In every issue of Crime Fiction Fix we review a book by a new crime fiction author in our New Kid on the Block feature. We like to showcase new talent as much as we can, but there are so many established writers out there who have written fantastic books too. On this page we will be sharing with you our thoughts about new books by established authors. If there’s a new title you’d like us to review, or an old favourite that you think deserves more attention, please just let us know.



Editor’s Choice:

Love Like Blood, by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown; 1st June, 2017)

There are times when books transcend genre, and are quite simply great books. Love Like Blood is one of those books.

Yes, it fits comfortably into the DI Thorne series, developing and deepening our understanding of Thorne, Hendricks, Kitson et al. Yes, it is crime fiction, a murder mystery, a thriller, with a sprinkling of police procedural on the side (I really don’t envy the marketers who have to decide on these increasingly casuistical distinctions), but those labels don’t begin to describe it.

In Love Like Blood Billingham looks with anger and compassion at honour-based violence in contemporary Britain and especially at so-called honour killings. 

DI Nicola Tanner, on the hunt for a pair of killers who she is convinced are behind a series of apparently unconnected deaths, comes home one day to find her partner brutally mutilated and murdered. Bereft and on compassionate leave, she has only one thought on her mind – revenge against the men who had wanted to silence her, but had instead killed Susan.

She enlists Thorne’s help. He becomes involved, first off the books and then, as things escalate, officially.

Billingham cleverly avoids the potential for easy stereotyping by having the hub of the exchange between the killers, the middlemen and the ‘dishonoured’ families a multi-faith group, bringing together Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, making it clear that a violent response to disobedience and deviation has its roots less in any religion than in does in particular cultural norms. It is not a didactic book, though it is certainly a book from which much can be learned, but Billingham does include at the end a straightforward Author’s Note in which he sets out some of the research behind the book:

“The results of a ComRes poll carried out by the BBC in 2013 state that over two thirds (sixty-nine per cent) of young British Asians across all the major faiths believe that families should live according to the concept of honour, or izzat. Three per cent believe that the ultimate sanction of honour killings is justified, including the same number of Muslims and Hindus, but rising to four per cent for Sikhs and Christians.”

All this to say that Love Like Blood is a complex, subtle book, looking at highly challenging issues. It is not, though, an ‘issues’ book, nor in any way polemical. As with all the Thorne series, it is rooted in the humanity of the central characters, their weaknesses, their courage, their humour. Tom Thorne is a flawed man, but a man we can trust, and it is through his eyes that we see the bulk of the story unfold, as he deals doggedly with the limitations of his understanding and of his legal powers.

But we don’t only have Thorne’s perspective – the killers, the go-betweens, the families, and the broken-hearted DI Tanner are all given their own distinctive voices, each involving the reader ever more deeply in the fears and obsessions that lie at the heart of the book. And the more we care, the more we worry as it seems as though nothing will save those targeted by the hired killers, nor bring justice for those they’ve already murdered.

And the ending is completely right, and utterly unforeseen.

A gripping, artfully paced and deeply compassionate crime novel,  true in the way that only fiction can be. Absolutely brilliant, and very, very clever.



Quicksand, by Malin Persson Giolito (Simon & Schuster, 6 April 2017)

Maja Norberg: Demonised victim or cold-blooded killer?

Eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg, one of the most hated people in Sweden, is in prison awaiting trial for her involvement in a school shooting. Among those she is accused of killing are her boyfriend and best friend. But how did a wealthy, bright teenager become involved in such horrendous acts, and, more importantly, is she guilty of the crimes she has been accused of?

Intelligent, gripping, and strikingly well-written, Quicksand is phenomenal book, ideal for fans of The Secret History and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Something outside of the usual crime fiction genre, Giolito provides a deeper, more intimate portrayal of an accused killer, giving an extraordinarily rare kind of protagonist. She succeeds in dodging many of the pitfalls and clichés of female murderesses, and instead her account feels so real you could be reading Maja’s diary.

The plot pulls you in so fast and so smoothly that Quicksand can easily be read in one sitting.

Quicksand is already a major bestseller in Sweden, and is being published in twenty-five countries around the world. It’s the winner of the Best Crime Novel of the Year in 2016 by the Swedish Crime Writer’s Academy.

Malin Persson Giolito was born in Sweden and worked as a lawyer and an official for the European Commission in Brussels before becoming an author. Quicksand is her fourth novel.


A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Sphere, 30 August 2016)

One of the greats of contemporary Canadian crime writing, Louise Penny brings us back to the tiny village of Three Pines as Armand Ganache, now Commander of the Sûreté Academy, weaves a complex web to catch a killer. After finding an old map in the walls of the bistro at Three Pines, Ganache follows its strange path to a murdered professor and his cadets. As the investigation goes on, eyes are drawn to the professor’s protégée, the angry and rebellious Amelia Choquet, yet the closer Ganache gets to her, questions arise about his own involvement with the crime.

Another wise, compassionate, and challenging tale. Penny’s characters are engaging and charming, and the story brilliantly weaves elements of the gothic and fairy-tale to create a story which is unique and memorable. Despite being the twelfth in the series, this book remains just as fresh and enjoyable to read as the first.

Louise Penny is a New York Times bestselling author and winner of the 2006 CWA John Creasey Dagger. She lives in a small village south of Montreal and was granted The Order of Canada in 2014. This is the latest installment of  the New York Times bestselling Chief Inspector Armand Ganache series.


Close Your Eyes, by Michael Robotham (Sphere, 22 September 2016)

A dark psychological thriller in which a mother and daughter are found murdered in a remote farmhouse, one arranged like Sleeping Beauty, and one attacked with multiple stab wounds.

Clinical psychologist Joe O’Laughlin finds himself caught up in the murder inquiry when a former student with his own warped agenda threatens to derail the police case. As the case becomes more complex and fraught on all sides, Joe finds a link between this case, and a series of attacks where murdered men and women are found with an ‘A’ carved into their foreheads.

Robotham’s tale is a highly complex web of contorted passions and troubled characters, with Joe and his family threatened on all sides.

Beautifully paced and deeply scary, Close Your Eyes is an emotional rollercoaster that provides a haunting tale as well as a deeply personal narrative that will keep you anchored to this story and its characters. 

Michael Robotham was an investigative journalist working in Britain, Australia, and America before coming an award-winning author of twelve Sunday Times bestsellers. His novels have been translated into twenty-three languages and are currently in development for television by Bonafide Films.

