On the Radar: The school gate psychos

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One of the UK’s strongest new crime writing talents returns in July – we can’t wait to see what Joanna Wallace gets up to with The Dead Friend Project. Our new books report also brings you the latest from Sarah Hilary, SB Caves, Johanna Copeland and Luke Deckard, whose stories range from slow burn psychological thrillers to historical noir set in Edinburgh with Chicago gangsters also on the scene.

The Dead Friend Project by Joanna Wallace

The Dead Friend Project by Joanna Wallace front cover

Her debut You’d Look Better as a Ghost was our Best Debut in the 2023 Crime Fiction Lover Awards and now Joanna Wallace is back with another standalone, out on 11 July. A toxic band of women, AKA the mums who stand and gossip at the school gates, are front and centre of The Dead Friend Project. Beth’s life is in the doldrums. Her husband has run off with another woman; the catty comments of the school mums have left her feeling frumpy, fat and inadequate; her son has ended up in A&E after a fall on his first day of school; and her BFF Charlotte has been killed in a hit and run accident. But Charlotte uncharacteristically left her toddler alone to go for a run on that fateful night and Beth is convinced that her death was anything but an accident. Time to prove it – and at the top of Beth’s list of suspects are the mean-mouthed mothers that made both of their lives a misery.
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Sharp Glass by Sarah Hilary

Sharp Glass by Sarah Hilary front cover

A woman is being held captive in an isolated house in the middle of nowhere, and her captor has no intentions of letting her go. She is left alone in a dark, damp cellar, with no memory of how she got there – until her captor returns and demands answers about the murder of a young girl a year ago. Is our victim about to break? Not likely, because this woman is tougher than you might think and, as the battle of wills goes on, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top. Award-winning author Sarah Hilary turns the psychological tension up to 11 in Sharp Glass, out on 11 July.
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Honeycomb by SB Caves

Six strangers take part in a mysterious medical experiment inside an isolated mansion in Honeycomb by SB Caves, published on 9 July. One of them is a washed-up former pop star whose star waned after a very public breakdown. Amanda Pearson sees a chance to redeem herself when she’s offered a place on the programme. What’s not to like? A week with five strangers, observed 24-hours-a-day. Each day they must all take a pill, but only one contains the experimental drug. And at the end of it, a big fat paycheque. But the longer Amanda stays in the game, the more she realises that her housemates are not what they seem, and the house is full of secrets. Just what has she let herself in for?
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Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland front cover

Domestic violence in its myriad forms comes under the spotlight in Johanna Copeland’s debut Our Kind of Game, out on 9 July. Women whose past is about to rock their present and future feature here, the first of them Stella, who on the face of it has the perfect life. A lawyer who has given up work to raise her children, she has a lovely home and a loving husband – but the facade begins to crumble when a neighbour threatens to reveal Stella’s darkest secrets. Meanwhile, teenager Julie has a fractured relationship with her widowed mother, and the cracks widen when they decide to turn their backs on the past. Everyone has something to hide in a novel packed with twists and turns.
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Bad Blood by Luke Deckard

Bad Blood by Luke Deckard front cover

Fans of classic Scottish noir read on, because Bad Blood, by Luke Deckard and out now, should be right up your badly lit alley. It’s 1922, and American ex-pat Logan Bishop is working as a private eye in London, battling morphine addiction and the effects of shell shock. Life gets even trickier with the arrival from Chicago of Logan’s estranged father – and after the Rev Daniel Bishop is attacked and put in a coma, his son goes to Edinburgh in search of Greta Matas, a Bolshevik woman with an unknown connection to his father. But where is Greta, and who are the two mysterious men dogging Logan’s steps? The answers could put the investigator in direct conflict with a ruthless bunch of Chicago hoodlums.
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Click here to read about last week’s new books.

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