books monthly july 2017

The latest blockbuster Roy Grace novel from Peter James will have you wondering about his son...

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Ashley Weaver: A Most Novel Revenge

Published by Allison & Busby 22nd June 2017


A mysterious summons from her cousin Laurel causes Amory Ames and her playboy husband Milo to set off post-haste for the Lyonsgate estate in the English countryside. The pair are surprised to discover an eccentric and distinguished group of guests have been invited, echoing a party from seven years ago of wild young things which ended in tragedy. At the centre of the group stands the notorious socialite Isobel Van Allen. But someone wants the past to stay buried and they are desperate enough to turn to murder. It's up to Amory and Milo to sort through a web of scandal and lies to uncover the truth, and the identity of a killer.

This I'm reminded, in a way, of Delano Ames's Dagobert and Jane Brown - Amory and Milo sort of ;play at solving mysteries, particularly murders - A Most Novel Revenge has all the very best elements of the eccentric English murder, superb characters and plot. Fans of Downton Abbery would be right at home in this superlative yarn.





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Crime Book of the month: Peter Robinson: Sleeping In The Ground

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 15th July 2017

A shocking mass murder occurs at a wedding in a small Dales church and a huge manhunt follows. Eventually, the shooter is run to ground and things take their inevitable course. But Banks is plagued with doubts as to exactly what happened outside the church that day, and why. Struggling with the death of his first serious girlfriend and the return of profiler Jenny Fuller into his life, Banks feels the need to dig deeper into the murders, and as he does so, he uncovers forensic and psychological puzzles that lead him to the past secrets that might just provide the answers he is looking for. When the surprising truth becomes clear, it is almost too late.


Prepare yourselves for something of a shock: Annie Cabot is not dead! It seems that ITV took it upon themselves to dispense with her services, while the author, who remains one of Stephen King's personal favourites, had no such plans. This latest Banks adventure has Alan working his way through the case, preferring to be on the ground rather than back in the office pulling the strings and directing operations remotely, sometimes getting in Annie's way, sometimes providing the brains to bring the killer to justice. This is police procedural crime fiction at its absolute best...



Helen Fields: Perfect Prey

Published by Avon 27th July 2017

The second in the terrifying DI Callanach crime series. Fans of M.J. Arlidge will be hooked from the very first page. In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf. DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim. It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.


I don't recall being sent Helen's first novel involving Turner and Callanach, and I'm now on the hunt for it in charity shops etc., before I give in and order a copy from Amazon - this is top-notch crime entertainment set in Edinburgh, Rebus's city, and an horrific body count that calls for a particularly strong stomach! Great stuff, and I hope this is the first of many featuring this terrific pair!


Rebecca Tope: The Bowness Bequest

Published by Allison and Busby 18th May 2017

Winter has arrived in the town of Windermere, and has brought with it the death of Frances Henderson, the best friend of Persimmon 'Simmy' Brown's mother. Having known the Henderson family all of her life, Simmy must cope with the loss of an important figure from her childhood, as well as the confusion at being bequeathed something in Frances's will. When Frances's husband is violently murdered in his home, Simmy must face the fact that the family she was once so close to as a child, holds some dark and sinister secrets. How will Simmy cope with seeing Christopher Henderson, the eldest child of Frances and Kit and her childhood sweetheart, after so long, and are the rumours of Kit's infidelity a clue to who murdered him? Keen to keep out of the investigation, Simmy must not only face these personal dilemmas, but deal with Ben Harkness and Bonnie Lawson's enthusiasm for solving crimes, as well as her father's worsening dementia, and her own mother's grief for her best friend.


Rebecca's modern-day Miss Marple continues to attract murders and victims in a way that can only happen in crime fiction - Simmy Brown and the Lake District mysteries, together with the Cotswold and West Country mysteries are cosy, bedtime reading for me - faultless plots, stunning characters and plenty to get your teeth into. The Bowness Bequest will have you scratching your head, but with Simmy Brown you're in good company!


Stephen Leather: Light Touch

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 27th July 2017

Working undercover is all about trust - getting the target to trust you and then betraying them in order to bring them to justice. But what do you do when you believe an undercover cop has crossed the line and aligned herself with the international drugs smuggler she was supposed to be targeting? When a deep-undercover cop stops passing on intelligence about her target, MI5 sends in Dan 'Spider' Shepherd to check that she is on the straight and narrow. Now two lives are on the line - and Shepherd discovers that the real danger is closer to home than he realised. As Spider finds his loyalties being tested to the limit, an SAS killer is on a revenge mission in London and only Spider can stop him.


