Newest Crime Reviews

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Crime

An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer

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The Beijing Olympics approach and Xin Zhu has every reason to be proud: a high ranking position in China's espionage system, a beautiful new young wife and the satisfaction of having wiped out 33 American agents and so closing down their department. But the spy business is not a place for resting on laurels, especially when American Alan Drummond wants to avenge the death of his entire department. Meanwhile survivor of the massacre, Milo Weaver, just wants time to recover and space to be with his family. The unlikelihood of that happening is pretty high; however, it becomes a lot more remote when Alan disappears. Full review...

The Girl in Berlin by Elizabeth Wilson

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Set in 1950s 'Austerity Britain', with detour or two to Berlin, Elizabeth Wilson's The Girl in Berlin is a stylish tale of espionage with a backdrop of the disappearance of Maclean and Burgess in a world where no one knows who to trust. Jack McGovern works at Special Branch but when Colin Harris, a known member of the Communist Party returns to the UK, MI5's Miles Kingdom draws Jack into investigate his intentions. Add in the fact that the wife of one of Harris's friends, Dinah Wentworth, works part time at the Courtauld Institute of Art where Dr Anthony Blunt is the main man, neither Jack, nor the reader, knows who is working for whom. Full review...

A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake

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Wemyss was that boy - and all schools have them, even now - who is universally hated. Neither masters at Sudeley Hall, nor his fellow pupils could stand him and to make matters worse he was the nephew and ward of the headmaster, the Rev. Percival Vale. When the boy was found strangled on the school sports day there wasn't exactly universal rejoicing but it was more because of the knowledge of the problems which this would cause for the school than because of any sorrow. The prime suspects were Michael Evans, the English teacher and Hero Vale, the young wife of the middle-aged headmaster who had been kissing in the haystack where the boy's body was found. Evans has one hope and that's his friend, Nigel Strangeways, nephew of the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard and a renowned private investigator. Full review...

A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent

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Sandro Cellini isn't too impressed with life as a private investigator and it's a big change from being in the police force. Somehow trailing a schoolgirl on the orders of her father who thinks she's mixing with bad company wasn't quite how he'd seen his life working out. His wife, Luisa, is recovering from cancer, but it seems to have changed her attitude to life and when she announces that she's going to New York on a business trip with her boss Cellini worries that he's going to lose her. Then another case comes up and it's one which stirs some memories. Doctor Loni Meadows has been discovered dead after what seems like a tragic motor accident but her husband isn't convinced and he'd like Cellini to investigate. Full review...

The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon

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The novel throws you straight into the action with three apparently unconnected events. Nigerian fraud squad investigator, Nwanko Ganbo, realises it's time to get his family out of the country when he finds a colleague and good friend in his car, very dead. The solution is simple: the British government offer him a new life as a lecturer in return for silence about the corrupt regime he has spent so long investigating. Meanwhile the wife of a rich Faroese banker accidentally drowns in full ball gown whilst in Nice but junior prosecutor Felix and his judicial colleague aren't as easily convinced about the accidental nature as their superiors seem to be. The third piece of the jigsaw originates in Russia as local journalist Lira Kazan shows an interest in the life and transactions of Russian millionaire Louchsky. This isn't the healthiest thing she's ever done as people seem to have died for less. Full review...

Inspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadaver by Shamini Flint

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Inspector Singh was on sick leave and rather bored, which was why he agreed to his wife's suggestion (well, she was rather more insistent than that...) that they attend her niece's wedding in Mumbai. There's a little bit of history to this part of the family. The bride-to-be is Ashu Singh, granddaughter of Tara Singh, the wealthy industrialist and his acknowledged favourite. Tara's son ( Ashu's father) was murdered in the uprisings which followed the assassination of Indira Ghandi. He supported the family but made a point that he would not do so beyond the level at which his son (a rather lowly civil servant) could have achieved. Ashu and her two brothers have been secure but not wealthy - and as we join the story Ashu is going into an arranged marriage. There are two unfortunate circumstances here. Ashu is in love with another man - and she's disappeared. Full review...

Holy City by Guillermo Orsi and Nick Caistor (translator)

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Honest policemen are not that common in Buenos Aires, it seems, but Deputy Inspector Walter Carroza of the serious-crime squad does his best to keep his head above the murky waters of corruption. Sometimes there just seems to be too much going on - even for a loner like Carroza without too much else in his life to absorb his time. The lack of dredging in the Rio del Plata caused the cruise ship to run aground and the passengers were evacuated to the city, where six - two French, two German and two Italians - of them were abducted. They're wealthy business leaders and the kidnappings send stock markets into freefall. Full review...

