The best new crime reads in June

Our crime specialists shares 10 great crime reads to look out for this month.


CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH


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The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Under the soaring dome of the Boston Public Library, four people meet. Whit, studying to become a lawyer and doing his best to fail; handsome novelist Cain; tattooed Harvard student Marigold; and our protagonist, Freddie, who has arrived in America from Australia on a writing fellowship. Their connection is still tentative and new when they hear someone scream nearby, but the discovery of a body in the library the next day causes them to get closer. Bonded by their shared experience, they attempt to piece together the mystery of the woman in the library, but there are secrets in everyone’s pasts that even the very best of friends would not want to share. And their search, which begins with the bright delight of new friendship, will soon become very dangerous indeed.

But that’s just a story, isn’t it? A mystery being written by famed Australian writer Hannah Tigone just before the pandemic grips the world. And her most ardent admirer, Leo Johnson, is writing her letters in response to the chapters she sends him, explaining Americanisms, offering advice. Helpful, really. And the Leo in Hannah’s story, Freddie’s neighbour – he’s helpful too.

Sulari Gentill – author of the excellent Rowland Sinclair series – has written a standalone literary mystery that is delightfully self-referential: it constantly reminds you of its fictional scaffolding while making you, somehow, even more invested in the story. This is a clever, twisting piece of meta-crime writing that will have you scouring layers for clues and finding in the pages the joy of a truly original read.


NEW CRIME FICTION


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The Ghosts of Paris by Tara Moss

One-time war correspondent turned private investigator Billie Walker knows that the end of the Second World War doesn’t mean everything that has happened in those years is clear. When a particularly well-off woman hires them to find her husband – missing these past two years – Billie and her war veteran assistant, Sam, are up for the case – despite how close the idea of a long- missing husband is to Billie’s own heart. Tara Moss imbues her writing with a hardboiled dose of research, and these hard-hit but beloved cities feel as real as the characters that live in them. This is a story that holds a gun to your head and won’t leave until you’ve decided to read the hell out of it.


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An A-List for Death by Pamela Hart

TV researcher Poppy McGowan is an expert in many things, but none so much as having trouble fall directly into her lap. When she stumbles on a grievously injured elderly woman – known to the world as Daisy, a famed glamour girl of years past, but known to Poppy as her aunt’s best friend – Poppy has a lot of questions that the police can’t answer. One: Is Daisy safe while her money-grubbing family are nearby? Two: Can she elude the rabid fans of Daisy’s rock star son, Nathan Castle, now that Poppy has been photographed with him, much to Poppy’s (and his fans’) despair? And three: When Poppy’s beloved, Tol, is accused of murder, can she prove his innocence and save the day for everyone, again? A hilarious sequel to Digging up Dirt, Pamela Hart’s previous comedy starring Poppy McGowan and her knack for misfortune.


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Black River by Matthew Spencer

Journalist Adam Bowman is no fan of revisiting his schooldays at an exclusive Sydney private school, but his employers have no qualms when it comes to sending him back there to report on a murder. A woman’s body has been found there, wrapped in plastic, and it seems that it’s another death at the brutal hands of who the media has dubbed the Blue Moon Killer, a murderer that has all of Sydney on edge. Rose Riley, the lead cop on the case, isn’t so sure it’s the same person, and thinks it’s a copycat – but only the Parramatta River holds the truth. This is a gripping procedural from debut author Matthew Spencer, another exciting new Australian voice in a field of excellent crime reads.


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The Island by Adrian McKinty

Now this is a combination of words I never thought I’d say, but: Wolf Creek meets the Mornington Peninsula in this fight-for-survival thriller from Adrian McKinty (author of 2019 blockbuster The Chain). Newlywed Heather, on vacation in Australia with her husband and two teenage stepchildren, is hesitant when her husband bribes their way onto a ferry to a private, off-grid island off the Victorian coast. As they explore in secret, a fateful accident sees them fighting for their lives against the isolated and increasingly violent residents, who are thirsting for revenge – and Heather must call on all her childhood survival skills to keep her loved ones alive. Read only in the comfort of your own home.


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Death at the Belvedere: Cass Tuplin, Unlicensed Investigator by Sue Williams

There are few things as good as perfectly cooked, Australian small-town fish and chips – but reading about Cass Tuplin, proprietor of Rusty Bore’s best takeaway, is right up there. Cass is mostly pleased with her everyday chaos when her unfairly glamorous sister, Helen, turns up in an expensive outfit and tells Cass a story she’s heard a million times: she’s got boy trouble. This time, however, it’s much worse: Helen’s latest love, Ben, has just been pushed off the roof of his Fitzroy terrace to his death, and Helen was very unfortunately nearby at the time. She also has a request of Cass: go to Ben’s apartment and retrieve something very important. It’s barely illegal if you have a key, after all. And Cass has always followed Helen into shenanigans before – but this sisterly favour might be the last one Cass will ever make. Snappier than a crisply battered chip, this wildly entertaining caper is a real blast.


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Trapped by Camilla Läckberg & Henrik Fexeus

Camilla Läckberg is a juggernaut of Scandi crime. Much like Val McDermid over in Scotland, Läckberg is one heck of storyteller. Trapped, newly translated from the Swedish, represents a shift away from her usual Erica Falck/Patrik Hedström-led books and into a new series pitting Detective Mina Dabiri (together with celebrity mentalist Vincent Walter) against a terrifying serial killer with a penchant for gruesome crimes involving a magician’s equipment. Like all her books to date, this one possesses a smart, driving plot with plenty of chilling detail. While the crimes may baffle readers, they probably wouldn’t fool Penn and Teller.


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Release by Lucy Christopher

In 2009 Lucy Christopher published an incredibly disturbing book where adolescent Gemma is kidnapped by 24-year- old Tyler and whisked off into Western Australia’s forbidding Great Sandy Desert. Christopher revisits these events and these themes in this latest offering. Unable to fully reconcile her traumatic past, the impending release of Tyler from prison triggers Gemma’s (now Kate’s) latent PTSD and a series of disturbing actions to reclaim her sense of self and shift the balance of power. Absolutely haunting and atmospheric, yet so, so twisted.


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Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

I remember snapping my head to attention when review copies of this book arrived, amid some fanfare and excitement at this hot new release. Regular readers of this column will have noted the sharp increase in the subset of ‘rural crime’ to which this book belongs. A young girl has disappeared, devastating and baffling the Durton townspeople. Five days later her body is found, but for the inward-looking community, suspicions cut deep. Told over a matter of days and from many points of view, this is a debut full of tension that, like a taut rope, is waiting to be cut.


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The Bay by Allie Reynolds

If your guilty televisual pleasure is outdoor survivalist shows and surfing, then this book will probably appeal to you. Sensing troubled waters, Kenna travels halfway around the world to ‘drop in’ on her BFF Mikki ahead of Mikki’s wedding. What should be a wonderful time reconnecting turns sour on a group camping trip. An outsider among ‘The Tribe’ (Mikki’s group of zealous, mysterious surfie mates), Kenna is quick to alienate and feel alienated by each person. What are they hiding, from Kenna, and from each other? This is quintessential ‘surf crime’, full of tension, foreboding and avarice.


Also available this month:

James Lee Burke’s Every Cloak Rolled in Blood; D.L. Hicks’ The Fallback; Katie Gutierrez’s More Than You’ll Ever Know; and Martin Walker’s To Kill a Troubadour.

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The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library

Sulari Gentill

$32.99Buy now

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