Here are some of the books we enjoyed reading in April

Nine books to recommend this month, listed in order of Star rating (best to worst) and then alphabetically by author. If you enjoy crime fiction you will surely find something here to read!

Trust by Chris Hammer
Book 3 in the Martin Scarsden series. In the first two novels, Mandy Blonde (Martin’s girlfriend) occasionally mentions her past in Sydney and this is explored in this story. The action mainly takes place in Sydney, after the body of her ex-boyfriend is discovered. He’d been an undercover cop, and presumed to have stolen millions of dollars from an investment bank. In fact, he’d been dead all those years, so the investigation into what happened to the money is reopened. Martin is separately investigating the murder of his friend and ex-editor; and there’s also a society called The Mess, which has over the years changed from a dining club/good causes group into something far less wholesome. All these strands eventually get pulled together in another excellent mystery from Chris Hammer which gets 4+ Stars from Norfolk Gal. 

Cry Baby by Mark Billingham
Published last year, this is a prequel to Billingham’s very first DS Tom Thorne novel (Sleepy Head). The story is set in the summer of 1996 and begins with two boys running from a park playground into adjoining woods. When only one of them returns the police are called. A witness comes forward to say that he saw a boy being taken, and Thorne’s investigation soon begins to develop in unexpected ways. This is the first time Oxo has ever read a book by Mark Billingham and she really enjoyed this, saying it’s an excellent mystery with a surprising ending. 4-Stars.  

Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
The first in a series that pairs Kava’s female FBI agent, Maggie O’Dell, with Ryder Creed, ex-marine and search-and-rescue dog trainer. The story centres around a Colombian cartel’s drug smuggling and child trafficking operations in the USA. Essentially, it’s a steadily paced crime investigation, which is enjoyable to read with interesting characters and brutal killings. It was published in 2015 and Cornish Eskimo liked it enough to be tracking down more novels in the Ryder Creed series. 4-Stars.

Out of Time by David Klass
A thriller that’s both thought-provoking and exciting. Tom Smith is a young FBI analyst who finds himself working for a team trying to track down an environmental terrorist known as the Green Man. The Green Man has destroyed several targets that threaten the environment, but also killed innocent people in the process. With Tom’s gift for pattern-recognition the team gets the break they need and then it’s a hunt to stop the Green Man before he kills more people. Klass writes in a way that makes you question the rights and wrongs of both sides, which Cornish Eskimo says makes it interesting to read. 4-Stars.

Still Life by Val McDermid
This book is mainly set in Scotland, with interludes in France and Ireland, because DCI Karen Pirie is dealing with two cases. One, a skeleton found in a camper van in a dead woman’s garage, which involves a change of identity. The other is an investigation triggered when the body of a suspected murderer is washed up on the coast. The murder took place 10 years earlier but the victim’s body was never found. The case takes Karen to France and Dublin to unravel a complicated mystery set in a network of lies. Norfolk Gal enjoyed this book and said she was soon involved in the story with all its twists and turns. She gives it 4 Stars

The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
Mo is reading the Armand Gamache series from the beginning, and this is Book 3. It’s Easter in the village of Three Pines in Quebec, and between the egg hunts and other festivities a séance is held in an empty house that’s long been believed to be haunted. A death occurs and Gamache and his team are brought in to find the killer. But alongside the investigation his professional life seems to be unravelling due to the fallout from the recent corruption investigation at the Sûreté du Québec. Gamache is an interesting protagonist – thoughtful and rather stately – and these books are traditional murder mysteries which are thoroughly enjoyable. Mo gives this one 4-Stars.  

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
“Absolutely unputdownable!” said Oxo, who received this in her Mystery Selection from the library. It’s a suspense novel with a difference because you really don’t know what’s behind the mystery that unfolds. The story starts with two women striking up a conversation on a train. They’ve never met before, but one confesses to having an affair with her boss, and the other says she suspects her husband is sleeping with their children’s nanny. They finish their journeys, presumably never to meet again. But then the nanny disappears. Oxo says she loved the setting and background, and there were so many twists and turns it was hard to keep track, but she simply couldn’t stop reading. 4-Stars (which would be 5 from anyone else!)

Never Go Back by Robert Goddard
Published in 2006, this is the story of a group of ex-RAF National Servicemen who meet for a reunion at a Scottish castle where, 50 years earlier, they were guinea pigs in a psychological experiment to see if young men of working-class backgrounds, with limited schooling and in some trouble with the authorities could benefit from formal learning. The amiable atmosphere of the journey to the reunion is shattered when one of them apparently commits suicide on the train, after having uttered some cryptic remarks to the main character, Harry Barnett. Soon more deaths occur, the police get involved and before he knows it Harry and his old friend and one-time business partner, Barry, find themselves under suspicion. It’s an interesting plot with a good ending, and Freyja awarded 3-Stars.

The Cat and the Corpse in the old Barn by Kate High
Cosy crime, set in a medium sized town in Lincolnshire, with a modern-day ‘Miss Marple’. The protagonist is Clarice, an early-middle-aged potter and animal rescue nut, who is separated from her police inspector husband. She finds a rotting corpse in the local Hanging Barn, which turns out to be a local, wealthy woman. More murders follow and suspicion falls on a local noble family. Clarice has a reputation as a bit of a sleuth, having often helped her husband and so she investigates the numerous tangled family knots and finds the solution to the mystery. The story has a very satisfactory conclusion and Freyja liked it more than she expected to, saying that it’s easy to read and amusing in places. 3-Stars from her.

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