The best of crime to read this summer.
Reading Groups for Everyone challenged reading groups to read one of the crime books listed below and email in a review: the group that authored the best review would win a masterclass in how to write crime fiction with Peter James. The winner was a reading group from Poole, and Peter James will arrange to visit them at some point over the coming year. So it's too late now to enter the competition, but it's not too late to read some of the hottest new publications of the summer!
To give everyone a fair chance, these books are listed in random order. Press refresh to shuffle them into a different order.
Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates
Following her promotion and working now from Reykjavík, Gunnhildur is given responsibility for two cases - the first in tracking down an escaped convict who’s keen to settle old scores, and the other, the murder of a TV fitness presenter in her city centre apartment.
With the police short staffed and underfunded following the financial crash, Gunnhildur and her team set about delving into the backgrounds of both, where they uncover some unwelcome secrets and some influential friends of both who have no wish to be in the public eye.
Set in an Iceland that is coming to terms with the deepening recession, Gunnhildur has to take stock of the whirlwind changes that have taken place as she investigates criminals at opposite ends of the social scale as some uncomfortable links appear between the two cases.
Playing Dead by Jessie Keane
Annie Carter is back…
She was a madam in a brothel and a gangster’s moll, but now her protection is gone and her enemies are closing in.
1971, London gang boss Annie Carter Barolli is living the New York high life with the feared mafia godfather Constantine Barolli. Then family tragedy strikes, leaving only Annie, Constantine’s sister Gina and his three children alive, and now they’re in terrible danger. And what’s worse – it signals a major shift in mafia power.
Annie returns to London with her daughter Layla, pursued by a hit man. Someone wants her dead and the only way she can stay alive is to find out who’s paying for the contract and to strike first.
Then, the reappearance of an old East End face sparks a shocking suspicion – the possibility that Max Carter, Annie’s first and greatest love, didn’t die two years ago, as she had been led to believe.
Has he truly just been playing dead?
The Sick Rose by Erin Kelly
‘You kept my secret. I know yours now. That makes us even.’
PAUL has been led into a life of crime by his schoolyard protector, Daniel. Now, at nineteen, he must bear witness against his friend to avoid imprisonment.
LOUISA, who years ago fled from her own dark secrets, spends her days renovating the grounds of a crumbling Elizabethan mansion.
A relationship develops between them, and Louisa starts to believe she can finally experience the happiness she had given up on; but it soon becomes apparent that neither of them can outrun their violent past …
Out of Sight by Isabelle Grey
Patrick Hinde is a loving husband and caring father, but when his parents come to stay for a few fateful days one July he simply wants to flee from the difficult memories they provoke. Their departure leaves Patrick exhausted and overwhelmed. The last thing he remembers is strapping his toddler son, Daniel, into his car seat, ready to drop him off at the child minder on his way to work.
Five years later, in a village in south-west France, a young English woman is attracted to a withdrawn man who calls himself Patrice. He has no wife, no child, and he refuses ever to get inside a car. Leonie is certain that love will heal his emotional wounds, but Patrice repeatedly evades his damaged past. When Leonie eventually discovers his incomprehensible and fatal act of forgetfulness, will she be able to forgive him? And is it ever too late to change? These are just some of the questions Isabelle Grey explores in this suspenseful and thought-provoking novel.
Legacy of Blood by Alex Connor
London, 1732. William Hogarth is called to a murder scene. A woman lies dead, her unborn child ripped from her body. It is a warning. Hogarth painted the future King leaving her bed. He must destroy the painting to survive. But her killers made one mistake. They left the Prince’s son alive.
Centuries later, one man holds proof of this line of succession and keeps a watchful eye on the Prince’s heir. The legacy is a terrible burden, but also an incredible opportunity. During a flight in a private jet, when a fellow passenger speaks of having gained possession of proof of this, the Royal Family’s darkest secret, everything changes.
Within hours of the flight, three of the seven passengers have been silenced. Who killed them? Why? To keep the secret or expose it? Where is the proof? As the body count rises, Alex Connor ratchets up the tension is this page-turning thriller that brings history into the present with devastating consequences.
