectionist Dr Judith Duffy. All are
now free. But as the the investigation for the doco gets underway, one
of them is found dead, with a card in her pocket on which are written
sixteen numbers. Just like the one Fliss Benson received at her office.
is a treat for lovers of quality crime.
Click here to buy A Room Swept White
Booktopia Price: $27.99 SAVE 15%
I have come late to Christopher Moore's PI novels
featuring Vincent Calvino. And that's been my loss.
lived in Bangkok for twenty years, and it shows. His knowledge of the
hidden Bangkok, the crime, the politics and the people shines through.
And his writing recalls the gritty noir of Chandler and the intrigue of
Le Carre with a dry humour thrown in.
Jack is the tenth Calvino novel, and together they represent a rich
panorama of east meets west. This time round Calvino is drawn into the
murky world of private prisons, political assassination and UN
officialdom. Calvino is the hard-boiled successor of Philip Marlowe, a
damaged, beaten-down but never beaten protagonist who doesn't know when
to quit. The Bangkok he inhabits is full of life, corruption and
broken dreams. Moore drags you in to experience all of it.
you try it for the exotic setting, the hard-boiled hero or the
intrigue and action, you won't be disappointed. And you'll be back for
Click here to buy Paying Back Jack
Booktopia Price: $27.95
|Something a Little Different|
| THE FINAL ACT OF MR SHAKESPEARE|
OK, I've fudged things a bit here. Well, a lot actually.
This isn't a crime novel, and doesn't really belong in the genre.
it is a novel. And it does involve crime.
I couldn't resist,
because it's an audacious book describing the abduction of Shakespeare
during the last years of his life by none other than King James I. (It
didn't happen, of course, but it makes a great story.) The King wants
the Bard to write a play lionising his great great uncle Henry VIII.
Shakespeare, in his advancing years, is ashamed of his sycophantic
treatment of Richard III, and is determined not to repeat it with the
serially married Henry VIII. So he decides to write a warts-and-all
historical play of Henry VII instead.
And he does. And here's
the audacious part. Robert Winder, the author of this book, includes
the play as an integral part of the novel, to great effect.
is wonderful historical fiction of the what-if variety and well worth a
quick detour from the regular crime beat.
Click here to buy The Final Act of Mr
Price: $27.99 SAVE 15%
|Crime from Oz|
|SMOKE AND MIRRORS|
I read Kel Robertson's first Inspector Chen novel Dead Set I was
convinced we had a new star on the horizon in Australian crime writing.
It had wow factor all over it. Laconic, bloody and up-to-the-minute
modern it was a breath of fresh air, and my only disappointment was
that there weren't more of them to be had.
Well, now there are.
Or at least there's one more. Newly released by Macmillan, Smoke and
Mirrors takes Brad Chen back into the murky world of Australian
politics and organised crime via the death of a one-time Whitlam
government minister. As the body count keeps rising, a deadly secret
emerges from the time of the dismissal of that government.
plotting, witty dialogue and characters from left field make for
wonderful reading. Kel Robertson joins Shane Maloney and Peter Temple
as writers with a distinctly Australian voice who write convincingly
and with humour about crime in our back yard. You won't be
Click here to buy Smoke and Mirrors
Booktopia Price: $19.50 SAVE 15%
| HELL GATE|
Fairstein was Head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney's
office in Manhattan for decades, and is one of America's most visible
legal experts on sexual assault and domestic violence.
also why she writes such compelling crime thrillers and why her
Alexandra Cooper series regularly tops bestseller lists. Fans turn to
Fairstein for straight-from-the-headline crimes, cutting-edge
investigations, and vindication for victims.
twelfth novel, Hell Gate,
Alex Cooper finds her attention torn between investigating a shipwreck
that has human cargo and the sex scandal of a New York
congressman fallen from grace. These cases aren't as unrelated as they
seem, and the political landscape of New York City could hang in the
balance of her investigation.
As ever, Fairstein delivers a taut
and gripping novel that won't lie down. Nor will you.
