The best new crime reads of the month

CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH


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Live and Let Fry by Sue Williams

Honestly, how I’m expected to go past a title with a pun like this is beyond me. In the third book starring small-town fish-and-chip-shop-owner-and-also-detective-but-not-officially Cass Tuplin (the first one: Murder with the Lot), Cass is accosted one day by fellow resident and ex-let’s-not-mention-it Vern, who’s got a new girlfriend, Joanne.

Vern’s worried, because someone’s left some dead rats with their tails hacked off on her doorstep, but he can’t go to the police, since Joanne’s not keen on them. Cass is not thrilled, since ‘the police’ in this case refers to her oldest and sulkiest son, Dean, and Dean’s already annoyed that his mother keeps solving problems in town – but she helps anyway, because that’s what she does. And then suddenly there’s a hitman (in a bookshop, HOW VERY DARE THEY), arson, murder, breakups, another private detective, environmental agencies, old men in retirement homes with semi-relevant pieces of information, land deals, secretive family members, and worst of all, no one around to take it out on since her beloved Leo is off saving the world in Bolivia instead of appreciating all Cass does to save the 147 residents of Rusty Bore and everyone else in regional Victoria who can’t just bloody well keep themselves together.

For the more suburban readers like Your Friendly Reviewer, this book is like going to visit your regional relatives and having a bunch of their friends pop by for a chat. It’s comforting, slightly dishevelled, wildly entertaining, and involves far too many people; when you leave, you’re filled right up, feel a bit like you’ve fallen out of a storm – and you can’t wait to return. Cass is a ball, barrelling around making wisely terrible decisions, and surrounding herself with endearing characters, like her adult sons on their opposing sides of the law yet both needing support; the inhabitants of Rusty Bore and their regular orders and gossipy ways; and the many people she coerces into conversation.

Live and Let Fry is self-aware, observant, and with a fresh take on a crime hero, this is as irresistible as potato cakes after a swim.


NEW CRIME FICTION


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The Greater Good by Tim Ayliffe

War correspondent John Bailey has still not recovered from his time in Iraq – if he ever will – when he’s asked by his boss at The Journal to cover the kind of the story that can’t be trusted to anyone else. In an overpriced Sydney apartment, a beautiful woman has died, and the officer in charge is telling Bailey it appears to be an accidental death. But Bailey and Detective Sharon Dexter have a history, and there’s a whole lot more to hash over than their relationship – especially when it turns out the victim had a few clients in high places, and that this one story to bring Bailey out of his funk might see the whole government fall apart. A tough, crime-beat thriller along Sydney’s meanest of streets.


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Perfect Match by D.B. Thorne

In case a general low panic about meeting someone through online dating wasn’t enough, D.B. Thorne has gone one better in Perfect Match, where a cheerful stripper named Tiffany sets out on a date and doesn’t make it home afterwards. From beside the hospital bed where she remains in a coma after being dragged from a river, her two brothers – career criminal and hard man Luke, along with deliberate recluse and super-genius Solomon – watch over her and plan how to find who did this to her. While the police seem determined to paint this as a suicide attempt and Luke wants to slaughter Tiffany’s deadbeat ex-boyfriend, Solomon tries a different tactic: following her trail. And when it turns out that other women have been similarly attacked, Solomon – a man who hasn’t left his house in more than a year – will need to find a way to avenge her. Wholly entertaining.


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What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka

Sitting on her porch with a beer and no job, private detective Roxane Weary is happy enough just eavesdropping on her neighbours when an unmarked police car rolls up the street – and it’s Roxane they need to speak to. Malin Strasser has been shot in an alley, and Roxane had been tailing her hours before her death. All signs point to Malin’s fiancé, who hired Roxane in the first place after suspecting her of cheating, but she isn’t so sure that this hard-done-by man is the culprit. So who shot Malin, if not the man who fought with her right before, and whose gun is missing? With this, Lepionka has written an excellent, solid piece of midwestern American detection.


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The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Frankly, I don’t know what it is about crime authors that make them so determined to terrify anyone about to have a baby, yet here we are: Aimee Molloy has joined their ranks, and how. After a mother’s group’s night out ends with Baby Midas kidnapped from under the nose of his nanny, the investigation is botched, the group’s secrets unearthed, and the finger of guilt squarely pointing at Midas’s mother, Winnie, as the world chastises these women for going out. By alternating the points of view between the mothers, this taut and enthralling thriller balances panic with determination and smacks of real life: pumping for milk (used as a smokescreen for theft), mother-guilt, panicking about babies, and unwavering loyalty. A great read.


