The dance of the detectives

On the Radar — The most interesting release this week has to be Face Off, in which some of crime fiction’s most famous detectives are paired off to dance their way through various crimes. With the anthology edited by David Baldacci, it looks like it’ll be a great one to read during your commute. We’ve also got a new title from the legendary TV writer Lynda La Plante, a 1930s spy thriller, and a selection of contemporary pulp for you. Read on and make your picks…

Face OffFace Off edited by David Baldacci
This book is the focus of a very intensive marketing and promotion campaign, principally because of the big names who have collaborated on it. The concept is relatively simple. Take a collection of the best-known contemporary fictional cops and investigators, and pair them off to solve 11 stand-alone crimes. So, in Face Off you’ll find Ian Rankin’s John Rebus teaming up with Peter James’ Roy Grace, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller and Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme partners John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport. With editor David Baldacci calling the tune, most of the fun will be in reading how apparently mismatched partners carry out this merry dance of detection together. How will the permanently pessimistic Rebus cope with the blond, rugby-playing idealist Grace? With Jack Reacher and Nick Heller forming at team, which will be the alpha male? You can find out immediately by downloading the book on Kindle.
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SorcererSorcerer by David Menon
In Sorcerer, central character is the Manchester police detective Jeff Barton. The story is nothing if not topical, with British papers report on cases of historical child abuse left right and centre. When three bodies are discovered in a former care home, the investigation uncovers a horrific chain of abuse and exploitation dating back decades. Barton is a widower, having recently lost his wife, and he now tries to balance the care of his five-year-old son with the increasing demands of his job. The prime suspects in the child abuse case are now living abroad, but when a former resident of the home decides to take the law into his own hands Barton has to pull out all the stops to make sure that justice is delivered by legal means and not via a terrible act of revenge. Sorcerer is available now.
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Red LightRed Light by Graham Masterton
The Edinburgh-born author has written bestsellers in many genres, including horror and even sexual instruction. He ventured into crime fiction in 2002 with the first Katie Maguire novel, A Terrible Beauty. In Red Light, the attention of DS Maguire of Ireland’s An Garda Síochána runs into the favourite subject of so many contemporary crime novels: sex trafficking. In Cork the trade in young women – shipped in from Europe, Somalia and Nigeria – is brisk. The pimps and handlers are clever, resourceful, and have influential friends. When one of the city’s most devious and elusive of the pimps is found dead, Maguire breathes a discreet prayer of thanks. The killer has done what the police have failed to do – stop a serial abuser in his tracks. When a second pimp meets a similarly violent end, she enters a moral maze. Should she quietly allow the blood-letting continue, or must she stick to the code of ethics which she swore to uphold when she joined the force? Red Light is out today.
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The Death TradeThe Death Trade by Jack Higgins
Higgins has written over 50 crime thrillers under a variety of pseudonyms. Perhaps his two best-known works are The Eagle Has Landed (1975) and A Prayer For The Dying (1973), both of which were made into successful films. We first met the prodigiously talented and homicidal Sean Dillon in Eye Of The Storm (1992), when he was hired by an Iraqi millionaire to assassinate then prime minister John Major. The Death Trade brings us bang up to date with the established superpowers fretting and fidgeting over an increasingly bellicose Iran, a country with an old score to settle and possibly the nuclear wherewithal to do it. When an Iranian scientist makes a technical breakthrough that threatens world peace, the dubious skills of Dillon are required, despite his deep antipathy for all things British. Out now.
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TwistedTwisted by Lynda La Plante
New from the creator of DCI Jane Tennison, this latest novel focuses on every parent’s worst nightmare – a missing child. Outwardly the Fulfords are a model family. They are well off, professional, and have a beautiful teenage daughter. However, in private Marcus and Lena are each others’ throats as a result of a growing mutual antipathy and financial problems. With young Amy away at boarding school, they want to reach as amicable a divorce settlement as they can. When Amy goes missing after a weekend sleepover, the police seem bereft of ideas, and soon there’s the shadow of that old addage – if a missing youngster isn’t found within 24 hours, the case becomes a murder enquiry. Things become distinctly messy when it transpires that Amy didn’t get as far as her sleepover because. According to the mother of the host family she changed her plans and went to see her father. Is Marcus involved? Could he be using his daughter as a bargaining chip in the divorce? La Plante’s Prime Suspect featured in our top 20 crime shows earlier this year. Twisted is out today.
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MIdnight-in-europeMidnight in Europe by Alan Furst
Western Europe, 1938. While politicians struggle to combat the rising tide of militarism, the dam has already broken in Spain where Nationalists and Republicans are locked in a struggle which is a prelude to a much wider and more disastrous conflict. In one sense this is a conventional spy novel, with the action ranging between the diplomatic hot spots of Paris, New York, Danzig and Istanbul. However, in addition to the espionage, Midnight in Europe a loving recreation of a continent on the verge of disaster for the second time in 30 years. Lawyer Cristián Ferrar, a Spanish expat, finds himself amongst socialites and socialists, gangsters and arms dealers, as they try to stem the rise of fascism. We took a look at an earlier Alan Furst novel back in 2012. The novel comes out on 12 June.
Pre-order now on Amazon