Catch Your Death by Louise Voss & Mark Edwards
Fear is contagious…
The No.1 bestselling internet sensation. Now in an updated edition with exclusive new material.
A terrifying enigma – with the power to destroy…
Twenty years ago, Kate Maddox was a volunteer at a research centre where scientists hunted for a cure for the common cold virus. That summer, Kate fell in love with a handsome young doctor, Stephen, but her stay ended in his tragic death and Kate fled to a new life in the US.
Now Kate is back in England and on the run with her young son, this time from her vile husband. But a chance encounter sets her on a terrifying path of discovery. What really happened at the Cold Research Unit two decades ago?
Pursued by both her estranged husband and a psychotic killer who is obsessed with his prey, Kate must fight to solve the puzzle of the past – uncovering a sickening betrayal and a truth more horrifying than she could ever have imagined…
The Brave Blue Line by Dick Kirby
In their daily battle against a remorseless tide of crime, officers of London s Metropolitan Police routinely risk their lives protecting society. Veteran detective and crime author Dick Kirby has brought together a superb collection of inspiring stories of police gallantry over the last hundred years.
All four officers to be honoured with the George Cross, the highest civilian award have their stories told including Jim Beaton who saved Princess Anne from kidnap in The Mall. Three women officers have been awarded the George Medal, two for decoy work, the third for a heroic rooftop rescue.
The book concludes with the astonishing story of a retired detective who tackled armed robbers at the cost of his eye. He may have left the Met behind him but not his courage. Every page of this gripping book is full of excitement and courage of the highest order.
Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler
The defenestration of a ruthless theatre impresario’s young son was definitely not the best way to end the play’s first night party. And the crime scene itself was most unusual: a locked bedroom, with no sign of forced entry, no prints or traces of blood, just a sinister, life-size puppet of Mr Punch lying on the floor…
Everyone at the party - from the dodgy producer and rakish male lead to the dour set designer and the assistant stage manager (the wild daughter of a prominent civil servant) - is a suspect.
It’s a perfect case for Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit but the Home Office, wary of the PCU’s eccentric methods and intensely aware of the potential political embarrassment, wants them off the investigation.
The elderly detectives are not so easily deterred, however. Delving into the history of London theatre and the gruesome origins of ’Punch and Judy’, they uncover a maniacal killer is at work - one who must be caught before it’s curtains for everyone!
A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez
A Dark Redemption introduces DI Jack Carrigan and DS Geneva Miller as they investigate the brutal rape and murder of a young Ugandan student. Plunged into an underworld of illegal immigrant communities, they discover that the murdered girl's studies at a London College may have threatened to reveal things that some people will go to any lengths to keep secret…
Unflinching, inventive and intelligent, A Dark Redemption explores a sinister case that will force DI Carrigan to face up to his past and DS Miller to confront what path she wants her future to follow.
Tom-All-Alone’s by Lynn Shepherd
London, 1850. Fog in the air and filth in the streets, from the rat-infested graveyard of Tom-All-Alone’s to the elegant chambers in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where the formidable lawyer Edward Tulkinghorn has powerful clients to protect, and a deadly secret to hide. Only that secret is now under threat from a shadowy and unseen adversary - an adversary who must be tracked down at all costs, before it’s too late.
Who better for such a task than young Charles Maddox? Unfairly dismissed from the police force, Charles is struggling to establish himself as a private detective. Only business is slow and his one case a dead end, so when Tulkinghorn offers a handsome price for an apparently simple job Charles is unable to resist.
But as he soon discovers, nothing here is what it seems. An assignment that starts with anonymous letters leads soon to a brutal murder, as the investigation lures Charles ever deeper into the terrible darkness Tulkinghorn will stop at nothing to conceal.
Inspired by Charles Dickens’ masterpiece Bleak House, Tom-All-Alone’s is a new and gripping Victorian murder mystery which immerses the reader in a grim London underworld that Dickens could only hint at - a world in which girls as young as ten work the night as prostitutes, unwanted babies are ruthlessly disposed of, and those who threaten the rank and reputations of great men are eliminated at once, and without remorse.
