DEADLY PODCASTS, OLD SECRETS, SERIAL KILLERS AND REYKJAVIK: NEW CRIME FICTION TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN AUGUST 2023
From Iceland to Tasmania to Northern Ireland and the American Maine coast, my pick of the August crime fiction titles covers a wide geographical spread and a diversity of styles. Here are ten of the books I am most looking forward to.
I really enjoy Michael Kortya’s novels, especially his more recent ones such as If She Wakes and Never Far Away, but his books are often difficult to find in Australia.
His latest book, An Honest Man (Mulholland), is due out in the United States on 25 July 2023, and I will be keenly tracking down a copy.
The story sounds intriguing, as always with Kortya, who specialises in flawed, difficult characters with plenty of grit:
“Israel Pike was a killer, and he was an honest man. They were not mutually exclusive.
After discovering seven men murdered aboard their yacht – including two Senate rivals – Israel Pike is regarded as a prime suspect. A troubled man, infamous on Salvation Point Island for killing his own father a decade before, Israel has few options, no friends, and a life-threatening secret.
Elsewhere on the island, 12-year-old Lyman Rankin seeks shelter from his alcoholic father in an abandoned house only to discover that he is not alone. A mysterious woman greets him with a hatchet and a promise: “Make a sound and I’ll kill you.”
As the investigation barrels forward, Lyman, Israel, and the fate of the case collide in immutable ways.”
Sounds very good and I have already ordered a copy from America.
There is a rich array of Australian crime fiction being released in August 2023. They all look promising, but in my opinion Gabriel Bergmoser’s The Caretaker, (Harper Collins, 2 August 2023), is probably the pick of them.
Gabriel Bergmoser’s first novel, The Hunted (2020) was a wild ride of a read that kept you keenly turning the pages all the way to the end. He followed it up with the even better The Inheritance (2021), and now with The Caretaker we have another totally gripping thriller.
Charlotte is hiding out with a new identity in a small ski resort in the Australian alpine region. On the run from the police, and some very dangerous criminal associates of her former husband, Charlotte has taken a job as an off-season caretaker for a small clutch of deserted lodges. The lodges are pleasingly empty, but Charlotte still jumps every time the floor creaks or the wind blows through the buildings. Charlotte thinks that she is safe and alone, but suddenly she is not.
I have already read The Caretaker and it is a terrific read. A bit more measured than Bergmoser’s earlier novels, it is still a very exciting read that builds to a tough, taut climax with plenty of bloodshed. I will be doing a fuller review in the next week or so, but mark it down as one of the most gripping Australian crime novels of 2023.
Australian author Megan Goldin’s first novel about true crime podcaster Rachel Krall, The Night Swim, was one of my favourite reads of 2020. It was powerful and gripping novel that delivered some neat twists towards the end.
Now, after last year’s stand alone thriller Stay Awake, Megan has returned to Rachel Krall with a new twisty tale, Dark Corners (Michael Joseph, 8 August 2023):
“Suspected serial killer Terence Bailey is about to be released from prison when he gets a surprise visit from Maddison Logan, a hot, young influencer with a huge social media following. Hours later, Maddison disappears, and police suspect she’s been kidnapped, or worse.
When they hit a wall in the investigation, the FBI reluctantly call in true-crime podcaster Rachel Krall for help in finding the missing influencer. Maddison seems to only exist on social media; she has no family, no friends, and other than in her posts, most people have never seen her. Who is she, really?
Using a fake Instagram account, Rachel goes undercover to BuzzCon, a popular influencer conference, where she discovers a world of fierce rivalry that may have turned lethal.
Racing to find the missing woman before it’s too late, Rachel is forced to confront the very real dangers that lurk in the dark corners of the internet. She discovers that some social media influencers have secrets, and some of them can be deadly.”
Megan’s novels are always very up to date and full of interesting detail, as well as sharp observations and genuine thrills. Dark Corners should be very good.
Here is a link to my review of Megan’s first Rachel Krall novel The Night Swim: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/deadly-podcasts-the-suicide-house-by-charlie-donlea-the-night-swim-by-megan-goldin/
Tony Park is one of my favourite Australian thriller writers and his African based novels are always a joy to read. His latest one, Vendetta (Macmillan, 25 August 2023), re-introduces the reader to safari guide and tracker Mia Greenaway and another Park regular, Police Captain Sannie van Rensburg.
In Vendetta, Sannie and Mia find themselves caught in the crossfires of a decades-old feud between five veterans of South Africa’s apartheid-era Border War. Haunted by the deadly mission, the ex-paratroopers must finally confront their demons, and each other, at the funeral of a comrade in the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert. But their scars run deep, and when the truth emerges, no one will be the same.
This sounds like another top notch thriller by Park, who always turns in an exciting read with plenty of local African atmosphere and a strong focus on protecting endangered animals from destruction.
James Dunbar’s first venture into serious crime fiction, Mole Creek (Echo Publishing, 1 August 2023), also looks very good.
Offering a dual narrative, one set in 1969 and the other in the present day, Mole Creek follows Pete McAuslan’s experiences in the Vietnam War and his grandson’s investigation of his death in a small Tasmanian town fifty years later. Driving the story is a deadly secret from the war that is still claiming lives in the present day.
I have started reading Mole Creek and so far it is a well written and very engaging thriller. I will be doing a full review shortly.