Close Your Eyes is the eighth book in the Joe O’Laughlin series.


The Caller, by Chris Carter (Simon & Schuster, 23 February 2017)

Be careful before answering your next call; it could be the beginning of your worst nightmare.

Alone in her apartment after a tough week at work, Tanya Kaitlin is settling down for a quiet night in when her phone rings. It is a video call from her best friend, Karen Ward. Tanya takes the call, and that’s when the horrors begin.

Stripped naked, bound to a chair, and gagged, Karen is helpless, terrified, and unable to communicate. Instead, a distorted, demonic voice begins speaking. Tanya must not look away, call the police, or hang up the phone, or the killer will come after her next. Instead, the predator gives her two questions that she must answer correctly to save Karen’s life.

In this new novel by Chris Carter, detectives Hunter and Garcia are confronted with a sadistic and merciless killer who feeds on his victims’ worst fears, and terrorizes families and friends. Lurking in the streets and on their social media pages, this killer is slippery, clever, and incredibly dangerous.

Not for the faint-hearted, Chris Carter presents a gripping and terrifying tale that realises all of our worst fears. This is a classically brilliant detective story with a strong lead detective, and a story that will creep you out and make you think twice next time you answer a video call. 

Chris Carter is bestselling crime author, with two of his previous novels, An Evil Mind and I Am Death being Top Ten Sunday Times bestsellers. The Caller is the eighth book in the Robert Hunter detective series.

Born in Brazil and of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions.


The Final Seven, by Erica Spindler (Sphere, 6 October 2016)

A woman is missing. The number seven is found carved into the back of her bathroom door.

Detective Micki Dare and her new partner, the charming Zach Harris, fresh out of an experimental FBI program, are put together to find out what happened and why. It soon becomes clear that neither Micki’s experience or common sense, nor Zach’s enigmatic abilities may be enough to defeat the evil which threatens to engulf them.

Nicely balanced on the edge of the supernatural, with one foot firmly planted in the familiar world of the police procedural, and enough twists and turns to keep you reading long after you should have turned the light off.

New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler was raised in Rockford, Illinois and went to university in New Orleans, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. She has won several awards for her fiction in the US, and her books have been turned into graphic novels and a daytime drama in Japan.


The Sign of Fear, by Robert Ryan (Simon & Schuster, 14 January 2016)

Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes face a terrorized and war-torn 1917 London in this fourth installment in the series by Robert Ryan. Tragedy strikes Dr. Watson as his friend, Sir Gilbert Hardy, is kidnapped and held for ransom with four others. To save him, Dr. Watson must form an unlikely alliance with his old adversary the ‘She Wolf’ enemy spy Miss Pillbody. Follow Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes as they face murder, kidnappers, German bombers, and the threat of a London fire.

Robert Ryan’s new novel provides a fascinating and disturbing evocation of an alternative reality which is eerily familiar. Here are Watson and Holmes as we know, and yet not. Here is the First World War as we know it, and yet not. And here is London under bombardment, as we have known it, and yet now.

A brilliant interweaving of literary homage, historical understanding, and highly skilled storytelling.

A true delight that will please fans of Sherlock Holmes and provide a fresh perspective.

Robert Ryan is an author, journalist, and screenwriter who regularly contributes to GQ and The Sunday Times. He is the author of nineteen other novels.


The Stranger, by Saskia Sarginson (Piatkus, 23 March 2017)

Eleanor leads a peaceful life in a perfect little English village, but her whole existence is turned upside down when her husband dies in a car crash on a night when he is supposed to be working at home.

After the accident, many questions arise and Eleanor finds herself keeping secrets and not knowing who to confide in. While trying to solve the mystery surrounding her husband’s death, she will welcome a stranger into her home, and although she will put her trust in him, she will soon discover that not everyone in the village is as accepting of immigrants as she is.

Combining thriller and romance, Saskia Sarginson has written a real page-turner. The intricate and layered plot unfolds beautifully, occasionally going back to the nineties to give us a peek into Eleanor’s backstory. This book will leave you wondering what secrets lie behind closed doors and it will make you reflect on the reality of many immigrants who flee their home countries and come to the UK looking for a better life.

Saskia Sarginson is a bestselling writer, author of The Twins, Without You, and The Other Me. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway and a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University. The Stranger is her fourth novel.


Then She Was Gone, by Luca Veste (Simon & Schuster, 28 July 2016)

People disappear, memories endure. With Liverpool as a backdrop, the Scouse-Italian duo of DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi are once again together, this time on the hunt for a vanished politician.  As they unpick the events surrounding his disappearance, they are led further and further back in time to the nexus of arrogance and brutality which gave birth to the murderous events they are confronted with.

Engrossing, well-paced, and unexpected, Then She Was Gone manages to enthrall in every scene.

A dark and gritty police procedural which breathes new life into police procedural fiction. Veste is a remarkable talent, who presents a fascinating trail of crime and intrigue. This is a book you will find difficult to put down.

Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage, whose part psychological thriller, part police procedural novels are set in the city of Liverpool. He is a former civil servant, actor, singer, and guitarist, and is married with two young daughters. He studied psychology and criminology at the University of Liverpool. Then She Was Gone is Veste’s fourth novel.


Truth Will Out, by A.D. Garrett (Corsair, 23 February 2017)

A mother and daughter are snatched on their drive home from a cinema. The crime has a number of chilling similarities to a cold case Professor Nick Fennimore had been lecturing on. Then Fennimore begins receiving taunting messages – is he being targeted by the kidnapper?

Meanwhile, a photograph emailed from Paris could bring Fennimore closer to discovering the fate of Suzie, his daughter, now missing for six years. He seeks help from his old friend, DCI Kate Simms, recently returned from the US. But Kate is soon blocked from the investigation… A mother and child’s lives hang in the balance as Fennimore and Simms try to break through police bureaucracy to identify their abductor.

Immaculately observed and beautifully crafted. It keeps you guessing right to the end – and beyond.

Truth Will Out expertly blends storylines together in a seamless and captivating manner which you can’t help but be sucked into. Both lead characters are well-crafted and likable, and the personal aspect of the book, teamed with the outside, yet all too familiar, kidnapping case makes for a fantastic read.

