The Maid by Nita Prose (Ballantine Books)
Twenty-something Molly Gray, a charmingly eccentric neurodivergent maid at the swanky Regency Grand Hotel lives for her job. She loves to clean, has rigid and precise habits, is unfailingly polite to one and all, has no social life and lives alone now that her grandmother has died. When Molly discovers the body of Charles Black, a wealthy real estate mogul suspected of criminal activities in his long-term suite, she finds herself in a fix. How she becomes the prime suspect thanks to her inability to separate friend from foe, and how she manages to free herself thanks to a stalwart band of friends propels this delightful debut.
The Island by Adrian McKinty (Orion)
For a fast paced, heart pounding, edge-of-the-seat chase, look no farther than a family vacation in the Australian outback, Dutch Island, which turns deadly. Heather Baxter, newly married to Tom, a surgeon with a young son and a teenage daughter who dislike her, accompanies them to Australia for a work-cum-family vacation. They decide to get off the grid and explore Dutch Island, off limits to visitors. A horrific accident, though, leaves them at the mercy of the clannish locals who manage to separate Tom from Heather and the children. Now it is up to Heather to save her stepkids in the harsh outback where the grimly determined hunters out to kill them aren’t the only predators. A nail-biting page-turner fuelled by love, hope and most of all, grit.
Murder before Evensong by Reverend Richard Coles (W&N)
A quiet village in late-1980s England with a gentle philosophical bachelor-priest who has to find a killer among his flock heralds the start of a mystery series by a now retired vicar, the Reverend Richard Coles. The congregation of St Mary’s Champton Rectory is up in arms over plans to build a loo in place of a couple of back pews. The Rector, Reverend Canon Daniel Clement and his powerful patron, Bernard De Floures back the project. The flower arranging crew, a militant band, have other plans for the space; they want to extend the flower room. When Churchwarden Anthony Bowness, a cousin of De Floures, is murdered with a pair of secateurs in the neck, it is up to the gentle priest to find the motive and the murderer. Along the way, we are treated to his humour-filled ruminations on determined mothers, the place of tradition in a modern world, the balance between activity and inactivity, and the rise of bureaucrat-priests.
Fans of the crown will love the murder most royal series. Its author SJ Bennett has a gentle touch, and takes us into the drawing rooms of the Queen and her family and the British upper crust
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The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith (Sphere)
Cormoran Strike and his business partner, the doughty Robin Ellacott are approached by Edie Ledwell, the co-creator of a popular cartoon on YouTube, The Ink Black Heart, who says she is being threatened by an online figure who goes by the pseudonym, Anomie. Edie’s show has been bought by Netflix and this has annoyed Anomie and Morehouse, two fans who have created an online game based on the cartoon. Anomie has unleashed fandom’s wrath on Edie for selling out and has issued death threats against her, she says. When Edie is murdered in Highgate Cemetery and the cartoon’s co-creator is grievously injured, Strike and Robin have to infiltrate the online game and figure out Anomie’s true identity before more people die. They are drawn into the world of misunderstood and the ill-treated young who retreat into online avatars, negligent and even abusive parents, millionaire commune patriarchs and Far Right acolytes. Veering between online chats and the more conventional narrative, the detective duos’ rich interior life—Strike’s former girlfriend’s messy divorce and Robin’s struggle to make sense of her feelings for Strike— propel this page turner.
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian (Harvill Secker)
Chloe Sevre is a pretty freshman honours student also happens to be a psychopath— someone who can’t feel fear or guilt. Along with six other psychopaths, she enrols in John Adams college in Washington DC as part of a study being conducted by a psychologist. The seven, though, don’t know who the other six are. Then one by one someone begins killing them off. Chloe has to find the killer among her fellow-psychopaths, and for that, she has to figure out their identities and decide which of them to trust. As readers, we feel we are in safe hands with Kurian, a social psychologist by training. The mental make-up of these psychopaths she reveals ring true as do their choices that thrust them ever more into terror’s path. The book more than lives up to the promise of the exciting hook.
