BLOODSTREAM, by Luca Veste, Simon & Schuster, RRP £7.99, 470 pages
Luca Veste enjoys an unusual heritage for a crime writer, an intriguing combination of Italy and Liverpool that produces gritty Northern crime shot through with a subtle Latin sensibility. The caustic Dead Gone was a strikingly original debut, with a penchant for flinty characterisation and (perhaps unsurprisingly) a notable skill at evoking his native city on the Mersey — into which he freights some cogent social commentary. Veste also sports a pronounced taste for the macabre, which is given full rein in such books as the new one, Bloodstream. Mavens of social media Tony Morrison and Jo Hooper are enjoying their celebrity when it is cruelly snatched away from them, along with their lives. Hard-bitten coppers DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi are to find that there is something rotten not just in the world of social media but in the police force itself. Astringent and artfully constructed crime writing that reinvigorates the shop-worn police procedural format.
MEDUSA, by Torkil Damhaug, Headline, RRP £8.99, 470 pages
Are you exhausted or exhilarated by the stream of Nordic Noir still reaching UK shores from Scandinavia? Hopefully, the latter: here’s yet another much-trumpeted name, with (what’s more) the first book in an already-finished quartet. Does it live up to the hype? In Damhaug’s Medusa (translated by Robert Ferguson), a woman goes missing in a forest near Oslo and her body is subsequently found apparently savaged by a bear. Then another woman’s body is found similarly mutilated, and a link between the dead women is discovered by local doctor Axel Glenne. He is convinced that his enigmatic twin brother Brede is behind the killings, but there is another mystery: no photograph exists of the brothers together, and nobody appears to have met this elusive twin. This is a dark modern reinvestigation of the Greek myth of the brothers Castor and Pollux, delivered with maximum psychological intensity. The auguries are good for the remaining three books in the sequence.