DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD | Olga Tokarczuk
If you are in the mood for an ecological thriller by a Nobel Prize winner, this is it. An ageing quirky caretaker of summer homes in remote southwest Poland, Janina spends her days studying astrology and translating William Blake. In a community of hunters, Janina is passionate about saving animals—foxes, wolves, deer—in the surrounding forests. When bodies are found in strange circumstances, nobody believes her theory about a link between the murders. To help her prove the whodunit she commandeers an unruly, free spirited and eccentric band of friends with monikers such as Oddball, Dizzy and Good News. Simply marvellous.
SNAP | Belinda Bauer
A mystery with a living, beating heart, about putting together the pieces of one’s life after a tragedy. Jack (12) and his sisters (9 and 4) wait for their mother who goes to get help after their car breaks down. Her body turns up later. A year later, we see Jack burgling houses to feed his two sisters after his grieving father walks out. The savvy kid keeps the lawn clean so that the social worker doesn’t come knocking on the door. In another home, a pregnant wife is worried that someone is stalking her. ‘I could have killed you,’ says the note under a strange knife with a serrated blade. She is extremely worried but doesn’t tell her salesman-husband. Meanwhile the police launch ‘Operation Goldilocks’ to catch the burglar who likes to sleep in the kids’ rooms in the houses he burgles. Enter demoted Met officer DCI Merry who is annoyed at being stuck in a sheep shit hole without any murders. This is a grand caper with depth and humour.
THE CHAIN | Adrian McKinty
I am a great fan of this author, particularly his one-offs like Fifty Grand. This one pokes at a parent’s worst nightmare. You drop your child off at the bus stop. You get a phone call from a stranger who says they have kidnapped your child because their child was kidnapped by another stranger. The only way you will get your child back is if you pay ransom and kidnap another child within 24 hours. Otherwise, your child will be killed. You are now part of The Chain. Can Rachel break it without losing her daughter? Superb thriller.
THE SILENT PATIENT | Alex Michaelides
A shocking psychological thriller about a psychotherapist’s obsession with finding out why his patient, a famous painter, shot her photographer-husband five times in the face and never spoke again. It could be a simple domestic tragedy, but it isn’t. Michaelides skilfully lays bare the workings of the criminal mind, of trauma and the descent into panic. The story is presented from the points of view of the psychologist and the patient (through a diary). You will never guess the jaw-dropping twist at the end.
THE NEWCOMER | Keigo Higashino
Newcomer takes us deep into Japanese urban society. A woman is strangled in her apartment, and Kaga, a recently demoted homicide detective is put on the job. Charming vignettes connect each suspect’s everyday life to the murder. We dip a finger into the emotional cauldron of the shopkeepers’ personal lives—the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law tussles, parent-child face off, infidelity, a falling out with a friend, and so on. Kaga is an eccentric Columbo-like character who manages somehow to set right all that is wrong in the lives of the ordinary folk in the neighbourhood. A feel-good read.
THE WIFE | Alafair Burke
Told from the viewpoint of the wife whose husband, a successful businessman and bestselling author is accused by an intern of sexual harassment. Is he guilty? The wife has to grapple with the question while facing ghosts from her own past. Alafair, who is a former prosecutor, skilfully lays out the complex emotional tangle of the #MeToo accusations. It will be out as a film soon.
NO MERCY | Joanna Schaffhausen
Another book spurred by the sexual violence that has triggered the #MeToo movement. Damaged but brave policewoman Ellery Hathaway has been suspended for shooting a murderer in cold blood. She has no remorse but if she wants to keep her job, she has to show up at the group meeting for survivors of violent crimes. A fellow member may have helped convict the wrong man of deadly arson, while another member, a victim of rape by a masked man, begs Ellery for help. With the FBI profiler who had rescued her as a teenager from a serial killer, Ellery has to find the truth, which may not be what she expects. Snarly and powerful writing.
A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER | Holly Jackson
A textbook on how to solve a murder if you are a teenage amateur sleuth. Seventeen-year-old Pippa Fitz Amobi has decided to solve a murder case in her town for her A-level essay project. A popular teenager was murdered five years ago whose boyfriend, the brilliant son of immigrants, Sal Singh commits suicide while under suspicion. Unlike the neighbourhood, Pippa is not convinced he did it. Neither is Ravi, Sal’s younger brother, the Watson to Pippa’s Holmes. Dogged and snarky Pippa systematically records the interviews in a logbook (a fascinating and irreverent read), and follows the trail to the suspects—Sal’s friends who had retracted their alibi, the teacher, and a drug dealer. She uncovers disturbing facts about the murdered girl and her family. But someone doesn’t want Pippa to find out the truth. Brilliant.
THE NIGHT FIRE | Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch returns from retirement when his mentor’s widow gives him a case file of an unsolved murder of an ex-con. Why did he keep the file all these years? Bosch asks Detective Renee Ballard for help. She is on the graveyard beat and investigating why a homeless person burned alive in a tent. Meanwhile, Bosch’s half-brother lawyer Mickey Haller defends the man accused of murdering a judge. The man’s DNA was found under the judge’s fingernails, and the chap also confessed to the murder. Star crime writer Connelly somehow seamlessly weaves two murders together into a single strand and a single killer.
SOMEONE WE KNOW | Sharon Lapena
A neighbour who could be a psychopath, a beautiful femme fatale, a weak husband, a marriage that has unravelled, an anxious wife, a problematic teenage son who breaks into homes and looks through the computer to practice hacking—these are the suspects in a leafy, tranquil neighbourhood when the femme fatale is murdered. The husband is under suspicion and his is one of the homes the teenager targeted. Then comes another reveal—the husband was sleeping with his next-door neighbour whose husband was having an affair with the murdered femme fatale. Crikey, whodunit?