With the terror threat level still at its highest in the UK, people will love to be able to turn away from the reality and soak in the superb atmosphere of Stephen Leather's Spooks-like underworld of espionage and secret agents, knowing that such things are probably going on under our noses but at the same time hidden from the public's view. Nothing we haven't read before, but Leather has that quiet air of brilliant authority that makes it all believable but somehow something that's confined to fiction. Brilliant!

Karen Robards: The Ultimatum

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 15th June 2017


Thief. Manipulator. Con artist. Call it what you will--Bianca St. Ives is the best in the business. Growing up, Bianca St. Ives knew she was different from all her friends. Instead of playing hopscotch or combing her dolls' hair, she studied martial arts with sensei masters and dismantled explosives with special-ops retirees. Her father prepped her well to carry on the family business. Now a striking beauty with fierce skills, the prodigy has surpassed the master. She's known as the Guardian. Running a multinational firm with her father, she makes a living swindling con men out of money they stole--and she's damn good at it. She does things on her own terms. But her latest gig had a little hiccup--if you count two hundred million dollars and top secret government documents going missing as little. Her father also died on the mission. The thing is, the US government doesn't believe he's really dead. They'll stop at nothing to capture Richard St. Ives, a high-value target and someone who has been on most-wanted lists all over the world for over two decades, and they mean to use Bianca as bait. With only a fellow criminal for backup and her life on the line, it's up to Bianca to uncover the terrifying truth behind what really happened...and set it right, before it's too late.


I was reminded of Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise whilst reading this - I know Modesty was on the right side of the law (most of the time) rather than the wrong, but there are similarities in the characters and the pace of the story for me. Hugely enjoyable...

M C Dutton: Sugar and Spice

Published by Matador 28th May 2017

DS Jaswinder Singh is only just hanging on to his job when a piece of dull routine work in Dagenham, where a clue hangs tantalisingly in the air, turns into a race against time to catch a group of dangerous paedophiles.There are young lives at stake, and only Jazz and his crew DS Boomer, DC Ashiv Kumar and Mad Pete are daring enough to poke a stick into this hornet's nest. Upon discovering that high-powered individuals, whose influence has made them untouchable, are involved with a paedophile ring, Jazz has his work cut out to hunt down these men that the government are trying to protect. As the murderous group are slowly uncovered, the detectives find themselves hunted by their own police force and MI5. Sugar and Spice follows Jazz as he fearlessly walks into trouble, careless for his crew's wellbeing. This third book in 'The Singhing Detective' series uses dark humour to relieve the tension created by the dramatic climaxes and tells a story of hard work, loyalty and cunning. Inspired by the work of Agatha Christie, Robert Graves and Clive Cussler, M C Dutton's topical novel will appeal to fans of her previous books, which have also been enjoyed by members of the police force.

Simon Toyne: The Boy Who Saw

Published by HarperFiction 15th June 2017

The second book in an electrifying new thriller series from Sunday Times bestselling author, Simon Toyne. Only one boy can see the darkness. Only one man can save him from it. ‘Finishing what was begun’ These are the words written in blood beside the body of an elderly tailor who has been tortured and murdered in the ancient town of Cordes. He leaves behind a cryptic message for his granddaughter and her son, Leo – one that puts them in immediate danger. When the mother and child are forced to go on the run, accompanied by the enigmatic Solomon Creed, they find themselves hunted across France, on a journey that will take them into the heart of Europe’s violent past. What begins as small-town murder will become a race to uncover a devastating secret dating from World War II. The few men who know the truth are being killed by a powerful organization, and only one man stands in its way. Only Solomon Creed can stop the murders. Only he can save the boy.


I didn't read the frst in the series, and I usually shy away from Dan Brown conspiracy-theory type thrillers that are normally too far-fetched, but this one's different. Chilling, sensational, thrilling and brilliant.


Anders De La Motte: The Silenced

Published by HarperFiction 1st June 2017

The adrenaline-charged and suspenseful thriller set in a ruthless world where all means are permitted in the fight for power. When a savaged body is found in the waters outside the governing party’s conference centre, the case lands on detective Julia Gabrielsson’s desk. Who is the deceased and why has somebody gone to such trouble to make sure the body is unidentifiable? Officer David Sarac is a man haunted by demons. After a violent showdown that almost cost him his life, the policeman is being treated at a closed ward far from the capital. Soon he will permanently silence the accusing voices in his head. But a mysterious offer has David changing his mind.


This one seems a little convoluted for me - it's possible something got lost in translation, but I was confused...



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.