Nero Wolfe plays hardball, and more…

On the Radar –– In a cold and blustery February we can thank Robert Goldsborough for warming us up as he resurrects the housebound detective Nero Wolfe for a baseball-based mystery set during the American summer. We’ll also get even more retro with two historical crime fiction novels, and now is a great time to tell you about Sarah Hilary’s crime debut as well. Eight new novels and a short story collection for you this week, folks. Enjoy.

Murder In The ball parkMurder in the Ball Park written by Robert Goldsborough
Nero Wolfe was the hero of a series of successful mystery novels written by Rex Stout between 1934 and 1974. A Falstaffian giant of a man, Wolfe never leaves his brownstone New York house where he breeds rare orchids, and is obsessed with food. He solves crimes from his armchair, while all the footwork is done by his secretary, Archie Goodwin. Goldsborough began writing books using Stout’s character in 1986, and this is the ninth. Baseball aficionados will love this tale as it begins at The Polo Grounds, where The Giants are taking on The Dodgers. A corrupt senator is shot dead during the fourth inning, and Archie and his rotund boss must exercise shoe leather and brain cells respectively to bring the killer to justice. Available now.
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SomeoneElsesSkinSomeone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary
DI Marnie Rome has survived a debilitating family tragedy to become a police officer whose star is definitely rising. She is assertive, quick-witted, intuitive, and is fast-tracked for great things. When she and her partner have to investigate what appears to be a simple case of violence at a women’s refuge, things quickly become complicated. Good and evil, victim and perpetrator, perception and reality – these extremes normally have clear boundaries, but here they become blurred and indistinct. Sarah Hilary is based in Bath and although she is an experienced writer, this is her debut full-length crime novel. It is available on 27 February.
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Scandal At SixScandal at Six by Ann Purser
Ann Purser is an unapologetic resident of what may seem to be an idyllic English village in the East Midlands, but she knows that the pleasant streets, pretty cottages and rolling farmland can conceal a multitude of sins. From the book cover, through the prose style, to the plot and setting, this is clearly in cosy territory. However, when amateur detective  and part time cleaner Lois Meade tries to defeat an unnatural plague of nasty crawling and slithering things in the house of one of her clients, she uncovers a bizarre tale of mad zoo keepers, illegal imports and village feuds. The sequel to Found Guilty at Five is available now.
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Cut DeadCut Dead by Mark Sennen
Female DIs seem to be the flavour of the month, and this time we have Detective Inspector Charlotte Savage. The Plymouth copper first appeared in Touch and Bad Blood (both 2013), and here she tries to hunt down a killer who has been presumed dead, but has a grisly history of beheadings and mutilations. Sennan has been variously a farmer, drummer and programmer, but his sympathetic portrayal of coastal Devon and his perceptive take on modern British policing have attracted positive reviews. His avowed literary influence is Graham Hurley, and his Faraday books set in Portsmouth. Cut Dead will be on the shelves on 25 February.
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TreacheryTreachery by SJ Parris
We have two historical crime novels this week, and the first is by Observer and Guardian contributor Stephanie Merritt. Under the name SJ Parris she has published three previous books set in the turbulent times of Elizabethan England – Heresy, Prophecy and Sacrilege. The central character is Giordano Bruno, a maverick investigator. The real life Bruno was an Italian Dominican friar, who has captured the imagination of many authors of fiction, not the least being James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake. Here, he joins such luminaries as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Philip Sidney to combat the impending threat of The Spanish Armada. For a closer look at its wonderful cover, click here. Out on 27 February.
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The VisionistThe Visionist by Rachel Urquhart
Our second historical novel takes us away from England in 1585 forward to 19th century America. It would be logical to predict than any community which forbade procreation, and was entirely celibate, might have an uncertain future. And so it was with The Shakers, an extreme religious group who fled 18th century England for the open spaces of America. While they seek redemption on Earth, and a closer walk with the almighty, there are still bad men and women out there who commit crimes. Wading through trance states, speaking in tongues and other bizarre examples of religious fervour, Simon Pryor seeks answers. There has been a deadly case of arson, and for every victim there has to be a perpetrator. Available on 27 February.
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Outcast DeadThe Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths
Back with a bump to the present day, Elly Griffiths has created a fictional University of North Norfolk and its feisty head of forensic archaeology, Ruth Galloway. Where fact trumps fiction is in the background. The Norfolk coast is, in real life, a treasure trove of prehistoric footprints, Bronze Age burial mounds, and mysterious henges revealed by the vagaries of tides and erosion. This book revives the unique and precarious relationship between Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, but the murder scene moves inland to the county’s capital, Norwich. Can a long dead Victorian murderess really be linked to a very contemporary child murder? The novel is out now.
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Dangerous IllusionsDangerous Illusions by Joseph J Gabriele
In modern Manhattan life is sharp and sophisticated for those lucky enough to be able to live there, but it is not immune from greed, jealousy and violence. Eliot Sexton is hosting an A-list gathering at his luxury Park Avenue apartment, but the repartee and canapés are disturbed by a grisly murder, and the theft of an iconic percussion instrument. The author gives us an intriguing cast of suspects, including Sexton himself. He is an economist, but as he uses his powers of analysis to investigate the crime, he finds that he needs more than a knowledge of Keynesian theory to prevent himself from falling into the hands of the killer. Available now.
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BeatToAPulpBeat to a Pulp – Hardboiled 3 – edited by David Cranmer and Elise Wright
Finally this week, and taking the best cover award, is the third Beat to a Pulp short story anthology featuring blood, smoking guns, seduction and assorted mayhem. Written by Patti Abbott, Fred Blosser, Hilary Davidson, Chris F Holm, Sophie Littlefield, Andrew Nette, Keith Rawson, Kieran Shea, and Josh Stallings these hardboiled tales are sure to appeal to those who love their crime frenzied, fast and furious. The previous editions came out in 2011 and 2013. Hardboiled 3 is out now.

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