Stellar new sleuth takes on grim case
CAN a Peak District family of doctors and lawyers really believe the area’s cursed, and that the Grim Reaper literally lurks in such rugged beauty?
It’s ridiculous, yet the evergrowing number of mysterious deaths should provide a hint.
Self-deprecating detective inspector Meg Lawton catches the case in Roz Watkins’ The Devil’s Dice (HQ, 351 pages, $22), a smashing debut with a terrific plot and a nifty new sleuth.
With a secret guilt, a limp she won’t explain, constant awareness of her weight and an acid wit that Lawton tries not to utter out loud, this somewhat younger version of Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope deserves many more adventures.
Jack and Sydney can’t believe their luck when they win the bidding war for a house in London, full of all kinds of weird stuff the owner left behind.
Then even weirder stuff starts happening, like Sydney feeling Jack’s cold hands in bed when he’s downstairs (shudder), and what Jack finds in the attic (tremble).
And the little girl down the lane, with a monster of a father that evokes memories in Sydney — well, you’ll find out.
Simon Lelic’s The House (Penguin, 340 pages, $17), told firstperson alternatively by Jack and Sydney, is an absolutely brilliant thriller.
Make sure your doors are locked before you start reading, and be absolutely, like totally sure, that no one’s already inside.
London coppers Tom Thorne and Nicola Tanner are hunting a sick suspect slaughtering cats — knowing, as profilers do, that it’s often a first step taken by serial killers.
Meanwhile, drug dealers are smuggling their poison into prison, getting inmates hooked and then collecting their debts when the men are released — sometimes in money, and sometimes deadly assignments.
Mark Billingham’s The Killing Habit (Hachette, 417 pages, $25) is another tough but utterly intriguing entry in one of the best British police detective series going.
Sleuthing psychologist Joe O’Loughlin rushes to the hospital where his 80-year-old-ish superdoctor/cold/distant dad is in a coma and is greeted not by his mom, but by The Other Wife (Michael Robotham, Sphere, 385 pages, $25). That often doesn’t go well.
His father having a secret second family is just the start of the violence, danger and intrigue for O’Loughlin, a widower raising two daughters while Parkinson’s slowly takes his body.
The ninth in a series, The Other Wife is a whizzbang of a mystery which Robotham says could be the last — say it ain’t so, Joe.
The murder of an unpopular Polish labourer in rural England is at the heart of the sleuthing for senior copper Domenic Jejeune in Steve Burrows’ A Tiding of Magpies (Dundurn, 384 pages, $15).
Jejeune is a Canadian working in the English countryside, which author Burrows never explains to us, just as he tells us nothing — like, zero — about two key ongoing story threads that began in previous books.
Jejeune is an avid birder, but there’s nothing whimsical about this serious mystery, which is quite the downer that will leave new readers bewildered.