In The Spotlight: Paul Cleave’s A Killer Harvest

Hello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. This week, In The Spotlight continues a special look at the finalists for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Award For Best Novel. Today, let’s turn the spotlight on Paul Cleave’s A Killer Harvest.

The story begins as Christchurch Detective Inspector (DI) Mitchell Logan, and his partner, DI Ben Kirk, are trailing a suspected serial killer, Simon Bower. The chase ends very badly, and Logan is killer. He leaves behind a widow, Michelle, and a sixteen-year-old son, Joshua.

Logan’s death hits hard, of course. But something good may come out of it. Joshua has been blind from birth, and he’s gotten accustomed to what it’s like not to see. But Dr. Toni Coleman has developed a procedure that will allow for eyes to be transplanted. And Mitchell Logan’s eyes will likely be a very good match for his son. So, although both Michelle and Joshua are grieving they also have hope that Joshua will be able to see.

The operation goes ahead, and, technically, it’s a success. Joshua begins to be able to see again, and it’s not long before he starts learning to function as a seeing person. At the same time, though, he has some unsettling dreams and visions, if that’s the word. One of his eyes is working as it should; he even gets to see the world as his father did. But the other eye is a different matter. As Joshua works through the process of starting to see, he learns some things about his father that don’t make much sense. And soon enough, he finds real darkness.

In the meantime, Bower’s partner, Vincent Archer, has determined to wreak vengeance on whoever killed his friend. He targets Kirk and everyone he cares about, and that, of course, includes Joshua. At the same time as Joshua is learning to negotiate the seeing world, he’s now facing a serious danger. He’s going to have to put the pieces together if he’s going to stay alive.

This is a thriller, and some of the important elements in the novel reflect that. There are several plot twists and very dangerous moments, and some of the characters are not who they seem to be. The pacing and timing of the novel also reflect that it’s a thriller. It’s also worth noting that, as is the case with many thrillers, there’s speculation and suspension of disbelief here. The surgery described in the novel – a whole-eye transplant – isn’t currently done, although there is progress being made. In fact, it’s hoped that that sort of surgery will be possible in the next decade or so. Readers who prefer only what’s actually currently being done will notice this. And each reader will have to decide whether what’s described in the novel is plausible, even if it’s not n our repertoire yet.

In keeping with the fact that this is a thriller, there is violence, although most of it is not described in detail. There’s also some explicit language. Every reader has a different view of how much violence and profanity are ‘too much.’ It’s worth noting that both are there, though.

Another important element in the novel is the experience of being blind, and of recovering sight. Some of the story is told from Joshua’s point of view (third person, present tense), so readers get a sense of how a blind person experiences the world. Regaining his sight is a cause for real celebration for Joshua and his mother. But at the same time, it’s not without complications. For one thing, he no longer fits in with his former friends, who are all still blind. And he doesn’t quite fit in in his new school, since he has much catching up to do in terms of reading and writing, among other skills. For another, he’s a little awkward as he tries to make sense of visual stimuli, too. It’s a completely different world for him, and he’s sometimes overwhelmed by it. The physical process of healing takes a toll, too.

Several of the other characters’ perspectives are shared as well (also third person, present tense). Readers who like the ‘big picture’ that multiple perspectives offer will appreciate this. Readers who prefer just one point of view will notice that this story isn’t like that. That said, it’s not difficult to work out whose perspective is being shared at any point in the story.

Readers do learn the truth about Simon Bower and about several secrets that certain characters are keeping. In that sense, there is what you might call closure. But there is a bit of ambiguity as well. Readers who prefer that everything be all right again at the end of a story will notice this.

A Killer Harvest is the story of a major leap forward in surgery, and of what that means for the doctor and the patient. It also raises some interesting and important moral questions about that surgery. The novel is also the story of some dark secrets that come out as a young man tries to make sense of his father’s life and of what, for him, is a new world. It takes place in a distinctive Christchurch setting, and features that city’s culture, setting, and lifestyle. But what’s your view? Have you read A Killer Harvest? If you have, what elements do you see in it?


