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Posted by on 24 Dec, 2023 in Australian Crime Fiction, British Crime, British Historical Crime, British Thrillers, Crime, Domestic Suspense, Forecast Friday, Historical Thrillers, Looking Forward Friday, Spy Fiction, Thriller | 8 comments



With Christmas and New Year on the near horizon, 2023 is nearly wrapped up, and my reading over the holiday period will largely be focused on the new releases for 2024 that I have received. In selecting my Christmas reads, I had some help from my long dog assistants.

Toby and Layla (at back)
Sanctuary by Garry Disher (Text, 3 April 2024)

Without doubt the book that I am most keen to read is Sanctuary (Text, 2 April 2024) by Garry Disher.

Garry Disher is one of the veterans of the Australian crime fiction scene and the quality of his yearly offerings has rarely faltered over the past twenty five years, or more. Best known for his Wyatt, Hal Challis and, more recently, the Paul ‘Hirsch’ Hirschhausen series, Disher heads off in new direction with Sanctuary.

Suggestive of his Wyatt novels, Sanctuary features a female cat burglar we last met in the Hal Challis novel, Whispering Death.

The publishers have provided the following description:

“Grace is a thief: a good one. She was taught by experts and she’s been practising since she was a kid. She specialises in small, high-value items—stamps, watches—and she knows her Jaeger-LeCoultres from her Patek Philippes. But it’s a solitary life, always watchful, always moving. It’s not the life she wants.

Lying low after a run-in with an old associate, Grace walks into Erin Mandel’s rural antiques shop and sees a chance for something different. A normal job. A place to call home.

But someone is looking for Erin. And someone’s looking for Grace, too.

And they are both, in their own ways, very dangerous men.”

I have been keenly awaiting for the return of Grace and will be diving into Sanctuary very shortly. Sanctuary is not due out until April 2024, but I think it will be well worth the wait!

The Strip by Iain Ryan (Ultimo Press, 13 December 2023)

Another strong Australian entry is The Strip by Iain Ryan, (Ultimo Press, 13 December 2023).

I have actually already read The Strip and it is a terrific read.

Set on the Gold Coast in 1980, it is a fast moving tale that evokes the police novels of James Elroy. When a local doctor is brutally murdered, Detective Constable Lana Cohen joins the notorious Strike Force Diablo, which is filled with corrupt and inept cops seemingly incapable of solving a string of murders. Carefully navigating a sea of corruption, Lana teams up with the tarnished Henry Loch as they search for a killer in the Gold Coast’s dark recesses.

I was really impressed with The Strip. The characters are gritty and credible and Ryan skilfully captures the mood of the early 1980s, and the flood of corruption and unregulated policing that was overwhelming Queensland. It also has a well crafted story that rushes to a tough climax. Aussie crime fiction, of the noir variety, does not get much better than this!

Dark Arena by Jack Beaumont (Allen & Unwin, 3 January 2023)

Jack Beaumont, purportedly the pseudonym of a former operative of the clandestine operations branch of the French foreign secret service (DGSE) who now lives in Australia, made a good entry into the international thriller genre with his first novel The Frenchman.

The Frenchman was a gritty espionage tale with plenty of seemingly authentic spy detail, which was seen through an interesting French perspective. Dark Arena promises more of the same with the DGSE agent Alec de Payns tasked with tracking down an agent of influence who is sending highly classified material against the Kremlin to embassies all over Europe. A deadly conspiracy is aligning the West against Russia. But who is behind it? And to what end?

The clues lead to a secret meeting of businessmen, terrorists and mercenaries on a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, which de Payns must infiltrate. What he discovers sets off a Europe-wide manhunt in a desperate scramble to prevent an international catastrophe.

I described The Frenchman as being “a confidently plotted and well written novel … that kept me well entertained.” Full review here:

I have started reading Dark Arena and the opening sections certainly feature the convincing technical detail and spycraft that were a highlight of The Frenchman. I think it will be a good read.

Moscow X by David McCloskey (Swift, 30 January 2024)

David McCloskey received enthusiastic international acclaim for his first spy thriller, Damascus Station, and the early reviews of Moscow X, (Swift, 30 January 2024), are also strong.

The publishers have provided the following description:

“CIA operatives Sia and Max enter Russia to recruit Vladimir Putin’s moneyman. Sia works for a London firm that conceals the wealth of the super-rich. Max’s family business in Mexico ‒ a CIA front since the 1960s ‒ is a farm that breeds high-end racehorses.

