Shirley Stephenson previews the latest releases for lovers of crime fiction
The Hanging Tree
Ben Aaronovitch Hachette Australia, $29.99, ebook $16.99 This is the sixth in the PC Peter Grant series. Compared by some to an adult Harry Potter, Aaronovitch’s drily humorous London-set tale involves the laid-back Grant, whose magical abilities make him a vital recruit to the Falcon adjunct of the Met, which grudgingly accepts the supernatural allies in the face of a wave of magical crime. Aaronovitch paints a picture of a bewitching but down-to-earth London, where river gods and goddesses and fae mix with humans, and all forces combine to solve a drug-related high-society murder. A highly entertaining novel but I’d recommend reading the earlier episodes in the series to get the subtler references.
Peter May Hachette Australia, $32.99, ebook $16.99 May fans, you have to wait until next month for another serve of this cold-case expert, the eccentrically named Enzo Macleod, whose stamping ground is a beautifully rendered France. Macleod is investigating the murder of Lucie Martin, killed and dumped in a lake. A judge’s daughter, she walked out, seemingly, and never came back. Macleod finds links to prostitution rackets. Meanwhile, his personal life is in turmoil, as a former lover denies he is the father of their son and he struggles to accept his daughter’s criminologist lover, even though they work together on cases. An intricate plot and empathetic characters are the usual suspects in May’s charm as a writer, and he doesn’t disappoint here.
Saul Black Hachette Australia, $32.99 Black launched his Valerie Hart novels with the terrifying The Killing Lessons, followed this month by Lovemurder. Featuring a fascinating female Hannibal Lecter, Katherine Glass, caught by San Francisco detective Hart and jailed indefinitely, the book begins with a happy Hart aiming for a holiday with her lover, fellow cop Nick. Her plans are dashed when a slaughtered woman is found with a note — to Hart. Glass’ co-murderer has never been identified and remains free to taunt Hart. Only Glass can solve his elaborate clues to the next murders but is her hypnotic hold over Hart a prelude to disaster? Black’s taut, dense and intense prose lays bare his characters’ emotions and motivations unflinchingly. Not for the squeamish.
Scared To Death
Rachel Amphlett Visit rachelamphlett.com UK-born, Brisbanebased Amphlett’s new heroine detective Kay Hunter is still under a shadow with some of her superiors, despite having been exonerated by the police professional standards committee, and feels the pressure. So when a kidnapped girl is murdered after her parents paid a ransom she is determined to find the unusually cruel murderer, who literally scared his victim to death. But the supposed kidnapper is found dead, still with the ransom, and only Hunter doubts he is the murderer. Is there another killer involved? And what does internet porn have to do with the crimes? Amphlett has written an intriguing plot-driven police procedural, with Hunter a complicated heroine.
No Man’s Land
David Baldacci Macmillan, $29.99 Polished thriller writer Baldacci scores again with another episode in his John Puller series. The US army special investigator’s former top brass father is suffering from dementia and a dying woman accuses him of murdering his wife, Puller’s mother, who disappeared 30 years before. Told by the army he is on his own, Puller is on a mission to find the truth. How that mission gibes with the fate of a former army grunt who was a guinea pig and a mysterious multibillion-dollar company is smoothly and excitingly resolved in this slick page-turner.