Crime fiction is an awfully diverse genre and in a lot of ways that’s a good thing. In fact in most ways it is. There’s something in the genre for just about anyone to enjoy, no matter how dark, light, thriller-ish, character-driven, plot-driven or any other way they like their novels. And for the crime writer, writing in a diverse genre means there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of the kind of novel to write. But here’s the thing. A diverse genre with a lot of authors means that the crime fiction fan’s TBR list/library can get out of control. But that doesn’t stop crime fiction fans from getting excited when a new release by a favourite author is coming out.
Of course, everyone has a different set of favourites. But here are just a few of the new books coming out this year that I am very much looking forward to reading.
Coming out in April will be Martin Edwards’ The Frozen Shroud, the sixth in his Lake District series featuring DCI Hannah Scarlett and Oxford historian Daniel Kind. Edwards has a real gift for depicting the beautiful Lake District, and this series weaves together strong characters, past mysteries and present mysteries. Little wonder I’m so eager for this new novel. In it, Scarlett and her Cold Case Review team investigate the connections between the World War I-era murder of Gertrude Smith, the five-year-old murder of Shenagh Moss, and another murder closer to home for Scarlett.
Another book I’m very much looking forward to reading is William Ryan’s The Twelfth Department. This is the third in his historical crime fiction series featuring Moscow CID Captain Alexei Korolev. These novels take place mostly in Moscow during the Stalinist years leading up to World War II. Korolev lives and works during a very dangerous time in the then-Soviet Union. He’s assigned to investigate murder cases and he is committed to his job. At the same time, he is fully aware of the political tinder box in which he lives and he knows that he has to move carefully and trust no-one completely. In The Twelfth Department which is scheduled to be released in July, and which has already been getting excellent advance reviews, Korolev is excited at the prospect of a visit from his son Yuri. But he’s soon caught up in something quite different when he is assigned to investigate the murder of a noted scientist who’s been shot. It turns out that the victim was working on a sensitive, and very dark, project, and when another scientist is murdered, Korolev knows that this case is going to be extremely dangerous for him and also for his family.
Also being released in July will be Angela Savage’s The Dead Beach. This is the third in her series featuring Australian ex-pat Jayne Keeney, who lives and works in Bangkok. Savage creates a very real picture of life in Thailand and what it’s like to be a farang – a foreigner – who lives there. In this novel, Keeney is hired to find out who murdered a young tour guide who worked in the southern part of Thailand. From what Savage says about the novel, this case
‘…brings her [Keeney} face-to-face with unscrupulous businessmen, embittered thugs, environmental zealots and deadly cobras.’
Sounds like just another day’s work for Keeney, who’s already had to go up against child traffickers, corrupt cops and unscrupulous charity workers.
July will be a good month for me reading-wise because I’m also looking forward to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Rubbed Out, the fourth in her Memphis Barbecue series which she writes as Riley Adams. This series features Lulu Taylor, who owns and runs Aunt Pat’s Barbecue, a popular Memphis restaurant. One of the things I like about this series is its authentic portrait of Southern life and culture. There’s humour and strong characterisation in this series, too. In this particular novel, Taylor gets mixed up in the murder of barbecue pitmaster Ruben Shaw. Taylor’s good friend Cherry Hayes gets into a violent quarrel with Shaw at a barbecue competition, so when Shaw is found murdered only a few hours later, Hayes is a very likely suspect. Taylor wants to clear her friend’s name, so she investigates the murder and finds that Hayes is not at all the only person who had a good reason to kill Ruben Shaw.
I’m also looking forward to a couple of October releases. For one, Jørn Lier Horst’s Vinterstengt is coming out in English as Closed For Winter. This is the seventh in Horst’s series featuring Chief Inspector William Wisting, who lives and works in Stavern, Norway. Horst creates (in my opinion at any rate) a strong sense of place and local culture and some well-drawn characters in this police procedural series. Closed For Winter continues Wisting’s story. In this novel, Ove Bakkerud is preparing for a last few quiet weeks in his summer home before closing it for the winter. Then his home is burgled. As if that’s not enough, Bakkerud discovers the body of a neighbour in the house next door. Wisting and his team investigate, only to be faced with the discovery of other bodies on the same archipelago. And what does all of that have to do with an unusual number of dead birds in the area?
October will also see the release of The Case of the Love Commandos, Tarquin Hall’s fourth novel featuring Punjabii private investigator Vishwas ‘Vish’ Puri. Puri lives and works in Delhi, which Hall depicts in all of its beauty, squalor, vivid colour, life, and variety. Puri’s team consists of his secretary Elizabeth Rani, his office boy Door Stop (so called because he does as little as he can get away with doing), his driver Handbrake, and his fellow investigators Tubelight (who always takes his time sputtering to life in the mornings), Flush (whose family was the first in his village to get an indoor toilet) and Facecream (so called because she blends in perfectly in any surroundings). In this particular novel, Puri and his team investigate the abduction of a student named Ram, a member of India’s untouchable caste. He was set to marry a girl from a high caste, who’d been rescued from her family by the Love Commandos. But when Ram doesn’t appear at his own wedding, Puri takes the case. The trail leads to rural India so Puri travels to an area outside his usual element, so to speak. He also has to look over his shoulder because his rival Hari Kumar is also on this case. Word is too that Puri’s mother Mummy-ji, of whom I am very fond, features in this novel as well.
And then there’s December, when Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt is set for release. This novel features attorney Mickey Haller, whom Connelly fans will know made his first ‘starring’ appearance in The Lincoln Lawyer. In The Gods of Guilt, Haller discovers that a former client – someone he thought he had saved and helped start a new life – has been murdered. Connelly is a master of creating flawed but basically sympathetic characters such as Haller, and forcing them to face their own pasts. He did it (in my opinion) brilliantly with his other famous creation Harry Bosch in novels such as Echo Park and The Last Coyote. And in The Gods of Guilt, it seems it’ll be Haller’s turn to deal with his past. I’m a fan of Connelly’s work, so this is one of those novels I’ll probably pre-order…
I’m also looking forward to lots of other releases as well. For instance, Domingo Villar’s Cruces de Piedra (Stone Crosses) will be released in Spain in May. I’m not sure how long it’ll take for this third Leo Caldas novel to be released elsewhere, but as soon as it is, I will definitely be reading it. Oh, and I’m currently reading T.J. Cooke’s Defending Elton which is due to be released very soon, but I’m not commenting on it much at the moment as I’ve not finished it; you’ll hear more about it, I can say that much.
What about you? Which novels are you really, really, really looking forward to reading this year?
If you’re a writer, here’s your opportunity: Got anything crime fictional being published this year?
*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Timbuk3