books monthly march 2017

This month's pick of the new Crime and Thriller titles...

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C L Taylor: The Escape

Published by Avon 23rd March 2017


When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't. The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise. What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.


Kimberley Chambers: Backstabber

Published by Harper Collins 9th February 2017


If you don't face your enemies – they'll stab you in the back. One of them has a gun to his head. Who will pull the trigger? When king of the underworld Vinny Butler goes into business with respected villain Eddie Mitchell, it's a match made in East End legend. Friends and family are treated like gold, enemies like rats – it's the life. Then mysterious packages arrive, dead creatures and threats. Someone is out for revenge. Who the enemy is, nobody knows, anyone could be taking a pop. The gypsies who cursed Eddie, ghosts from Vinny's past, enemies needing revenge. Even their own flesh and blood? There are some people you should never cross, some who can't forgive or forget. Who is the backstabber?



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Elizabeth George: A Banquet of Consequences

Published by AHodder & Stoughton 23rd February 2017

Inspector Lynley investigates the London end of an ever more darkly disturbing case, with Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata looking behind the peaceful façade of country life to discover a twisted world of desire and deceit. The suicide of William Goldacre is devastating to those left behind. But what was the cause of his tragedy and how far might the consequences reach? Is there a link between the young man's leap from a Dorset cliff and a horrific poisoning in Cambridge? Following various career-threatening misdemeanours, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers is desperate to redeem herself. So when a past encounter with bestselling feminist writer Clare Abbott and her pushy personal assistant Caroline Goldacre gives her a connection to the Cambridge murder, Barbara begs DI Thomas Lynley to let her pursue the crime. Full of shocks, intensity and suspense from first page to last, A Banquet of Consequences reveals both Lynley and Havers under pressure, and author Elizabeth George writing at the very height of her exceptional powers..


One thing is certain - you need a certain amount of stamina to take on an Elizabeth George story - this book is enormous! Inspector Lynley makes a most welcome return - I never did understand why the BBC cancelled the TV series, maybe it's just that ITV do detective series so much better! Havers is back, making all the usual faux pas in her inimitable way, and Lynley is his usual upper class self. He's not te most endearing character in the genre, something of a Lord Peter Wimsey character, but he gets the job done, and the twists and turns throughout the plot of this very long novel are delightfully handled. Welcome back Inspector Lynley!


David Hingley: Birthright

Published by HQ 10th March 2017

One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets. Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam’s. Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he’s too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger. As time runs out both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never imagined they would share. When you’re about to die will your secrets even matter?


HQ is the new imprint from Hodder, and it promises stories that will take you to the edge... and then push you over... Birthright is one of the first novels in this imprint, and it doesn't disappoint in any way. Lana ad Liam are terrific characters that many younger people will identify with readily. The tension builds beautifully and the denouement is superb. Great entertainment from a new imprint.


Diane Jeffrey: Those Who Lie

Published by HQ 27th January 2017


Emily Klein doesn’t know she has killed her husband until the day of his funeral. At first, signs point to a tragic accident. Yet, as Emily pieces together the events before his death – events which led to her own memory loss – she begins to suspect that her husband’s death may have been the result of more than a terrible twist of fate… But the accident is only the beginning. Because while Emily’s physical scars will heal, the trauma of the accident has awakened old ghosts. She hears strange sounds, catches things that can’t possibly be there in the corner of her eye. Before long, everywhere she looks, she seems to see her husband. And suddenly, Emily finds herself asking the most dangerous question of all. Can she really trust herself?


The fAnother superb entry from HQ, this time centering on the preise that Emily was somehow responsible for the death of her husband without actually realising it. This psycological chiller has echoes of Stephen King and tons of atmosphere - brilliant!

John Connolly: A Game of Ghosts

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 6th April 2017

It is deep winter. The darkness is unending. The private detective named Jaycob Eklund has vanished, and Charlie Parker is dispatched to track him down. Parker's employer, Edgar Ross, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has his own reasons for wanting Eklund found. Eklund is no ordinary investigator. He is obsessively tracking a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to reports of hauntings. Now Parker will be drawn into Eklund's world, a realm in which the monstrous Mother rules a crumbling criminal empire, in which men strike bargains with angels, and in which the innocent and guilty alike are pawns in a game of ghosts . . .


A private detective tasked with finding a private detective who has disappeared. Latest Charlie Parker escapade from John Connolly - great stuff, never disappoints!

John Hart: Redemption Road

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 9th February 2017

Elizabeth Black is a hero. She is a cop who single-handedly rescued a young girl from a locked cellar and shot two brutal kidnappers dead. But she's also a cop with a history, a woman with a secret. And she's not the only one. Adrian Wall is finally free after thirteen years of torture and abuse. In the very first room he walks into, a boy with a gun is waiting to avenge the death of his mother. But that is the least of Adrian's problems. He was safer in prison. And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen. It is not the first to be found. This is a town on the brink. This is Redemption Road. Brimming with tension, secrets, and betrayal, brilliantly evoking an America of small towns and remote landscapes, of the abandoned, the derelict and the desperate, this is a novel so chillingly suspenseful and a story so full of twists and turns that you simply cannot stop reading. It marks a new high point in the writing of this bestselling master of the literary thriller.