Song of Treason by Jeremy Duns
May 1, 1969. Blackmailed into serving Moscow, double agent Paul Dark now finds himself a target for both exposure, and assassination. Desperate to escape his predicament, Dark gambles everything on one last throw of the dice, exposing his Soviet handler to the British.
But before long, he finds he has no choice but to go on the run again, and the race is on to stop a deadly conspiracy that dates back to the early years of the Cold War.
The second part of the Paul Dark trilogy, Song of Treason is another sweat-soaked Sixties-set spy thriller in the tradition of Len Deighton and Frederick Forsyth.
(Previously published in hardback and trade paperback under the title Free Country.)
What You Don't Know by David Belbin
Sarah Bone's political career has taken off and now she's minister for prisons.
Ex-drug-dealer Nick Cane is missing her but keeping his distance - working tutoring a gifted young teenager in care and in a drug-rehab centre, the Power Project. Strangely, the Power Project don't seem too interested in what work he's doing, but when he takes the intiative of talking to the girls in the care home he's actively discouraged and becomes the victim of a violent attack in the street. What are they trying to hide?
Meanwhile, Sarah is increasingly involved with charismatic lawyer Paul Morris, who has some surprising connections to the Power Project. But when he's found dead she becomes prime suspect and Nick Cane has to help her get to the bottom of who killed him.
This book is currently only available in the Kindle format. The paperback is due out on 3rd May.
A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
It is Halloween night, and the local museum in King’s Lynn is preparing for an unusual event - the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when Ruth Galloway arrives, she finds the museum's curator lying dead beside the coffin.
Soon the museum's wealthy owner lies dead in his stables too. These two deaths could be from natural causes but when he is called in to investigate, Nelson isn’t convinced, and it is only a matter of time before Ruth and DI Nelson cross paths once more. When threatening letters come to light, events take an even more sinister turn.
But as Ruth’s friends become involved, where will her loyalties lie? As her convictions are tested, she and Nelson must discover how Aboriginal skulls, drug smuggling and the mystery of The Dreaming may hold the answer to these deaths, and their own survival.
Revenge of the Tide by Elizabeth Haynes
Elizabeth Haynes’ second novel is a taut and gripping murder mystery introducing a compelling new heroine, Genevieve: office worker by day and pole dancer by night, who finds herself implicated in a mob underworld of murder, corruption and betrayal.
Genevieve has finally escaped the stressful demands of her sales job and achieved her dream: to leave London behind and start a new life aboard a houseboat in Kent. But on the night of her boat-warming party the dream is shattered when a body washes up beside the boat, and Genevieve recognises the victim.
As the sanctuary of the boatyard is threatened, and Genevieve s life seems increasingly at risk, the story of how she came to be so out of her depth is unfolded, and Genevieve finds out the real cost of mixing business with pleasure.
The Road To Hell by Gillian Galbraith
When the body of a half-clothed woman is discovered in an Edinburgh park, a murder investigation is launched. The victim has not been reported missing and there are few clues to her identity. Soon after, the naked corpse of a prominent clergyman is found, also in a park. DS Alice Rice wonders if the same killer is at work, and if so, what is the connection between the apparently motiveless attacks?
The Road to Hell, the fourth in the series, takes the policewoman to new personal depths and along a trail that leads to some of Edinburgh's darkest and scariest corners.
Street Girls by Linda Regan
Yet again a notorious council estate in South London has hit the headlines. A punter has been stabbed to death while soliciting the services of an underage prostitute.
DI Georgia Johnston and her team are called in to establish whether the murder is part of the vicious gang warfare currently raging on the estate, or whether it’s linked to the victim’s chequered private life. To Georgia’s dismay, the DCI summons gang expert DI Dawes to help - a man who’s determined to bring down the leader of the infamous Brotherhood of Blades gang, whether he’s guilty of the crime or not.
Even more disturbing is Dawes’ suggestion that DS Stephanie Green’s teenage daughter Lucy go undercover as part of the investigation. Georgia’s opposition to the plan threatens a major rift with her partner, Stephanie - and the headstrong Lucy has her own ideas, leading her and the rest of the team into grave danger.
