The Trespasser by Tana French
The recalcitrant French’s books appear at lengthy intervals, but she is one of the most penetrating of psychological crime novelists. Detective Antoinette Conway’s career is on the line, but an investigation into the violent consequences of a lover’s quarrel offer her a kind of redemption. Tana French on non-pareil form.
Dodgers by Bill Beverly
No Exit Press, £14.99
A teenage drug dealer in Los Angeles is dispatched by his boss to murder a judge. Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project missed a prize, but Beverly’s distinctive crime novel bagged the CWA Dagger award. A study of violently corrupted young lives, this is both trenchant social document and crime narrative.
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Harvill Secker, £12.99
Ex-Scotland Yard detective Sam Wyndham arrives in 1919 Calcutta to look into the death of a British official, feared to be the work of Indian activists. As the Amritsar massacre creates tension, Wyndham struggles with both racial tensions and the end of Empire. Vivid sense of history and locale.
The Dying Detective by Leif Persson (trans. Neil Smith)
Persson won the Petrona Award for his monumental Linda, as in The Linda Murder and this equally ambitious follow-up (which is also a novel of character) is even better. Stroke-hit Police Chief Johannsson conducts a murder investigation from his hospital bed. Persson thoroughly re-energises this favourite device of crime writers.
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
Lippman is among the upper echelons of American crime writers, with a notably literary bent to her work. Luisa Brand is the first woman to be elected state’s attorney in Maryland, investigating a rape case involving untouchable privileged men. Lippman pulls no punches in her analysis of class and entitlement.
The Cartel by Don Winslow
Don Winslow’s epic Power of the Dog is now regarded as something of a high water mark in the genre. That book was a difficult act to follow, but Winslow was pulled it off with the remarkable The Cartel, every inch as pungent and involving as its predecessor. It’s a sprawling narrative, but for all that, there is not a wasted word.
Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin
The Axeman’s Jazz was generally acclaimed as one of the finest debut crime novels in recent years, but any trepidation that Ray Celestin’s sequel Dead Man’s Blues would not be able to match its predecessor is allayed within a few pages. The same protagonists appear, but the narrative is set some ten years later and the reader is taken to a colourfully drawn Chicago of the late 1920s, the Al Capone era. The teeming narrative even has a part for the trumpeter Louis Armstrong.
The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith
Simon & Schuster, £12.99
In a career of remarkable longevity, Cruz Smith has tackled a variety of genres, but his signature book will always be Gorky Park. The new novel is quite different, but is among his best work. Venice, 1925; Italy is still in thrall to the fascists. When a local fisherman discovers a young Jewish woman who has swum across the Venetian lagoon to escape from the Nazis. What follows is a fraught but touching romance.
Finally, honourable mentions for three remarkable books: Megan Abbot’s You Will Know Me (Picador, £14.99), After You Die by Eva: Dolan (Harvill Secker, £12.99) and Crash Land by Doug Johnstone (Faber, £12.99)