Paperback reissue of last year's blockbuster harback release.

Chris Carter: The Caller

Published by Simon & Schuster 23rd February 2017

The terrifying new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of I AM DEATH. After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring.  The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward.  Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins. Karen is gagged and bound to a chair in her own living room.  If Tanya disconnects from the call, if she looks away from the camera, he will come after her next, the deep, raspy, demonic voice at the other end of the line promises her. As Hunter and Garcia investigate the threats, they are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear. 


Superb chiller with terrifying connotations... you won't be able to put this one down!

John Connolly: A Time Of Torment

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 9th February 2017

Jerome Burnel was once a hero. He intervened to prevent multiple killings and in doing so damned himself. His life was torn apart. He was imprisoned, brutalized. But in his final days, with the hunters circling, he tells his story to private detective Charlie Parker. He speaks of the girl who was marked for death but was saved, of the ones who tormented him, and an entity that hides in a ruined stockade. Parker is not like other men. He died, and was reborn. He is ready to wage war. Now he will descend upon a strange, isolated community called the Cut, and face down a force of men who rule by terror, intimidation, and murder. All in the name of the being they serve. All in the name of the Dead King.


Another superb episode in the extraordinary life of PI Charlie Parker...

Richard & John Wilson: Return to Camlann

Published by Matador 28th November 2016

Mistaken identity...It happens. In Return to Camlann, the third book in the fast-paced thriller series featuring Hardington Tachman (aka Hardtack), Hardtack is repeatedly mistaken for an identical twin brother he doesn't even know exists. Following horrifying events in Africa and India, Hardtack has returned alone to America while his wife, Mei Li, who has lost her memory, lives in Italy with Tino, her new lover. Hardtack begins a desultory relationship with Maria who becomes desperate when Mei Li suddenly returns. Hardtack and Mei Li grope to mend their strained relationship by taking a trip to Mexico, but it is there that members of a drug cartel spot Hardtack. They mistake him for his brother, a drug enforcement agent and when they see Maria embracing him, her bother, the cartel chief, refuses to believe she's not a spy - with fatal consequences. Hardtack later travels to the American southwest for a conference and embarks on a relationship with Eva, as a consequence of his doubt about Mei Li's fidelity. The conference turns out to be a hoax, which leads to a final reckoning in the town of Camlann. In an explosive confrontation, true identities are uncovered and shocking secrets are unearthed. Return to Camlann is the third and final installment of 'The Hardtack Diary' series, which will have readers on the edge of their seats. This fast-paced and intricately-written thriller will appeal to fans of Ian Fleming's James Bond series.


The blurb is right, it's remiscent of 1960s style spy and crime novels which weren't as serious and true to life as they are now. Great if you're a James Bond fan, but dated, and the characters are more caricatures than characters...

Kerensa Jennings: Seas of Snow

Published by Unbound March 7th 2017

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?


A heart-rending novel of abuse - billed as a thriller, but it's not really. What Kerensa Jennings does do is to keep you reading by switching from period to period, and the reveal at the end is nothing short of brilliant. I read this from cover to cover one afternoon, and found myself lost in the world of Gracie and her Mum. This is absolutely wonderful!

Max Nowaz: Get Rich or Get Lucky

Published by Matador 28th January 2017

Get Rich or Get Lucky is a gripping fantasy thriller that follows Adam who finds himself in control of a magic he never knew existed. After a string of disappointments with his literary career, Adam decides to embark on a get-rich-quick scheme by renovating run-down houses. By chance he discovers a book of magic in the basement of a derelict property and he can't believe his luck. Excited by his find, he invite his friends Dick and Charlie, to tell them about it. But things quickly take a turn for the worse when Adam inadvertently casts a spell which turns Dick into a crayfish. Adam is unable to reverse the spell immediately and while searching for the solution, leaves Dick in the garden pond, which gets flooded and Dick disappears. Dick's wife Rachael reports him missing and the police then accuse Adam of wrongdoing. Things continue to spiral out of control when Adam is burgled and the book gets stolen. He then discovers that a powerful, evil warlock is looking for the book. Adam finds himself in a race against time, to recover the book and thwart the warlock to stand any chance of bringing Dick back, if he can. From the author of the sci-fi adventure The Arbitrator, Get Rich or Get Lucky is a black humoured fantasy thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats. It will appeal to readers who enjoy fantasy fiction, in addition to those who also enjoy fast-paced thrillers.

