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Posted by on 27 Feb, 2022 in British Crime, British Thrillers, Canberra Weekly, Crime, Forecast Friday, Looking Forward Friday, serial killer thriller, Thriller | 0 comments

MARCH MAYHEM: Four New Crime Novels for March 2022

MARCH MAYHEM: Four New Crime Novels for March 2022

Here are four good early March releases to start your criminal reading off for the month!

Night Shift by Alex Finlay (Minotaur, 1 March 2022)

All of them are very enjoyable, but Alex Finlay’s The Night Shift (Minotaur, 1 March 2022) is probably my favourite of the four.

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 and while everyone else is worried about the Y2K Bug, four teenagers working late at a Blockbuster video store in New Jersey experience real terror. A frenzied attack kills three of them and the one survivor is left in shock. The police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive. The tragedy brings four people together, the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre; the girl who survived this latest attack; the brother of the fugitive accused of the original murderers and pregnant FBI agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the truth about the Night Shift Murders.

This is a very well constructed and highly addictive read. Finlay draws quickly draws the reader into his clever story and keeps them glued to the page until the final reveal. The book moves along at a good pace and the characters are fresh and interesting.

I read this twisty read in a couple of days and enjoyed it from beginning to end.

What I particularly liked: was the way that Finlay subtly undercuts the reader’s expectations and delivers some good surprises

What I was less keen on: perhaps a little too coincidental, but not enough to take away the pleasure.

A strong four to four and a half stars out of five!

The Night Shift is released in the United States on 1 March 2022 and in the United Kingdom on 3 March 2022. It does not seem to be released in Australia until May 2022.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an electronic copy of the book.

One For Sorrow by Helen Fields (Avon, 3 March 2022)

Also combining crimes new and old is One For Sorrow (Avon, 3 March 2022) by Helen Fields.

This is the seventh entry in Helen’s series about Edinburgh detectives DI Luc Callenach and DCI Ava Turner, and it gets off to a highly emotive start with Ava attending the funeral of her dear friend, pathologist Ailsa Lambert. Ailsa died in a bizarre and horrible way and it is up to Ava and her team to find out why. Soon other killings occur, and it seems that Edinburgh is in the grip of a deadly bomber who is targeting police and other first responders. Meanwhile a second storyline follows a tragic tale that is somehow linked to the current rampage of horror.

This is a high voltage story that moves quickly through some well staged and quite brutal set-pieces. The pacing rarely gives up and Helen knows how to twist and turn a plot all the way to stunning conclusion. Edinburgh provides an interesting backdrop to the story and regular fans of Helen’s books will enjoy catching up with the detectives and their friends and colleagues. There is also plenty of interesting forensic detail for those who enjoy that aspect of crime fiction.

What I particularly liked: was the brisk pace and the dark grittiness of the story

What I was less keen on: the dialogue and some of the relationships did not always ring true to me, but this was not a big issue

Three and a half to four stars out of five!

One For Sorrow is released in the United Kingdom and Australia on 3 March 2022.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an electronic copy of the book.

Breathless by Amy McCulloch (Little Brown, 1 March 2022)

Also offering plenty of thrills is Breathless (Little Brown, 1 March 2022) by Amy McCulloch.

Books about small groups of people trapped in a remote location and being stalked by a killer are very much in vogue at the moment, but Amy McCulloch takes it to another level with Breathless. Struggling journalist Cecily Wong joins an expedition intent on scaling one of the Himalayas’ toughest peaks, but she quickly suspects that a killer has also come along for the climb. As the climb progresses, and the oxygen levels drop, the body count rises and Cecily soon fears that she won’t make it back down alive.

Amy McCulloch, a popular author of young adult books, is a very experienced climber and Breathless is full of vivid descriptions of the Himalayas, and has the sort of fascinating insights into mountaineering that you would expect from someone who has been there and done that. The mixture of icy conditions, convincing climbing detail and suspense, reminds me of British thrillers from the 1960s, but minus the spies and Nazi gold usually associated with the books by Alistair Maclean, Hammond Innes

After a slowish start, the pace picks up as the climb progresses and the final third of the book makes for thrilling reading. Cecily is an engaging lead character, although a little cliched at times, and it is through her eyes that we see most of the action and learn about the terrors of high altitude climbing. She is also a good observer of the other members of the climbing team and her views on what drives people to do mountaineering are interesting and insightful.

This is an impressive thriller debut.

What I particularly liked: was the believable descriptions and the small details that make the locations come alive. I also liked the insights into the business side of mountaineering.

What I was less keen on: the early pacing was probably a bit slow and credibility was stretched a little at times.

Four stars out of five!

Breathless will be released in Australia on 1 March 2022. It was released in the United Kingdom on 17 February 2022.

Thanks to the publishers and the Canberra Weekly for an advanced copy of the book.

Low Pastures by Bill James (Severn House, 27 January 2022)

Bill James is a veteran of the British crime writing scene and Low Pastures (Severn House, 27 January 2022) is the 36th entry in his quirky, long running series about Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur and his unpredictable boss, Assistant Chief Constable Iles.

The discovery of a well-dressed corpse, killed in execution style at a local dockyard, signals trouble for Iles’s progressive attitude towards the local drugs trade. Iles has long had an unspoken gentleman’s agreement with the two main local players, Manse Shale and Ralph Ember, which has seen Iles and the rest of the police force turning a blind eye to their activities, as long as Manse and Ralph keep violence off the streets. It has been a successful approach for all concerned, but now it seems that jealous outsiders may be coveting the safe, ordered community Iles has so brilliantly created.

Low Pastures goes down the same well trodden streets as the earlier entries in the series, with a heady mixture of witty, unlikely dialogue and plenty of amusing asides. As much a social commentary as a crime novel, James nicely skewers modern society and the pretensions of his criminals who are trying to lift their social standing:

“[Ralph Ember reflects]: The right schooling (for his daughters) was a matter of proper status, part of the overall social rating. Most probably the school had a scarf with its colours on so in the winter at least anyone in the know could tell if a child had been to Roedean and was certain to have good table manners.”

What I particularly liked: Ralph Embers’ pretentiousness and his belief in his idealised self image is hilarious, and Harpur’s precocious, too old for their ages, teenage daughters are always a delight.

What I was less keen on: the pace is slow and Low Pastures is really a repeat of earlier books in the series, which has not progressed in recent years.

Three and a half stars out of five!

Low Pastures was released in the United Kingdom on 27 January 2022.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an electronic copy of the book.

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