On the Radar – With the clocks going back an hour this weekend in the UK, our new books column is going into a time warp with a historical crime tail-spin. We have a case of murder most foul in a sleepy 21st century English village, before we slowly wind back the hands of time to find ourselves in regency Northumbria, with cries of witchcraft ringing in the air.
Dead on Cue by Deryn Lake
Essex born author Deryn Lake is probably best known for her historical novels, including her 18th century crime series featuring apothecary turned sleuth, John Rawlings. In March 2010, she decided to introduce her readers to a more contemporary detective with new vicar Nick Lawrence, who was on the trail a serial killer in his sleepy Sussex village, Lakehurst. We’re back in Lakehurst for an amateur play. However, someone’s got it in for the production’s new director, the flamboyant American actor Gerry Harlington, who has just bought Abbot’s Manor. Noses are quickly put out of joint and his ideas are met with violent protests from his cast. Things turn deadly when a corpse is discovered on opening night, and Rev Lawrence doesn’t have to look far for suspects. Dead on Cue is out today!
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Dark Passage by Frances Burke
Australian writer Frances Burke is well-established in the historical romance and paranormal genres, but Dark Passage marks her debut in the crime fiction. The book is set in the 1890s, with Australia in the midst of a depression which has left Nicola Redmond and her mother in dire poverty. Nicola finds herself facing the harsh realities of life for the working classes and joins the fight to improve working conditions for female factory workers. However, when her friend Rose Basevi is found brutally murdered in a back alley, she is determined to hunt down her killer. She has three possible suspects: the man who claimed her own father’s estate, a charismatic union organiser, and an English detective who happens to be in charge of the case. One of them is a murderer and Nicola intends to use herself as bait to trap him. Dark Passage comes out 31 October.
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A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry
British writer Anne Perry’s literary career spans more than 30 years and over 60 books. Her most famous detecting duos are Inspector Thomas Pitt and his wife Charlotte, and the amnesiac investigator Thomas Monk paired with Crimean War nurse Hester.
A Christmas Garland is one of her Christmas mysteries series. We’re transported back to British India in 1857 where we meet Lieutenant Victor Narraway, who has just arrived at the battered military base at Cawnpore. Christmas is two weeks away but the mood is far from celebratory. A soldier charged with dereliction of duty has killed a guard and escaped to join local rebels. He’s also traded classified information with them, leading to the massacre of nine men out on patrol. A man stands accused of helping him: medical orderly, John Tallis. Narroway finds himself tasked with the unenviable task of defending a man who may well be guilty, but with no real motive. The army needs justice to be carried out in full, but will it be an innocent man they hang before Christmas?
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The Missing Heiress by Karen Charlton
Last year, Karen Charlton made her debut with Catching the Eagle, a story based on a real case involving one of her husband’s ancestors who she believed had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. The Missing Heiress is the second book in her Detective Lavender series.
It’s November 1809, six months have passed since the events at Kirkley Hall, and Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods find themselves back up in Northumberland dealing with a missing person inquiry. A menacing figure has been seen stalking women in Hareshaw Woods. When wealthy heiress Helen Carnby goes missing from her locked bedchamber the worst is feared. Cries of ‘witchcraft’ ring out. Her uncle sends for Lavender and Woods to investigate what could be their most challenging and dangerous case yet. Early theories of elopement are soon ruled out. The pair now find themselves dealing with hidden secrets, madness and all manner of obstacle hindering their investigation.
The Missing Heiress comes out on 6th December, and Karen Charlton is definitely a new talent to watch out for.
Pre-order now on Amazon