Click here to buy Hell Gate
Booktopia Price: $27.99
Sydney Bauer is an Australian writer who has made it big in
the US. And it's easy to see why. She writes legal thrillers set in
the US, and does it with style. Matter of
Trust is her fifth, all featuring Boston-based attorney David
Cavanaugh takes a call from an old friend Chris
Kincaid in New Jersey. Kincaid is now a US Senator and his dilemma
concerns the disappearance of another member of their childhood gang -
Marilyn Maloney - whom the now-married Senator used to date.
a blonde woman's body is hauled out of the Passaic River, the
situation becomes more complicated - there is a corpse to identify and,
despite his fears about where this might be going, David agrees to
help. The situation soon spirals out of control as Chris involves David
in a lie to the police. Marilyn is dead, Chris is confirmed as her
lover and the popular senator - arrested for her murder - engages David
as his attorney.
Click here to buy Matter of Trust
Booktopia Price: $27.99
|When it comes to historical crime, I've always felt that
there are two categories - very good and very bad. It's so easy to get
the details wrong, to ask too much of the reader when it comes to the
suspension of disbelief. A badly done historical mystery looks more
amateurish than a badly done modern one.|
Having said that, I'm
delighted that the two in this month's new releases definitely fall
into the well done category. Both are splendid evocations of the
nineteenth century (one in London, one in Vienna) with stories that
drag you in and won't let go.
But that's the good thing
about historical crime. Like the little girl in the poem, when
they're good, they're very very good!
|J. Sydney Jones|
It's the summer
of 1898 and Austria is transfixed by a series of brutal murders. When
renowned painter Gustav Klimt's female model becomes the fifth victim,
the artist is fingered as the culprit. The killings are macabre
involving mutilation and ritualistic elements.
Werthen, and his friend, the famed criminologist Inspector Gross, must
delve into a nationwide conspiracy in order to acquit the unusual and
unpredictable artist. (In the course of the novel, Gross repeatedly
complains that Sherlock Holmes has "stolen his methods"!)
soon emerge linking the murders to Austria's aristocracy, in
particular, the disappearance and possible murder of Crown Prince
Rudolf, the son of Emperor Franz Josef.
With an encyclopaedic
knowledge of Vienna's history, culture, and politics, J Sydney Jones
has introduced a gripping new mystery series set in a cosmopolitan city
at the height of its artistic and social importance.
book that will appeal to lovers of mystery and lovers of history alike.
Click here to buy The Empty Mirror
Booktopia Price $19.50
| || THE INCENDIARY'S TRAIL|
When it comes to Victorian (as in 19th century, not south
of NSW) crime, I've always found myself a little ambivalent.
Incendiary's Trail has changed that. This is a superb evocation of
an era of an embryonic police force, of appalling poverty and hardship.
With more than a nod to Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens, McCreet
has produced a cracker of an historical thriller with grit, macabre
characters and ruthless criminals.
Detective Inspector Newsome
of the new Detective Force decides to recruit a recently apprehended
master criminal to help bring the culprits to justice. A polymath with a
mysterious past, the man is no eager volunteer.
And when the
ghastly murder of conjoined twins galvanises the city, Newsome
blackmails his prisoner - Noah Dyson, as he calls himself - into
working with the Force's finest: Sergeant George Williamson.
authenticity, great narrative drive and a terrific showdown, this one
Look out for more.
Click here to buy The Incendiary's Trail
Booktopia Price $19.50
& MYSTERY BESTSELLERS
On the night of the St Patrick celebrations in 1990, some
of the world's most famous and valuable paintings were stolen from
Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They were never recovered, and
were no clues as to their whereabouts - that is until now.
Boston attorney Scott Finn takes on well-known thief Devon Malley as a
client, he gets much more than he bargained for.
Not only is he
asked to care for Devon's teenage daughter Sally while Devon awaits
bail, but his investigations into
what he believed was a case of
petty theft lead him to the underworld of Boston's organised crime
gangs, links with the IRA and the realisation that he may be close to
solving the mystery of the stolen
paintings all those years ago.
to buy Among
|THE BLUE DEMON|
The eighth stunning novel in David Hewson's
crime series set in modern Rome.