Mr. Glamour by Richard Godwin
Something dark is preying on the glitz of the glamour set. DCI Jackson Flare and Inspector Mandy Steele investigate a series of bizarre killings targeting the wealthy and glamorous. Cameras, designer labels, beautiful women and wealthy men fill the pages of this dark narrative that will keep you guessing until the unforeseeable end.
All part of a gripping mystery novel about a glamorous world with an unknown intruder. The killer in Mr. Glamour knows all about design, he knows what brands mean to his victims. He is branding their skins. He is invading and destroying at will. And he has the police stumped.
Detective Chief Inspector Flare and Inspector Steele try to catch a killer who has climbed inside their heads. As they investigate they step into a hall of mirrors and find themselves up against a wall of secrecy. The investigation drives Flare and Steele - who are themselves harbouring secrets - to acts of darkness. And the killer is watching everyone.
Wink Murder by Ali Knight
Late one night, Kate is woken by her husband Paul, drunk, covered in blood, and mumbling that he’s killed something - or someone.
Afterwards, Paul denies he ever said what he did. But when an attractive young woman who works for him is found murdered, Kate’s terrible suspicions about what her husband has really done send her on a desperate search for the truth.
Although as the lies multiply, and Kate’s carefully constructed life comes under threat, doing the right thing is not as straightforward as it seems …
A Killing Coast by Pauline Rowson
When a body is found floating in the sea off Portsmouth harbour, Detective Inspector Horton initially judges it to be an accidental death. Soon though, to his dismay, he discovers he’s got it very wrong. Accused of being incompetent by his boss, and with the head of the Major Crime Team coming down heavily on him, Horton wonders if he’s allowed his ongoing investigation into the disappearance of his mother over thirty years ago to cloud his judgement.
With no clear motive for the murder, Horton is sucked into a baffling investigation that he is determined to resolve despite the odds. Not only does he need to find a brutal killer, but Horton now has to prove to himself, and others, that he is still up to the job.
Dead of Night by Barbara Nadel
Barbara Nadel’s gripping new Turkish crime novel tackles the treacherous and seedy underworld of Detroit’s gang warfare.
Inspectors Cetin Ikmen and Mehmet Suleyman from Istanbul are sent to a policing conference in Detroit, but little can prepare them for the corruption that lies at its heart. When Ezekial Goins, an elderly man of Turkish descent approaches them to crack the long-unsolved murder of his son, a quiet trip takes a far more sinister turn.
As they delve deeper into the case, the pair find themselves immersed in a terrifying world of inter-gang drug war and racial prejudice that puts them in mortal danger, and forces Ikmen to confront some demons of his own…
The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards
When Orla Payne was seven years old, her brother, Callum, mysteriously vanished. Shrouded in complicated family matters, namely their parents’ divorce and the suicide of their uncle, there were no clear leads or possible reasons. The case was eventually dismissed, as the police concluded their uncle killed himself out of guilt over murdering Callum, despite the fact that his body was never found.
Twenty years later, Orla is still convinced that her uncle was innocent and wants to find out the truth. Through working at the residential library, a position she took in order to be near the Hanging Wood where these events too place, Orla comes across Hannah Scarlett’s name on historian Daniel Kind’s recommendation. She frantically contacts Hannah, but her alcohol-induced frenzy leaves Hannah confused over her piece-meal description on the phone.
Hannah initially drops the case. But when Orla is found dead, she reconsiders, partly out of sense of duty and partly out of guilt, and decides to reopen this once closed case to investigate.
Death Bed by Leigh Russell
Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel relocates to London to take on another thrilling murder investigation.
While Geraldine strikes up a friendship with her new sergeant, the bodies of two black girls are discovered in quick succession in North London. Concerned about a reaction from the local black community, the police are puzzled to learn that two teeth were extracted from both victims after they died.
