The best recent detective novels and thrillers – review summary | Books

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The shadow of men by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker, £ 12.99)
The fifth book in the Wyndham & Banerjee series on Imperial Police Officers begins in Calcutta in 1923, with the murder of a prominent Hindu scholar. Sergeant Banerjee’s proximity to the deceased puts him within the scope of the murder, so it is imperative that he and Captain Wyndham find as quickly as possible the Muslim politician they suspect to be the real culprit. Sectarian tensions are already high, thanks to gang violence and political discord, and the riots are likely to turn into a bloodbath. The idea that someone may be deliberately stirring up existing unrest adds to the growing unease Wyndham and Banerjee feel about the colonial rule they have vowed to maintain. Action-packed, with some terrific backdrops, it’s not just an atmospheric and thoughtful depiction of a time and place, but a masterclass on how to keep the reader turning the pages.

Mick Herron Dolphin Junction

Junction of dolphins by Mick Herron (John Murray, £ 16.99)
Certainly one for the Christmas list, Dolphin Junction is both a perfect introduction to the creator of monstrous spy master Jackson Lamb and a treat for Slough House aficionados. The 11 stories in this collection were originally written between 2006 and 2019, and – which is unusual for an anthology of this type – there is no weight in form: each offers a surprise, shock or a thrill, with a lot of smoke and mirror characteristic of Herron. poor orientation and sardonic humor. Highlights include Roald Dahlesque’s lost baggage and the truly terrifying All the Livelong Day, as well as What We Do, one of four stories starring the intelligent and unfazed private investigator Zoë Boehm from the author’s Oxford series. . An episode of Jackson Lamb’s past is explored in The Last Dead Letter, and there is festive joy in The Usual Santas, when eight Santa Claus attempt to unmask the impostor who has infiltrated their caves.

Sofi oksanen

Sofi Oksanen Dog Park, translated by Owen F Witesman (Atlantic, £ 14.99)
Award-winning Finno-Estonian writer Oksanen’s latest book is a complex, textured, slow-burning text that paints a living picture of a post-Soviet state where gangsters rule and exploitation of the body feminine is a big deal. Dog Park begins in 2016, with Olenka sitting on a bench in Helsinki, anonymously watching her biological child – now with new parents – enjoying a walk with the family’s schnauzer. When an old acquaintance, Daria, sits down next to her, Olenka immediately assumes the woman is there for the purpose of blackmail. In 2006, desperate to escape a life of poverty in her native Ukraine, Olenka agreed to sell her eggs to an infertile couple through an agency, which then employed her to encourage others, including Daria, to do the same. . It takes a while to figure out what, exactly, went so wrong that Olenka fears for her life, but the pathos fuel true suspense.

Russian doll Marina Palmer

Russian doll by Marina Palmer (Hodder & Stoughton, £ 16.99)
Historical novelist Imogen Robertson, writing under her short story thriller name, offers more post-soviet gangsters. Here it is Russian oligarchs based in London lavishing expensive gifts on members of the British establishment. When modest administrative assistant Ruth Miller is offered the post of personal secretary by brilliant beauty Elena Shilkov, she is transported to a world of bodyguards, designer clothes and superyachts, but soon learns that such luxury has a high price. Nothing is what it seems in this novel, which, like the title matryoshka, contains secrets within secrets – and Ruth, it turns out, has her own agenda. Fast and clever, with a nice mix of political intrigue and romantic suspense as well as a thriller, it’s the perfect entertainment for a winter night out.

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Quiet people by Paul Cleave (Orenda, £ 8.99)
New Zealander Cleave’s latest novel is set in Christchurch, where mystery writer duo Cameron and Lisa Murdoch live with their son Zach. When the seven-year-old goes missing, the couple’s boastful statements about the possibility of committing the perfect crime come back to haunt them. There’s also the fact that Zach – euphemistically described as “difficult” – had a public crisis the day before he disappeared, as did his father, who with his anger management issues and poor impulse control, is as painful to the neck as his son. Public sympathy evaporates and the family are soon in the eye of a social media storm with protesters outside their home and a slew of one-star reviews on Amazon, as suspicion grows that Cameron and Lisa have concocted a real plot to revive their faltering careers. A true page turner, with an intriguing premise, a roller coaster plot, and a seemingly flawed cast of characters.


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