Heard of the American writer JOSEPH FINDER? He may not have the name recognition of some of his peers, but those very peers line up to praise his abilities on the jacket of The Fixer (Head of Zeus, £7.99), with encomiums from heavyweights Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Gardner. Journalist Rick Hoffman is abruptly bumped by his magazine and left penniless. But he still has the keys to his absent father’s house, and discovers — hidden in the walls — millions of dollars. Rick is well aware that spending them without knowing where they came from may be a bad mistake. And his father, who has lost the ability to speak, can’t tell him just but danger he’s in. And things –inevitably — get very nasty. This is Finder at the top of his game, but the kind of orchestration suspense that guarantees a one or two sitting reading.

Onto even darker fare. Those who prefer their crime to be etched in the most Stygian hues need look no further than DAVID MARK. whose scarifying, blue-collar novels take no prisoners. If you think the police procedural is exhausted, Mark’s writing in Taking Pity (Quercus, £7.99) shows that there is plenty of bloody mileage to be found in the genre, with a ruthless criminal network taking DS Aector McAvoy’s family as they maintain a stranglehold on the city of Hull. What follows is inexorable in its grip.

Very different writing from British novelist, MICHAEL RIDPATH with Shadows of War (Head of Zeus, £7.99), set in a vividly realised 1939. Conrad de Lancey was one of those who came very close to assassinating Hitler, but now the British Secret Service enlist him to return to Europe and contact a cadre of German officers planning a coup. In the ‘phoney’ war, loyalties are fluid and human life cheap when the stakes are so very high. Ridpath’s earlier specialties have included financial thrillers and ventures into Nordic Noir territory, but Shadows of War suggests that the historical thriller is his real metier.

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