BRITISH CRIME RELEASES: NEW BOOKS BY STEVE CAVANAGH, RUTH WARE AND MARK MILLS
Mark Mills won the 2004 British Crime Writers Award for Best Debut novel for Amagansett and received well deserved praise for his 2009 crime novel, The Information Officer, which was set on Malta during World War II. His output since then has been mixed and infrequent, although I quite liked his chase thriller, Where Dead Men Meet, from 2016.
Impact (Joffe Books, 5 July 2022) takes Mills in a different direction again. Set in northern Connecticut, it is an exciting police detection novel, with a good cast of characters and a clever twisty plot.
Florence Winslow wakes up in hospital. The nurse tells her she’s killed a man. All she remembers is that she was driving down a deserted country road in northern Connecticut late at night on her way to visit her in-laws. A car hurtled out of nowhere and ploughed into her. The other driver was killed, but Florence managed to escape with relatively minor injuries apart from her memory loss.
The police are initially keen to mark it down as a car accident, but young detective Dylan Bodine is not so sure, especially when it becomes clear that the dead man has no ID and was driving a stolen vehicle. His suspicions also deepen when it is revealed that Florence’s sick father-in-law is one of the wealthiest men in America. As Dylan and his new partner, grizzled former FBI investigator Carrie Fuller, dig into the case it appears that someone wants Florence dead.
This is a top notch, well written crime novel that smoothly goes through its paces from the opening car crash to the final reveal. Along the way there is some good investigatory work, plenty of internal family politics, flashes of action and a very engaging pair of detectives. I thoroughly enjoyed this crime novel and would be keen to made Dylan Bodine and Carrie Fuller’s acquaintance again!
Four Stars Out Of Five!
Impact is currently available in paperback and on Kindle for a ridiculously small amount.
Over recent years Ruth Ware has established herself as a leading writer of psychological suspense novels and is frequently compared to Agatha Christie. The It Girl (Simon & Schuster, 3 August 2022) is another exquisitely plotted novel by Ruth that once more goes down the path of an ordinary woman who find herself in a dangerous situation.
The book opens with introvert Hannah Jones finding herself sharing an Oxford College room with the beautiful, wealthy, privileged and bright April Coutts-Clivedon. Always the centre of attention, April is the eponymous ‘It Girl’ with a string of admirers and some enemies. Her dazzling time at Oxford is cut short, however, when her dead body is found by Hannah in their dorm room.
Ten years later, Hannah is living in Edinburgh with April’s ex-boyfriend Will and expecting their first child, when the college porter convicted of April’s murder, John Neville, dies in prison still proclaiming his innocence. Hannah has always worried about her role in the conviction of Neville and when a journalist confronts her with new evidence, she decides to rake over old coals and revisit what really happened that night.
Told in alternating chapters from before and after the murder, the story moves along at a crisp pace for a murder mystery, as Hannah tries to figure out who killed April. There are plenty of twists and turns, and Ruth is very good at planting false leads and out thinking the reader. The characters are an engaging and credible bunch and there is a nice flow to the story.
The descriptions of student life at Oxford are interesting, and Hannah’s present job as an assistant in an Edinburgh bookshop provide some nice moments of humour, as well as a few wry inside comments on the crime book trade. There are a couple of trivial qualms, but nothing which takes away from the pleasure of this very well crafted murder mystery.
Four to four and a half stars out of five!
The It Girl was released in the United States on 12 July 2022 (sporting the cover below) and will be released in Australia on 3 August 2022 and in the United Kingdom on 4 August 2022 (with the cover above). Thanks to the publishers for a copy of the book to review.
There is probably not a more entertaining author currently operating than Steve Cavanagh. His books just fly by and although they may not have the depth of other crime novels they are always very enjoyable and completely beguiling.
The Accomplice (Orion, 26 July 2022) is the seventh novel in his series about New York lawyer Eddie Flynn and finds the rules-bending, hotshot attorney defending the most hated woman in America. Carrie Miller is the wife of the notorious serial killer Daniel Miller, known as The Sandman. Miller killed fourteen people before he disappeared and Carrie now faces trial as his accomplice. Eddie believes in her innocence, but the cards are stacked against him and his client, especially with The Sandman still on the loose and killing people close to the case.
From the opening page this is a rollercoaster of a ride that speeds up with every twist in the plot, until it reaches the explosive conclusion. The courtroom scenes are engrossing and Eddie’s manoeuvres and tricks are fantastic, and often quite funny. Eddie is his usual engaging self, and Cavanagh introduces an interesting new character in the form of Gabriel Lake, a former federal agent who is not afraid to take the law into his own hands. The rest of Eddie’s gang are also on-board and some of the individual story arcs do not go as expected.
The story is helped along by a truly nasty villain, in the form of The Sandman, and Cavanagh’s typically sleazy judge and smug Assistant District Attorney. Cavanagh takes some passionate swipes at the American legal system, sexism and domestic abuse and also makes some subtle political comments:
“Clarence stopped outside the entrance to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, cocked his leg, sending a stream of urine toward the front door.
‘Good dog,’ said Harry as we walked on.”
On the negative side, the characterisations could be more nuanced. The writing, however, is fresh and crisp and Cavanagh is very good at building the suspense and holding interest. There is also a terrific, dark final twist. Despite some quibbles, it is very easy to settle back, suspend your disbelief and be entertained by Cavanagh and Eddie Flynn.
Four to four and a half stars out five, for pure enjoyment!
The Accomplice is released in Australia on 26 July 2022 and in the United Kingdom on 21 July 2022.
Thanks to the publishers for a copy of the book to review.