They pose as a couple, and their targets are Vadim, Putin’s private banker, and his wife Anna, who is both a banker and an intelligence officer. As they descend further into a Russian world dripping with luxury and rife with gangland violence, Sia and Max’s hope may be Anna, who is playing a game of her own. Careening between the horse ranch and the dark opulence of Saint Petersburg, Moscow X is both a gripping and a daring work of political commentary on the conflict between Washington and Moscow.”

I have read some of Moscow X and it is shaping up as an intricate complex spy novel, with a strong up-to-date feel to it.

The Search Party by Hannah Richell (Simon & Schuster, 3 January 2024)

Fans of crime novels with a strong domestic suspense underlay to them, will enjoy The Search Party, (Simon & Schuster, 3 January 2024), by Hannah Richell.

Destination thrillers, wherein a small group of friends become stranded in a remote location with a deadly killer, are currently one of the hottest trends in crime fiction. It is a genre that former Australian resident Hannah Richell, dives wholeheartedly into with The Search Party.

Five old friends reunite for an idyllic glamping holiday on the rugged Cornwall coast, but tensions soon rise when a storm leaves them stranded and someone goes missing. A clever, well-constructed crime story that uses multiple points of view to seamlessly move between the police investigation, the survivors, and the catastrophic weekend. A good piece of summer escapism.

I will be doing a longer review in the next week, or so. It is released in Australia on 3 January 2024, but is not released in the United Kingdom until 18 January 2024.

Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge by Lizzie Pook (Penguin, 23 January 2024)

Lizzie Pook’s Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge, (Penguin, 23 January 2024), looks like being a lot of fun, especially for those who enjoy historical crime novels with a lightish tone to them.

The publishers have provided the following detail:

“London, 1850. Constance Horton has disappeared.

Maude, her older sister, knows only that Constance abandoned the apothecary they call home, and, disguised as a boy, boarded a ship bound for the Arctic. She never returned. ‘A tragic accident’, the Admiralty called it. But Maude Horton knows something isn’t right.

When she finds Constance’s journal, it becomes clear that the truth is being buried by sinister forces. To find answers – and deliver justice for her sister – Maude must step into London’s dark underbelly, and into the path of dangerous, powerful men. The kind of men who seek their fortune in the city’s horrors, from the hangings at Newgate to the ghoulish waxworks of Madame Tussaud’s.

It is a perilous task. But Maude has dangerous skills of her own.”

Lizzie drew considerable acclaim for her Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, and I suspect that Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge will be just as enjoyable. It is released in Australia on 23 January 2024 and in the United Kingdom on 1 February 2024.

How To Solve Your Own Murder by Kristen Perrin (Quercus, 26 March 2024)

Also promising to be highly entertaining, and clever, is How To Solve Your Own Murder by Kristen Perrin (Quercus, 26 March 2024).

The publishers have provided the following description:


In 1965, seventeen-year-old Frances Adams was told by a fortune teller that one day she’d be murdered. Frances spent the next sixty years trying to prevent the crime that would be her eventual demise. Of course, no one took her seriously – until she was dead.

For Frances, being the village busybody was a form of insurance. She’d spent a lifetime compiling dirt on every person she met, just in case they might turn out to be her killer. In the heart of her sprawling country estate lies an eccentric library of detective work, where the right person could step in and use her findings to solve her murder.

When her great-niece Annie arrives from London and discovers that Frances’ worst fear has come true, Annie is thrust into her great-aunt’s last act of revenge against her sceptical friends and family. Frances’ will stipulates that the person who solves her murder will inherit her millions.

Can Annie unravel the mystery and find justice for Frances, or will digging up the past lead her into the path of the killer?”

I think that this one will appeal to fans of quirky murder mysteries, such as Knives Out! I am certainly keen to read it.

So plenty of interesting reading to keep me busy over the holiday period. I will be posting full reviews of most of the above books in the New Year, so please look out for them.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from me and the Long Dogs!


  1. Thanks for the terrific rundown on the latest crime novels, Jeff. Have a happy Christmas.

    • You too, all the best for 2024

  2. I love seeing photographs of the long dogs! Enjoy your reading, and very best wishes for 2024.

    • Thanks – happy reading for next year

  3. I just bought The Strip and I’m looking forward to reading it. Lovely dogs, festive decorations and a beautiful quilt! Happy Holidays.

    • Thanks. Enjoy the holiday period.

  4. Wishing you and the adorable badger hounds a very happy Xmas and the very best for a “crime-ridden” new year!

    • Thank you. Same to you Bala.

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