On the Radar — A true mixture this week with forensics, secret government agencies, crimes out in the American wilderness, and a strange esoteric mystery too. In our lead book, the witness being protected doesn’t seem entirely safe…
The Witness by Simon Kernick
We kick off very much in thriller territory with a woman on a very insecure witness protection programme. The problem is, Jane Kinnear is the only witness to her boyfriend’s murder. Now she finds out that he was a person of interest to MI5. To put it bluntly, he was an informer, and someone who played the bad guys off against the goodfellas. Now, Jane is kept under wraps in a police safe house while her minders build up an ID of the killer. But will she really be safe? Published on 28 January.
Glossolalia by Tantra Bensko
Published by Insubordinate Books, which offers this short and lively trailer, this exotic and esoteric book. Nancy is much given to fugues. Not, alas, the intricate counterpoint much beloved of JS Bach and the Baroque composers, but the mental aberration where a person disappears for days on end, and then returns with no knowledge of where they’ve been or what they’ve done. So, when Nancy offers up an eye-witness account of a murder, what can the authorities do? Take her seriously, or recommend that she keeps taking the medication? Out on 31 January
Chinese Burn by Mark Chisnell
Readers first met investigative journalist Sam Blackett in the 2013 novel Powder Burn. Sam is up to her ears in trouble once again, though, as she manages to screw up what should be a straightforward commission in Shanghai. When a man is inconsiderate enough to expire – in her arms, no less – she immediately becomes the focus of attention for some very serious international players. When you have the FBI, the CIA and Chinese intelligence on your trail, you might reasonably hope that chief engineer, Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott, will beam you up without delay. Available from 27 January.
Known by Kendra Elliot
This is the latest in the Bone Secrets series and, as the name suggests, it features forensic investigation. The first book in the series was Hidden (2012) and now Kendra Elliot brings us the same potent mix of murder, wild, inhospitable locations, and human remains that challenge the medical experts. In Oregon’s Cascade mountains, beside the charred remains of a vacation cabin, a mother and daughter cheat death by crouching together in their SUV. Investigator Chris Jacobs soon realises that the two women are not the only bodies on the scene, but they are the only ones alive. Published on 19 January.
Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre
What is it about widows? They tend to get a bad press in crime fiction. The bereaved woman in this case is Diana Jager, a modern woman in every sense of the word. She has a high profile career, writes a hard-hitting feminist blog, and is the widow of recently-deceased man whose sister is not convinced that his death was accidental. Peter’s sister, Lucy, hires investigator Jack Parlabane to find out the truth, but what his probing reveals provides neither comfort nor resolution for anyone. On the shelves from 28 January.
Conversations with a Killer by Alan Ash
Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow, G33 2QX. Probably the toughest address in Britain and home to a legion of murderers, rapists, robbers and scoundrels of every stripe. Nelson Harrop likes to think he is above the general hoi-poloi, and his crimes are such that he has to be kept apart from those he despises. Harrop’s dialogue with himself – and eavesdroppers – provides deadly evidence which may blow apart several convictions previously thought to be secure. Published on 29 January.
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