One of the girls worked in a massage parlour and suspicion falls on a client of hers, a known racist. Geraldine is led to the upmarket shops of Bond Street in Central London. She fails to find the killer who is out prowling the streets hunting for his next victim. A young gay man unwittingly goes home with the killer who also takes another girl home to his attic, where he keeps his victims chained up while he shows them his ’collection’.
With the death toll mounting, Geraldine has no time to search for her birth mother as she hunts for the elusive killer the papers are calling ’The Dentist’. When she finally discovers the gruesome collection on display in his attic, the killer knows that Geraldine must be his next victim.
The Kindle edition is available now. The paperback is due out on 24 May.
A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson
London, November, 1956. DI Ted Stratton is tasked with investigating the murder of Jeremy Lloyd, a strange young man with a taste for esoteric religion.
Stratton’s enquiries lead him to Suffolk, where the mysterious Mr Roth has founded a Foundation for Spiritual Understanding. Apparently Lloyd had believed himself marked out for great things. But at the Foundation, Stratton meets twelve-year-old Michael who is proclaimed as the next incarnation in a long line of spiritual leaders that stretches back to Christ and Buddha. He is rumoured amongst Roth’s disciples to have been immaculately conceived, but the woman who is said to be his mother, and whose photograph was cherished by Lloyd, has disappeared.
When a woman’s body is found in woods nearby, Stratton initially assumes he has found ’the mother’, but the reality turns out to be far stranger and far more terrifying…
Deadly Legacy by Alanna Knight
Rose McQuinn has agreed to help her neighbour, Mrs. Lawer, by delivering what she claims to be a family legacy to her only living relative. But Rose’s philanthropic journey takes a turn towards the dangerous when she herself is attacked on a train and Mrs Lawer and her maid are found dead upon her return to Edinburgh.
Investigating further, Rose finds links to Royal history, the theatre world, and her own home in Solomon’s Tower. Balancing the murder investigation along with her obligations to family and friends, Rose discovers ties that seem to reveal that the past has not completely left the present.
Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley
The third novel in the fantastic Detective 'Kubu' Bengu crime series is set in the southern Kalahari area of Botswana - a place full of buried lost cities, incredible hidden wealth, ancient gods and, for thousands of years, home to the nomadic Bushmen.
When a fractious ranger named Monzo is found dead, fallen into a donga - a dry ravine - surrounded by three Bushmen, the local police arrest the nomads. Detective 'Kubu' Bengu is on the case, which reunites him with his old school friend Khumanego, a Bushman and now an advocate for his people. Khumanego believes the arrests are motivated by racist antagonism from the police, as the Bushmen are claiming that they were at the murder scene because they were trying to help.
Soon after Monzo's death, Detective 'Kubu' learns of another case involving two botany students on their way back from a specimen-collecting trip but who were later found dead, seemingly poisoned, at a campground. Could the deaths be connected?
The Bloody Meadow by William Ryan
Korolev nodded, thinking of the dead girl, and wondering whether, these days, it was such a good thing to be Commissar Ezhov’s friend …
Russia, 1937. In Moscow, Stalin’s purges are reaching their darkest hour. Meanwhile Korolev, a police investigator, must travel to the bleak, battle-scarred Ukraine – scene of some of Stalin’s bloodiest crimes – to look into the mysterious death of a young woman. The victim, a beautiful film production assistant, had made both powerful friends and terrible enemies …
Why Don’t You Come For Me? by Diane Janes
Sometimes Jo still wakes suddenly, thinking she can hear Lauren’s cry. Although twelve years have passed since her baby daughter was abducted, photos of the child continue to arrive by post with the words, I Still Have Her, scrawled across the back. The police think it’s the work of a hoaxer but Jo has always believed them to be genuine – and until there is some hard evidence to the contrary, she will always hold on to the belief that Lauren is still alive.
But if the pictures really do come from the kidnapper it means that they have been keeping track of Jo’s movements all these years – and recently Jo has begun to feel as if she is being watched – and that whoever has her daughter is getting closer. Is Jo’s husband right to dismiss her fears as paranoia, or might Jo herself be in danger?
As her life begins to unravel Jo fears that the truth may lie in older events; in a half-forgotten childhood world, scarred by rumours of insanity and murder.