This is the third book by writing duo Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper under the A. D. Garrett name. Margaret Murphy is a prize-winning novelist who has currently written nine psychological thrillers. Helen Pepper is a senior lecturer at Teeside University and is an expert in the field, having been an analyst, Forensic Scientist, Scene of Crime Officer, Crime Scene Investigator, and Crime Scene Manager.


Want You Gone, Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown, 20 April 2017)

Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties, and watch her dreams of university evaporate, when their mother goes to prison. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.

Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.

Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

Want You Gone is possibly the best Jack Parlabane so far. Filled with skullduggery, crossed wires, and lines crossed, it is a story which seems to set Jack the journalist firmly back on track. The cybercrime is convincingly unfolded, the characters and context dangled tantalizingly just out of mind’s reach.

Another thoroughgoing masterpiece.

Chris Brookmyre was a journalist before becoming a full-time novelist with the publication of his debut Quite Ugly One Morning, which established him as one of Britain’s leading crime novelists. His Jack Parlabane novels have sold more than one million copies in the UK alone. His last book, Black Widow, won the McIlvanney Prize 2016 for Best Scottish Crime novel.


As Time Goes By, by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, 12th January 2017)

Television journalist Delaney Wright covers the case of Betsy Grant, the widow of a wealthy doctor, on trial for his murder. It seems open and shut. The doctor had Alzheimer’s, his wife was driven to breaking point. But as Betsy refuses to accept a plea, and demands to go on trial to prove her innocence, Delaney becomes increasingly convinced that the wrong person is standing trial. Meanwhile, Delaney’s urge to locate her birth mother begins to overrun her thoughts, and while her friends help her to uncover her mysterious past, they uncover a shocking secret.

A racy, pacy courtroom drama, tightly constructed with convincing characters and smooth writing. Higgins Clark lives up to her reputation and delivers a new classic, giving her readers another great tale of mystery and suspense.

Mary Higgins Clark is the author of thirty-five novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, two children’s books, and is known as the ‘Queen of Suspense’. She has had many New York Times bestsellers and is published in thirty-four countries.


Hostage, by Jamie Doward (Constable, 7th January 2016)

Kate Pendragon, a financial analyst and money-laundering expert, is working within a giant cigarette conglomerate, when a spate of brutal attacks occur and she begins to be swept up in the chaos. From bomb attacks in Geneva, to gruesome, unexplained murders in the UK and a hundred energy workers being held hostage in Algeria, Kate’s world is pushed into the violence and corruption of modern terrorism. Only she can link the brutalities together, yet there are those who don’t want the truth to surface.

With a host of deplorable and complex characters, Doward delivers a brutally quick-fire portrayal of crime, corruption, and modern paranoia. He is particularly brilliant at producing a piece of crime fiction that is incredibly up to date and relevant for the twenty-first century, and yet gives a nod to classic spy fiction. While the threats and operations are strikingly modern, the shadow of the bygone era of the gentleman MI5 and MI6 services loom over the novel, shattering romantic notions of the golden age of intelligence and delivering an uneasy cohabitation of the two worlds. Even Kate Pendragon stands at a crossroads between the two, as her very name links her back to heroic Arthurian legend. Yet what Doward presents is a twenty-first century woman in a strikingly modern setting.

Overall, this novel delivers everything you need from crime fiction; it is thrilling, fast-paced, gut-wrenching, and will leave you with a vivid impression long after you’ve finished reading.

Jamie Doward has previously been a journalist for The Observer for sixteen years. In his career he has worked as a business reporter, the home affairs editor, the Religious Affairs correspondent, the Social Affairs Editor, the diarist and, currently, is a Senior Reporter. Hostage is his second novel and the sequel to Toxic.


The First Order cover imageThe First Order, by Jeff Abbott (Sphere, 27th October 2016)

 Jeff Abbot attended Rice University, where he graduated in English and History. His fiction has won several major awards, including the Macavity Award, Dilys Award and Agatha Award, as well as being nominated twice for an Edgar Award. Two of his books are currently in film script development. This is the fifth instalment in the Sam Capra series. Jeff Abbot lives in Texas with his wife and sons.

 For Sam and Danny Capra, the first order is that they don’t ever leave each other behind. And Danny has gone to extraordinary lengths in the past to make sure his little brother wasn’t left behind. But 6 years ago, he left his brother behind when he was executed by extremists in the Afghan desert.

 Except that Sam now suspects he wasn’t.

 As Sam digs deeper, he uncovers the dark and terrible truth about his brother and now he must race to find his lost  brother before he commits an act so dreadful the price could be not only his life, but war between East and West. The two brothers speed towards each other on a collision course, and the impact can only be massive.

 Jeff Abbot’s writing pulls the reader in from the very start. His meticulous research creates a wholly believable background of intrigue and tension and the excellently written characters will keep you up all night to discover their fate. Look over your shoulder, Jack Reacher; Sam Capra might be coming up behind you.


The Plague Road L.C.Tyler cover imageThe Plague Road, by L.C. Tyler (Constable, 6th October 2016)

London in 1665 is no place to be – the plague is rampant, anybody who can leave has left, and those few still walking the streets do so in fear and suspicion. Death is everywhere, and at first it seems as though one corpse the more or less to be tumbled into the plague pit is neither here nor there. That is, until it is found that this one corpse has not died of the plague, but has been murdered.

John Grey, lawyer and problem-solver to the rich and powerful, is called in by Lord Arlington, the Secretary of State, to investigate the murder. Not so much to discover the murderer, though, as to track down a crucial secret letter which the victim was known to be carrying when he was killed.

The story takes Grey and an array of associates, enemies, and allies on a chase through London and across the countryside to Salisbury, with attacks, counter-attacks, lies, double-dealing, and corruption swirling round them every step of the way.

The plot is intricate and ingenious, unfolding with satisfyingly complex inevitability, while the principal characters are sympathetic and engaging. What sets the book apart, though, and makes it so fascinating, as well as so enjoyable, is the way in which L.C. Tyler is able to conjure up the realities of mid-seventeenth century England, deftly weaving eye-catching historical facts into the narrative to bring the period and its people vividly to life. 

A book to be savoured. Not least because we can visit that time of plague and paranoia in the reliable company of such a witty and perceptive guide as L.C. Tyler.


The Bone Ritual cover imageThe Bone Ritual, by Julian Lees (Constable, 6th October 2016)

Julian Lees is the descendant of a proud Cossack family. Born and brought up in Hong Kong, he was sent to boarding school in England. He now lives with his wife and children in Kuala Lumpur, where he weaves stories combining threads of Eastern and Western cultures.

