Low profile crime fiction

On the Radar — Some weeks our On the Radar column is packed with big-name authors. Today, however, we bring you eight books by writers who aren’t quite as widely known but who nevertheless deserve of your attention. From hackers and housebound detectives to boozy philandering coppers, we’re sure at least one of these will liven up your to be read list. Take your pick!

Low Low ProfileProfile by Nick Oldham
Nick Oldham’s Northwest copper-with-attitude Henry Christie is something of a one-off. Based in Northwest England. Based round Blackpool and Preston, he is something of a philanderer, has seen better days physically, and is far from infallible in his professional judgments. He is viewed with a mixture of suspicion and cautious admiration by his superiors. Don’t be fooled by the rather mundane locations – gang crime is rampant in the Northwest – and the bosses are just as vicious and ruthless as their counterparts in more glamorous settings. When a jeweller is killed in a gangland execution, Christie is dragged into a desperate race between rival criminals to lay hands on a fortune. When a former cop friend becomes involved, Christie has no option but to fight fire with fire in order to save both their lives. Low Profile is out now.
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Plaster CityPlaster City by Johnny Shaw
Oregon-based writer Shaw introduced us to the reprobate pair Jimmy Veeder and Bobby Maves in Dove Season back in 2010. Two years have passed since they set off on a chaotic search to fulfill they dying wish of Jimmy’s dad. Now, Jimmy has settled down in Imperial Valley, California to plough a straight furrow. Literally. He works on a farm. Bobby, however, is having none of the quiet life and when his teenage daughter goes missing he persuades his boyhood friend to help him find her. If the previous novel is anything to go by then Plaster City will offer more chaos, violence and black comedy. It’s out today.
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CarnivalCarnival by J Robert Janes
The unlikely fictional collaboration between Chief Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr of the Sûreté and Hermann Kohler of the Gestapo began in 1992 with Mayhem. Set in occupied France during WWII, the 14-book series has been unafraid to shine a light on the difficult and frequently uncomfortable task facing French public servants – in this case a policeman – as they have to deal with the invading poer. Treading the ground of Alsace, where they fought against each other in The Great War, St-Cyr and Kohler investigate death and conspiracy in a POW camp set upon a derelict carnival ground. This latest novel from the Canadian author is out on 13 May.
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Binary WitnessBinary Witness by Rosie Claverton
Amy Lane is uncannily reminiscent of the great Nero Wolfe. Wolfe never left his New York brownstone because, well, he was simply too fat to move about comfortably. Lane rarely leaves her Cardiff home because she is agoraphobic, and prone to debilitating panic attacks. She views the world through her computer, and she has hacking skills which would probably put her in prison, were she not so useful to the police. Just as the indomitable Archie Goodwin pounded the streets for his house-bound boss, a former crook called Jason Carr is Lane’s eyes, ears and feet on the city streets. The pair are drawn into an investigation of a serial killer whose victims are students in the Welsh capital. The investigation pushes the partnership between Lane and Carr to its limits, as Jason’s dubious past and Amy’s fragile mental health threaten to overwhelm them. To be published on 5 May.
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The Scent Of New DeathThe Scent of New Death by Mike Monson
Modesto, Stanislaus County, California. In a city of 200,000 souls, Phil Gaines is an unremarkable guy living an unremarkable life in an unremarkable apartment. That is what the world sees. In fact, he has spent over a decade pulling off a string of nano-perfect bank raids. Then, his metronimic life changes. He becomes insanely attracted to a stunningly gorgeous but screwball barmaid – Paige. And marries her. This proves to be a big, big mistake. Paige runs off with Phil’s partner-in-crime, Jeff, and events spiral rapidly downhill. We are warned that this is certainly not a novel for lovers of cosy crime fiction. If you like violent action, a dark view of the world, and a graphic sexual encounters, then this may well be worth a read. Out now.
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hour of darknessHour of Darkness by Quintin Jardine
The first Bob Skinner novel, Skinner’s Rules, was published in 1993, when the Edinburgh policeman was already a Chief Superintendent. Skinner has become a long-standing member of the fraternity of celebrated Scottish coppers, standing alongside the likes of Rebus, Lorimer, Laidlaw, and McRae. Skinner, however, is not an embittered and flawed maverick, but an establishment man, and now – 23 books later – he is actually Chief Constable. When a woman’s corpse is found beached on an island in the Forth Estuary, a sequence of events is triggered which should, by rights, not involve Glasgow’s most senior policeman. When she is identified, and her name made public, Skinner has no option but to act, because he knows who she is. More accurately, he knows who she was, and her past is inextricably linked with his own. Published on 8 May.
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FiveFive by Ursula P Archer
I’m not sure how many books we’ve featured are by authors born, bred and based in Vienna. This might just be a first. Ursula (Poznanski) Archer was a science journalist, and has previously written for children and young adults, but this her first foray into the world of crime fiction. Detective Beatrice Kaspary faces a challenge. Her adversary is a killer who has a warped sense of humour, as well as a precise knowledge of geography. Her first clue is N47° 46.605 E013° 21.718. On any other day, this might just be an innocent co-ordinate. Except that it is tattooed on the sole of the foot of the first murder victim. What follows is a compelling battle of wits between a dedicated detective and an elusive, teasing killer. Translated by Jamie Lee Searle, Five is out today for Kindle and on 8 May in print.
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BetrayedBetrayed by Anna Smith
Anna Smith an experienced journalist who has covered stories all over the world, and there is a distinct autobiographical feel to this book. The central character is Rosie Gilmour, somewhat bruised and battered from previous encounters, but still on the trail of a hot story. In this, the fourth book of a series, Gilmour has to investigate the violent and embittered Glaswegian underworld, with its sectarian divisions. The Ulster Volunteer Force is not content with its political agenda, but has a tasty and lucrative sideline smuggling hard drugs into Scotland’s biggest city. In her search for a front page story, Rosie Gilmour must confront the most violent and ruthless men she has ever encountered in her journalistic career. Published on 8 May.
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