The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides
Crime , Fantasy , Orbit , Tyler Whitesides / November 6, 2020

Please note, The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn is a direct sequel to The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn. If you haven’t read the first book in the Kingdom of Grit series what follows may contain some minor spoilers. Dont say I didn’t warn you. Ardor Benn saved civilisation from imminent destruction, but his efforts brought war to the kingdom. It is believed that the rightful rulers have all been assassinated. However, a young heir might have survived. An ancient organisation known as The Realm is behind the chaos, working from the shadows. Under the anonymity of masks, information is distributed sparingly. Ard’s been hired to infiltrate them, but he’s got competition from an old friend. One who’s set to prove she’s better than the self-proclaimed ‘Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.’ If Ard can’t find the heir, then his world may again approach ruin. Stopping the complete and utter collapse of civilisation is quickly becoming Ard’s speciality. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn was one of my favourite debut novels over the last few years. It features a rascally conman with a flair for the dramatic, a dash of political and religious intrigue and an angry dragon to boot. It’s all good…

Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold
Crime , Fantasy , Luke Arnold , Orbit / October 1, 2020

Please note, Dead Man in a Ditch is a direct sequel to the first Fetch Phillips novel, The Last Smile in Sunder City. If you want my advice, if you haven’t already, I would start there. If you don’t what follows may contain some minor spoilers. Consider yourselves suitably warned. The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need? Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure. Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot. Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley. What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back. Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world. But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder. Earlier this year I read Luke Arnold’s debut novel, The Last Smile in Sunder City. The novel introduced us to Fetch Phillips, a human detective trying to get by in a city full of all…

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Crime , Richard Osman , Viking / August 21, 2020

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings. But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.  The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?  There is a wonderfully eccentric little sub-set of the crime genre that – in a phrase I’ve coined myself – can best be described as British Comfortable. You know the sort of thing – Lovejoy, Hamish MacBeth, Hetty Wainthrop, and Father Brown. The list goes on and on. In British Comfortable, murders happen, but usually only to people who are entirely deserving of a gruesome fate. The latest entry into this cosy group is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman*. The author has a keen eye when it comes to exposing all those little quirks that come together to create a truly memorable character; or, in this case, four memorable characters. The main quartet of The Thursday Murder Club are an absolute joy. Elizabeth…

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Crime , Pushkin Press , Seishi Yokomizo / June 9, 2020

In the winter of 1937, the village of Okamura is abuzz with excitement over the forthcoming wedding of a son of the grand Ichiyanagi family. But amid the gossip over the approaching festivities, there is also a worrying rumour – it seems a sinister masked man has been asking questions about the Ichiyanagis around the village. Then, on the night of the wedding, the Ichiyanagi family are woken by a terrible scream, followed by the sound of eerie music – death has come to Okamura, leaving no trace but a bloody samurai sword, thrust into the pristine snow outside the house. The murder seems impossible, but amateur detective Kosuke Kindaichi is determined to get to the bottom of it. What with various real-life distractions I ended up taking most of May off from book reviewing. Things have settled somewhat, and I decided it was high time to get back to reading. I have tentatively dipped my toe back into the waters of genre fiction with a Japanese period detective novel called The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo. I’ve not read a huge amount of what you would probably call traditional crime fiction so this was a pleasant change for me….

Her Last Secret by P L Kane
Crime , HQ , P L Kane / January 21, 2020

Jordan Radcliffe is found stabbed to death. Her boyfriend’s finger prints are on the knife and his clothes are covered in her blood. Case closed… Or is it? When Jordan’s estranged father Jake learns of his only daughter’s death, he is convinced that there is more to her murder than he is being told. But Jake hasn’t seen Jordan for over three years and, with secrets of her own, she was far from the child he abandoned all those years ago. Jake’s ex-wife Jules, is reluctant to let him waltz back into her life. But with a question mark hanging over the case, Jake knows that he must piece together the fragments of evidence before it is too late. Will he ever discover the truth? This week’s review is the crime debut from author P L Kane, Her Last Secret. The premise of the story is simple; a grieving father, Jake, is searching for answers. His daughter’s death is so inexplicable, so unexpected, he can barely accept that it has happened. Jake becomes consumed with uncovering the details behind the crime. He can’t move on until he understands the who, the what and the why of it all. Kane’s taut…

