MARCH MAYHEM! NEW CRIME NOVELS I AM LOOKING TO READING IN MARCH 2023
March 2023 is shaping up to be a big month for crime and thriller readers, with plenty of new books on offer.
Dominating the March releases will undoubtedly be Harlan Coben’s I Will Find You (see my review at: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/new-2023-harlan-coben-novel-review-i-will-find-you-16-march-2023/ ), but there are also plenty of other very good releases. I have picked out seven of the ones that really appeal to me.
Dark crime author Steve Mosby made a spectacular re-entry into the crime writing ranks in 2019 with his first novel under the Alex North nom de plume, The Whisper Man. The book was a bestselling hit across the world and was followed up in 2020 by the even better The Shadow Friend (The Shadows in the United States). Now after a nearly three year break, North is back with a new novel, The Half Burnt House (Michael Joseph, 21 March 2023), which seems to be continuing in the same creepy traditional as his earlier books.
The publishers have provided the following detail:
“Katie always prided herself on being a responsible big sister – until she left her brother Chris alone for one selfish afternoon, and everything fell apart. Although he survived the attack, the scars ran deep – physical, and emotional. Now they’re adults, and they haven’t spoken in years.
Then she gets a call – from a detective. A body has been found in a sprawling mansion – one that remains half-ruined by a decades-old fire. Chris is the prime suspect.
Katie knows this might be her last, best chance to save her brother. But she doesn’t realise that this isn’t the first murder – and so she doesn’t know how much danger she’s in.”
I was a keen admirer of the novels that North did as Steve Mosby, and liked his ability to mix dark, almost supernatural, themes with traditional crime plots. I also thought that The Shadow Friend was really good. I am looking forward to The Half Burnt House.
Here is a review of an earlier book by Steve Mosby: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/throwback-thursday-black-flowers-by-steve-mosby-alex-north-2011/
Jane Casey’s stand alone novel The Killing Kind was one of my favourite crime novels of 2021 and certainly dazzled with its plot twists, interesting characters and seamlessly woven-in legal detail:(https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/strong-reliable-female-narrators-late-june-reading-by-michael-robotham-catherine-steadman-and-jane-casey/).
The Close (Harper Collins, 8 March 2023) sees Jane returning to her popular police duo of DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent. Sent in undercover to gather evidence in the upmarket location of Jellicoe Close, Kerrigan and Derwent find their personal and professional relationships tested. Jellicoe Close seems to be a perfect suburban street: well-kept houses with pristine lawns, neighbours chatting over garden fences and children playing together, but beneath this veneer there are dark secrets behind the neat front doors and hidden dangers, including a ruthless criminal who will stop at nothing.
The Maeve Kerrigan books are very well regarded and it will be good to return to this popular series.
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. I have started this one and it is a quickly flowing read.
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.
Peter Swanson’s recent novels have enjoyably played with many of crime fiction’s popular tropes and have displayed a great love for the genre, as well as the ability to entertain with their plots.
His The Kind Worth Killing from 2015 wittily played around with the classic plot of Strangers On A Train and produced a stylish and gripping thriller. Now with The Kind Worth Saving (Faber, 28 February 2023) he has delivered a sequel to that book. I won’t go into the details, in case you haven’t read The Kind Worth Killing, but it sounds like another clever and well plotted novel by Swanson.
Charlie Donlea is one of those authors who does not seem to attract the attention that he deserves. Which is unfortunate, as his books are always first rate and very enjoyable, and have good, interesting central characters. I have already read Those Empty Eyes (Kensington, 28 March 2023), and it certainly maintains the high standards of its predecessors.
As with Donlea’s earlier books, Those Empty Eyes is full of his trademark twists and turns.
It opens ten years ago with the brutal murder of a family in Virginia. The only survivor is the teenage daughter of the family, who the police initially suspect as being the murderer. Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, is eventually able to prove her innocence, and even wins a highly publicised defamation lawsuit, but many still consider her a murderer.
Ten years later Alex lives under a new name and far away from the media spotlight. Her job as a legal investigator involves her in a case to prove the innocence of Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister. Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus, but the police are happy to blame Matthew for her suspicious absence. As Alex investigates she discovers links back to the killing of her own family.
Those Empty Eyes is a tightly structured and very clever thriller that constantly keeps you surprised and moves in directions that you are not expecting. I will be doing a review on it in March, but in the meantime put it down on your watch list.
Those Empty Eyes will be released in the United States and on Kindle in Australia on 28 March 2023.
Mali Waugh’s debut Judgement Day (see here: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/crime-novels-that-i-am-looking-forward-to-reading-in-2023/) looks like being the stand-out Aussie crime release of March, but not far behind it is Ali Lowe’s The Running Club (Hodder & Stoughton, 14 March 2023).
Set on Sydney’s northern beaches, The Running Club seems well suited for those who enjoy domestic thrillers with more than a touch of drama and lots of secrets:
“The rules of the running club are the same as they have always been: keep your breath steady, keep your mind sharp, record your laps! Only now there’s a new one: don’t get killed. The wealthy community of Esperance is picture-perfect. Big houses, stunning views, beautiful people. A brand new running track for the local club to jog around in the evenings. From the outside, it looks like paradise.
But the women of the town know the truth: you can hide anything – from wrinkles to secrets from your past – if you have enough money.
You could even hide a murder.”
Ali’s The Trivia Night scored some positive comments last year and it will be interesting to see how The Running Club combines the expected mixture of crime and drama.
Fans of spy fiction can look forward to Owen Matthews’s White Fox (Bantam, 14 March 2023), the final entry in his Alexander Vasin trilogy.
I have really enjoyed the first two books, Black Sun and Red Traitor, and I look forward to seeing what befalls Vasin in this final chapter:
“1963. In a desolate Russian penal colony, the radio broadcasts news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vasin’s new posting as director of a gulag camp in the middle of the frozen tundra is far from a promotion. This is where disgraced agents, like Vasin, disappear – sent to die forgotten. And quietly. But tensions in the camp are running high and when a violent revolt breaks out, Vasin finds himself on the run. With him is a mysterious prisoner – who holds the key to the most dangerous secret in the world: who ordered Kennedy’s murder.
In a breathless race that takes them through the Soviet Union – from the barren Siberian wastelands to the stunning halls of the Katerina Palace and the grey streets of Leningrad and Moscow – Vasin must stay one step ahead of the most ruthless spy and police organizations in the world, and keep the most wanted man in Russia alive. It’s a journey that will push Vasin’s loyalty, morality and his patriotism to the limit. And he must confront the ultimate choice: fall in line, or die fighting the system.”
It sounds terrific, it is always hard to resist a spy thriller with a JFK assassination element, and I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully it gets a good release in Australia.
So plenty to look forward to in March 2023 and a final Peter Robinson novel in April!. Happy reading!
Some interesting reads here, Jeff. I’ve added Charlie Donlea’s latest to my list and am trying to resist adding others …
Donlea is good, although not always easy to find in Australia