Coming Up On In The Spotlight

Monday, 22 October/Tuesday, 23 October – Tess – Kirsten McDougall

Monday, 29 October/Tuesday, 30 October – Mistakenly in Mallorca – Roderic Jeffries

Monday, 5 November/Tuesday, 6 November – Desert Heat – J.A. Jance


Filed under A Killer Harvest, Paul Cleave

You Know I’m Gonna be Like Him*

It’s interesting how things get passed along in families. I’m not really talking here about physical appearance, although that, of course, is passed along, too. I’m talking more about things such as mannerisms, traits, and, sometimes, special talents. If you’ve ever caught yourself saying something exactly like one of your parents, or using a mannerism that one of your parents used, you know what I mean.

We see this in crime fiction, too, and it can make for an interesting layer of character development. It can even add to a plot point. It’s realistic, too, so it can also add some credibility to family dynamics.

Agatha Christie addressed this in several of her stories. There’s even one (I’m not giving title or sleuth, so as to avoid spoilers) in which family traits prove to be a major clue to a killer. Appointment With Death, for instance, features the Boynton family, Americans who are on a tour of the Middle East. Family matriarch Mrs. Boynton is a malicious, tyrannical person whom Hercule Poirot calls a mental sadist. She has her family so much under her control that they do whatever she says, and never risk displeasing her. The family takes a trip to the ruins of Petra, during which Mrs. Boynton suddenly dies. Colonel Carbury is in charge of the case, and he’s not quite satisfied that this was a natural death. He asks Hercule Poirot to look into the matter, and it soon comes out that the victim was murdered. The most likely suspects are the members of her family, each of whom had a very good motive for murder. One of those family members is seventeen-year-old Ginevra ‘Jinny’ Boynton. She’s become mentally quite fragile as a result of her mother’s psychological abuse, and on the surface, she doesn’t seem much like her at all. But, she has a rare acting ability. When she gets the chance to live her own life, free of her mother’s influence, we see just how talented she is – and that she has more in common with her mother than it seemed. Here’s what one character says:

‘‘Looking at Jinny, I saw – for the first time – the likeness. The same thing – only Jinny is in light – where She was in darkness…’’

It’s an interesting commentary on the way certain mannerisms and personality traits can be passed down.

In Peter Robinson’s Gallows View, we are introduced to Trevor Sharp. He’s a teenager who’s a bit at loose ends. He doesn’t fit in well at school, and he doesn’t have a lot of friends. So, as you can imagine, he’s quite drawn in by a local delinquent named Mick Webster. His father, Graham, warns him away from the boy, but Trevor doesn’t listen. That’s how he gets mixed up in several cases that Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Alan Banks is investigating. For one thing, a voyeur has been spying on several of Eastvale’s women. For another, there’s been a series of home invasions. Then, there’s a murder. And Banks wants to know what role, if any, Trevor has played in these crimes. As we get to know the Sharps, we see that on the surface, they’re different. But they really aren’t that different after all. And, in the end, we see how much Trevor has inherited, if that’s the right term, from his father.

One of the main characters in James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential is an LAPD officer named Edward ‘Ed’ Exley. He is the son of LAPD legend Preston Exley, and that fact makes his life extremely complicated. His older brother Thomas, was, in many ways, just like their father, and slated for a highly successful police career. In fact, Exley senior placed all of his hopes in Thomas. But Thomas was killed in WW II (the novel takes place in the early 1950s) shortly after his graduation from the police academy. Now, the burden of excelling on the police force falls to Ed, who’s not nearly as much like his father as his brother was. Still, as the novel goes on, we see that he has more in common with his father than it may seem on the surface.

Herman Koch’s The Dinner features the members of the Lohman family. One evening, Paul Lohman and his wife, Claire, meet up with his brother, Serge, and Serge’s wife, Babette. They’re having dinner at an ultra-exclusive and extremely expensive Amsterdam restaurant. On the surface, it’s just a getting-together of two couples. But under the surface, there’s a lot more going on. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son, and, together, their boys have committed a terrible crime. Now, the two couples have to decide what they’re going to do about it. As the novel goes on, we see that, in several ways, the boys have inherited their attitudes and beliefs from their parents. While the parents are unwilling to admit it, there’s a resemblance between them and their sons.