 Jakarta is a riot of monsoons, murder, and mendacity. But First Inspektur Ruud Pujasumarta has problems of his own: he is mortal peril of being made the laughing stock of the station by his overbearing (ex) mother-in-law, who is hell-bent on killing him with kindness and ducky-waddle curry.

 As he struggles with his turbulent personal life, he is called to the scene of an outlandishly gruesome murder. A strangulation, an amputated hand, and a mahjong tile left in the throat of the 60 year old victim leave Pujasumarta and his team baffled.

 Into this melee wanders Imke Sneijder, his closest friend as children, until her family suddenly emigrated back to Amsterdam when they were twelve. She is as eager to recapture the memories of her youth as he is to capture the killer. And slowly it begins to appear that these two quests may be intertwined somehow.

 Julian Lees’ lush use of language conjures up the extravagant and the seedy sides of life in modern Jakarta and transports the reader to its steamy slums and palaces, ratcheting up the tension through myriad false trails, keeping the reader enthralled right up until the denouement.


The Silence Between Breaths cover imageThe Silence Between Breaths, by Cath Staincliffe (Constable, 22nd September 2016)

Cath Staincliffe is the creator is ITV’s hit police series “Blue Murder”, starring Caroline Quentin. In addition to scriptwriting, she is also an award-winning novelist and radio playwright, having received the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012 and being nominate for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Book Club. In addition, she has written the “Scott and Bailey Novels” based on the popular television series. Brought up in Bradford, she and her family now live in Manchester.

 Jeff barely makes the Euston train, sprinting through Manchester Piccadilly to catch it. Desperate to make it to the job interview, desperate to get off benefits and not get sanctioned.

 Holly peruses the fashion pages of her magazine, excited to be planning her afternoon on Oxford Street before her weekend Health & Safety course in her new job.

 Naz goes about his duties collecting the passengers’ rubbish, keeping the train clean and tidy, while in his head he plans his future restaurant empire.

 Caroline shouldn’t even be on this train, but she missed the 10.15 and now she’s had to pay a small fortune for a ticket. Moreover, she is racked with guilt at abandoning her senile mother for a weekend on the town with an old friend.

 Nick is at the end of his tether. The baby is crying, his toddler is fussing, and his wife is forcing them to go to London for her stupid sister’s stupid wedding.

 Meg is wondering how she will manage on the walking weekend with her partner and their dog…and how to break her news to Diana.

 Rhona is trying desperately to hang on to her miserable job while her manipulative boss and her new protégé make her squirm. But her mind is elsewhere, back in Manchester where her little girl is struggling with asthma.

 And Saheel. Saheel is sweating profusely under his uni sweatshirt, clutching his backpack.

 This gripping drama confronts the truth of the impact our moral decisions make on our lives and the lives of all those in contact with us.  Cath Staincliffe manages to weave a story that is both knuckle-whiteningly tense and profoundly intelligent. This will leave you wondering – what would I do?


Darktown cover imageDarktown, by Thomas Mullen

 Thomas Mullen was born in Rhode Island and graduated from Oberlin College. His first book, The Last Day On Earth, received the James Fennimore Cooper Prize in 2007 and was listed as “Best Début Novel” and a “Book of the Year” by USA Today & The Chicago Tribune. His following novels also received acclaim. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and children.

 The stifling summer of the Deep South simmers with racial tension. It’s just after the end of the Second World War. Georgia is fiercely segregated, and the Klan enjoy solid support. However, in the capital, a political and social experiment is being tested. 8 men have taken on the task of representing the colored community as the first serving black police officers. With limited powers and institutional racism, they face hostility, abuse, and disrespect from every quarter, including their own people.

 Two young men, one standing either side of the race chasm, both fiercely proud of their heritage, are forced to confront and question their loyalties as they take on the might of the corrupted system. As the Confederate South desperately tries to maintain its grip on power, they must decide how far they are willing to go to root out the darkness that has everything, and nothing, to do with skin colour.

 A profoundly moving subject, the author perfectly captures the atmosphere of fear, distrust, and contempt between the black and white communities. The book plucks at the nerves, gently but relentlessly turning the screws, as the stakes get higher on both sides. Mullen has a wonderful talent for creating characters that are truly multifaceted and real.

 This book should become recommended reading in schools and colleges across the world.


The Bangkok Asset cover imageThe Bangkok Asset, by John Burdett (Corsair, 1st September 2016)

The author of 7 novels, 5 of which are set in Bangkok and feature Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, John Burdett was brought up in North London, later moving to Hong Kong, where he worked as a lawyer.

The Bangkok Asset explores the very deepest questions of humanity, morality, and evolution, in a fast-moving, stimulating, and grimly wry piece of work.

When the whisper of rumour reaches the sensitive ears of Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, he arrives at a murder scene so bizarrely horrific, he is forced to confront the tenet that seeing is believing. Because to believe what he sees is such a challenge to the mind that it could cause it to unravel entirely. A schoolgirl whose head has been removed by the bare hands of…whom? Or what?

 As he delves deeper, Sonchai must follow a tangled web of top level international secrets that draw his most personal questions of identity, loyalty, and morality into the arena. For, in the search to engineer a race that is technically, surgically, and chemically enhanced, what constitutes humanity? For the players in this extraordinary drama, no price is too high and no step too far in order to gain the ultimate advantage: to develop a master race of superhumans.

Burdett’s prose has a light, deft touch, with a gallows humour and a meticulous command of dialogue, atmosphere, and suspense. His familiarity with not only the most intimate corners of Bangkok, Saigon, and Phnom Penh, but also with the Thai Buddhist attitudes to the clumsy Western farang, who have wrought such destruction in the East, draws you immediately into such an exquisite web that you willingly surrender yourself to its sticky seduction.


Out of Bounds Val McDermid coverOut of Bounds, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown, 25th August 2016)

Out of Bounds starts with the repercussions of death and the complexities of survival. Four young men, wasted, exhilarated, go joy-riding. Three die, one survives, but only just.

Also only just surviving is DCI Karen Pirie, head of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit. The death of her colleague and partner, Phil Parhatka, has left her bereft, desperately working her days and walking her nights away in a hopeless effort to numb the pain.

