UNDER THE RADAR: SEVEN GOOD BOOKS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED IN 2022
Every year there are piles of books released with a fanfare of manufactured publicity by publishers, and certain reviewers, while other equally good books quietly find their way onto bookseller shelves and Kindle lists. This has been particularly the case in 2022, which saw a flood of COVID delayed books early in the year that swamped some of the scheduled releases. Even novels by relatively well known authors, such as Gerald Seymour’s The Foot Soldiers and Deon Meyer’s The Dark Flood, received little publicity and seemed to have struggled to find space on the shelves of bookshops in Australia, and quite often quickly disappeared from sight.
In advance of doing my own summation of the year’s best crime and thriller titles, I thought I would do my usual list of good books that slipped under the radar and were overshadowed by celebrity releases and over-hyped domestic thrillers.
Some of them may appear on my Best Books of the Year lists, but all are good and well worth checking out. In some cases they are books by smaller publishers, or those which focus on the library market, and a couple even failed to reach Australia in any number. There are also a couple which mainly came out as eBooks. With a bit more publicity, I think all of them would have found larger appreciative audiences.
The order is a bit arbitrary, as all are very entertaining. I have attached links to my earlier reviews.
The Night Shift (Minotaur) was released in the United States in March 2022, but I do not know whether it ever made its way to Australia. Certainly I never saw it in any bookshop. Which is a shame, as it is a really good crime novel with strong characters and a twisty plot.
The story revolves around two eerily similar massacres of teenagers in a small New Jersey town fifteen years apart. In each case three teenagers working at a local store were killed, while a fourth co-worker manages to survive. The survivor from the original massacre finds herself thrust back into a nightmare, as she seeks to find out the links between the two events.
This is a very well constructed and highly addictive read and was close to being in my top ten of the year.
See my earlier review here: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/march-mayhem-four-new-crime-novels-for-march-2022/
Cold Fear (Bantam, 7 June 2022) by Brandon Webb and John David Mann is another one which not seem to make its way to Australia.
Webb and Mann’s debut, Steel Fear, was one of my favourite thrillers of 2021 and Cold Fear certainly maintained the momentum of the first book. Set in Iceland Cold Fear was a fast moving mix of crime novel and action thriller, and kept me eagerly turning the pages till the end. The story was interesting, and benefited from having two strong central characters: the enigmatic and flawed former SEAL, Finn, and the local female detective in charge of the investigation into a young woman’s supposedly accidental drowning. A thoroughly enjoyable thriller.
Australian author Sulari Gentill’s The Woman In The Library (Ultimo Press) vied with Benjamin Stevenson’s Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone as one of the more original mysteries of 2022. It did not seem to receive a lot of attention here in Australia, but was a well crafted and clever novel within a novel. The plot is too intricate to explain here, but trust me it was a very inventive story that managed to be both a good mystery and an interesting reflection on the art of writing.
Mike Ripley’s marvellous continuations of the Albert Campion novels by Margery Allingham are always a delightful piece of fun and in 2022 we had Mr Campion’s Mosaic (Severn House, October 2022), which expanded on his invention of the fictional British mystery writer, Evadne Childe.
It was the usual busy plot by Ripley and finds the ageing Campion caught up in dark secrets from World War II, an impressive Roman mosaic, ghosthunters and murder. The story proceeds at a leisurely pace and is full of interesting historical snippets and cultural references, as well as several amusing inside jokes and references by Ripley. Underlying the fun is a good murder mystery that is neatly resolved.
David Mark’s The Whispering Dead (Severn House) is due out in a couple of days, but like most Severn House books, it is unlikely to receive the attention it deserves.
Set mainly in 1982, it is a good follow-up to The Mausoleum from a few years back. More of a spy story than The Mausoleum, The Whispering Dead smoothly goes through its paces as the clever plot weaves its way through several twists and betrayals to the violent ending. There is also some good historical reflections on the geo-political situation in the early 1980s and some pointed comments on accountability and morality that are still applicable today.
A very good read. Here is my review: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/october-reading-lee-and-andrew-child-david-mark-and-mary-keliikoa/
Mark Mills won the 2004 British Crime Writers Award for Best Debut novel for Amagansett and his subsequent books have also been well received. Surprisingly, Impact (Joffe Books, 5 July 2022) was released with little fanfare and mainly seems to be targeted at the Kindle market.
Revolving around a young woman who has lost part of her memory following a car accident, it is a low key, but exciting police detection novel set in America. Showcasing a good cast of characters and a clever twisty plot, it is a highly addictive and very entertaining read. Well worth a read, especially as the Kindle edition continues to be sold for a small amount.
I had not come across Mary Keliikoa’s novels before, but Hidden Pieces, (Level Best Books, 25 October 2022), was a well written and enjoyable crime novel with a dark tinge to it.
Set in a small community in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, it is a well paced crime story about the search for a missing teenage girl, that may be linked to a similar incident years before. The central detective is a flawed, but sympathetic character, and he is supported by an interesting and credible group of supporting characters. It is not an action-packed book, but there is enough tension and suspense to keep you reading well into the night.
So some good reading, which you may have missed during the year. I will be doing a list of my Top crime and thriller titles in the next few days.