And then there’s Gail Bowen’s sleuth, Joanne Kilbourn Shreve. She is a (now-retired) academic and political scientist. She is also the mother of an adopted daughter, Taylor. Among other things, Taylor is an extraordinary artist, with rare talent. Interestingly, her biological mother, Sally, also had real artistic talent. The novels in the series don’t all focus on Taylor, Sally, or art. But throughout the series, we see how, even though they spent no real time together during Taylor’s formative years (Sally was killed when Taylor was not much more than a toddler), there are still real resemblances between the two. And sometimes, they’re very clear to Joanne, who was friends with Sally and who has raised Taylor.

There are, of course, plenty of examples of parents and children who are absolutely nothing like one another. But in a lot of cases, there are similarities, whether it’s in attitude, mannerisms, preferences, or something else. So it makes sense that we’d see those similarities in crime fiction.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Gail Bowen, Herman Koch, James Ellroy, Peter Robinson

Set That Baggage Down*

All of us have a past that we bring into relationships. And once in a while, that ‘baggage’ impacts those relationships. Even when a partner knows the truth about a person’s past, it can still come back to haunt, so to speak. And having a partner who has a lot of past ‘baggage’ can be a challenge.

There many examples of this dynamic in crime fiction, and it’s not hard to see why. It can make for interesting tension and suspense in a story. And there are plenty of opportunities for adding character layers. Sometimes, that past ‘baggage’ can even be a plot point.

It is in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Dancing Men. Hilton Cubitt is worried about his wife, Elsie. Before they married, she told him that she had had some ‘unpleasant associations’ in her past, although she reassured him that she had done nothing shameful herself. She also told him that she didn’t want to discuss her past; that was a condition of marriage for her. Cubitt agreed, and all was well at first. But lately, Elsie’s been getting some cryptic letters that are frightening her. She won’t say what they’re about; and, since they’re written in a sort of hieroglyphic code, her husband can’t work that out for himself. So, he takes the problem to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is working on the code when matters get more urgent. Whoever’s writing the letters has written more messages, this time on the windowsills of the Cubitt home. One night, a tragedy occurs and Cubitt is shot. Holmes uses the code to lure the killer and find out the truth about what happened.

Lady Elsa Dittisham, whom we meet in Agatha Christie’s Five Little Pigs, also has a past. Years ago, she had an affair with a famous painter named Amyas Crale. One afternoon, he was poisoned. His wife, Caroline, was arrested, tried, and convicted in the matter, and died in prison a year later. Elsa was a witness in the investigation, so she gave evidence in court, and took quite a lot of nasty criticism for breaking up the Crale home. Now, she is married to Lord Dittisham, who knows about the case. While he doesn’t deny what happened, he wants to leave it all in the past. So, he’s none too pleased when Hercule Poirot wants to interview Elsa about Crale’s murder. Poirot’s been hired by the Crales’ daughter, Carla Lemarchant, to re-open the case, because Carla believes that her mother was innocent. Although Lord Dittisham is opposed to the idea, Elsa is eager to tell her story. She and the other people who were present at the time of the murder write out their accounts of what happened. They also speak to Poirot. From those recollections, Poirot pieces together the truth about the matter.

Megan Abbott’s Die a Little introduces readers to Bill King. He and his sister, Lora, have always been close, so he hopes she’ll be happy for him when he falls in love with a former Hollywood dressmaker’s assistant named Alice Steele. Right from the start, Lora has concerns about Alice, but she tells herself it’s because she’s too protective of her brother. Then, Bill and Alice get married. Lora tries to be nice to her new sister-in-law, mostly for Bill’s sake. But, she soon learns some things about Alice that make her uneasy. Bill doesn’t seem to be badly bothered by his wife’s past, and she is, as he sees it, good to him. The more Lora finds out, though, the more repulsed she is. At the same time, though, she’s drawn to Alice’s life. Then, there’s a murder, and Alice could be mixed up in it. Lora tells herself she wants to look after her brother, so she starts asking questions about the murder. And she finds herself pulled even deeper into Alice’s story.

