The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup | Books

Shades of men Abeer Mukherjee

Shades of Men – Abir Mukherjee.Harvill Secker, £12.99)
The fifth book in the Wyndham and Banerjee series on the officers of the Imperial Police Force in Calcutta began in 1923, with the murder of a prominent Hindu scholar. Sergeant Banerjee’s proximity to the slain frames him in the murder, so it is imperative that he and Captain Windham find the Muslim politician they suspect is the real culprit ASAP. Sectarian tensions are already escalating, thanks to gang violence and political disagreements, and there is every chance the riots could turn into a bloodbath. The idea that someone might deliberately foment the current unrest adds to the growing unease that both Wyndham and Banerjee feel about the colonial rule they swore to uphold. Packed with action, with some great still pieces, this is not only an atmospheric and well-researched depiction of time and place but also a major lesson in how to keep the reader turning the pages.

Mick Heron Dolphin Junction

Dolphin Crossing by Mick Heron (John Murray, £16.99)
Definitely one for the Christmas menu, Dolphin Junction is the perfect introduction to brutal spy creator Jackson Lamb and a treat for Slough House fans. The eleven stories in this collection were originally written between 2006 and 2019, and—unusually for an anthology of this genre—there’s not much weight: each delivers surprise, shock, or shiver, with plenty of smoke and Herron’s signature misinformation and humor. sarcastic. Highlights include Roald Dahlesque’s Bag Lost and the truly terrifying All the Livelong Day, Plus What We Do, one of four stories featuring the irresistibly clever private eye Zoë Boehm from the author’s Oxford series. An episode of Jackson Lamb’s past is explored in The Last Dead Letter, and there’s festive cheers in The Usual Santas, when eight Father Christmases attempt to uncover the fraudster who has crept into their caves.

Sophie Oksanen

Garden Dogs by Sophie Oksanen, translated by Owen F Weitzman (Atlantic, £14.99)
Oksanen’s award-winning Estonian-Finnish writer’s latest book is a complex, slow-paced book that paints a vivid picture of a post-Soviet state where gangs rule and the exploitation of the female body is big business. Dog Park began in 2016, with Olenka sitting on a bench in Helsinki, watching her biological child – now with new parents – enjoy walking with the family’s Schnauzer. When Daria, an old acquaintance, sits next to her, Olenka immediately assumes that the woman exists for the purpose of blackmail. In 2006, in a desperate attempt to escape a life of poverty in her native Ukraine, Olenka agreed to sell her eggs to an infertile couple through an agency, which she later hired to encourage others, including Daria, to do the same. It takes a while to figure out exactly what went wrong that Olenka fears for her life, but pity is fuel for true suspense.

Russian doll Marina Palmer

Marina Palmer Russian Doll (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99)
Historical novelist Imogen Robertson, writing under her new supervision thriller name It introduces more gangsters in the post-Soviet period. Here, they are Russian oligarchs residing in London and giving expensive gifts to members of the British establishment. When modest administrative assistant Ruth Miller is offered a job as a personal secretary by the illustrious beauty Elena Shelkov, she is transported into a world of bodyguards, fancy clothes and luxury yachts, but soon learns that this luxury comes with a heavy price. Nothing is quite as it seems in this novel, which, like Matryoshka in the title, contains secrets within secrets – and it turns out that Ruth has an agenda of her own. Fast-paced and smart, with a cheerful mix of political intrigue and romantic suspense as well as addictive, this is the perfect winter evening entertainment.

The Quiet People by Paul Cliff

The Quiet People by Paul Cliff (Orinda, £8.99)
New Zealander Cleave’s latest novel is set in Christchurch, where crime-writing duo Cameron and Lisa Murdoch live with their son Zach. When the seven-year-old goes missing, the couple’s optimistic statements about his ability to commit the perfect crime come back to haunt them. There’s also the fact that Zach – who is euphemistically described as “difficult” – had a general breakdown the day before his loss, as did his father, who, due to his anger management issues and poor impulse control, has a neck like his son. Public sympathy evaporates and soon the family is in the eye of a storm on social media with protesters outside their home and a slew of one-star reviews on Amazon, as suspicion grows that Cameron and Lisa have cooked up a real plot to revive their lives. distressed professions. A true page-turner, with an interesting premise, a rolling plot and a believably flawed cast of characters.

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