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The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (translated by Victoria Cribb)

When an Icelandic school unearths a time capsule from ten years earlier, all the teachers expect is to see how many of the childrens’ predictions of the future come true – but what they don’t expect is a list of people who will be murdered in the year of its opening. Huldar, demoted from his position in the police force, is the one tasked with this menial case since, after all, no one expects that a teenager’s rage will have lasted all these years. (This wouldn’t be a very good crime book if that was true, would it?) While the rest of his team investigate a gruesome discovery in a backyard hot tub, Huldar and Freyja – the child psychologist whose life Huldar inadvertently ruined – try to find who might have written such things, why they would be so angry … and why they would wait ten years to confront the past.


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The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong (translated by Chi-Young Kim)

Yu-jin wakes up to the smell of blood. He has an idea what this means: that he’s had another seizure, which he self-induces by not taking the medication he needs, because before the seizure is a high like no other. The smell of blood is a hallucination he just needs to get through. Except the smell isn’t going away, and when he gets out of bed, he realises it’s no hallucination. His room is covered in blood. He is covered in blood. And downstairs, on the kitchen floor, is Mother, also covered in blood. But Yu-jin couldn’t have killed his own mother – he is a good man, a good son, a good brother. A good student, a good nephew. Not so good at taking his medication. And definitely not good at remembering his own past. Perhaps, then, he is not a very good person at all.


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Friends and Traitors by John Lawton

Frederick Troy – one day to be Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard, but for now, a fresh cadet and a man with only one foot out of his teen years – is at a family dinner party when he first meets Guy Burgess. The friendship the two strike is frowned upon by his family, not only because Burgess dared to be a homosexual in the ’30s, but because Troy’s father has just discovered he’s a Russian spy. Troy and Burgess’s friendship fades in and out over the years, until the late fifties, when Troy – on a family trip to Europe to celebrate his brother’s birthday – meets him again, and this time Burgess has a different kind of proposition: he wants to defect from Russia. When MI5 gets involved and blood is shed, it’s Troy that suspicion falls on – and the past that can’t be contained. This is a detailed, Cold War spy thriller based on the very real Burgess and the very real danger around him.


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Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks

Melanie Barrick is frantic on the drive from work to pick up her son from daycare – if she’s there after six even once, her son is out of there for good. (This crime opening is TOO RELATABLE.) When she’s twenty minutes late, this termination seems like the absolute worst case scenario, until she arrives to find her son gone – and that social services has taken him. No explanations, just disgusted glances and the resonating fear of her childhood – one spent in foster care – returning. She knows she’s innocent, and that the police should be able to help, but instead they are at her house because they’ve found cocaine – a perfectly large and incriminating amount, just enough to ruin her life. Who would want to destroy her life, and why? And how can she fight for herself with so much against her?


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American By Day by Derek B. Miller

Five weeks after the events at the end of Miller’s excellent Norwegian by Night, police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård – the woman who was there right at the bloody finale and has been waiting for a police report on the incident this whole time – takes leave from the force. She imagines spending time with her father in his farm in Norway’s north, but as soon as she arrives, he tells her she’s leaving. Her brother, a university professor, is missing in upstate New York. Best case scenario: she finds him easily, and they can have a touching reunion. Worst case scenario: he is a person of interest in the death of an African-American academic, and she has to find him in this strange country, work alongside her unwilling US counterparts, and deal with the reminders the case brings of her own past actions, and how race may have played more a part than she thought.


ALSO OUT THIS MONTH…


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Last month, it was revealed that Michelle McNamara’s true crime book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, helped solve a decades-old serial killer case. It’s the crime book everyone is talking about this month, and we’re expecting more stock to arrive over the next few weeks. Stock is limited so make sure to reserve your copy today!

Lars Kepler’s The Rabbit Hunter, Sarah Sparrow’s A Guide for Murdered Children, Sarah J. Harris’s The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder, Charlie Donlea’s Don’t Believe It, Rebecca Fleet’s The House Swap, Paul Colize’s Back Up, Vaseem Khan’s Murder at the Grand Raj Palace, John Sandford’s Twisted Prey… and more!


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

American By Day

American By Day

Derek B. Miller

$32.99Buy now

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