Murder Most Royal by SJ Bennett (Zaffre)
The third in a charming series with Queen Elizabeth II as the detective, this one opens in December 2016 in Sandringham. The Queen and Prince Philip have arrived and are looking forward to their family Christmas celebrations. Then a human hand with a signet ring washes up on a nearby beach and the Queen recognises the ring as belonging to Edward St Cyr, a neighbour who led an uncontroversial and unconventional life with more enemies than friends. When another local is found dead and a third one is a victim of a hit and run, the Queen and her trusted assistant race to find the killer. Fans of The Crown will love this series. Bennett has a gentle touch, and takes us into the drawing rooms of the Queen and her family and the British upper crust. We are kept at a slight distance from the inner workings of the Queen’s mind, which works well to keep us from becoming over familiar with the royalty. Rozie, the six-foot Nigerian British soldier, now personal assistant to the Queen is a great foil, an able Watson who cheerfully performs the leg work and ferrets out important clues. A fine winter afternoon read.
No Plan B by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
Grey men in suits gather in a prison office, worried that Jack Reacher may have looked in an envelope and seen a photograph, a date, a time and a place. “If he sets foot in our town — Winston, Mississippi— we’ll be waiting. And here, we don’t have to worry about how anything looks.” And the next outing of the wildly popular Lee Child series (this one co-written with his brother Andrew) is off and running. Of course, Reacher is going to show up. And of course, he will beat up the bad guys and win against all odds. And of course, a beautiful damsel with a heart of gold will help him. The pages turn at a ripping pace, and the multiple strands—a runaway kid, a criminal boss father out to avenge his son’s death, and Reacher’s puzzlement about why a woman was pushed to her death—all lead inexorably to the suited men in a box of a room in Winston. A cunning plot and a satisfying finish round off another must-read for Reacher fans.
The twist of a knife continues the saga of Anthony Horowitz the author as a character in his own novel contracted to write three books about the investigations of an ex-Scotland yard policeman
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The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz (Century)
This book continues the ongoing saga of Horowitz the author as a character in his own novel contracted to write three books about the investigations of the reluctant and enigmatic ex-Scotland Yard policeman Daniel Hawthorne. Fed up with being the Watson, Anthony tells Hawthorne that the deal’s over. Other fish to fry, he says, busy with a new play staged at the famous Vaudeville theatre. But when a critic gives it a savage review, with harsh words reserved for its author, and she is found stabbed with an ornamental dagger belonging to Anthony, he goes on the run. A grovelling phone call to Hawthorne brings the ace detective back into the game. The actors—a rising Welsh star, a Native American superstar, and a millennial ingenue, the producer, and the director had the motive and the opportunity to kill the critic. They have to figure out if Harriet’s death is linked to her past writings or the present review. This one hews close to the classic whodunit with six main suspects, red herrings, surprising twists and a satisfying denouement.
Five Decembers by James Kestrel (Titan Books)
A policeman based in Honolulu just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour travels to Hong Kong in pursuit of a serial killer. Joe McGrady’s travails take him to Guam and Tokyo against the backdrop of World War II, and the layered narrative sets it apart from other gritty noirs. The book, which won the Edgar Allan Poe Award this year, follows the McGrady’s journey through the traumas caused by the war and its impact on his loves and losses. Kestrel never loses sight of the mystery, which comes full circle back to Honolulu for the denouement.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins)
When Jess turns up at her brother’s flat in a swanky Parisian building and finds her brother missing, his cat licking blood off its paws, and a cryptic voicemail that suggests that all is not well with his disappearance, she is determined to track him down. The other residents include a young and reclusive university student, an elegant and mysterious lady married to a wealthy wine merchant, a warring couple on the verge of a divorce, her brother’s Cambridge friend, and a concierge who watches from the shadows. As Jess delves deeper into her brother’s life, she discovers that some of his neighbours disliked him, even hated him. What secrets are they hiding and why are they trying to stop her from finding him? Is he dead? Though it is a gripping read told from multiple points of view, some secrets could’ve been revealed earlier and the danger connected with those secrets could have been more real. Nevertheless, this is a nice book to curl up with in the winter sun.
About The Author
Shylashri Shankar is the author of Turmeric Nation - A Passage Through India's Tastes
Return to Greatness Zakia Soman
‘This Is Not Fusion’ Akhil Sood
Song That Lost at the Oscars Kaveree Bamzai