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Posted by on 10 Apr, 2024 in British Crime, British Thrillers, Crime | 0 comments



Three very different British crime novels to start your April reading off with.

The Last Murder At The End Of The World by Stuart Turton (Raven Books, 3 April 2024)

Stuart Turton established himself as a master of the unusual crime novel, with his first book, the highly acclaimed The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It was an inventive and original mystery that demanded close attention from the reader, but rewarded those readers that stayed the distance with a cunning and clever reveal and a great story.

Turton has maintained his reputation for originality with his third book, the equally ingenious The Last Murder At The End Of The World, (Raven Books, 3 April 2024).

The novel has an intriguing base set-up:

“Outside the island there is nothing: the world destroyed by a fog that swept the planet, killing anyone it touched. On the island: it is idyllic. 122 villagers and 3 scientists, living in peaceful harmony. The villagers are content to fish, farm and feast, to obey their nightly curfew, to do what they’re told by the scientists.

Until, to the horror of the islanders, one of their beloved scientists is found brutally stabbed to death. And they learn the murder has triggered a lowering of the security system around the island, the only thing that was keeping the fog at bay.

If the murder isn’t solved within 92 hours, the fog will smother the island, and everyone on it.

But the security system has also wiped everyone’s memories of exactly what happened the night before, which means that someone on the island is a murderer, and they don’t even know it.”

This is a clever and engaging story that smoothly draws the reader in. Turton quickly establishes the framework for his special world and the strange cast of characters that inhabit the island. The role of detective is given to Emory, who seems to have more initiative, energy and curiosity than the other islanders, and determinedly sets about trying to solve the mystery before her island is submerged by the deadly fog.

The quickly approaching deadline gives good momentum to the story and, despite its length, the book generally moves at a brisk pace. The writing is literate and engaging, and the overall concept certainly keeps things interesting. There are some quirks to the telling, involving an all seeing AI, but it is very easy to go along with it, and the ending is surprising and exciting.

Accompanying the book is a neat and useful map at the front, and an equally useful cast of characters.

The Last Murder At The End Of The World may not be to everyone’s taste, but I very much enjoyed it and thought that it was a good, provocative and entertaining mystery.

The Last Murder At The End Of The World was released on 3 April 2024. Thanks to the publishers for a copy of the book for review.

Death In A Lonely Place by Stig Abell (Hemlock Press, 3 April 2024)

Stig Abell’s debut crime novel, Death Under A Little Sky, was well received when it appeared last year, and now his sort of retired police detective, Jake Jackson, makes a second appearance in Death In A Lonely Place (Hemlock Press, 3 April 2024).

The book is again set in a quaint English village, with more than its share of death. Detective Jake Jackson moved to the countryside for a quieter life. And he finally seems to have his wish, spending his days immersed in nature, and his evenings lazing by the fire with his new love Livia. But the return of an old case shatters the calm, and pulls him into the shadowy world of a secretive group serving the extravagant whims of the elite. As the web around Jake tightens, he must determine who he can really trust in his small community. Or else he will learn just how far the elite will go to protect their secrets.

The book opens at a leisurely pace, which reflects Jake’s easy going lifestyle and routines of walking and cold lake swimming, but picks up as the story progresses. Unlike the first book, Death In A Lonely Place is more of a thriller, with cartels and conspiracies, than a local murder mystery, but the rich descriptions of the countryside and the local people are still there and make for enjoyable reading. The story is reasonably entertaining and surprising, although it does become a little far fetched towards the end.

Fans of Death Under A Little Sky may be a little surprised by the change in style and direction this time around, but I think it works well and it will be interesting to see where Abell goes with the next book.

Death In A Lonely Place, which has a beautiful cover, was released in Australia on 3 April 2024 and will be released in the United Kingdom on 11 April 2024.

Long Time Dead by T. M. Payne (Thomas & Mercer,1 April 2024)

T. M. Payne makes a very promising entry into Britain’s crime writing ranks with her first novel, Long Time Dead (Thomas & Mercer,1 April 2024).

The book opens in dramatic fashion with the gunning down of two women on the streets of Liverpool.

The story then jumps forward in time with the discovery of a decayed corpse in the wrong grave at a local cemetery. The body is of a small-time drug dealer, John Lively, who was the prime suspect in the shooting of the two women seven years ago. One of the women was a police officer and it was always suspected that Lively had killed her out of revenge for an earlier arrest.

DI Sheridan Holler is given the case of Lively’s death to solve, which also involves re-investigating the original shooting. Sheridan needs to work out if Lively was killed out of revenge, or was just a victim of the criminal world he inhabited. When shocking evidence is revealed about the murder weapon, Sheridan’s cold case starts to look hopeless once more.

This is a very engaging and easy flowing police detective yarn. The story moves along at a good pace, and there are enough early twists and turns to keep it interesting. There is a largish cast of characters, including the surviving victim of the original shooting who is now totally incapacitated and seemingly unable to tell what happened, and it takes a little while to sort out where they all fit into the plot. However, as the story unfolds it all becomes very clear, and Ms Payne’s light writing style makes it easy to follow the ‘ins and outs’ of the investigation.

Sheridan is an appealing and interesting character, and she is a good guide through the intricacies of the plot. The other characters are also well developed and add to the story, including Maud the cat. There are some good twists, and plenty of red herrings, and the book builds to a very tense and unexpected conclusion, with some neat stings in the tale.

I enjoyed Long Time Dead, which was a really quick and engaging read. My only reservation was that the book built to a good climax, and then Payne spent several unnecessary pages explaining what happened in detail through flashbacks, and following up on the characters. I just thought that a sharper ending might have been a bit more effective. Nevertheless, Long Time Dead is a very good debut and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Long Time Dead was released on 1 April 2024 and is very reasonably priced as a Kindle book.

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