Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch As Julia Crouch coined the term ‘Domestic Noir’, it’s hardly surprising that she herself is one of the most adroit practitioners of the genre — in which marriage is a minefield and sexual betrayal is the order of the day. Louisa survives a car crash, but her husband Sam and children are killed. The eponymous ‘husband’s lover’ is Sophie. The bone of contention between the women is Louisa’s late husband; she is convinced that he was prepared to exact terrible revenge if she left him, but Sophie defends his reputation – not, however, without self-interest. Sam is dead, but she feels that his house and his money really belong to her. The reader is constantly (and satisfyingly) wrong-footed in deciding which of the two women they should place their sympathy with. Some may find the book’s considerable length daunting, but Crouch largely justifies the nearly 500 pages, proving that the Domestic Noir genre is safe in her hands. Headline, £14.99, 472 pages

Cruel Mercy by David Mark The quality of mercy is not something that David Mark dispenses to either his characters or the reader. Those looking for cosily comforting crime fiction should steer clear of the author, whose police procedurals are of a deeply Stygian hue. But aficionados of the grittiest, most trenchant fare love Mark’s copper Aector McAvoy, who customarily moves in a darkly realised Hull (the author’s own stamping ground), but is here placed in a fish-out-of-water scenario by being relocated to upstate New York to resolve a bitter dispute within the travelling community. This new territory for McAvoy pitches him against Mafia hitmen (both Italian and Russian) and ecclesiastical corruption. Moving his protagonist out of Humberside was a risky move for David Mark, but he pulls it off with aplomb, energised by both the change of locale and the multi-layered levels of mass malfeasance on offer here. Mark aficionados can rest easy. Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99, 323 pages

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This