The Dry by Jane Harper, Little, Brown, £12.99
The chorus of praise for this thriller has been resounding. Detective Aaron Falk returns to the secluded Australian town that he left in disgrace for the funeral of a friend who appears to have murdered his family. A remarkable debut sporting both judicious use of language and perfect evocation of a harshly beautiful setting.
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood, Michael Joseph, £12.99
Legal thrillers may be ten a penny, but you’ve never read anything quite like this. Audaciously, the entire book is couched in a single speech by a nameless black defendant charged with murder and conducting his own defence. It’s a risky strategy that the debut writer (an experienced barrister himself) carries off with panache
Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen, trans. Don Bartlett, Orenda Books, £8.99
Bergen detective Varg Veum, on a drink-fuelled downward trajectory, is accused of being part of a paedophile ring; soon he is on the run, trying to prove his innocence. Easily the darkest book in the Veum sequence; Staalesen continually reminds us he is one of the finest of Nordic novelists.
Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre, tran. Frank Wynne, Maclehose Press, £14.99
Twelve-year-old Antoine knows the horrific truth behind the disappearance of another child — and the repercussions of that event will change his own life. Lemaitre’s Alex burst like a shell in the genre, and the new book has the same pungency and narrative rigour. Lemaitre may be the best current French writer of crime fiction.
The Force by Don Winslow, HarperCollins, £18.99
Winslow is regarded by the au courant as one of the best in the field; his drug crime novel The Power of the Dog is equalled in ambition by this similarly weighty study of police corruption. Sprawling and visceral, it has already been described (by Lee Child) as the ‘best cop novel ever written’.
Fever by Deon Meyer, trans. K. L. Seegers, Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99
An epic-length novel of Armageddon and so, something of a change of pace for the excellent Meyer, far from his customary state-of-the-nation South African thrillers. Nico Storm and his father Willem undertake a nightmare truck journey through a devastated continent; they are among the few to survive a lethal worldwide virus. Meyer justifies at every point the book’s daunting length.
Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath, HQ, £12.99
McGrath matches her sequence featuring Inuit hunter/sleuth Edie Kiglatuk with this new venture into psychological suspense. Her protagonist Dr Cat Lupo is eager for a second child, and ill-advisedly takes the diminutive Ruby into her home. The canvas of the book grows ever larger as McGrath addresses notions of evil and responsibility.
Paradise Valley by CJ Box, Head of Zeus, £14.99
Following on from the award-winning Badlands, Investigator Cassie Dewell is hunting a sinister nemesis, The Lizard King. Living in rural Wyoming, Box is not only an exemplary writer of crime novels; he is also a rancher, hunter and guide to the outback. As this might suggest, his work sports a vibrant response to countryside and nature (against which dangerous events take place).