The best new crime reads in September

Two of our dedicated crime specialists, Fiona Hardy and Kate McIntosh, share their best picks for crime readers to look out for this month.


CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH


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Electric Blue by Paul F. Verhoeven

“Sometimes it’s pretty easy to categorise a crime book. I’ll say ‘procedural’, or ‘psychological thriller’, and while every book is original, you’ll have an idea of what to expect. Then you get a book like Electric Blue, and the genre it slides into – true crime – doesn’t seem like enough to explain it. A follow-up to Verhoeven’s first true crime book, Loose Units, this is a continuation of the years of Paul’s dad John’s life in and around the police force.

While John always had aspirations of being a detective – plain-clothes, gun holster, suede shoes – he didn’t have the temperament for it. Instead, he moved into Scientific, something like forensics, which still had the plain-clothes and the gun and the suede shoes, but you didn’t have to be quite so amoral to join. And thus begins a series of gruesome, heartbreaking, eye-opening tales, as John learns the ropes of how to read the story a dead body’s telling. And, in hearing these stories, Paul learns to read his father’s story – and his own. Diagnosed with ADHD, but not back when he was a kid and life was pretty miserable, Paul can’t understand the straightforward decisions John makes in every case, while John can’t understand Paul’s way of seeing every choice branching out endlessly. Essentially, the two men solve the mystery of each other while dead bodies pile up around them.

This really, really isn’t for the faint of heart. I read a lot of crime, but this still shook me – life and death can be graphic and this doesn’t hold back, and remembering that these were all real, living people (probably with some details fudged slightly for legal reasons) is pretty devastating. There are threads of corruption and looking the other way that frustrate, knowing it’s probably the same all these years later. Despite the gore, though, it’s also incredible wholesome. Paul’s family shines with love. His mother – one of the first female cops in NSW – also gets some time in the spotlight, fighting for equality against a confused and vast majority. It’s lashed with gallows humour. And the final section – well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I haven’t seen anything like it in modern crime writing. Make the choice, and give it a go.”

Fiona


NEW CRIME FICTION


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Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson

“True-crime documentarian Jack Quick, imprisoned thanks to the after- effects of Stevenson’s debut, Greenlight, is watching television from his cell when he sees the same shocking event everyone else in the country does: TV presenter Sam ‘Mr Midnight’ Midland shooting himself in the mouth in the middle of a show. When Sam’s twin brother comes to ask for help proving the death wasn’t a suicide, Quick doesn’t believe it at all, but he also needs the cash that comes with the request. So once he’s released, he starts an investigation into a death that everybody saw – and finds that any secret could be lurking in the darkness of a TV studio, or the dead of midnight one night years earlier.”

Fiona


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Hermit by S.R. White

“In between two rural Queensland towns lies Jensen’s Store – the go-to for all your shopping needs or a coffee. One night, when the store’s owner camps out overnight to stop thieves, the boundary alarm alerts the police, who arrive to find the owner dead – with the only suspect trying to staunch the wound. Nathan isn’t like other suspects: he’s defensive, strange, and barely talks, even for a criminal. Detective Dana Russo, who has her own problems, is the only one who can figure out a way to find the truth of what happened – and, when they start to retrace his footsteps and find none, the question becomes, where has he been for the past fifteen years?”

Fiona


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The Kingdom by Jo Nesbø

“A year older than his brother Carl, Roy was always his protector. Now, when Carl returns to the village they both grew up in – one Roy has never left – with grand plans to save the dying town, the brothers must come to terms with their past and their family’s secrets. Carl, with his new wife and his big ideas, stirs up trouble in a place where it has always been thought best to let sleeping dogs lie. The town’s inhabitants are having none of it. Roy has to make a decision: will he choose blood and his innate instinct to keep his little brother safe? Or self- preservation? A slow burn to begin with, this stand-alone thriller by a Scandinavian master will have you cancelling all your plans (and avoiding all of your siblings …).”

Kate


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The Good Teacher by Petronella McGovern

“Wirriga is a community where everyone knows everyone else, no one ever really leaves, and Allison teaches at the very same primary school she attended as a child years ago. When two strangers move into the area and one of them is a little girl with cancer, Allison knows she will do everything she can to help them out, even inviting Gracie and her father into her home. Gracie and Luke appear to be the perfect distraction from Allison’s broken marriage and her own midlife crisis, and yet suddenly Allison finds herself with too many questions and not enough answers. Is Luke really the heartbroken yet charming stoic he appears to be? Has anything he’s told Allison been the truth? I think not!”

Kate


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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

“If a good crime novel is your way of escaping the annus horribilis that has been 2020, then this one is for you. Richard Osman not only provides the murder and mayhem we’re all looking for, but he also gives us the humour, heart and fun we need right now. Four elderly residents of a very British retirement home hold weekly meetings to chat about unsolved murders (as you do), and are sure they could have done a better job with these cold cases than the police did. When a dead body shows up they finally have a real murder to investigate and they do so with gusto. The feisty four will keep the coppers on their toes in this witty and rather delightful mystery.”

Kate


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The Inheritors by Hannelore Cayre (translated by Stephanie Smee)

“When Blanche de Rigny inherits more money than she could have ever dreamed of, she soon learns a lot more about her family history. She had assumed she was the black sheep, but in fact she is just the latest in a long line of them, an entire flock, perhaps. Intrigued, Blanche sets out to discover more about these potentially wicked ancestors and to use her new-found wealth to save the world. A family saga that takes place over two centuries, Hannelore Cayre’s new novel is sharp, subversive and irreverent with truly memorable characters, a political undertone and the kind of dark humour only a French crime writer of the highest calibre can do so well.”

Kate


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Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

“Now I don’t know about you, but if I found a body floating in a lake in exactly the same spot as my husband’s previous wife was found drowned, I would be asking A LOT of questions. And if my husband asked me to lie to the police and then left me to pick up the pieces, I would also be experiencing some serious trust issues. All of this is true of Charlotte in Kimberly Belle’s new atmospheric and creepy psychological thriller, as she tries to separate the truth from the apparent web of deceit the love of her life has left her with. Maybe she shouldn’t have married the wealthy older man, but deep down she knows he’s a good person. He has to be. Doesn’t he?”

Kate

 Read review
Electric Blue

Electric Blue

Paul Verhoeven

$34.99Buy now

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