BOOK HAUL – 2023 CRIME FICTION!
There is still over a month to go until the end of 2022, but already the books are beginning to pile up for 2023. Here are six of the early 2023 releases that I have received already, either electronically or in print.
I greatly enjoyed Peter May’s Lewis trilogy from a few years back, particularly for its descriptions of the Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland and May’s skillful conjuring of the local inhabitants and their ways.
His latest book, A Winter Grave (Riverrun, 31 January 2023), also quickly establishes a good sense of place, this time the Scottish Mamores mountains in late November, before leaning into its slightly futuristic plot about murder and climate change. At the core of the story is the investigation into the murder of a missing man whose body is found entombed in ice.
May has often mixed international and environmental concerns into his crime fiction, for instance the future of bees in Coffin Road, and I am interested to see how A Winter Grave unfolds.
Also from the United Kingdom is an intriguing new novel by L. C. North (pseudonym for domestic suspense author Lauren North), The Ugly Truth (Bantam, 16 April 2023).
Told solely through mixed media extracts, including interview transcripts, emails, video transcripts, newspaper extracts, Netflix documentary transcripts and Twitter threads, it is a briskly moving story that quickly hooks you in. The plot revolves around whether wealthy hotelier Peter Lange is holding his socialite daughter Melanie against her will, or are her videos pleading for help simply a publicity stunt from a once famous model who has seen her fame dim and her stock fall? Is Peter an anxious father doing his best for his daughter and her mental health issues, or is he a controlling monster?
It is an intriguing story, that brings to mind recent media stories. The thriller elements may end up being a bit muted for some readers, but I suspect that it will be a hotly discussed novel in 2023.
Note: The Ugly Truth will be released in Australia on 16 April 2023, but is scheduled for release in the United Kingdom in mid March 2023.
Popular Australian author Fiona McIntosh has developed a good following for her books about London policeman Detective Superintendent Jack Hawksworth. In Dead Tide, (Michael Joseph, 10 January 2023), she brings Jack to Australia in search of a killer.
The publisher has provided the following description of the plot:
“Newly promoted Detective Superintendent Jack Hawksworth has headed up three major serial operations in England and in each of these cases he has lost a part of himself. While on sabbatical as a guest lecturer in a London university, one of his female students dies under highly suspicious circumstances, and he finds himself drawn into a chilling new case that reaches across the world.
Jack’s investigations lead him to Adelaide where he identifies a cynical international crime consortium that preys on the anguish of childless couples and vulnerable women. Together with local major crime officers, he follows his leads to the windswept Yorke Peninsula, and becomes caught up in an intoxicating private drama.
With his personal and professional business entangled once again, Jack must put his own life on the line to bring justice to those who are grieving.”
I thought that the last Jack Hawksworth novel, Mirror Man, was very good and I am looking forward to seeing how Jack copes with being outside his usual environment. Dead Tide is next on my ‘to read list’ and I will be reviewing it in early December.
Hank Phillippi Ryan is mainly known in the United States where her books are highly regarded. She does not seem to be widely published in Australia or the United Kingdom, which is a shame as her books are quite enjoyable.
After writing two popular series about investigative journalists, Hank is herself an award winning television reporter, she has more recently moved into the stand alone suspense realm with books such as The First To Lie and Her Perfect Life. The House Guest, (Forge, 7 February 2023), continues this trend and promises to be another twisty, clever thriller by Hank.
The publisher has provided the following description:
“After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her―leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.
And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.
But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.“
One of the most pleasing aspects of my crime fiction reading in 2022 was the high number of very good debut books by Australian authors, such as Dinuka McKenzie, Matthew Spencer, Shelly Burr and Hayley Scrivenor. It is a trend I hope to see continue in 2023.
One of the early Australian debuts to check out in 2023 will be Mali Waugh’s Judgement Day (Macmillan, 28 February 2023).
Mali works as a lawyer in Melbourne and her first novel takes a sharp look at the local legal system, as well as providing a good mystery plot:
“Family law judge Kaye Bailey is found murdered in her chambers. Is this the work of a disgruntled complainant? Or an inside job by a jealous colleague? Or is there something even more insidious at the heart of this brutal act?
Detective Jillian Basset is just back from maternity leave, trying to juggle new motherhood as she tackles the biggest case of her career. As her work and home lives get messier and messier, though, something’s going to give.”
I enjoy legal thrillers and I am looking forward to reading this promising looking debut.
I actually have not received this one yet, but it is apparently on its way to me.
In The Blink Of An Eye (Simon & Schuster, 4 January 2023) is another promising debut, this time by British author Jo Callaghan.
A mixture of police detection and apparently low key science fiction elements, In The Blink Of An Eye has been receiving very good early reviews in the United Kingdom. The story revolves the future interaction between human detectives and enhance AI capability and how human and AI might work together in solving cases.
“DCS Kat Frank knows all about loss. A widowed single mother, Kat is a cop who trusts her instincts. Picked to lead a pilot program that has her paired with AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock, Kat’s instincts come up against Lock’s logic. But when the two missing person’s cold cases they are reviewing suddenly become active, Lock is the only one who can help Kat when the case gets personal.”
It sounds really good and will be high on my list of books to read.
So, six very different new books for 2023. I am looking forward to reading them and seeing how they stack up against the positive claims by the publishers. Hopefully I will receive some other 2023 releases in the next few weeks, I am particularly looking forward to the new books by Mick Herron, Harlan Coben and Dinuka McKenzie.