books monthly august 2017

Haunting thriller from Elodie Harper is this month's crime book of the month...

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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: Elodie Harper: The Binding Song

Published by Mulholland 29th June 2017

From the winner of the Stephen King and Guardian short story competition. A chilling debut for fans of Mo Hayder and Sharon Bolton, THE BINDING SONG takes you on a trip to Halvergate Prison. If you're lucky, you'll get to leave... 'Splendidly unsettling' John Connolly. Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls. A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared - along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins. Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels. Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts...


Not a straightforward police procedural but something skin to a Stephen King novel - crammed full of terror and menace...






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.


Fans of the BBC TV series Spooks will simply love this1


Paul Cleave: Trust No One

Published by Mulholland Books 13th July 2017

The brand new psychological thriller from the author of The Cleaner and Joe Victim. Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Ice and Ian Rankin. His novels tell of brutal murders and bad people. Was it just his imagination? Jerry Grey is better known as crime writer Henry Cutter - whose twelve books kept readers gripped for over a decade. Now he's been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and his writing life has ended. But the stories haven't. As his control loosens, Jerry confesses his worst secret: the books are real. He remembers committing the crimes. His friends, family and carers say it's all his head. He's just confused. If that's true, then why are so many bad things happening? Why are people dying?


A writer who's been cataloguing his own murders under the guise of being a bestselling author, and not remembering that he actually committed those murders - a brilliant concept and executed perfectly.


Paige Elizabeth Turner: Whisper of Death

Published by Matador 28th June 2017

‘I imagine the revenge scenario in a different light, and see before me the bright luminescence of a woman. All I have to do is figure out who.’

Why did Joyce Beecham die in hospital when only hours earlier she was happily preparing lunch at home? As lead investigator for her newly-formed business ‘Watts Happening? Investigations’, Olivia Watts is engaged by legal acquaintance Alexander Beecham to investigate his mother’s suspicious death. Olivia uncovers heated sibling rivalry; a hidden marriage and disturbing financial transactions.

While shaking family skeletons, she meets eccentric inventor, Lord Bennington, who admits close ties to the Beecham family. Olivia later learns of an estranged niece and quickly elevates her to prime suspect. Seeking assistance from former supervising officer and on/off boyfriend DCI Stafford, Olivia must sidestep complex personality conflicts of a family at war if she is to uncover the truth behind the matriarch’s death.

Whisper of Death is a fast-paced crime novel that delves deep into heart of the Beecham family and its complicated family dynamic. This book will appeal to fans of intense thrillers by the likes of John Grisham, James Patterson and Lee Child. Much like Turner’s first novel, Beyond All Doubt, Whisper of Death guarantees a dramatic climax.

Simon Berthon: Woman of State

Published by Harper Collins 13th July 2017


Stella Rimington meets State of Play in this smart political thriller for a new generation of Le Carré fans. SECRETS: 1991, Belfast. Maire Anne McCartney is recruited for a one-off IRA mission as a honey trap. She is told there will be no violence. But she has been lied to. To save herself, eighteen-year-old Maire must flee across the border alone, and start a new life. STATE:  Present day, London. Human rights lawyer Anne-Marie Gallagher is appointed Minister of State for Security and Immigration. At the same time, the police in Belfast receive an anonymous tip-off. The password is verified from the Troubles – and the co-ordinates lead DCI Jon Carne to a field. And a body. BETRAYAL: The new Minister receives a message and realises that the new life she has crafted is at risk of being uncovered. And when Carne’s investigation brings Anne- Marie to his attention, she must decide where her allegiances lie…


I remember the Troubles perfectly clearly, and the fact that because of the stupidity of the English legal system, many of the perpetrators of those mass murders walked free on technicalities. That was never likely tohappen in Simon's book - this is a terrible reminder of how we walked on tenterhooks waiting for the next atrocity to be reported...

Stephen Leather: Takedown

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 27th July 2017

A heart-pounding new standalone thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author Stephen Leather. 'He has the uncanny knack of producing plots that are all too real, and this is no exception' (Daily Mail on First Response). When a British Special Forces soldier goes rogue, carrying out an attack at a US army base in Syria leading to the death of two men, ex-MI5 controller Charlotte Button is hired to take him down. Charlotte puts her best man on the case - hitman Lex Harper. It's up to Lex to assemble a crack team and get to the soldier before he carries out what could be a massive terrorist attack. But Charlotte might require Lex's help with a more personal problem too . . . As ex-MI5, Charlotte holds information on thousands of the agency's dirty operations, and keeps a store of those secrets in three flash drives hidden in separate safety deposit vaults. Now someone is taking extraordinary measures to recover the secrets through Hatton Garden-style robberies. So far two vaults have been raided, and two flash drives have gone. If the third is stolen, Charlotte's life will be in jeopardy. While it's down to Lex to prevent a potential terrorist attack on British soil, Charlotte must work out who is after her and what they want.


Two Stephen Leather blockbusters in the same month, published on the same day... Absolutely riveting stuff.


Chris Ryan: Warlord

Published by Coronet 10th August 2017

On the border of the United States and Mexico, a war is raging that can never be won by conventional means. The drug cartels are rampant. Their victims number in the tens of thousands. Men, women and children are butchered in the most obscene ways imaginable. Of all the cartels, the most violent is Los Zetas. Originally made up of former Mexican special forces turned bad, they are perhaps the most ruthless and highly trained criminals in the world. Which is why only the most ruthless and highly trained operatives can ever hope to be a match for them. Enter the Regiment. When the CIA reaches out to the British military for help, SAS legend Danny Black and his team are despatched to give the Zetas a taste of their own medicine. Working deniably and under the radar, their mission is to sow death and mayhem among the cartel, and to coax out from hiding their elusive leader, the iconic Z1. But as Danny is about to find out, the arm of the cartel is long, their sickening strategies underhand and brutal. And in the dog eat dog world of this clandestine, bloodthirsty war, nothing is ever quite as it seems. It will take all the SAS team's skill to break through to the heart of the cartel. And even that might not be enough...


Tense thriller with global implications from Chris Ryan. This one should be made into a film...




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.