On the Radar – From smoke to smoke

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Smoke seems to be the theme this week as we begin with The Smoke in our Eyes from veteran author James Grady, and conclude our report with Smoke Kings by debut writer Jahmal Mayfield – two very different books but the smoke is pervasive. Our report includes a debut from Northern Ireland, and two historical crime novels – one set in 18th century Britain and the other in 1950s Los Angeles. A varied selection, but which will you choose?

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The Smoke in our Eyes by James Grady

The Smoke in our Eyes by James Grady front cover

James Grady‘s debut novel Six Days of the Condor became a movie starring Robert Redford, and The Smoke in Our Eyes, set in 1950s Montana and out on 6 February, has a similar cinematic feel about it. Lucas is just 10 when his world falls apart with the death of his parents in a car accident. As he grows up, the solitary boy finds himself confronting crime and vengeance, humour and heroism and the narrative takes us through days of segregation, men walking on the Moon and the first stirrings of climate change in an immersive slice of rural noir that focuses on America in the middle of the 20th century.
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Blood on the Broadcast by SDW Hamilton

Blood on the Broadcast by SDW Hamilton front  cover

Popular crime tropes combine in debut novel Blood on the Broadcast by SDW Hamilton, out on 2 February. First we have a private detective, in this case Irishman Jacob Kincaid, then there’s the podcaster who approaches him about a suspicious death. Former journalist Natalie Amato is convinced that an old colleague was murdered and enlists Kincaid’s help to prove it. As the pair set to work in modern-day Belfast, they are about to discover that nothing is quite as clear cut as it might first appear. And with a cult of Ireland’s elite watching from the shadows, soon their lives are at risk.
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A Grave for a Thief by Douglas Skelton

A Grave for a Thief by Douglas Skelton front cover

The third book in Scottish author Douglas Skelton‘s popular series of historical crime novels arrives on 8 February, and as A Grave for a Thief opens, ne’er-do-well Jonas Flynt is recovering from a duel with death upon the frozen Thames. But he must rise from his sickbed when London lawyer Christopher Templeton mysteriously disappears. Templeton looked ready to share the secrets of the the shadowy Fellowship – now he is nowhere to be found. At the behest of the Company of Rogues, Flynt heads up north on Templeton’s trail… but he is not alone and may be in danger.
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Union Station by David Downing

Union Station by David Downing front cover

British journalist John Russell has left his shady past behind and settled in Los Angeles with his long-time partner, Effi Koenen, a burgeoning star on an American sitcom, and their daughter, Rosa, a young artist on the cusp of adulthood. Once Russell was a spy, a double agent for Soviet and American intelligence in wartime Berlin, but it’s 1953 and that’s history. Or is it? As Russell begins research for a book about American firms who continued to do business with Germany during Nazi rule, he begins to get the feeling he’s being tailed. Is it someone upset about what his book may reveal, or unfinished business from his time in Berlin? Find out when David Downing’s Union Station comes out on 6 February in the US.
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Smoke Kings by Jahmal Mayfield

Smoke Kings by Jahmal Mayfield front cover

Debut author Jahmal Mayfield hits the ground running with the noirish Smoke Kings, out on 6 February. Nate Evers is a young black political activist whose belief that nothing has changed in the past 60 years comes to a head with the killing of his young cousin. He’s tried the peaceful protests, candlelit vigils and social media hashtags – now Nate is ready for action instead of words. With three grief-stricken friends, he sets off on a mission of retribution, kidnapping the descendants of long-ago perpetrators of hate crimes, confronting the targets with their racist lineages, and forcing them to pay reparation to a community fund. However, not everyone is prepared to cooperate…
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Read about last week’s new releases here.

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