When a routine blood test on the surviving joy rider throws up a DNA hit on a cold case rape murder, Karen follows the threads of the evidence with the same exhausted doggedness as she follows the unknown streets of Edinburgh on her nighttime explorations. She comes across dark alleys, dead ends, and unexpected crossroads, and, through the gradual mapping of a route to justice for the murder victim killed decades before, she fights her own demons, living and dead, and comes to a kind of peace.

As with all Val McDermid’s books, this is a gripping story, tightly told, with characters you want to reach out to and reassure – or reach over to and punch. There is knowledge and understanding in Val McDermid’s writing – knowledge of how things work and understanding of how people work. Her deep sense of compassion coupled with her intolerance for greed, brutality, and unkindness create a world we recognise and in which, held by her wit and skill, we can, through it all, feel safe. This is Val McDermid’s thirtieth novel, and arguably her best yet.


i-see-you-reveal_300I See You, by Clare Mackintosh (Little, Brown, 28 July 2016)

Good follow-up to Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel, I Let You Go. This story makes you wonder who you can trust and whether or not family and friends make that list. You’ll be looking over your shoulder a lot after finishing this book, and may even start taking alternative ways to work.

True to her style, Clare leads us down the path of complicated (yet relatable) family relationships, causing the reader to truly care about the characters and fear for their safety. And, even truer to her style, plants a twist into the story that’ll keep your eyes on the page until the last word is read.

Another book well written by one of crime’s newest shining stars.

 


preview-chat-9780751563085Burned and Broken, by Mark Hardie (Sphere, 23rd June 2016)

In 2002 Mark Hardie completely lost his sight. So what did he do? He decided to become a writer, of course. Having completed a creative writing course, followed by an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, achieving a distinction in both, he went on to write his first novel, Burned and Broken, which was published by Sphere on 23rd June 2016.

This is a debut novel we strongly recommend you don’t miss. 

Set in Mark Hardie’s home town of Southend, the Essex seaside resort is revealed to harbour a host of grim and gritty secrets. The brilliant new creations of DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve a particularly gruesome murder when one of their colleagues is found burned to death on the seafront, and to do this, ideally, without bringing disrepute on the local force. Thoughtful, witty, well-observed, and tightly plotted, Burned and Broken marks the arrival of a strong new voice onto the increasingly popular scene of “small-town England noirs”.


unnamed-2A Quiet End, by Nelson DeMille (Sphere, 2nd June 2016)

A Quiet End is the latest blockbuster to include the sarcastic and quick-witted detective John Corey. Having previously battled the notorious Yemeni terrorist known as The Panther, it’s time for Corey to face a fresh enemy with the help of his new trainee, Tess. On the anniversary of 9/11, the unnerving actions of Russian UN diplomat, Vassily Petrov, lead Corey to believe everything isn’t what it seems, placing the whole of Manhattan in danger. The story follows the alternate views of both Corey and Petrov, clueing the readers in on what’s happening at every point in the novel, and who has the upper hand. It’s a race against the clock to figure out what the Russians are planning and how to stop them in the newest fast-paced, intense instalment in the John Corey series. The action-packed plot ensures the book is a page turner, and DeMille makes every word count.


9781472116017The Scrivener, by Robin Blake (Constable, 5th May 2016)

Robin Blake, an art critic and the author of two superb biographies (one on Van Dyck and the other on Stubbs), has now set his hand to writing historical crime fiction, to extremely good effect. The Scrivener is the third book in the Cragg and Fidelis series, set in the mid-eighteenth century in Preston, Lancashire. Titus Cragg is the town coroner, while his close friend and confidant Luke Fidelis is an up and coming doctor. Together with Titus’ wife, the astute Elizabeth, they make a formidable group determined to get to the heart of the mysteries which arise in their troubled town, and to ensure that justice is done. At first sight, The Scrivener seems like a classic locked-room mystery when Philip Pimbo, a wealthy pawnbroker, is found shot dead in his study, behind, indeed, a locked door. It soon transpires that nothing is as clear-cut as it first seems, and Titus’ enquiries soon lead him to learn that Pimbo’s death is inextricably linked with the ‘golden triangle’ and the iniquities of the African slave trade. Immaculately researched and beautifully written, this is a series to savour.


The Loving Husband HBThe Loving Husband, Christobel Kent (Sphere, 7th April 2016)

A really, really chilling book, The Loving Husband is a psychological thriller which keeps you edgily guessing right up until the final dénouement. Fran Hall is to all appearances a happily married mother of two small children, and the wife of the devoted Nathan. But it’s a Christobel Kent book – Christobel Kent, creator of the stunning The Crooked House – and so, of course, nothing is at it seems. Everyone has a secret, some darker than others, and Fran soon finds herself tangled in a dangerous web of deceit, lies, and half-lies. Who can she trust, when she can’t even trust herself? A really good read, but don’t expect to be able to put it down once you’ve started it…  

 

 


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May Day Murderby Julie Wassmer (Constable, 7th April 2016)

May Day Murder, the third in the Whitstable Pearl Mystery series, sees the quiet seaside town, home to private investigator and chief Pearl, once again left reeling in the wake of a terrible crime. When fading starlet Faye Marlowe returns to her native Whitstable, having left the town more than two decades earlier, she succeeds only in causing a stir amongst the town’s inhabitants and igniting tensions between her past lovers. When Faye is found brutally murdered, her body hanging from the May Day Maypole, the town’s perfect façade begins to falter and the ever-brilliant Pearl must step in once again to uncover the truth. This quintessentially British murder mystery is a true testament to Wassmer’s impeccable writing and style. May Day Murder’s strengths lie predominantly in its characters, who are brilliantly imagined and unfalteringly real. Pearl for one, is an intelligent, witty, and wonderfully developed protagonist, whom it is so easy to care about and believe in. Her charms, coupled with a host of colourful town characters, drive the novel, and this alongside a richly-developed plot make May Day Murder a truly riveting read. May Day Murder stands up to the rest of Wassmer’s gripping series and it will be exciting to see what unfolds for Pearl and Whitstable next.


CASE-TheBigFear-20133-CV-FT-v1The Big Fear, by Andrew Case (Thomas and Mercer, 1st April 2016)

I came across Andrew Case by chance. I happened to be at the swap table at Left Coast Crime in Arizona and I saw this wonderful, blue cover staring up at me. Who said you can’t judge a book by its cover?

