Some dead pretty, others pretty dead…

On the Radar — If you’ve been keeping up to date with our Reviews page you’ll know that 2016 has already been a year of hot releases and we’re barely a week in. That trend is reflected again here in our On the Radar news column. David Mark’s latest gets us going, and we also have a set of fascinating debuts to tell you about…

Dead PrettyDead Pretty by David Mark
Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy may be one of scores of crime fiction cops, but he certainly has the most unusual forename. His boss, Detective Superintendent Patricia Pharaoh seems to be jostling for the most unusual surname title. But there is nothing fanciful about this novel, the fifth in David Mark’s excellent series set in Hull. Two girls. One missing and the other dead. Trish Pharoah is uncharacteristically self-absorbed with a personal matter, so McAvoy finds himself backing his own judgment to find justice for the two young women. Click here to link to the previous novels Dark Winter, Original Skin and Sorrow Bound. Dead Pretty is published on 28 January.
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Without TraceWithout Trace by Simon Booker 
This is Booker’s debut novel, and he introduces us to journalist and single parent Morgan Vine. Her childhood sweetheart has been in jail for years, convicted of a murder that Vine is convinced he did not commit. When Danny Kilcannon is released after evidence is revisited, Vine’s world is suddenly brighter, but all too soon another shadow descends when her daughter Lissa goes missing. In this psychological thriller, Morgan Vine is forced to question everything she once thought to be safe and sacred. Out on 28 January.
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Beside MyselfBeside Myself by Ann Morgan
Doesn’t it have a creepy cover? This dark psychological drama explores the special physical and mental relationship which is unique between twins. Helen and Ellie seem, to outsiders, identical and inseparable. To them the relationship is more subtle. Helen leads and Ellie follows, but when the pair agree to swap roles for a prank, all is fine until Ellie decides she is happy in Helen’s skin. Twenty-five years later a near-fatal accident brings the deceit back to life in a dangerous fashion. Mental fragility, power games, and the scary bond between the two girls add up to a compelling tale which also promises a seismic plot twist before the story is through. Available on 14 January.
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The Good LiarThe Good Liar by Nicholas Searle
This is also a debut novel, and the central character is Roy, an ageing conman who has plied his trade across England for many years. He has never done time, but nor has he pulled off the one big stroke which means he can kiss goodbye to his world of insincere chat, fake personae, and misleading banter. Until he meets Betty. Betty seems to be the perfect mark. Rich, vulnerable, tolerably attractive and – most importantly – rather naive, she could be the goose to lay Roy’s golden egg. But has he got it all wrong? Is Betty smarter and more perceptive than she appears? Will Roy’s last stand bring about his crushing downfall? Published on 14 January.
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Rough CutRough Cut by Anna Smith
Rosie Gilmore is a Glasgow investigative journalist, and we first met her back in The Dead Won’t Sleep (2011). She returns in a sixth story to investigate some troubling arranged marriages within the Pakistani community. A young bride dies after a fall from a window and another girl, on the brink of marriage to an older man, disappears. Gilmore has to negotiate the taboos surrounding cultural differences, but in doing so she unearths a criminal web that involves diamond smuggling, prostitution and passport fraud. Out on 14 January.
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I'm Not HappyI’m Not Happy ‘Til You’re Happy by Ryan Sayles
With previous titles from Sayles like Goldfinches, Disordered Mullets and That Escalated Quickly! you can tell that we’re in the realm of American Pulp Fiction. This latest collection from Sayles is an anthology of short stories which have appeared previously. The tempo is lightening fast, and the drama is laid on thick. “Big Dan’s reply was lost on the same wind that took his soul to judgment. Luke waited, cried more. Dead inside. You know I loved her,” he said before he put the gun in his own mouth.” See what we mean. The anthology is out on 15 January, and you can read our feature about the publishers here: All Due Respect (2013).

A Masterpiece In CorruptionA Masterpiece of Corruption by LC Tyler
Our only historical novel this week is set in the grim and joyless world of England during The Protectorate. It is 1657, and the country is under the so-called protection of Oliver Cromwell. The victor of the English Civil War and king killer never feels secure, though. John Grey, the young lawyer who we first met in A Cruel Necessity (2015) finds himself happlessly in the centre of a plot to assassinate The Lord Protector. Caught between the Devil – in the shape of Cromwell and his agents – and the deep blue sea – in the guise of royalist conspirators, Grey must use all his wit and guile to avoid becoming collateral damage as the two sides clash. On the shelves from 14 January.
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ReboundRebound by Aga Lesiewicz
We finish with another New Year debut, this time from a former TV producer and director who has turned her hand to crime fiction. In this psychological thriller a young TV executive who has broken through the proverbial glass ceiling finds herself in trouble after a chance encounter while out jogging. Anna Wright makes a series of decisions quite at odds with her normal controlled self and, after dispensing with her safe but dull boyfriend James, resolutely ignores Hilaire Belloc’s trusty advice: “And always keep a-hold of Nurse, For fear of finding something worse.” Published on 14 January.
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To read about last week’s new releases, click here.

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