In Håkan Östlundh’s The Intruder, we are introduced to Malin Andersson, her husband, Henrik Kjellander, and their two children, Ellen and Axel. They return from a two-month trip only to find that their Fårö Island home has been left in a mess, with some things missing, trash everywhere, and more. At first, it looks as though it’s a case of terrible temporary tenants. But then, Malin finds a photograph that’s been deliberately defaced. Now, it looks as though this could be a very personal violation of their home. So, they call in the police. Gotland police detectives Fredrik Broman and Sara Oskarsson begin to look into the case. They’re following up on some leads when Ellen goes missing. Now, the stakes are a lot higher, and everyone searches frantically for the girl. And it turns out that it all has to do with ‘baggage’ from the past that quite probably should have been shared – but wasn’t.

And then there’s Stella Duffy’s The Hidden Room. Laurie and Martha have been married for a long time, and have raised three children, Hope, Ana, and Jack. They’ve had their differences, as couples do, but they a strong bond. Martha knows that Laurie comes from an unusual background. Adopted from China, she was raised in a cult in the American desert. The group was led by a charismatic man named Abraham, and it had a strict code for dress, activities, and more. Laurie left the cult as a young woman, and Martha knows that her years there still have an impact on her. But she doesn’t know everything about Laurie’s experiences. And that means trouble when the past catches up with Laurie, and someone she hasn’t seen for years turns up again. This could spell disaster for the family, and Laurie is determined to protect the ones she loves.

And that’s the thing about having a partner with ‘baggage.’ You never know when it can come up again or impact the relationship. And it’s interesting to see how that dynamic adds to a crime novel.


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by David Crosby.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Håkan Östlundh, Megan Abbott, Stella Duffy

Somehow I Got Stuck*

Part of investigating a crime is talking to anyone who might have any knowledge about it. That sometimes means that a lot of innocent people, who didn’t have anything to do with the crime, get mixed up in it, at least to some extent. That can lead to annoyance and drains on time (e.g. if one is deposed or summoned as a witness at a trial). It can also lead to embarrassment (e.g. the person who is in a hotel with a lover and happens to witness something related to a crime that takes place there). And, although there are some people who feel a certain amount of excitement about being deposed or summoned to court, the process can be nerve-wracking, too.

People’s differing reactions to getting mixed up in an investigation can add some interesting layers to a crime novel. They can also add character development. It’s also realistic that innocent people get mixed up in criminal investigations. So, it’s no wonder that we see this sort of plot thread in a lot of crime fiction.

Agatha Christie used such reactions in many of her stories. For instance, The ABC Murders begins with the murder of a shop owner, Alice Ascher. She’s killed in her shop late one afternoon, and, of course, the police want to talk to anyone who might have been there at the approximate time of her death. So does Hercule Poirot, who actually received a warning note about this murder. Two of the customers they speak to are James Partridge and Bert Riddell, and it’s interesting to see how they react to being drawn into the case. Partridge made a purchase just before Mrs. Ascher was killed, and he goes to the police of his own accord with his story once he learns of the murder. He’s not at all ghoulish, but he does enjoy being able to provide evidence. Riddell, on the other hand, doesn’t come forward. When he is interviewed, he blusters a bit as he tells his story, and wonders out loud (and rather angrily) whether the police suspect him. Soon enough, it’s established that neither man is likely to be the killer, but it’s interesting to see how they respond to giving their stories. I see you, fans of Death in the Clouds.

Nicolas Freeling’s Double Barrel has his sleuth, Amsterdam police detective Piet Van der Valk, seconded to the small town of Swinderen. Someone has been sending vicious anonymous letters accusing the different residents of all sorts of things. It’s the sort of town where everyone knows everyone’s business, so no-one is comfortable talking about the letters. But they’ve wreaked havoc. In fact, they’ve caused two suicides and a complete mental breakdown. The local police haven’t been able to find out who’s responsible, so Van der Valk’s been sent in to see what he can learn. Slowly, he gets to know the people of the town, and begins to talk to some of them. Most are terrified to reveal they got letters, because they don’t want anyone suspecting that what’s in the letters is true. And, although everyone wants the letters to stop, no-one really appreciates being drawn into the case and interviewed. It’s a challenge for Van der Valk, but in the end, he gets to the truth.

In Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn, mystery novelist Martin Canning is among a group of people who are in Edinburgh, waiting to buy tickets for a lunchtime radio comedy show. As they’re waiting, they see a blue Honda crash into a silver Peugeot. The two drivers get out of their cars and begin to argue. Then, the Honda driver brandishes a bat, and starts to attack the Peugeot driver. Canning sees this, and instinctively throws his computer case at the Honda driver to stop the attack. Out of concern, Canning accompanies the Peugeot driver to the nearest hospital, and ends up getting drawn into a case of fraud and multiple murder. All of the other people who were waiting for tickets get drawn into the case, too, to some extent or other, simply because they were witnesses to the accident.

In Gianrico Carofiglio’s Involuntary Witness, attorney Guido Guerrieri gets a new client. It seems that Abdou Thiam, who emigrated to Bari from Senegal, has been arrested for the abduction and murder of nine-year-old Francesco Rubino. He claims that he is not guilty, but he’s not very hopeful of getting a fair trial. Still, Guerrieri promises to do everything he can, and goes to work on the case. One of the witnesses he speaks to, and later questions in court, is a bar owner named Antonio Renna. It seems that Renna saw Thiam pass by his bar shortly before the abduction and murder, although Thiam has said that he was in another town at the time. Naturally, Guerrieri wants to know everything he can about that incident. For his part, Renna never really wanted to be involved in the investigation in the first place. He’s drawn into it, and it turns out that what he has to say figures into the real truth about the murder.

And then there’s William Deverell’s Trial of Passion, which introduces retired Vancouver attorney Arthur Beauchamp. He’s hoping to enjoy retirement in his new home on Garibaldi Island, but he is drawn back into the courtroom when some of his former colleagues persuade him to take the case of Professor Jonathan O’Donnell. He’s been charged with the rape of a law student named Kimberly Martin. O’Donnell isn’t satisfied with the representation he’s gotten, and he wants Beauchamp to defend him. Of course, O’Donnell and Martin tell different stories about the night of the alleged rape, but there are some facts that are not in dispute. On that night, the Law Students Association (of which Martin is a member) held a dance, to which O’Donnell and some other faculty members were invited. After the dance, a group of several people went on to another party, and then back to O’Donnell’s house. A great deal of alcohol was consumed, and not just by the two parties to the case. As Beauchamp and his opponent prepare their cases, they speak to several of the other students who were present at the dance, the party, and at O’Donnell’s house. In the end, we find out what really happened that night, and it’s interesting to see how those young people, who were simply out to have a good time, get drawn into this investigation.

And it’s like that with many witnesses. They may be entirely innocent, even in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the saying goes. But they can be drawn into murder cases just the same.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Warren Zevon’s Lawyers, Guns and Money.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Gianrico Carofiglio, Kate Atkinson, Nicolas Freeling, William Deverell

It’s Just Those Ordinary Moments We Adore*

One of the ways authors can amplify tension in their novels is to include simple domestic scenes (e.g. setting the table, folding laundry, etc.). Those very ordinary scenes can serve as a contrast to the tension the author’s building, and make it even stronger. If you’ve ever been through a time of real tension, but still sat down to eat, or washed dishes, you know how that contrast works in real life. It does in crime fiction, too.

Agatha Christie used that contrast in several of her stories. For instance, in And Then There Were None, ten people are invited for a stay on Indian Island, off the Devon coast. They’re all invited for different reasons, and they all have their personal reasons for accepting the invitation. Their host isn’t present when they arrive, but everyone settles in. After dinner on the first night, they’re all shocked when each person is accused of having caused the death of at least one other person. Not long afterwards, one of the guests suddenly dies of what turns out to be poison. Later that night, another guest dies. Now, it’s clear that someone has lured these people to the island, and is killing them. The survivors will have to stay alive if they’re going to find out who the killer is. As you can imagine, a great deal of suspense is built up as the characters suspect each other of being the killer. At one point, a few of them are in the kitchen, getting a meal ready. The preparations are, on the surface, normal enough. And that throws the underlying tension into stark relief. You’re absolutely right, fans of Murder in Mesopotamia.

In Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die, mystery novelist Frank Cairnes decides that he is going to commit murder. Six months earlier, his beloved son Martin ‘Martie’ was killed in a hit-and-run tragedy. Cairnes is devastated, and wants to find the person responsible, and kill that person. He moves back to the town where the tragedy occurred, and starts to ask a few questions. It doesn’t take long before he learns that a man named George Rattery was probably driving the car that killed Martie. He manages to get an ‘in’ to meet Rattery and his wife, and, soon enough, he’s invited to stay with them. Then, he works out his plan. He decides he’ll go sailing with Rattery, and, when they’re out alone on the water, he’ll drown his enemy. But, of course, he’ll have to get Rattery to agree to go sailing. One afternoon at lunch, he brings up the topic. It’s a regular lunch, where everyone’s eating, talking, and so on. But, for Cairnes, it’s an important part of putting his plan in motion. And there’s a lot of tension as that underlying suspense contrasts with the ordinariness of the meal.

Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives is the story of Walter and Joanna Eberhart. They and their two children have just moved from New York City to the small town of Stepford, Connecticut. They settle in a bit, and at first, everything goes well enough. Then, Joanna’s new friend, Bobbie Markowe, begins to suspect that something is wrong in the town. Joanna doesn’t agree, and she’s unwilling anyway to make a move so soon after having moved to town. But as time goes by, she comes to believe that Bobbie was right, and that something dark is going on. Now, she herself is in very real danger. At one point, Walter invites a few of his friends over to the house, and Joanna agrees to play hostess. There’s a very tense scene in which she’s in the kitchen, and one of the guests joins her there. On the surface, it’s an everyday situation, where someone’s doing something in the kitchen, and chatting with another person. But there’s a lot of underlying tension, as Joanna’s trying to work out what’s going on in Stepford.

There’s another kitchen scene in Megan Abbott’s Die a Little, which takes place in 1950s California. Lora King has always been close to her brother, Bill. So, when he begins to date a former Hollywood seamstress’ assistant named Alice Steele, she’s naturally concerned that he might get hurt. Then, he marries Alice. Lora has her doubts, but she tries to be nice to her new sister-in-law, mostly for Bill’s sake. And Alice does seem to be fitting in among Bill’s friends. In fact, she’s quite the hostess. Slowly, though, Lora begins to learn little things that make her very uneasy. The more she discovers about Alice’s life, the more repulsed she is. At the same time, she’s drawn to it. Then, there’s a death, and Alice might be mixed up in it. Telling herself she’s protecting her brother, Lora starts to ask questions to find out what really happened. At one point in the novel, Alice is preparing for a get-together will some friends, and Lora’s in the kitchen, helping her. It’s a very ordinary-looking scene on the surface. Underneath, though, there’s a great deal of tension as Lora has become convinced that something is badly wrong.

And then there’s Wendy James’ The Mistake. In that novel, we meet Jodie Evans Garrow and her family. Her husband, Angus, is a successful attorney whose name has been brought up as the next mayor of Arding, New South Wales. She’s attractive, smart, and has two healthy children and a comfortable life. Everything’s going well for this family. Then, her daughter, Hannah, is involved in an accident, and is rushed to a Sydney hospital. It turns out to be the same hospital where, several years earlier, Jodie gave birth to another child, one she’s never mentioned to anyone. A nurse at the hospital remembers Jodie, and asks about the child. Jodie says she gave the baby up for adoption, but when the nurse checks into it, she finds no formal record of the adoption. Now, whispers start, and soon turn very ugly and very public. What happened to the baby? If she’s alive, where is she? If she’s dead, did Jodie have something to do with it? Before she knows it, Jodie becomes a social pariah. In the midst of all of this, she is invited to visit a local book club. Pleased at this sign of acceptance, Jodie accepts the invitation, and attends the book club meeting. On the surface, it’s an ordinary book club discussion. But the tension soon rises when Jodie discovers the reason she was invited. The group is discussing a book about the famous Lindy Chamberlain case, and they’ve drawn a parallel to Jodie’s situation. That underlying suspense contrasts with the surface-level peace of the book club.

And that’s the power that those ordinary scenes can have in crime fiction. They can contrast very effectively with underlying tension, and bring that tension into sharp focus. And that can add much to a novel.


*NOTE:  The title of this post is a line from Marc Robillard’s Blown Away.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Ira Levin, Megan Abbott, Nicholas Blake, Wendy James