This Is What Happened by Mick Herron, John Murray, RRP £12.99
There is, quite simply, no current thriller writer who enjoys better word-of-mouth and more enthusiastic critical acclaim than Herron, whose sardonic series of Jackson Lamb espionage novels have put him at the top of the tree. The unassuming Maggie Barnes is an improbable enlistee for MI5 – but she’s a woman who may save the UK from a devastating plot.
Snap by Belinda Bauer, Bantam Press, RRP £12.99
With her deeply quirky, utterly individual crime novels, Bauer is totally unlike any of her contemporaries – and, what’s more, all her books have a very distinct identity. Readers never know what to expect with each new book from her, except that it will be highly accomplished. Three children wait in a stalled car for their mother, who will never return…
The Fire Court by Andrew Taylor, HarperCollins, RRP £14.99
If it were not a superlative crime novel, Taylor’s evocative picture of the Great Fire of London, The Ashes of London, could be considered a historical novel of the first order. Its sequel, The Fire Court, is equally impressive. As the city is built once again after the destruction, Taylor’s protagonist James Marwood finds a bloodstained list of names among his late father’s belongings, and wonders if it is a death list.
A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay, Orion, RRP £18.99
The American writer Linwood Barclay has already gleaned a considerable following, and deserves to be in the very upper echelons. This new book once again demonstrates his masterly narrative gifts with its tale of a small-town academic, Paul Davis, coming very near his own death when stumbling on a murder scene.
Yellowhammer by James Henry, riverrun, RRP £14.99
James Henry’s continuation of the much loved Frost novels of RD Wingfield proved to be one of the most successful ventriloquial acts in recent years, but hardly prepared us for the more ambitious and astringent DI Nick Lowry novels. The second Lowry, set in the world of antiques dealers in 1980s Essex, once again proves that Henry is one of the most individual voices on the current crime scene.
A Different Kind of Evil by Andrew Wilson, Simon & Schuster, RRP £14.99
Agatha Christie has turned up as the detective heroine of several novels, but noone has carried off the trick with such panache as Andrew Wilson. While Christie may make an unlikely detective, the plotting here is as confident as in one of her novels. In Tenerife on the SS Gelria, the writer witnesses a young woman throw herself into the ocean; unexplained deaths follow.
The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, Quercus, RRP £16.99
Griffiths’ lively series featuring forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway has a devoted following, and this is a worthy addition. When Ruth is invited to Italy to take part in a television documentary about the finding of an ancient Roman skeleton, modern-day malfeasance (inevitably) comes to the fore.
American by Day by Derek Miller, Doubleday, RRP £16.99
Norwegian detective Sigrid Ødegård is relocated to upstate New York on the trail of her missing brother Marcus (the latter is under suspicion of killing his African-American girlfriend, academic Lydia Jones). As with his remarkable debut Norwegian by Night, Miller delivers fiction distinguished by its rich, multi-faceted characterisation.
While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt, HarperCollins, RRP £12.99
Merritt’s historical crime novels (as SJ Parris) are non-pareil, and her first contemporary crime novel similarly impresses. Zoe, an artist, sheltering on a Scottish island from a marriage in trouble, finds herself in the MacBride house – a place of sinister resonances from the distant and recent past. Gothic nastiness ensues, with psychological menace gradually transforming into the physical.
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood, Michael Joseph, RRP £12.99
How often does one encounter a completely original premise in modern crime fiction? This remarkable debut takes the form of a single closing speech by a young black defendant charged with murder. Mahmood tackles this extremely challenging notion with total assurance; it’s a debut quite unlike anything else you may have read.