Children of WarChildren of War by Martin Walker
Here the setting is St Denis, a fictional community in Périgord, an ancient region of the Dordogne. The police chief is Bruno Courreges, and much of his life is spent chasing lost dogs, organising communal festivities and registering births and deaths. He also investigates murders and when an undercover police officer is found dead in nearby woodland, Courreges has to set his more mundane duties to one side. The case becomes more complicated when the controversial issue of Muslim rights and responsibilities in modern France comes into play. The rural idyll is disrupted by events far away in Afghanistan, as well as the far-reaching hand of the FBI. You can read our review of an earlier Bruno Courreges story here. Children Of War is out now.
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better when hes badBetter When He’s Bad by Jay Crownover
Jay Crownover is a proud citizen of Colorado and enjoys writing crime fiction stories from the bad guy’s perspective. What does life look like if you are on the wrong side of the law? What compels young men to rob, brawl and ignore the laws of the land? This book may not please feminists, but may provide some of the answers. Shane ‘Bax’ Baxter is possibly mad, probably bad, and certainly dangerous to know, particularly if you are a vulnerable female member of the city’s underclass. Bax is fresh on the streets after a five year spell in jail. He has unfinished business, which usually means skulls to crack and scores to settle. What he doesn’t allow for is the gentle and silky determination of a young woman called Dovie Pryce. Usually, when steel meets silk there is only one winner. But this time, things may be very different. On sale from 17 June.
Pre-order now on Amazon

Screen shot 2014-06-01 at 18.43.16Vanished by Kendra Elliot
This is the fifth in a series by Kendra Elliot’s series, The Bone Secrets. Each new book introduces several different central characters each time but the unifying factor is the use of forensics in criminal investigation. In Vanished, we have the familiar but still harrowing narrative of a child abduction. Henley Fairbanks is just 11 years old and one day she simply doesn’t arrive home from school. Having said that the central characters change, readers will recognise Mason Callahan and his partner Ray Lusco of the Oregon State Police Major crimes division. As they try to engineer Henley’s safe return home, we are treated to abduction, murder and nail-biting suspense. Published on 17 June.
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The Murder ComplexThe Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Dallas-based author Cummings has written several YA novels and professes to owning a hedgehog called Hedwig, two German Shepherds, a wolf cub and a horse. In her latest novel she offers a chilling answer to problem of overpopulation. In a futuristic Florida, where the rule of law is just a distant memory, the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. The main character is a teenage girl called Meadow Woodson, who lives on a houseboat with her family. When she meets a young man called Zephyr James there’s an instant attraction, but readers learn a salutary fact long before the truth becomes apparent to Meadow. Zephyr doesn’t know it but he’s a programmed killer controlled by the shadowy organisation  – the eponymous Murder Complex – which has powers of life and death in this dystopian vision of the future. Full of blood and thunder, this novel will be published on 10 June.
Pre-order now on Amazon

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