NTN: Five women to watch in 2014

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NTN 2013 logo 100‘Men are better at crime, women are better at crime fiction,” said PD James, a little tongue-in-cheek, earlier this year. Certainly the wealth and sheer diversity of female writing talent out there gives some credence to her remark. Here we’re going to look at five of the best new women on the scene and recommend a book for each one. There’s something for every taste – exotic locations, urban mundaneity, dystopian futures, noir-ish grit, cosy and mysterious. None of them is entirely flawless, but I’d be ready to place my bets on these authors going on to bigger and better things.

tocatcharabbitHelen Cadbury: To Catch a Rabbit
Set mainly in the Yorkshire city of Doncaster, To Catch a Rabbit offers some true Northern grit, illegal immigrants and an uneven relationship between community police and ‘real’ detectives. Police Community Support Officer Sean Denton hands out leaflets in front of the shopping centre, lives with his grandmother, and is ashamed of his dyslexia. He is slightly naïve but has bucketloads of common sense. When he discovers the corpse of a Chinese girl, he not only has the chance to work with graduate fast tracker detective Lizzie Morrison, who he believes to be out of his league, but also becomes emotionally involved and committed to solving the crime.  The story is narrated through multiple points of view, all of them appealing, and the author does some nifty footwork between different time frames, which may confuse some readers, but adds to the suspense of the story. A very promising start to what I hope will be a series featuring Denton and Morrison.
Buy now on Amazon

requiem100Celina Grace: Requiem
Despite being shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger in 2006, Celina Grace found herself waiting in vain for agents and publishers to show an interest. So she took matter into her own hands and self-published two standalone psychological crime thrillers. Now she has embarked on a series of  crime novels set in the picturesque fictional town of Abbeyford in the West Country. It features the feisty, if not terribly experienced, DS Kate Redman. Requiem is the second in the series. When a beautiful blonde girl is found drowned in the river, Kate is shocked to discover the victim was a talented musician, with whom her younger brother Jay was smitten. There is no shortage of suspects and this novel is a solid police procedural, if a trifle predictable to avid readers of the genre. The third book in the series, Imago, will be out soon.
Buy now on Amazon

idolmaker100Jonelle Patrick: Idolmaker
Earlier this year, we reviewed Fallen Angel, the second in Jonelle Patrick’s series set in Japan. The soon-to-be-released third book turns the excitement level up a notch. Despite her feelings for Detective Kenji Nakamura, professional interpreter Yumi Hata is going ahead with her marriage of convenience. Just as the ceremony at the Tabata Shrine is due to start, however, Tokyo is hit by an earthquake. In the ensuing chaos, the guests discover that the head priest has been murdered. An unsavoury picture is found amongst his possessions and the fingerprints at the scene implicate a rock idol. Kenji and Yumi are once again thrown together by fate and must attempt to unravel the mystery. Musing about the nature of celebrity culture and full of piquant details about Japanese life, this is delightful escapist crime fiction at its finest.
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whatlotswifesaw100Ioanna Bourazopoulou: What Lot’s Wife Saw
Some of the most interesting recent crime novels have been influenced by dystopian science fiction. Ioanna Bourazopoulou is an award-winning playwright turned novelist in her native Greece. What Lot’s Wife Saw is her first book to be translated into English, but I hope not her last. This genre-busting, inventive story may puzzle crime fiction purists, but will delight many readers open to a new experience. Most of Europe has been swallowed up by flood waters. At the Dead Sea, a new kind of salt with addictive properties has been discovered. A colony of fugitives from justice has been set up to exploit this site, controlled by a mysterious and powerful oligarchy known as Seventy-Five. When the governor of the colony is murdered, the wonderfully named Phileas Book is brought in to solve the mystery. Imagine Wilkie Collins writing in the 22nd century and you may come close to describing this amazing novel, quite unlike anything you’ll have read before.
Buy now on Amazon

murderatthemaples100Joanne Phillips: Murder at the Maples
Joanne Phillips is a self-published author who has made a name for herself for her thoughtful yet entertaining take on commercial women’s fiction. This is a new departure for her, the first in a cosy crime series featuring reluctant amateur detective Flora Lively. Flora has taken over her late father’s removal company, but she is struggling to keep the business afloat. Her real passion is for psychology and social care, and she is becoming more than a little involved with the residents of Maples Retirement Village, one of their corporate clients. When accidents start to happen at the Maples, Flora gets dragged into a world of institutional callousness, personal feuds from the past and some rather stubborn friends of all ages. I love the way the author gives a voice to elderly people, a category often forgotten or stereotyped in other crime novels. Cosy without being twee, populated with great characters, full of lively dialogue, this is a great read for those who like their crime fiction without violence, yet still grounded in reality.
Buy now on Amazon

Here’s our list of women to watch for 2013, included as part of New Talent November last year. What new female crime authors have you discovered? Please let us know below.


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