The Daughters of Gentlemen by Linda Stratmann
In the London of 1880, Frances Doughty is a young sleuth on her first professional case, trying to discover who distributed dangerously feminist pamphlets to the girls of the Bayswater Academy for the Education of Young Ladies. Armed with only her wits, courage and determination, she finds that even the most respectable denizens of Bayswater have something to hide, and what begins as a simple task soon becomes a case of murder.
As election fever erupts and the formidable ladies of the Bayswater Women’s Suffrage Society swing into action, Frances’ enquiries expose lies, more murders and a long concealed scandal, and she makes a powerful new friend.
The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah
Eleven months after discovering a brutal double murder in a sleepy Northumbrian town, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels is still haunted by her failure to solve the case. Then the brutal killing of a man on Newcastle's Quayside gives Daniels another chance to get it right, and her first case as Senior Investigating Officer. When Daniels recognises the corpse, but fails to disclose the fact, her personal life swerves dangerously into her professional life. But much worse, she is now being watched. As Daniels steps closer to finding a killer, a killer is only a breath away from claiming his next victim...
The Istanbul Puzzle by Laurence O’Bryan
Buried deep under Istanbul, a secret is about to resurface with explosive consequences…
Alex Zegliwski has been savagely beheaded. His body is found hidden near the sacred archaeological site of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
When Sean arrives in the ancient city to identify his colleague’s body, he is handed an envelope of photographs belonging to Alek and soon finds himself in grave danger. Someone wants him dead but why?
Aided by British diplomat Isabel Sharp, Sean begins to unravel the mystery of the mosaics in the photographs and inch closer to snaring Alek’s assassin. Evil is at work and when a lethal virus is unleashed on the city, panic spreads fast. Time is running out for Sean and Isabel. They must catch the killer before it’s too late.
Firetrap by David Hodges
Engaged in a police surveillance operation on the Somerset Levels, DC Kate Hamblin leaves the van momentarily and narrowly escapes death when it is blown apart by an incendiary device.
Accused of abandoning two colleagues who died in the explosion, Kate is excluded from the resultant murder hunt and effectively suspended from duty. Anxious to nail the killer herself and clear her name, she risks all by entering into an unholy alliance with the murder team’s chief suspect and finds herself not only targeted in a personal vendetta by her own DCI, but stalked by the very killer she is pursuing - a killer determined to silence his only witness for good…
The Fall by Claire McGowan
What would you do if the man you love was accused of murder?
Bad things never happen to Charlotte. She’s living the life she’s always wanted and about to marry wealthy banker, Dan. But Dan’s been hiding a secret, and the pressure is pushing him over the edge. After he’s arrested for the vicious killing of a nightclub owner, Charlotte’s future is shattered.
Then she opens her door to Keisha, an angry and frustrated stranger with a story to tell. Convinced of Dan’s innocence, Charlotte must fight for him - even if it means destroying her perfect life. But what Keisha knows threatens everyone she loves, and puts her own life in danger.
DC Matthew Hegarty is riding high on the success of Dan’s arrest. But he’s finding it difficult to ignore his growing doubts as well as the beautiful and vulnerable Charlotte. Can he really risk it all for what’s right?
Three stories. One truth. They all need to brace themselves for the fall.
Unsafe Acts by Bill Kirton
An offshore platform in the turbulent North Sea is a dangerous place…
…there’s the isolation, the machinery and the constant battle with the whims of nature. For Ally Baxter, a safety officer on Falcon Alpha, those whims take an odd turn. When his workmates decide he’s gay, an evening ashore turns ugly as they indulge in queer-bashing, and later his body is found along the route the group followed.
For DCI Jack Carston, the case seems simple enough until a second murder is discovered, this time it’s the prostitute Ally always visited—a young mother with a baby son. Complications mount as Carston must deal with an inexperienced officer under his command and a disciplinary charge brought against Carston himself by a vindictive superior officer.
The obstacles pile up and combine to get in the way of his investigations, just as he uncovers evidence of a plot to wreck the platform itself.
This book is only available in Kindle format.