The Sick Rose by Erin Kelly

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Paul had the passion and academic grades to become a teacher. However, his plans started the slow slide away from his grasp after his father died and he and his mother were forced to move to the rough, Grays Reach Estate and an even rougher school. It seemed that his days as bully's target had ended when Daniel, illiterate and street-wise, stepped in as protector. All Paul had to do was cover for Daniel's disability in class... at least that was all he needed to do at first. Full review...

The Dying Minutes by Martin O'Brien

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Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot is recovering after being shot after his last case. His pregnant girlfriend is away when he receives news that he has been left a boat – Constance - by an old sailor. At about the same time, lawyer, Claude Dupont visits one of his unsuccessful defendants in prison. The man is dying and leaves his lawyer an unusual bequest on which he feels that he needs to act. What follows starts to unnerve many of the criminal fraternity in the South of France and stirs up old rivalries between two of the most feared criminal families on the Cote d'Azur. It also raises questions about what happened to gold bullion, stolen over twenty years previously, and leads to a deadly race as both families seek the gold and also seek revenge. Amidst all of this, Jacquot seems to find his new acquisition at the heart of it all and starts to unravel the mysterious life of the boat's former owner. Full review...

An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas

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Only Adamsberg could be involved in these crimes. While innocently on a stroll through London he and his colleagues, there for a conference, get told of nearly two dozen disembodied feet, and their shoes, left outside Highgate Cemetery. Some of them are decades old. Much fresher are the ridiculously demolished remains of a legal journalist, in his rural French home. Only Adamsberg can approach either, and do it partly through the urban myth of a bear hunter, a wardrobe-eater and more, and only in his world could they ever be linked. It's a good job too, that Adamsberg is the one to solve them, for they have a much greater bearing on him, his colleagues and his life than he would ever expect. Full review...

The Good Father by Noah Hawley

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Dr Paul Allen is more than happy with his life. His second wife, Fran, is efficient, a good manager, a good mother to their young twins and not overly emotional as Ellen (Wife No. 1) was. In fact you could say that his life runs like clockwork, which is just how he likes it. Paul hates chaos and the unexpected, but he's about to be visited by both. As the Allens sit in horror watching news footage of the charismatic presidential front-runner being gunned down, there's a knock at the door. Their real horror is beginning; the FBI believes the son he had with Ellen is the guy who pulled the trigger. Full review...

The Day is Dark by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

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All contact is lost with two Icelanders working in a remote north-eastern coast of Greenland. There are some signs of what might have happened to them - and none of them good - but the local villagers have no intention of helping in any search and are hostile when they're approached. Six months before a woman geologist had disappeared from the same site and although this was written off as a potential suicide or dreadful accident no definitive explanation had been forthcoming. Was her disappearance related to the disappearance of the two men? Lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir was part of the team hired to investigate the disappearances. Full review...

Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham

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Kaz Elmore has almost come to terms with her daughter's death. She died while on holiday in America with her father (Kaz's ex husband) and her ashes have been scattered on the river. As tragic as it is, Kaz has no alternative but to accept that her daughter is never coming back. However, one day she receives a visit from a man called Devlin, who witnessed the accident and was holding Jamie when she died. His sole intention is to provide some comfort for Kaz by telling her that her daughter was not alone but when he spots photographs of Jamie, he realises that she is not the child who died in his arms. Full review...

Grandad There's a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill

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Things have moved on since we first met ex-crime reporter, Jimm Juree, stranded at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant with most of her dysfunctional family. I say 'most' because the sister who used to be a brother and who has criminal tendencies isn't with them and when I say 'moved on' I mean that the tide has been in and out quite a few times. This time it's washed up something a little unusual: a head. Uncertain of what, exactly, you do when you find a head on the beach, Jimm sets off to see the village head man. It's the start of a journey which will uncover piracy and slavery, violence and murder in what should be a beautiful part of the world, but isn't. Full review...

Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates

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Since we last met Sergeant Gunnhildur she's been promoted and is now working in the Serious Crimes Unit in Reykjavik. It's quite a contrast to her previous job in Hvalvick, but Gunna is determined to make a go of it and it's not long before she has responsibility for two very different cases. A convict has escaped and seems as though he's determined to settle old scores, but why did he need to escape when his ten-year sentence was almost up? The other case is rather more high profile: an ex-TV fitness presenter is murdered in her city apartment and some of the people who knew her are rather well known. Full review...

