City of un-brotherly love

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On the Radar — With one exception, all our new releases this week hail from the United States. Californian crime scenes seem to be popular, but the body count is also rising like a Republican’s temperature in NYC, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Philly – or the city of unbrotherly love, as it’s known in crime fiction. Our one non-American novel this week centres on an unfinished work by Charles Dickens and a mad killer.

Shutter ManShutter Man by Richard Montanari
Philadelphia’s finest, Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, return in this thriller about a young man suffering from prosopagnosia – the inability to recognise faces. Billy Farren, however, is not one of life’s victims. He is a cold blooded and methodical murderer, who celebrates each death with a chilling and bizarre ritual. The Devil’s Pocket is Philly’s most dilapidated and dangerous area, and Byrne and Balzano must explore its darkest corners as they hunt the killer. This is published today. Also see our 2013 review of Montanari’s The Killing Room.
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Plantation ShuddersPlantation Shudders by Ellen Byron
Down in the sticky heat, swamps and spicy atmosphere of Louisiana, the Crozat family run a bed and breakfast on an old plantation. When Maggie returns from New York to help her family, she walks straight into what appears to be a double murder – that of an octoganarian honeymoon couple. This mystery is as firmly rooted in Louisiana as Cajun music, gumbo and the Mardi Gras. It’s out now.
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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00039]99 Percent Kill by Doug Richardson
Lucky Dey is everything a maverick cop should be: rude to his superiors and abrasive to his colleagues. He is kicking his heels waiting to serve out his latest suspension from the LA Sheriff’s Department so he takes on a private case tracking down the missing daughter of a businessman. When the businessman himself decides to help Lucky in the search, things go from bad to worse. As the pair negotiate a landscape littered with chancers, pimps and strippers, they also discover corpses, extreme violence and a little dark humour. Back in 2013 we reviewed Blood Money, an earlier novel by Richardson.
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Drop Dead PunkDrop Dead Punk by Rich Zahradnik
It’s New York City and the year is 1975. Coleridge Taylor is neither a Romantic poet nor a groundbreaking Creole composer, but a struggling journalist. With his newspaper holding on by a fingernail, and his personal life the stuff of a soap opera, Taylor becomes involved in a case of two corpses – one a punk, and the other a cop. Maybe an NYPD officer called Samantha will help him save the day. Available on 15 August.

Twenty Eight and a HalfTwenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank
If you like a comedy crime caper with the occasional dark touch, then this may be for you. Southern girl Rose Gardner keeps having visions of her own death, but when the Grim Reaper actually does pay a call it’s Rose’s mother he comes to see. Rose becomes the prime suspect and, as is the case in books like this, it’s down to her to find the real killer. Clue: it wasn’t the Grim Reaper after all. This is the print edition of a novel that first appeared as for Kindle in 2013 and came out this week.
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Trio Of Lost SoulsTrio of Lost Souls by Jack Remick
Already available for Kindle, the final novel in Jack Remick’s California Quartet is released 15 August. Though it’s a quartet, the books – The Deification, Valley Boy, and The Book of Changes – have all been standalone so far. Here we have former journalist Bill Vincent whose wife was brutally murdered. Vincent got his revenge, but he is a wanted man now scratching out a living on the fertile plains of central California. When he meets a fellow outlaw, the two join forces to double their attack on a society which they view as cruel and corrupt.
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Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 18.46.36Dread by Mark Ramsden
Mark Ramsden is a distinguished musician, both as a composer and a recording artist. His fascination with the fetish scene has informed this latest book. Mr Madden, an expert on Dickens, is obsessed with recreating the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood. In addition… he kills people. Almost as an afterthought, he likes to create elaborate conceptual art with the remains of his victims. If you want a vivid and gory pulp novella to shake you out of your August torpor, this may well be it. Published by Number Thirteen Press, the book is out today, 13 August.
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Zodiac LivesZodiac Lives by Rhoda D’Ettore
Back to California for the wrap-up, where a spate of killings decades earlier terrified San Francisco residents and baffled the SFPD. The Zodiac killer, who wrote clever letters to the newspapers at the time, was never caught. Now, a three-year-old girl has survived a car crash that killed her father but is having nightmares. These dreams are not about the car crash but about the Zodiac killings, which happened long before she was born. These macabre dreams re-open the closed police investigation, but they also seem to awaken a killer many thought was dead and gone. Out now for Kindle.
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