Best new crime reads of the month

CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH


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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Get in your horse-drawn carriage and bunker down in your crumbling countryside home for this one, readers – you’re going to need all the time you can get for reading and contemplating your way through this one. Stuart Turton’s blistering debut novel opens as a doctor named Sebastian Bell is stumbling through the woods, shouting the name ‘Anna’ and finding himself in the middle of what seems to be a chase and a murder. Trouble is, he remembers nothing before that, not a thing, and, until someone explains it, he doesn’t even know his own name.

It’s not even when he’s safely back in Blackheath, the superficially restored but dilapidated manor where he is currently residing, that things become clear. He knows then that he’s been invited to a party for one Evelyn Hardcastle, along with an extended group of other Terribly Important-Seeming People. He knows that violence has already struck the house. But soon he’ll find out that tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered, and it’s up to him to figure out who did it – him and the seven other guests whose bodies will be hosted by one stubbornly willing but thoroughly confused Aiden Bishop, whose consciousness will pass back and forth between these guests over eight days, though he doesn’t know how or why. Bell is a doctor with a secret, but some of the other hosts will make him look like a jolly walk in the park. Because you can’t have a ball in a secluded country home without some damned bad sorts around the place. And those are just the people who aren’t out to kill him.

This was a glorious, mind-bending tome, a mystery and something like a time-travel paradox, if only Agatha Christie had decided to sink her teeth into one. The hosts and their varied personalities, trying their darnedest to crack through Aiden’s general control of them, make for eight different ways of looking at a day – methodically, fearfully, brazenly. Scenes that make no sense will become deliciously clear, everyone in that blasted house seems suspicious in some way, and the paid help will think themselves above their station and cause a ruckus. This is a stormy delight of a book – a storm you’ll gladly keep finding yourself caught in, over and over – and one to absolutely savour.


NEW CRIME FICTION


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Kill the Angel by Sandrone Dazieri

Late one night in Rome’s Termini Station, a high-speed train from Milan pulls up to the platform. The doors to the first-class carriage don’t open. Inside, everyone is dead, and soon, the conductor at the station who manually opens the doors will be too. Deputy Police Commissioner Colomba Caselli is called to the scene, and it’s not long before ISIS claims responsibility. Caselli, along with Dante Torre – a man whose scarred childhood means he pays much closer attention than those around him – isn’t so sure that terrorism is the real threat, and investigating what her superiors tell her to leads Colomba into brutal danger. The real danger, however, could lie with Giltine, a woman with a past to match Dante’s, and whose current mental state – believing she’s already dead – means she knows nothing of fear. Kill the Angel is a brilliantly executed head-shot of a thriller.


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Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

It’s been two peaceful years for GP Lexie Vidler – years where she’s established her career, met her fiancé Sam, bought a house, felt secure. Always, though, there’s the worry for her younger sister Annie, an addict she hasn’t spoken to in all that time – and now, there’s another 2am phone call from her sister wanting something. This time, though, it’s not money – it’s help. Annie is pregnant, and she needs her big sister. Annie’s addiction has caused endless trouble for Lexie in the past, and she’s only just recovered, but Lexie’s instincts are still to throw everything down and help, and make promises she can’t keep. The fight is on, for the baby’s health, for Annie, and for the secrets that Annie has kept all these years to finally come to light.


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City Without Stars by Tim Baker

In Ciudad Real, a Mexican border town with a lot of dead bodies and not a lot of hope, the cartels are at war and everyone is losing. Pilar is a sweatshop worker and union organiser who’s at the end of her tether when yet another colleague turns up dead at work, shoved behind a skip, brutalised. Her city has become desensitised to it, but Pilar – someone with a long history of causing chaos – is there to light a stick of dynamite under it. Trouble is, she’s going to need the help of Detective Fuentes, even though she’d rather shoot a cop than help one. Fuentes has his own problems in a force where corruption leaks through every crack, but neither is prepared for how far it truly goes. A gritty, white-knuckle ride from Sydney-born Tim Baker.


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Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy

It’s been thirty-five years since Dame Ngaio Marsh’s renowned detective, Roderick Alleyn, has solved a crime. Now, in the capable hands of crime writer Stella Duffy, a story started some seventy years ago has been completed, and Alleyn returns to solve a crime set over a single night as a group of people, thrown together in a hospital on New Zealand’s Canterbury Plains, wait out the storm outside – even though things begin to get much more dangerous indoors. Raging soldiers, raging passion, and the hospital’s patients seem like problem enough, until money is stolen from a locked safe and the hospital suffers its first casualty of the night – but likely not the last.