Weekend in Weighton by Terry Murphy

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Eddie G (well, it's Eddie Greene, actually, but Eddie G sounds so much more street-wise, don't you think?) has a hundred percent record of solving the cases he takes on as a private investigator. That sounds very impressive until you find out that he's only just taken on his first case, but it's a mark of his determination to succeed. The first blip on the radar which suggests that all might not be well is finding the clap-cold body of his client on her living-room floor when it's not fifteen minutes since he spoke to her on the phone. Full review...

A Walk Across The Sun by Corban Addison

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In Chennai, India, 17 year old Ahalya and her 15 year old sister, Sita, watch as their family and entire world is swept away by the now infamous Christmas tsunami. In the aftermath, Ahalya knows that, if the sisters can get to their school in the city, they'll be safe. However, not everyone is to be trusted and their trip to safety turns into a drive towards a darker danger as the girls are kidnapped and sold to a trafficking network. Full review...

Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Elanor Dymott

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We learn from the prologue that the narrator, Oxford educated lawyer, Alex's wife has been murdered. We also know that Alex knew little of his wife, Rachel's past, particularly of the time that they spent together at Worcester College. This is critical in understanding who may have killed her, and why. What follows is Alex learning about this hidden past. Every Contact Leaves a Trace is partly a thriller and partly a whodunnit although the structure adopted by Elanor Dymott is somewhat unusual. Full review...

The Voice of the Spirits: A Commandant de Palma Investigation by Xavier-Marie Bonnot and Justin Phipps (translator)

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In 1936 explorer Robert Ballancourt and his guide Kaingara visit a tribe of head hunters in Papua New Guinea. Ballancourt, seeking artefacts to sell on to museums, is drawn to the highly decorated skulls venerated by the tribe as they hold the spirits of dead ancestors and conquered enemies. Full review...

The Expats by Chris Pavone

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Kate and Dexter Moore move to Luxembourg, along with their two young sons; a world away from their native Washington DC. The incentive is Dexter's great new job which will mean an expat lifestyle for a year or two, but good money and the chance to explore Europe. In the process Kate will be turning her back on more than Dexter realises. Up till their move to Luxembourg, Kate has led a secret double life as a CIA operative. As Kate comes to terms with the boredom of being a full-time housewife in an alien culture, they meet Bill and Julie, also expat Americans. They soon become friends, but Kate has her suspicions and discovers that the past is never far away. Full review...

Revenge of the Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

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Genevieve worked as a sales executive by day and a pole dancer by night but her dream was to buy and renovate a boat where she could live. That was why she persisted in the pressured, chauvinistic world of software sales and the increasingly sleazy world of the private gentleman's club where she could earn a four figure sum each evening as well as getting a good workout. It was nip-and-tuck as to whether or not she made it but after a few months on the boat at a marina on the Medway she was feeling good enough about her life to hold a boat-warming party. It was planned as a mixture of the people she'd met at the marina and some of her sales colleagues from London. But on the night of the party a body washed up at the side of her boat and Genevieve knew the victim. Full review...

Nights of Awe (Ariel Kafka Mystery) by Harri Nykanen and Kristian London (translator)

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Inspector Ari Kafka (no relation to the author or, indeed, the local pawn shop owner) is half of the Jewish police officers in Finland which he's sure is due to pay levels rather than religious conviction. Ari graduated 4th in his class at police academy which surprised his mother at the time. If his brother and sister could both graduate top of their university classes, what's wrong with him? His brother is always trying to encourage his attendance at family dinners and the local rabbi has to remind him of the whereabouts of the local synagogue. All this pressure is normally water off a duck's back to Kafka, but this is about to change. When two Arab bodies are found on a railway line, he must choose between loyalties to those he loves and to those he's sworn to serve. Full review...

The Fourth Wall by Walter Jon Williams

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Sean Makin was a cute, much demanded child actor. Then he grew up and the cute became creepy as the baby face that had made him famous remained (due to a physical condition) but was unsuited to an adult's body. So the demand dried up and Sean tries to come to terms with his change of fortunes by writing a 'how to act' blog, intoxicating substances and appearances on a reality celebrity martial arts fight show. One day, whilst being beaten up for the cameras in a wrestling ring full of cottage cheese, he realises the depths to which he's sunk. Something has to change! Luckily change soon arrives in the form of 'Alternate Reality' magnate, Dagmar Shaw. Full review...

Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman

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One night seventeen-year old Ashlynn is driving home. She gets a flat tyre and of all the places in the world finds herself stranded in the ghost town: an abandoned farm community that no longer exists on the map and that no-one with any sense would be driving through at the dead of night. But there is more than one kind of sense. These days, another kind says that if you are from the town of Barron (home to Mondamin Research) you don't drive through St Croix – a neighbouring community that is the focus of a recent cancer cluster. The people of St Croix blame Mondamin and by extrapolation everyone in Barron. For the young people this has spilled over into an outright old-fashioned feud. Full review...

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell

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Hakan von Enke was a retired naval officer and a man of routine. Each morning he went for a long walk in the forest near his Stockholm home, but one day he failed to return. It's a long way from Ystad, Kurt Wallander's home town and the only reason he became involved in the case was the fact that von Enke's son Hans was the partner of Wallander's daughter Linda. Wallander became concerned about von Enke some months before when they had a long discussion at his seventy-fifth birthday party. He'd seemed worried and wary of a stranger in the street. Von Enke's disappearance hit the family hard - and then his wife disappeared as well. Full review...

Never Apologise, Never Explain - An Inspector Carlyle Novel by James Craig

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Agatha Mills and her husband lived in a flat near the British Museum and her body was found in the kitchen one morning. There were no signs of a forced entry or of doors being left unlocked as an intruder left so her husband Henry was arrested and charged with her murder. His only defence is that Agatha had enemies: she had been pursuing the disappearance of her brother in Chile in 1973 and was hoping that there would be a trial which would provide an answer as to what happened to William. The defence is outlandish and impossible to investigate, but could it, just possibly, be true? Full review...

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

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Joshua Joseph Spork (Joe to his mates) is a clock maker and clockwork mender in London’s East End. He’s spent his life emulating his craftsman grandfather, Daniel, and avoiding the shadow of his late father and crook, Mathew. However, one day all that changes with a visit from heavies, Messrs Cummerbund and Titwhistle and the even more sinister black-veiled Ruskinite monk. They want something that Joe only has a fragment of: The Hakote Book (Angelmaker of the title). He discovers that the mysterious metal punch cards in his granddad’s box are just the beginning. Can he find the rest and literally put the world to rights before all his friends are murdered? Assisted by a 91 year old special agent, an aged, ugly pug and Polly the insatiable (but rather useful) lawyer, he’ll have a jolly good try. Full review...

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

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Dr. Sheila Tao is a psychology professor at Puget Sound State University in Seattle. She lives a double existence, having an affair with one of her students, but then getting engaged to a banker and former American footballer, Morris. Knowing that this double life cannot last, she dumps the student, Ethan Wolfe, but can't bring herself to confide in her fiancé that part of the reason she was seeing him is that she's also a sex addict. Full review...

Modesty Blaise: Live Bait by Peter O'Donnell

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We're back in the gritty yet glamorous world of Modesty Blaise - at least, as gritty and glamorous as you could get in the Evening Standard daily comic strip in the late 1980s. Titan have had a mammoth undertaking to reproduce all the original strips in handy large-format graphic novel compendia, and this latest covers three stories, all of which I consider greater in depth than those in the other volume I've reviewed - Sweet Caroline. Full review...

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

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Haeden, New York is a small town of the type where nothing really happens. When 19 year old Wendy White goes missing, the local reporter, Stacy Flynn, thinks she’s found her big break, but her investigations lead her to a wall of silence which proves highly distressing to break through. Hoffman’s observations of small town life and small town personalities are compelling. No aspect is left unexamined, from the painful tedium to the quite contentment experienced as part of a whole spectrum of emotions experienced by visitors and residents alike. Full review...

Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer

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Set in Exmoor, plucky little Jess Took is kidnapped from her father's vehicle while he is off managing the local hunt. Before you can say 'who took Took?' another little boy is plucked from his parents' car. In both scenes the only evidence is a post-it note saying 'you don't love her' or him. On the case is DI Reynolds who is initially more concerned with how his new hair transplant is taking until the crimes escalate to a full scale serial abduction case. Full review...

Good Bait by John Harvey

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DCI Karen Shields runs the over-stretched Homicide and Serious Crimes Unit and it's an early-morning call which takes her to Hampstead Heath and a seventeen-year-old Moldovan boy who's dead under the ice in the pond. Even working out who he was is difficult and she's got no idea that she's at the edge of a web of organised crime and gang warfare which will take up much of her time. Hundreds of miles away DI Trevor Cordon lives in a sail loft in Newlyn and his day-to-day duties are, well, undemanding but he's shaken out of his rut when an old acquaintance dies in London and he heads off to the capital to find the friend's daughter. It's going to be a lot more complicated than he realises - and it touches on Karen Shield's problems in a way that neither of them could ever have imagined. Full review...