A mob murder mystery not to be missed
People are haunted by the past in our choice of the best new thrillers...
THE MOBSTER’S LAMENT ★★★★★ by Ray Celestin Mantle, £16.99
PRIVATE investigator Ida Young is called to New York in autumn 1947 to save the son of her former partner and mentor Michael Talbot from the electric chair.
The son,Thomas, was found red-handed, quite literally, in a Harlem flophouse where four people were brutally murdered.
As the duo delve into the killing spree, they realise it was part of a much larger conspiracy involving powerful figures and stretching back to the Second World War.
At the same time nightclub manager and mob fixer Gabriel Leveson, who is just days from executing a plan to escape his criminal life for the sake of his niece, is summoned to a meeting with the “boss of all bosses” Frank Costello.
He is tasked with tracking down stolen mob money, which sends him on a journey to confront demons from his past before he can leave it behind for good.
When Gabriel finds he is hunting the same killer as Ida and Michael, they form an uneasy alliance to save Thomas and stop a monster before he catches them.
The Mobster’s Lament is a glorious evocation of New York when the Mob was rising to the zenith of its power.
The third instalment of the City Blues Quartet is an edge-of-the-seat crime epic that surpasses the remarkable standards set by its predecessors The Axeman’s Jazz and Dead Man’s Blues.
The Mobster’s Lament is a contender for book of the year and should not be missed. JC
STONE MOTHERS ★★★★★ by Erin Kelly Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99
WHEN Marianne’s husband Sam surprises her by buying a flat in Suffolk, he thinks she will be thrilled. Londoner Marianne is caught between caring for Honor, her severely depressed teenage daughter, and a mother with dementia in Suffolk.
But the mere sight of the flat makes Marianne feel sick to the stomach. It is located in an imposingVictorian building which was once an asylum called Nazareth Hospital.
Unbeknownst to Sam, it is also the epicentre of a traumatic childhood memory for Marianne.
She is unable to tell her husband the secret she’s kept since she was a girl so she has no choice but to put her feelings aside and move into the flat.
But soon Marianne’s volatile, motorbike-riding childhood sweetheart Jesse gets wind that she’s back in town and starts paying unwanted visits.
As Marianne feels her past closing in on her present-day life, Kelly creates a bleak atmosphere of suffocation.
The dark pact which binds her to Jesse threatens to come to light, putting Marianne’s marriage and the life of her teenage daughter in jeopardy.
The novel is told is three parts, firstly by Marianne in the present day, then by Marianne as a teenager, and finally by a well-to-do woman called Helen Greenlaw who also knows about Marianne’s past.
Clues about Marianne’s secret are drip-fed in an expertly-paced book with vivid characters.
Kelly artfully evokes Nazareth Hospital, which is at once sinister and beautiful, looming over the characters throughout, and she explores madness by contrasting the way Marianne’s mother and daughter are treated with the way the asylum’s patients were treated in days gone by.
A gripping thriller which is impossible to put down, culminating in a heartstopping final showdown. EA
TO KILL THE TRUTH ★★★★ by Sam Bourne Quercus, £12.99
WHEN formerWhite House troubleshooter Maggie Costello is asked to investigate the murders of prominent Holocaust survivors and historians of slavery, she stumbles upon a conspiracy to rewrite history.
She vowed to leave the world of political skulduggery behind for the sake of her sanity so she is reluctant to be dragged back into the Washington power game. But the Governor ofVirginia fears the deaths will provoke civil unrest between Black Lives Matter protesters and slavery deniers. She agrees to investigate.
As museums, libraries and national archives across the globe are set on fire and digital records are wiped, she realises that someone powerful is determined to destroy the evidence of humanity’s greatest crimes.
Costello faces a race against time to save our history.To KillTheTruth presents a frightening glimpse of where the current fake news
agenda could lead. JC
FREEFALL ★★★★ by JESSICA BARRY Harvill Secker, £12.99
ALLISON pulls herself from the wreck of a plane, struggling not to pass out from shock. Her private chartered flight from Chicago has crashed in
the Colorado Rockies and the pilot is dead. She is stranded and alone. Her leg is hurt and her shoulder damaged but she sets off through the mountains to find help. Meanwhile, her mum Maggie is at home when she hears a knock at the door.
An old friend, the local police chief, has come to tell her that her daughter died in the crash.
The wreck of the plane has exploded and no one could have survived the resulting devastation.
However Maggie refuses to believe her daughter is dead. She sets out to discover what’s happened to Allison and begins to realise that the glamorous life she led wasn’t what it seemed.
It’s easy to see why Freefall’s film rights have been snapped up. Barry’s cinematic writing style paints vivid tableaux.
Both Allison and Maggie are intriguing and at times flawed, making them easy to relate to.
And some of the plot may be a little far-fetched but Barry cleverly builds tension through an hour-by-hour countdown towards the end of the book, which culminates in a nail-biting final showdown.
THE FRIENDS OF HARRY PERKINS ★★ by Chris Mullin Scribner, £12
CHRIS Mullin’s A Very British Coup was a paranoid fantasy about a Left-wing Labour government overthrown by dark Establishment forces.This follow up is less substantial.
Set in 2025, six years after Britain has left the EU – which seems optimistic – the book imagines that Brexit has been a flop. It is the mission of Fred Thompson, former aide to Left-wing prime minister Harry Perkins, to take Britain back into the EU while battling corruption and the forces of the Far Right. But the writing is lightweight and Mullin ignores the maxim “show, don’t tell”. And the timeline is a bigger mess than Brexit.
THE GLASS WOMAN ★★★★ by Caroline Lea Michael Joseph, £12.99
AFTER the death of her father, Rósa agrees to marry wealthy village chieftain Jón to provide food for her ailing mother.
She travels for four days across Iceland’s isolated landscape in 1686 to reach her remote new home. But the villagers whisper of dark secrets. Rósa hears strange noises at night from the locked loft.And why did Jón bury his first wife alone in the dead of night? She begins to fear she will be the next wife to die.This evocative debut is compelling with a brilliant twist.