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Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell

Alexandra Southwood is an artist, a mother, a wife, and good at all three. When she goes out one night and doesn’t return, her husband Marc is distraught; when her bloodied possessions are found afterwards, everyone assumes she is dead. Marc is convinced otherwise, and his televised pleas for her return find an audience: Alexandra herself, held in a room against her will, watching her husband’s distress. All she can do is imagine what he’s going through, and know where he’s going – to trawl through her secrets, search the art world that so enthralled her, uncover her past, and find out exactly what is happening. A complex and audacious psychological thriller.


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Green Sun by Kent Anderson

It’s been years since Kent Anderson last threw us into the world of Vietnam veteran and police officer Hanson, a man who only wants to be good in a world of bad. Moving to California after years in Portland’s harrowing police department doesn’t make his life easier, especially when his other white colleagues keep distancing themselves from the people they’re trying to serve. It’s easy to say that things were different when this is set, more than thirty years ago, but the deeply ingrained racism of the past is still as frustratingly relevant as it ever was. Hanson, as an older rookie in the neighbourhood and someone few are keen to see stay, navigates a whole lot of criminal terrain and disparate storylines that converge in this slow burn of a story.


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Kin by Snorri Kristjansson

Iceland is a small, frantically beloved country where one in ten of its citizens will publish a book – but, of course, not all of them make it beyond those chilly shores. Kristjansson’s Kin, set more than a thousand years ago, is here to bring on the advent of Viking Noir, in a tale of buried treasure and family greed. Helga is the adopted daughter of now-retired warlord Unnthor Reginsson, the story of whose treasure is known o’er the lands – and, Unnthor says, is untrue. Nevertheless, his scattered children return to lay claim to it, and when this touching family reunion turns to bloodshed, Helga must gather her resources to find out who is responsible – and why.


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The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

In a gated community in rural Texas, known as The Blinds, the residents are no sedate retirees. The population is made up of people with their memory wiped – either because they’ve committed a crime and need a new identity, or because they’ve seen one happen – and while you can leave, you probably don’t really want to. Everyone there knows that something went wrong for them on the other side of that gate, but can’t remember what happened, and the town lives in some kind of stilted harmony. Until blood is spilled inside the town’s walls, and everything that has been built threatens to come crashing down, not just for Sherriff Calvin Cooper – but for everyone.


NEW TRUE CRIME


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The Darkest Web by Eileen Ormsby (available 14 March)

While some of us potter around the internet, looking up recipes, pressing like on people’s holiday pictures and thinking that about the worst thing you could do there is illegally download the new Game of Thrones, there is a whole other flipside to this content – the dark web. Australian journalist and lawyer Ormsby has gone where the vast majority fear to tread – or never think to tread – and has seen the worst of what people can be: selling drugs or weapons or poisons, taking out contracts, trading in people and the most depraved of perversions. She has travelled the world to investigate, arranged to meet with contacts that are dead before she gets to them, interviewed criminals, been threatened by the owner of the internet’s most successful hitman site. The next time you’re posting a cute cat video on Twitter, it’ll be hard to forget what lurks underneath.


ALSO OUT THIS MONTH


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The Rúin is a terrific fiction debut from Australian author Dervla McTiernan. Set on the west coast of Ireland, this is a gripping procedural drama where investigative work is inexorably tangled with the mess of real lives. Read why our staff love it here.

Plus, look out for…

Your monthly ‘Girl’ fix with Camilla Lackberg’s The Girl in the Woods, Tony Parsons’ Girl on Fire and Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend; me making a tenuous connection between the next two titles in Helen Callaghan, Everything is Lies and Clare Mackintosh, Let Me Lie; a detective’s inside story with Jason Bray’s Ice Nation; Jess Kidd’s The Hoarder; Joseph Knox’s The Smiling Man; Meg & Thomas Keneally, The Power Game; Elizabeth George’s The Punishment She Deserves; Lynda La Plante’s Widows; Rob Sinclair’s Sleeper 13; and more!


Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about crime fiction at readingkills.com.

Kill the Angel

Kill the Angel

Sandrone Dazieri

$29.99Buy now

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