Death is death, is death…

On the Radar — Death is death, is death, is death. It can happen in Restoration England, the frozen tundra of northern Sweden, a humid tar-paper shack in North Carolina, or on one of the Royal Navy’s finest ships. Someone dies and, thank goodness, the genre we love always produces someone to track down and expose the killer. This week’s selection features skulduggery in Restoration England, more dark deeds near the Arctic Circle, another rites-of-passage story from Wiley Cash and a ‘slippers and cocoa’ saga in the Home Counties of England.

Murder on High HolbornMurder on High Holborn by Susanna Gregory
Susanna Gregory writes meticulously researched crime fiction set in times well before electronic or digital communication. She has a series – a little reminiscent of Brother Cadfael, but with a harder edge – set in 14th century Cambridge, and another where the backdrop is the febrile atmosphere of Restoration England. Murder on High Holborn is the ninth in her Restoration period series and features, once again, the former intelligence agent Thomas Chalenor. With a potential war looming with the Dutch, he must investigate the possible sabotage of one of the Royal Navy’s finest ships, and infiltrate the closed ranks of a treacherous secret society. Out now.
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Stay AliveStay Alive by Simon Kernick
Berkshire-born Kernick worked for many years in the IT industry, while writing part-time. He eventually secured a publishing deal, and is now in the top rank of UK thriller writers. Admirers of Kernick’s breathless, race-against-time adventures will be completely absorbed by this, his latest. A mysterious woman tries to escape ruthless killers, and the tranquility of a family idyll is shattered by gunshots. Regarding the title – rest easy, as I am reliably informed that there are no white suits, high-harmony vocals or disco moves. Published on 30 January.
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the-second-deadly-sinThe Second Deadly Sin by Asa Larsson
If you had to name the most unlikely type of professional to double as a private investigator, then tax lawyer would be up there jousting for the top spot. But, remarkably, Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson is precisely that, with four adventures prior to The Second Deadly Sin. It has been out for a while in Swedish, but has only just been translated into English. Expect a landscape that will make you want to turn the heating up to 11, plenty of dark malice and blood-letting, and frenzied killings. A cosy read? I think not. The Second Deadly Sin is available now.
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Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by Kerry Wilkinson
The series featuring Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel has brought recognition to author Wilkinson. Behind Closed Doors is a police procedural on one level, but is also an examination of how physical and mental health issues affect those who we trust to uphold our rule of law. Jessica Daniel is both disturbed and damaged, but her intuitive skills are still required to investigate an unnatural death in a secretive and isolated rural community. When it’s published on 16 January, it’ll become the seventh book in the author’s remarkable series.
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TDRTM061This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
After his debut novel A Land More Kind Than Homemade a great impression both in the UK and in his native USA, Wiley Cash again takes us to the particular – and sometimes peculiar – world of the American South. Two orphaned girls are abducted, not entirely against their will, by their long-absent father, who also happens to be carrying a large bag full of someone else’s $100 bills. In pursuit of the trio are a disgraced cop, the real police and an embittered bounty hunter with a personal grudge against the father. If you are a fan of the romance and iconography of baseball, you will love this book, but readers from Europe for whom the ball game is a mystery will still find plenty to enthrall them. The book is out on 30 January. Watch for our review.
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THE BITCHThe Bitch by Les Edgerton
Les Edgerton is a larger than life author who has certainly seen the world. A US navy veteran, he has also served time for burglary, dealt drugs, worked as a male escort and, most shocking of all, sold life insurance. He appears to be growing old more or less gracefully, and his latest novel features an ex-con who is trying to go straight, but comes to grief when a former cellmate turns up asking for help. Before there are complaints from either feminists or members of the Kennel Club, the title refers to phonetic prison slang. Our anti-hero, Jake, is determined not to become an Ha-bitch-ual criminal. This hard hitting, dark, but occasionally funny read is out on 20 January. Click here for a look at the scene of Edgerton’s crime writing.

Murder at MullingsMurder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
The author was born in England but moved to the USA as a young woman, and now lives in Maine. She enjoys a punning book title, and her previous works include Bridesmaids Revisited, Withering Heights, and Goodbye Ms Chips. For those who like a Christie/Marsh style whodunnit, this ticks all the boxes. 1930s England, a stately home, an ill-advised second marriage, an exotic eastern mystic and – of course – a mysterious death. Add to the mix a housekeeper-turned-sleuth called Florence, and you have the perfect murder mystery for a winter night. To be published on 30 January.
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Men At NightMen at Night by Kara Voorhees
The debut novel by this Tampa-based self-published author has a particularly artful cover, and perhaps the killer inside feels they’re a bit of an artist as well. One who mainly uses red. What nearly retired cop Detective Leo Kessler keeps finding is grotesquely disassembled bodies, beginning with a tattooed, headless torso in a field near a high school. Is it some kind of demented art exhibition? Men at Night is out now.
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conspiracyoffaith100A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Finally, US fans of Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen can now get their hands on the third book in his Department Q series. Carl Mørck is just about the least-liked detective in Copenhagen, and has been put in the basement to work on cold cases. And this one is particularly cold because, after several years sitting in a police station in a remote part of Scotland, a bottle is sent to the Department Q. It contains a letter, written in Danish… in blood. Meanwhile, we learn about a kidnapper who is operating with a seemingly infallible MO, and he’s got two young victims in his sites. Released as Redemption in the UK last year, you can read our review of it here.
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