Philip Tucker: The Jasmine Sari

Published by Matador 28th February 2017

Written with the authentic insight of a former counter-terrorism officer, The Jasmine Sari is an evocative and fast-paced thriller that explores the complexities of terrorism and the frailty of those who become terrorists. Seasoned London anti-terror cop Alex Cadman is sent to Bangladesh to share his experience with local police officers. He thinks his days of working on terrorist investigations are long gone. After all, he has enough on his hands dealing with the arrogantly talented Sam Kanoski, the academic terrorism 'expert' with whom Cadman must now work. In the midst of protests about anti-Muslim cartoons, Dhaka, Bangladesh's bustling capital, becomes an increasingly tense and dangerous place to be, so Cadman seeks haven in the foreigners' club. There he meets the enigmatic Jasmina, the Bangladeshi policewoman who beguiles him with her charm and baffles him with her forthright politics. But there is no escape for Cadman. Terrorism has followed him from London to South Asia, whilst colonialism seems never to have died in the luxurious foreigners' club of Bangladesh. He soon finds himself embroiled in an investigation that is a race against time. Can he identify the terrorists and their plot before tragedy strikes again? Each city scene, landscape and smell is described with flair and emotion creating a novel that will appeal to those with a passion for travel and exotic locations. The Jasmine Sari tells the story of a journey into radicalisation and terrorism and is illuminated with the insight of Tucker's counter-terrorism expertise. It will therefore appeal to readers of books such as John Updike's Terrorist. Meanwhile, the novel's revelation of the foreigners' club as the hub of the colonial elite, toxic and completely detached from the local population, is evocative of George Orwell's Burmese Days and Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter.

Alice Feeney: Sometimes I Lie

Published by HQ 23rd March 2017

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me. 1. I’m in a coma... 2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore... 3. Sometimes I lie... Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.


Amber is in a coma but she can hear every word and know everything that is going on around her.The replay of how she came to be in a coma, and the repercussions for the family members and friends who surroud her, is nothing short of masterly. A surefire winner from HQ, Hodder's new chiller imprint.



Katherine Stansfield: Falling Creatures

Published by Allison & Busby 23rd March 2017

Cornwall, 1844. On a lonely moorland farm not far from Jamaica Inn, farmhand Shilly finds love in the arms of Charlotte Dymond. But Charlotte has many secrets, possessing powers that cause both good and ill. When she's found on the moor with her throat cut, Shilly is determined to find out who is responsible, and so is the stranger calling himself Mr Williams who asks for Shilly's help. Mr Williams has secrets too, and Shilly is thrown into the bewildering new world of modern detection.


Has a beautiful retro, pastoral feel to it. Stunning imagery, superb characters and plot. A modern classic.



Chris Ryan: Shadow Kill

Published by Coronet 23rd February 2017

Held up by rebel forces in a brutal siege, John Porter is tested to the limit in the African jungle. Strikeback hero John Porter is sent on a mission with Regimental scallywag John Bald. Where Porter plays it by the book, Bald will always want to break the rules. They are sent to Sierra Leone to extract Ronald Soames, a former CO of the Regiment and now right-hand man to the President. But when Porter and Bald arrive the Englishman has disappeared, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Rebels are threatening to take over the country and its diamond mines - and to massacre all foreigners. Porter and Bald find themselves fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Regiment psychopath who is already embedded in the country. But it soon becomes clear that the Firm has lied to them about the true nature of the mission. What seems at first to be a battle to control Sierra Leone's diamond mines will turn out to about a much greater evil - and with a trail that leads back to both Westminster and the Kremlin.


I have to admit that I'm not the greatest fan of servicemen thrillers and political thrillers, or even thrillers that don't take place in this country. Narrow-minded of me, maybe, but these titles are not ones I would choose for myself to read... You can't argue with the success of such books, though...


Alexandra Burt: The Good Daughter

Published by Avon 23rd February 2017

What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed? Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions. In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighbouring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered... The Good Daughter is a compelling take on a genre that shows no sign of slowing down. The perfect read for fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.


A foray into family history and all that entails and uncovers - psychological, yes, thriller, no. Interesting, though...


N M Scott: Sherlock Holmes - To A Country House Darkly

Published by The Book Guild 28th February 2017

What N.M. Scott has written four novels featuring the great consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. This is the authors’ fifth volume in his Sherlock Holmes series.
Sherlock, alongside his long serving and biographer and companion, Doctor Watson, face a wide-ranging criminal fraternity. Adventures include a one time Baker Street irregular jailed for violent robbery, a devious squire at a country house in Berkshire and the terrible secret of an antique which is only revealed when put up for auction at Southebys.
Written with the usual attention to the period and high standard of plotting, the author is confident that this treasure trove of brand new cases will astound and delight the reader.


AAn excellent Sherlock Holmes substitute, most welcome after the dreadful final TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch - now this is what Sherlock Holmes is all about!


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.