On the Radar: The search for Venus

3 Mins read

Ah, here we are in May 2024, looking back on 1944 with an elegant European crime novel from Ben Pastor as her excellent Martin Bora series takes the German detective to Salò in search of a painting. We’ve also got the classic mystery approach remixed for the modern age in Ruth Wares latest; a batchelorette-party-of-death novel by Kate Weston; a gothic crime tale from Jody Cooksley and… waitwhat?.. another hen-do-of-death, this time by Sophie Flynn. I’m out of breath just typing it.

Enjoy our latest new books report.

The Venus of Salò by Ben Pastor

The Venus of Salo by Ben Pastor front cover

Wartime Italy is the setting for Ben Pastor’s The Venus of Salò, out on 23 May. It’s October 1944 and three dead bodies have been found in the Republic of Salò — a German puppet state in the north of Italy and the last fascist stronghold in the country. The discovery is an added complication for Colonel Martin Bora of the Wehrmacht, who is there to investigate the theft of a precious painting of Venus by Titian. Hounded by the Gestapo, and hopelessly in love with an enigmatic in-the-flesh ‘Venus’, Bora must summon all his courage and ability, work fast to solve both mysteries, and save himself from the firing squad.
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One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware

One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware front cover, US

There’s a hint on Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None, with a splash of The Traitors TV series, in Ruth Ware‘s thriller One Perfect Couple, out on 21 May in the US. Five couples are taken to an isolated luxury resort in the Indian Ocean to compete in a new TV reality show. The rules are simple – 10 strangers must survive together on the island, with the last couple standing scooping the prize. Things begin to get tricky when a huge tropical storm cuts them off from everything and suddenly what seemed like a bit of fun becomes horribly and dangerously real. Because someone is taking the game seriously, and it appears that they will stop at nothing in pursuit of the prize.
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You May Now Kill the Bride by Kate Weston

You May Now Kill the Bride by Kate Weston front cover

Some people would rather be seen dead than go to a hen do – and bride-to-be Tansy’s bachelorette party could explain why. She and her bridesmaids have been pals since their nursery days, so a spiritual weekend in the deep dark woods should be lots of fun. After all, there’s macrame, and plenty of smuggled-in vodka… But when Tansy ends up dead after choking to death on a poisoned cacao drink, it dawns on the remaining partygoers that one of them is a killer and it’s time to watch their sash-clad backs. The darkly humorous thriller You May Now Kill the Bride by Kate Weston will traipse up the bookshop aisle on 23 May.
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The Small Museum by Jody Cooksley

The Small Museum by Jody Cooksley front cover

The Small Museum is a must for fans of gothic historical crime. Set in London in the 1870s, it tells the story of Maddy Brewster, hastily married to the enigmatic Dr Lucius Everley after her sister’s elopement leaves her family under a cloud. It’s a loveless union and Maddy is all but shunned by the staff at Everley’s house. Lonely and isolated, she draws to pass the time – and it is her skill with a pencil that leads Lucius to agree to let her help him in making a breakthrough in evolutionary science. But what horrors hide behind his soaring ambition? And why is Maddy is the dock, accused of murder? Find out on 23 May.
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What Stays Unsaid by Sophie Flynn

What Stays Unsaid by Sophie Flynn front cover

Another hen party, this time in a remote Dartmoor farmhouse, is at the centre of Sophie Flynn’s psychological thriller What Stays Unsaid, published on 23 May. At first glance spirits seem high as the friends gather – but tension is bubbling beneath the surface. When they were children, the group lost Becca, the prettiest and most powerful of them all, and things were never the same again. Now, someone wants to expose the truth about what happened back then and reveal long-buried secrets. Twisted tales, toxic friendships and – yes, you guessed it – a storm brewing, mean that they are about to get their wish… and there’s no escape until everything comes out into the open.
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