The Big Fear, the story between the covers, is about many characters, but let me break it down to a simple two: Ralph Mulino and Leonard Mitchell. Mulino is a veteran cop who is in a load of trouble. One night as he was called out to investigate a boat, he ended up shooting and killing a fellow cop. Mulino had seen him pull out a gun and he had announced himself (went through all the basics) so the matter should go down on self defense. Sadly, this is a novel and the lives of these characters are a bit more dramatic than that. The gun is missing and Mulino is in serious trouble.

Leonard Mitchell is a civilian investigator for the Department to Investigate Misconduct and Corruption. He gets himself into pretty deep water when his boss is found dead and he is sacked with the blame. It becomes a story of exonerating himself that leads to him crossing paths with Mulino who is on the same quest. What strikes me about these characters is their willingness to survive and clear their names. Sure, you might be thinking, “Wouldn’t anyone do that?” and I would reply, “Yes.” But whenever we are in the heads of each character (including Mulino and Mitchell) their thoughts have such a cynical outlook on life and the people around them. This book revolves mostly on the idea of greed at other people’s expense and these characters comment on this repeatedly. It’s quite interesting to see people who believe in the absolute worst in others strive to prove their good intentions. It’s a desperate type of contradiction that does quite well. Andrew is a very streetwise writer. The information he knows and shares makes you think he had been in that situation before. There wasn’t a character I thought didn’t feel authentic and he did well to steer the reader down one path while he was preparing to twist that around 100 or so pages later. Overall I found this a good first novel and I look forward to reading what else he comes out with in the future.


preview-chat-TheFatherThe Father, by Anton Svensson (Sphere, 24th March 2016)

The Father is a heartbreaking, wise, and deeply disturbing book. It is very much a crime story – three brothers and a close friend, all under 24 years old and with no criminal record, committing ten outrageously daring bank robberies across Sweden in the course of just over two years. It is also a story of boys and their fathers, boys and their brothers. Both the robbers and the policeman who tracks them down have brutal and brutalising fathers, and have protected and been protected by their brothers. On top of all this, it is an extraordinary exploration of the boundaries between fact and fiction.

The core of the story – the string of bank robberies by the press-dubbed “Military League”, the youth and family bonds between the men committing the robberies, the dynamics between the brothers – all this is based on fact, and fact that has been intimately and agonisingly gathered. Anton Svensson is the pseudonym for co-authors Anders Roslund and Stefan Thunberg. Roslund is an award-winning investigative journalist, and well-known to crime fiction readers as part of the bestselling Roslund & Hellström duo. Thunberg is one of Scandinavia’s most celebrated screenwriters – and it was his brothers who made up the Military League. He witnessed, in real time, the events fictionalised in the book. “I was one of the family,” says Thunberg in a fascinating and thoughtful interview included at the end of the book. “Between us brothers there were never any secrets. And then, after they had committed their first armed robbery, I was sitting there on the sofa as they congratulated themselves, high on adrenalin, and we followed the police hunt on the TV while working our way through a case of Kronenbourg beer. It may sound strange, but that’s how my brothers and I had been raised by our tough dad – to never, ever, betray anyone in our family.” The book is extraordinarily well written, with the details of the crimes, the police operations, and the family dynamics brought out in high relief made all the more poignant by the knowledge that all this did actually happen – and that it could only end badly for all those involved. Which, of course, it did.


9781472121288Penance, by Kate O’Riordan (Constable, 8th March 2016) When her son Rob is killed in Thailand, apparently in a diving accident, the fragile balance of Rosalie’s family is broken into fragments. Her semi-estranged husband Luke is pushed away as Rosalie collapses into grief, and their daughter Maddie disappears into a maelstrom of guilt and self-destruction. It is only when they meet Jed, a beautiful young man, in a bereavement counselling session, that the family seems able to begin to recover. But Jed’s beauty masks a deadly secret which threatens to destroy them all. There is a lot that is absolutely superb about this book – beautifully observed and thoughtfully written, with a sense of building tension. In the end, though, there is an uneasy rottenness at the heart of the story which is not quite cleansed when the storm breaks.

 

 


Louise Penny Long Way Home cover imageThe Long Way Home, by Louise Penny (Sphere, 25th February 2016)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a creation of genius, a character you treasure spending time with. Now, in this volume, he is recovering from terrible wounds, retired from being chief of the Québec police homicide division, and recuperating in the tiny village of Three Pines. Slowly, slowly he is putting himself back together, with the help of Reine-Marie, his wife, and all the other inhabitants of Three Pines, each of them in their own way a refugee from pain and brutality.

Then Gamache is asked by Clara Morrow, one his dearest friends, to help find out what has become of her missing husband, Peter. Of course he has to come to her aid, and it is not long before he and Clara, his police detective son-in-law Jean-Guy, and a heterogeneous group of devoted amateurs are all involved in finding out what has happened to Peter Morrow. 

The trail leads all over French Canada and Europe, from Québec to Dumfries, before ending in the tiny, remote fishing village of Tabaquen. The resolution is brilliant, inevitable, and utterly surprising – one of those plot turns which has you re-reading the entire book, but in a way the plot is the least of it.

Louise Penny writes elegantly and thoughtfully, and is generous with her wisdom. A book to be treasured, read, and relished.


preview-chat-FD_coverFire Damage, by Kate Medina (Harper, 9th February 2016)

Kate Medina is a new talent who has been around for the past couple of years. Some of you may know her from her other book, White Crocodile, but this book, Fire Damage, is the first in her new psychological thriller series with Jessie Flynn at the head.

Jessie Flynn is an army psychologist, brought on by the parents of a four-year-old boy named Sami. This boy has been displaying signs of post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing his father return from Afghanistan. His father had been severely burned in an accident and his now misshapen and scarred appearance has traumatized Sami. Or at least that’s what many people think. Sami often mentions a “girl” who will keep him safe, though no one knows who this girl is. He is also terrified of what he calls the “Shadowman” and these two clues might be linking to another, more dangerous crime. The story follows the maze that is this child’s trauma, branching off into the dense forest that could be associated with his parents. And let’s not assume the main character is flawless either, because her past comes into play quite often in this book. Her trauma, related to her brother who had killed himself when they were younger, defines who she is and her relationships with those around her. But can she overcome that murky past? So many questions…If this brief review hasn’t hooked you, I’m not sure what will. This book is intriguingly dark and one a reader just wants to see to the end of. Knotted together with the main character’s own personal demons, this story is packed full of a plot line that has excitement and suspense on every page. Possibly, the only time the reader has to sit back and take a breath is when he or she puts down the book for the night. But, then again, with a book this addictive, why would you?


