Meet the crime-solving ‘monkstables’

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On the Radar — This week the crime scenes range from a Colorado ski resort threatened by an ancient mystery to the distinctly unfashionable suburbs of Birmingham as we bring you the latest releases. There are also stops in Miami, and Mississippi but we’ll start off in the Yorkshire Dales with some unlikely crime-solving monks…

MuderAtMaddleskirkAbbeyMurder at Maddleskirk Abbey by Nicholas Rhea
Fans of the addictive UK Sunday evening TV drama Heartbeat will love this. Author Nicholas Rhea was himself a village bobby, and his alter-ego PC Nick Rowan warmed many a heart in the episodes of the Yorkshire-based show. In this book, Rowan has retired, but is training a group of monks from nearby Maddleskirk Abbey to do the policing on their considerable estate. A stone coffin and a mysterious corpse baffle the newly trained ‘monkstables’, but help is at hand from one or two well-known characters from Aidensfield. Out now in hardcover, and on Kindle 29 November.
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Deaths Dark ShadowDeath’s Dark Shadow by Sally Spencer
Sally Spencer is one of the pseudonyms used by English author Alan Rustage. After a career teaching in England and Iran, he now writes full time and lives in Spain. Three of his main characters and each have their own separate series – DCI Monika Paniatowski, Spanish cop Paco Ruiz (written under the pseudonym James Garcia Woods), and DCI Charlie Woodend. In Death’s Dark Shadow, Woodend is mentoring the up and coming Monika Paniatowski as the author brings them together in the same story. Such a weaving together of different crime series is tricky business. Robert B Parker just about managed it with Spenser, Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall. In this tale, the discovery of a dead woman beside a murky canal in England involves all three characters, and has international ramifications. Out on 28 November.
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Double FaultDouble Fault by Judith Cutler
Birmingham – England, not Alabama – generally gets a bad press in the UK, due in part to its much unloved regional accent. As a crime fiction setting, the city seems to lack that dark edge which is never far from the surface in Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds or Manchester. Judith Cutler will have none of this. She loves the quirks of her native city, and despite moving away in recent years, has written five separate series based in Brum. Fran Harman is unique in UK crime fiction in that she is a Chief Superintendent. Most authors use that exalted position as a foil for a more edgy and dangerous junior officer. A missing child, the safe ambience of an amateur tennis club and unearthed skeletons set Harman a severe challenge. Published on 28 November.
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Wild JusticeWild Justice by Kelley Armstrong
Armstrong is a writer who has established herself on the young adult bookshelves with stories offering a ghoulish or supernatural undercurrent. More recently, she has written a thriller series featuring Nadia Stafford who, after being thrown out of the police force for taking the law into her own hands, has become an assassin. Wild Justice is the third in the trilogy and it sees her contracted to hunt down the man who murdered her cousin two decades ago. She has second thoughts about the whole assassin game, though. Trouble is, you can’t just turn your back on that sort of trade. Available 26 November.
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Casting the First StoneCasting the First Stone by Frances Fyfield
Frances Fyfield is the pseudonym of Frances Hegarty, a Derbyshire-born lawyer and crime writer. In her latest book, we are are introduced to Diana Porteous, whose husband died a year ago. To lift her spirits, her friends Saul and Sarah decide that she should go back to the ways of her past – she’s both an art expert and an accomplished thief. Their scheme is to get her to steal back stolen artworks but as she begins working on a target, she doesn’t realise how much danger she’s putting herself in. Published on 28 November.
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Death BoxThe Death Box by JA Kerley
Jack Kerley is the Kentucky-based author of the Carson Ryder thrillers. Previous novels were set in Mobile, Alabama, and Ryder is a profiler, but he and his impeturbable partner Harry Nautilus are viewed with great suspicion by their fellow officers. Now, Ryder has moved to Miami and he faces the challenge of solving a grotesque crime. A concrete pillar is revealed to contain the mangled remains of human corpses, almost literally set in stone. Ryder has one witness – a vulnerable girl who has escaped the perverted killers. But every secret she gives up to Carson Ryder may speed her own destruction. Released on 5 December.
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White FireWhite Fire by Douglas J Preston and Lincoln Child
Here we have FBI Special Agent Pendergast, a Colorado ski resort struggling to remain financially viable, and an ancient mystery presided over by the shades of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. Nearby, the excavation of an ancient cemetery threatens to unleash an ancient evil onto hardworking people trying to make a living on the commercial edge. And finally we have a legendary man-eating bear, and a heroine called Corrie Swanson standing between the resort and an avalanche of evil. This breathtakingly heady mix was released this week.
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the last clinicThe Last Clinic by Gary Gusick
Darla Cavannah is a widow, and a cop. She is young, gorgeous and talented, but it doesn’t make her any the less a widow. Having moved from the relative sanity of Pennsylvania to the altogether different world of Mississippi, she has to come to terms with the sudden death of her footballer husband in a fatal RTA. When an anti-abortion preacher is gunned down, Darla is called in to hunt down his killer. Nothing is easy as Darla has to balance her search for the truth with the constant clamour from the locals for swift and violent retribution. Out on 18 November.
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blooddetailThe Blood Detail by Arvin Loudermilk
Finally, if you liked our round-up of paranormal and spooky crime novels at Halloween, you might enjoy this dark novella by Arvin Loudermilk. Yes, it has vampires but rather than usual 19th century gothic or urban fantasy stylings, this author has gone for a hardboiled approach to the storytelling. Grace Gamble is the main character in a Los Angeles infested with vampires. She sees them as vermin and will take them on with any weapon that comes to hand… or even put up her dukes. It’s the first novella in the Vigil series, a revamped and rewritten version of the comic books by Arvin Loudermilk and Mike Iverson released in the 1990s. Currently, it’s available on Amazon. The second novella, One of Them, has also been released.
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