Dodgers by Bill Beverly, No Exit Press, RRP £14.99

Beverly’s road trip from hell quickly created a cult following. Its hero, East, is 16 and a lookout at an LA drug house. He is dispatched to Wisconsin to murder a witness, and the nightmare journey that follows is written in an unadorned style that is both poetic and caustic.

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh, Orion, RRP £12.99

Cavanagh’s The Defence featured a powerfully drawn protagonist in lawyer Eddie Flynn; the new book has the same mixture of riveting courtroom theatre and a visceral channelling of thriller mechanics. The Plea reads like an idiosyncratic cross between Elmore Leonard and John Grisham, but bursts with its own individual flavour.

Conspiracy by S.J. Parris, HarperCollins, RRP £14.99

Parris’s 16th century thrillers feature heretic and spy Giordano Bruno in vivid, sprawling canvases. The fifth in the series (set in Paris) has Bruno up to his neck in danger in the court of Henri III as Catholic extremists under the Duke of Guise plan a coup. Well-crafted, exuberant fare.

The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley, Black Swan, RRP £8.99

Montana investigator C.W. Sughrue is on the trail of a missing author in this welcome reissue with a new introduction by Ian Rankin. The late James Crumley’s world is the arid zone of the American Southwest, where moral borders are invisible; he pungently describes an updated (but still lawless) West.

Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary, Headline, RRP £16.99

Hilary presents us with a charismatic and beautiful couple with loving, obedient daughters. Needless to say, surfaces are deceptive — and as DI Marnie Rome investigates a road accident involving a teenage girl wearing only a shirt, dark secrets are revealed in the lives of people from very different backgrounds.

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