Black Widow Black Widow, by Chris Brookmyre (Little Brown, 28th January 2016)

On the cover it says ‘A Jack Parlabane Thriller’, and of course it is that. Another delightful sortie into murky world of the shoddy, shabby, brilliant reporter. The Jack Parlabane series is immensely and deservedly popular – over a million copies sold in the UK alone – but, without diminishing Brookmyre’s achievements in the earlier books, this is, it seems to me, far and away the best thing he has written to date. The central character, Diana Jager, a surgeon and a fierce campaigner against sexism in the workplace, is all but destroyed when a vengeful cyber attack reveals her personal details across the internet. Tentatively rebuilding her life, she meets loving, generous Peter, and it seems that now she can really be happy. Within six months they are married. Within six months more he is dead in a road accident. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe it was an accident, and provokes Jack Parlabane into investigating what actually went on behind the romantic façade. The book opens with the ensuing trial for murder. A brilliant, complex, compassionate book that will keep you reading far into the night – and then starting all over again. It is a book in which nothing is quite as it first seems, and which genuinely demands to be read at least twice.

 


preview-chat-TheMethod_9780751564327The Method, by Shannon Kirk (Sphere, 14th January 2016)

Shannon Kirk is an author with the ability to keep us on the edge of our seats. The Method is a thriller that will pull at any parent’s heartstrings and, quite possibly, cause them to bite a few fingernails. This is a story asking the question, how far are you willing to go for your child? The main character is a 16-year-old, pregnant girl who gets abducted off the street on her way to school. She gets taken to a remote location where she is then told that she will have her baby as planned, but not be the one to take care of him. Instead, she will be dead in a ditch and the baby with another couple who have paid for the child. That’s a lot for a young mother to go through, but instead of sinking into panic mode, she goes into survival mode and meticulously plans her escape. Down to the very day and hour.

There were times that allowed for a cringe or two and moments that would make the reader want to call their own mothers. The main character’s relationship with her mom, while not horrible, isn’t as warm and loving as she would like. But that is just the way her mother is and the main character has come to accept this. What the girl quickly realises during her captivity is that, while her mother may have seemed cold and distant, she did know she would do anything for her, just as she was going to do anything to make sure she and her baby survive. This story was surprising at many points, taking the reader off guard in ways that would make even the most experienced crime fiction reader unsure of how the ending was going to turn out. It was little details like character names and who the detectives were looking for. Small things that seemed certain and happening a particular way, but then, it turned out, the initial perspective/observation was wrong. As those things added up, the only thing the reader could do was be pulled along on roller skates, following the plot as it whipped around on the curved roads.


The Darkest SecretPicture1, by Alex Marwood (Sphere, 7th January 2016)

This is a book displaying the grim realities of life, making the reader realise everyone is selfish at the core, but that doesn’t mean they are bad people. The Darkest Secret revolves around the disappearance of one little girl that has affected all the characters in different ways. Some people lie to keep the truth from hurting others. Some kill to protect themselves. And others keep the truth hidden and slowly let the grief and guilt eat them up. It is not entirely bleak. Characters change and come together, creating newer, more lasting relationships. The Darkest Secret reminds you that it’s never too late to make amends, but still makes your trust in humanity stagger a bit along the way. Tortuous and with an ending you wouldn’t expect. Well worth a read.

 


9781473605602 Winter at the Door, by Sarah Graves; audio version read by Kirsten Potter (Bantam, 6th January, 2015)

Over the past many years, as my habits evolved from single tasking to double tasking, I have begun to see and appreciate audio books. There is a large range of books I have listened to, but I quite like the suspense that thriller and crime fiction novels bring to the audio book world. I find myself not wanting to take out my earbuds or turn off my player and that can happen for hours, as there can really be no rest in a well-written mystery story. Winter at the Door was no exception to this rule. The book is paced well, three different crimes that seemed unlikely linked somehow wove and intersected, creating a book with a lot of depth and suspense.

The story is about a homicide detective named Lizzie Snow, who leaves the city life of Boston and heads to the backwater, hunting town of Bearkill, Maine. She goes there with a purpose however, aiming to find her missing niece, Nikki, who might have been spotted in the area. The sheriff, Cody Chevrier, who asked her to come over also has an agenda, prove the “mysterious” suicides of ex-cops in the area aren’t so self-inflicted. If this wasn’t enough plot on the burner, add in Lizzie’s ex-lover Dylan Hudson who is on a case of his own (and wants to mend their broken relationship) and new local interest, Trey Washburn. It’s a book of many little plots that creates a dynamic story worth the read (or listen).

Since I listened to the audio, I thought I would review that more thoroughly than the story itself. As an overall statement, Kirsten Potter does a very good job with the book. Perhaps it has more to do with my style of reading and what voices I hear in my head, but, as a reader, I only hear my voice as I read. Some might say that is quite boring, but this is actually the reason why I can find audio books so appealing. Often times, there is only one person reading the entire story and his or her voice inflections make up the female/male characters in the book. Sometimes this can come off as obnoxious, but Potter does this well, putting enough inflection in her voice to show a different character is speaking during dialogue, but not going so far as for me to think I’m viewing a puppet show. She also does well with the dialect, making the locals sound like they are from Maine instead of merely stating it in narrative. Overall, this is a book I would recommend to anyone either reading or listening. I didn’t want to press “Stop” on more than one occasion and found myself so focused on the story that I burned my dinner at least once (even though my hand was on the pan and spatula). Please check out this first book in the Lizzie Snow series by Sarah Graves.


If She Did It, by Jessica Treadway (Sphere, 3rd December 2015)Picture1

Jessica Treadway’s book follows the story of Hanna Schutt, a mother who is trying to figure out who attacked her and her husband on Thanksgiving three years before. The boyfriend of her youngest daughter, Rud Petty, was imprisoned for the crime, but, with his upcoming parole, Hanna finds herself searching for her missing memories of that dreadful night and uncovers a truth she never expected to find…It is a chilling and uneasy book, with a brilliant blend of the protagonist’s present life and her past memories of her daughter’s childhood, providing both doubt and suspicion as to whether the right person was convicted. Succinctly narrated, psychologically complex, and full of flawed and deeply human characters,the story explores the mind-set of the widowed victim of a violent assault superbly. A powerful and troubling book.

