The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Century, £20, 548 pages

More proof that Karin Slaughter remains one of the most authoritative thriller writers in the field. Her books are modern-day manifestations of the Southern Gothic strain, and she is adroit at taking readers to the darker reaches of the human psyche. The body of an ex-cop is found in an Atlanta warehouse with bloody footprints suggesting the presence of another victim – now vanished. Slaughter’s protagonist, Special Agent Will Trent, is ruefully aware that the warehouse belongs to the city’s best connected and most revered athlete, a man who can shake off such things as criminal charges with the services of his high-priced lawyers (Slaughter encourages us to think of real-life parallels here). Will has pursued his quarry over rape allegations but something turns up in the case involving Will’s own parlous past, a thunderbolt that compromises both him and his investigation. The hefty 500-odd pages which follow have the reader yearning for justice and closure as fervently as Slaughter’s hero.

Guilty Minds by Joseph Finder

Head of Zeus, £18.99, 386 pages

No more is Joseph Finder’s a name to be intoned in adulatory whispers among admirers; his sales are now reaching the levels they have long merited. Books such as Vanished melded ruthlessly orchestrated suspense with economical but sharp characterisation. Nick Heller’s special forces training is tested to the full when he is hired to disprove allegations about a murdered prostitute and a Supreme Court judge; Nick has two days to untangle the situation before a Washington gossip website blows open not just the case, but the entire justice system. When readers reach the point at which Nick is tied to an aluminium chair by a dangerous nemesis, they may be believing that the resolution they have been impatient for is becoming less and less possible. Precisely, of course, why we have to keep reading. Not vintage Finder, perhaps, but if the modern thriller has a future beyond globetrotting banality, it will be in the hands of writers such as him.

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