Incidentally independent Australian publishers Echo Publishing, are building up an impressive catalogue of Australian crime fiction. Probably best known for the Caleb Zelic books by Emma Viskic, they have also recently released some promising looking crime novels and thrillers by Rhys Gard and A. W. Hammond, among others
Offering a change of pace from the Bergmoser and Dunbar books, is Mike Ripley’s latest continuance of Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion novels, Mr Campion’s Memory (Severn House, late August 2023).
The eleventh in the series, Mr Campion’s Memory is sure to once more feature Ripley’s marvellous sense of humour and his love for history:
“London, 1972. Albert Campion’s nephew Christopher, an aspiring public relations guru, needs his uncle’s help with a client. Construction magnate Sir Lachlan McIntyre enjoyed a meteoric rise after the Second World War and is in line for a life peerage, but his reputation is in jeopardy as he becomes the prime suspect for a murder.
Journalist David Duffy was curiously more interested in McIntyre’s youthful years before the war than his rags-to-riches story. Not long after the pair exchanged verbal blows, Duffy was shot dead in his car close to the M1 motorway and McIntyre’s home. Why was Campion’s name included on a list discovered in Duffy’s notebook under the heading 1932? What happened forty years ago, and could it be linked to Duffy’s death? Campion must dig deep into his memory to get to the bottom of the mystery, but can he prove McIntyre’s innocence, or is he just digging himself into trouble?”
Again this is another one that I have started reading and really enjoying!
Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard brings a real dark edge to her crime writing. Her last novel, Run Time, played a good variation on the old trope of a group people stranded in a remote location with a killer on the loose, while her 2021 novel The Nothing Man was a good, creepy serial killer thriller.
With The Trap (Bantam, 8 August 2023) she seems to be returning to the serial killer thriller realm with a novel about obsession and revenge:
“Stranded on a dark road in the middle of the night, a young woman accepts a lift from a passing stranger. It’s the nightmare scenario that every girl is warned about, and she knows the dangers all too well – but what other choice does she have?
As they drive, she alternates between fear and relief – one moment thinking he is just a good man doing a good thing, the next convinced he’s a monster. But when he delivers her safely to her destination, she realizes her fears were unfounded.
And her heart sinks. Because a monster is what she’s looking for.
She’ll try again tomorrow night. But will the man who took her sister take the bait?”
After enjoying Run Time, I am looking forward to another dark story of unreliable narrators and mystery from Catherine.
Note The Trap will be released in the United Kingdom on 3 August 2023.
Fans of psychological suspense novels will be pleased by the new book by bestselling author Alice Feeney, Good Bad Girl (Macmillan, 8 August 2023).
The publishers have provided the following detail:
“Twenty years after a baby is stolen from her push-chair, a woman is murdered in a care home. The two crimes are somehow linked, and a good bad girl may be the key to discovering the truth.
Edith may have been tricked into a nursing home, but at eighty-years-young, she’s planning her escape. Patience works there, cleaning up mess and bonding with Edith, a kindred spirit. But Patience is lying to Edith about almost everything.
Edith’s own daughter, Clio, won’t speak to her. And someone new is about to knock on Clio’s door . . . and their intentions aren’t good.
With every reason to distrust each other, the women must solve a mystery with three suspects, two murders, and one victim. If they do, they might just find out what happened to the baby who disappeared, the mother who lost her, and the connections that bind them.”
Sounds like a very twisty tale that will appeal to psychological suspense aficionados.
Probably the most intriguing of the new releases is Reykjavik (Michael Joseph, 22 August 2023) by popular Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson and Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
Not surprisingly, it is set in Reykjavik and is a cold (no pun intended) case crime novel featuring an intrepid journalist:
“What happened to Lara Marteinsdóttir?
Iceland, 1956. Fifteen-year-old Lára spends the summer working for a couple on the small island of Videy, just off the coast of Reykjavík.
In early August, the girl disappears without a trace.
The mystery becomes Iceland’s greatest unsolved case. What happened to the young girl? Is she still alive? Did she leave the island, or did something happen to her there?
Thirty years later in August, 1986, as the city of Reykjavík celebrates its 200th anniversary, journalist Valur Robertsson begins his own investigation into Lara’s case. But as he draws closer to discovering the secret, and with the eyes of Reykjavík upon him, it soon becomes clear that Lara’s disappearance is a mystery that someone will stop at nothing to keep unsolved.”
I am very keen to read this one. Iceland is a fascinating place and I have read some really good crime novels and thrillers set there. It will be interesting to see what this collaboration between Ragnar and Katrín Jakobsdóttir produces.
Note: Reykjavik is released in Australia on 22 August 2023, but is released in the United Kingdom on 17 August 2023.
Probably one of August’s most eagerly awaited releases is the new Sean Duffy novel by Adrian McKinty, The Detective Up Late (Blackstone, 8 August 2023).
Returning once more to Northern Ireland at the start of 1990, The Detective Up Late is another stellar novel by McKinty. Bristling with authenticity, good characters and a strong sense of place it is a very good read.
I have already reviewed The Detective Up Late and urge you to place it on order and also read the six earlier Duffy books, they are really crime fiction at its finest. Here is the link to be my review: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/new-sean-duffy-book-by-adrian-mckinty-the-detective-up-late-plus-a-look-back-at-his-first-duffy-novel/
So plenty of good reading coming down the track over the next month or so!