 


Toxic, by Jamie Doward (Constable, 5th November 2015)

Toxic by Jamie Doward is the first in the series with Kate Pendragon, a financial analyst for M15. It’s a story filled with espionage and characters who dance a little too closely with terrorism to make a profit. As with many crime stories, this book starts out with a body, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, one could say that is only background white noise. There is so much more happening that the one body just seems like another day in the office. Set in modern day London (and New York for sections of the book), the story often makes you curious – and terrified – that this plot could be happening now. With a bank on the verge of collapse that could take the CIA down with it, and a terrorist plot looming, this book never stops moving, with one clue leading to another twist.

Without giving too much away about the plot, I wanted to focus on what really sold this book for me: the characters. It has often been said that characters are the real reason we read books and that is certainly the case for this story. While none of the characters are particularly cheery individuals, we get the sense that they are – or were – good people that happened to have certain circumstances fall into their laps. Jamie Doward does really well in fleshing out these characters, reminding us that no one is purely evil or purely good, just a person who has been forced to make certain decisions that might have been better or, sometimes, even worse. Jamie picks his moments well to disclose character information and is very skilful in doing that. The author isn’t new to the writing scene, having been a journalist for many years, but, hard as it is to credit, this is his first novel. Jamie’s second novel, Hostage, soon follows and if it’s anything like his first, you’ll need to sit back and take a breather before diving into his next thriller.


The Guest Room, by Chris Bohjalian (Penguin Random House Audio Book)

Here we have another book in the long list of Chris Bohjalian’s masterpieces. I admit I’m new to Chris’s books, having only read one other in the past, but what I remember is an enticing story with some dark and realistic features about humanity. We are self-centred, greedy, perverted, and – oftentimes – easily scared. All of these things work in Chris’s advantage. The book is set in the present day, revolving around a rather tragic bachelor party and the aftermath as it unfolds. Richard, a married man in his 40s, throws a bachelor party for his younger brother. A friend of his brother’s provides the entertainment and what Richard thought was just a pair of strippers, turns out to be a couple of foreign sex slaves. And these girls have an agenda, one that ends in two people murdered at this party and a thrilling post-bachelor party spiral of events. There are a number of different characters in this book, pulling the reader into the mind of each person individually throughout the chapters. He does really well to make each one unique yet making them approachable and relatable. Richard’s wife is hurled into a week of tough choices and their nine-year-old daughter is caught in the limbo between understanding adult issues and still seeing her father as an authority that can do no wrong.

Twisted into these unique points of view we are sent into the mind of one of the strippers where we learn her sad past and find ourselves rooting for her by the end of the book. The first of Chris’ books I read in paperback, but this one I listened to on audio and the experience didn’t let me down. Admittedly, I felt the accents were a bit lacking, but overall, the readers did a great job at creating the suspense of the story while still able to keep the characters’ own unique voices. I recommend this to anyone looking for a compelling thriller, whether you want to read it on the page or have a listen. Either way, pick a comfy spot and be prepared to stay there a while.


preview-chat-whitewaterDeath At Whitewater Church, by Andrea Carter (Constable, 3rd September 2015)

I have a confession to make. The first thing I had to do when I saw the cover of this outstanding debut novel was look up on the net just where Inishowen is. It’s the biggest peninsula in Ireland (thank you Google maps), on the far corner of Northern Ireland – keep going and the next stop is Iceland. So, yes, remote. And remote was exactly what Ben O’Keeffe, the heroine of this new series, was looking for, to get away from a messy past into a mundane, desirably unexciting present as a conveyancing solicitor in a tiny town in this far-off corner of rural Ireland. It doesn’t stay unexciting for long, though. Ben is acting for the purchasers of a deconsecrated church when a human skeleton is discovered in the crypt of the church, and gradually the dark secrets of the local villagers are thrown under the spotlight of a police investigation led by the attractively moody police sergeant Tom Molloy. Threats, traps, murders, and mishaps abound in this delightfully written and exciting new novel from Andrea Carter. Andrea is a barrister living in Dublin, with a nice wry tone and a telling eye for detail. I am very much looking forward to revisiting Inishowen in her next book.


Burnt Paper Sky, by Gilly Macmillan (Piatkus, 27th August 2015)

What do a number of crime-fiction novels have in common this year? Children – a child getting abducted, a child dying, or a child being the guilty party. Why do I bring this up? I do so partly to give you an idea of the core events in Burnt Paper Sky, but also to stress that this book is radically different from many of the others with similar concerns. This book isn’t just about a missing child, but also about the relationships and the lives of those involved. There are roughly four perspectives from which we view events throughout the book: that of the mother, that of the lead detective, that of a psychologist and also, the voice of those who use and abuse the anonymity of the Internet to express themselves. Each of these viewpoints adds depth and intensity into the story. Take the Internet for example. While this is not a tangible thing, the people behind the words on the Internet are very real and are very…vocal. Anyone who has been a victim of hateful words across the web will understand how much those words can affect people – not only the people the words are directed at but the people reading them as well. In the case of Burnt Paper Sky, people are constantly commenting on how the mother was a poor mother because she had let the child out of her sight and that idea was being repeated over and over, twisting her public image. In some ways, the Internet could be considered the bad guy in the tale, but that may be a topic for a later date. This book is separated into days, the days after the initial disappearance of the boy, Ben. There are predominantly four people focused on, and each chapter has the reader more or less inside one of their heads, seeing events from their point of view. In a way, this book is all about the idea of a public image. So many characters are either hiding who they really are or are being misrepresented. For example, the psychologist appears to be doing her best to understand the lead detective on the case, so we see a lot of his image through her. He is viewed as a closed-off character, obstinate and ungiving. When we are inside his head, though, he feels approachable and very human. Somehow, through the psychiatrist’s eyes, he seems to be something of a robot. Which may be saying something about the psychiatrist. I won’t go too much more into the plot, as I do not want to spoil the surprises and twists along the way, of which there are a host, but if you want a book that properly represents how the media and human perceptions can alter both the course of a case and the lasting image of a person, this is the book for you. The psychological realities it explores and the characters it unfolds pull you along through the story, making you itch for the next chapter. In a time when someone’s web image can be even more important than the life they actually lead, finding the culprit in a crime can be difficult. Is that person really who they say they are? Have a think, read the book – and be mindful of how quickly people can turn on you.