Twenty years ago, a mysterious
group called the Butteri committed a series of bizarre crimes evoking
lost race of the Etruscans, and leaving in their wake several bodies, a
cryptic message, and a
Now, the leaders of
the G8 are descending on Rome for a summit at the Quirinale Palace.
a politician is found ritually murdered, seemingly by a strange young
man dressed as the Etruscan blue demon, detective Nic Costa suspects
that the old case was never really
The Butteri have
returned - and are planning to unleash devastating attacks on the city.
sidelined from the investigation but encouraged by
the wily old
Italian President, Dario Sordi, Costa and his team start to dig deeper
into the past.
The Demon Blue
Our price: $27.99
|EYE OF THE RED
First in a gripping new series of
detective novels set during the birth of Stalin's Russia.
It is the
time of the Great Terror.
Inspector Pekkala - known as the
Emerald Eye - was the most famous detective in all of Russia.
was the favourite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he
Like millions of others, he has been sent to the
gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he
is as good as dead.
But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by
Stalin himself to investigate a crime.
His mission - to uncover
the men who really killed the Tsar and his family, and to locate the
The reward for success will be the chance to
re-unite with a woman he would have married if the Revolution had not
torn them apart.
The price of failure - death.
against the backdrop of the paranoid and brutal country that Russia
became under the rule of Stalin, Eye of the Red
Tsar introduces a
compelling new figure to readers of crime.
Click here to
Eye of the Red
Detective Inspector Jack Caffery is back and there’s a
nasty car jacker ahead of his game.
Evening is closing in as DI
Jack Caffery arrives to interview the victim
of a car theft.
this is no ordinary theft. The man who’s stolen the car was wearing a
Santa Claus mask.
And, on the back seat, packing away the
shopping, was an eleven-year-old girl.
And she’s still missing.
day later the car is found. Inside, there’s a letter. ‘It’s started,’
the letter states.
Caffery’s a good cop; the best in the
business, some say. But this time something’s badly wrong.
to buy Gone
Our price: $27.95
David Stone's latest offering
opens with a brutal assassination attempt on the rainy streets of Venice
that sets CIA agent Micah Dalton on a collision course with a vengeful
Picking up where The Echelon
Vendetta left off – Dalton is still on the run from the CIA,
finding himself ever more entangled in a web of conspiracies.
tries to uncover the links between a savage act of piracy in the South
China Sea, the disappearance of a CIA agent, and an elusive ship known
only as 'Orpheus'.
As he desperately seeks to unlock the
shattering secret, Dalton is once again caught up in an international
chase that takes him from Italy to Singapore and finally back to his
homeland and ever-greater danger to himself…
Our price: $16.95
True Crime is not my read of first choice, occasionally something comes
along that demands your attention.
Such is this month's
highlighted book by Roberto Escobar, brother of the infamous Pablo
Hero and villain, he demands attention, and this book
by his brother is as authoritative as it gets.
dealer, politician, philanthropist, devil, saint: many words have been
used to describe Pablo Escobar, but one is irrefutable - legend.
the poor of Colombia, he was their Robin Hood, a man whose greatness
lay not in his crimes, but in his charity; for the Colombian rich he was
just a bloodthirsty gangster, a Bogie Man used to scare children in
their beds; for the rest of the world flush with his imported cocaine,
he was public enemy number one.
During his reign as the world's
most notorious outlaw, he ordered the murder of thousands, at one point
even bombing a passenger jet.
He smuggled drugs into the US in
mini-submarines, he was elected to parliament, and he staged midnight
escapes through the jungle from whole army battalions.
his own prison, consorted with presidents, controlled an estimated
fortune of over $20 billion, and for over three years outwitted the
secret American forces sent to kill him.
His ambition was as
boundless as his violence, and neither was ever satisfied.
is the first major, and definitive, biography of this remarkable
criminal life, told in jaw- dropping detail by the one man who, more
than any other, can understand just how far he came and just how low he
fell: his brother, Roberto Escobar.
Click here to
Our price: $21.25