City of Windows by Robert Pobi
Crime , Mulholland Books , Robert Pobi , Thriller / August 9, 2019

During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them–former FBI agent Lucas Page. Page, a university professor and bestselling author, left the FBI years ago after a tragic event robbed him of a leg, an arm, an eye, and the willingness to continue. But he has an amazing ability to read a crime scene, figure out angles and trajectories in his head, and he might be the only one to be able to find the sniper’s nest. With a new wife and family, Lucas Page has no interest in helping the FBI–except for the fact that the victim was his former partner. Agreeing to help for his partner’s sake, Page finds himself hunting a killer with an unknown agenda and amazing sniper skills in the worst of conditions. And his partner’s murder is only the first in a series of meticulously planned murders carried out with all-but-impossible sniper shots. The only thing connecting…

Jade War by Fonda Lee
Crime , Fantasy , Fonda Lee , Orbit / July 24, 2019

Please note, Jade War is the second book in The Green Bone Saga. If you have not read Jade City then it is likely what follows will contain some minor spoilers. Consider yourself duly warned! On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years. Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals. Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon. Back in 2017, I had the distinct pleasure of reading Jade City by Fonda Lee. It was one of my favourite books that year. The second book…

Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

Please note, Priest of Lies is the second book in an on-going series. If you haven’t read the first book in the War for the Rose Throne, Priest of Bones, then what follows will likely contain some minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I don’t want to have to send the Pious Men round to sort you out! People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become–until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors. When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined. Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling. In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly…

Coil by Ren Warom
Apex Publications , Crime , Horror , Ren Warom , Sci-Fi / June 13, 2019

Bone Adams is a legend, the best mortician in the Spires, and a man without modification in a world where body mods define humanity. When a new killer begins leaving bodies stripped of mods but twisted and bent into grotesque pieces of art, City Officer Stark tasks Bone to unravel the clues, few though they may be. As more victims are discovered, Bone and Stark get drawn deeper into a world where pain and personal statement blend and blur, and finally end up hunting for a semi-mythical, man-machine named Burneo deep within the labyrinth of the sewers. But things aren’t what they seem, and while searching for Burneo, Bone and Stark discover a hidden lab full of evidence of horrific abuses of science and experimentation. Meanwhile, the killer is still on the loose, and, as Stark becomes more and more obsessed with the case, Bone is forced to a shattering realization. Everything is connected, the killings, the gang activity, the labs, and his own past, and unless he can figure out how, he’s not going to survive. To my mind, the best detectives are the ones that are flawed. Their only redeeming quality is their masterful ability to do their…

Council by Snorri Kristjansson

Please note, Council is the second book in an ongoing series. If you have not read Kin then it is likely that what follows may contain some minor spoilers. Consider yourself duly warned. Helga Finnsdottir left her foster parents, the old Viking chieftain Unnthor Reginson and his knowing wife Hildigunnur, to see the world, but she stopped in Uppsala when she fell in love. Now she’s established herself as a local healer and herb-woman on the outskirts of town, and life is good – until King Eirik the Victorious calls a trade council and hairy northerners and southern Swedes alike descend on the town. Unfortunately for Helga, one delegation is headed by a very determined young woman who has her own agenda and will let nothing – and no one – get in her way. But the last time Helga saw Jorunn Unthorsdottir, her foster-sister was being cast out by their father for killing their brother Bjorn and trying to pin the blame on Helga. So perhaps it’s no great surprise when one of the delegates is murdered, or that Helga’s soon tagged as the lead suspect. It doesn’t take her long to clear her own name, but that only…

String City by Graham Edwards
Crime , Fantasy , Graham Edwards , Rebellion / March 7, 2019

THE UNIVERSE IS MADE OF STRING. WHEN THE KNOTS TIGHTEN, THE COSMOS QUAKES. It’s a tough job being a gumshoe in an interdimensional city full of gods, living concepts and weirder things. Good thing I’m a stringwalker, able to jump between realities. It started when I was hired to investigate an explosion at a casino. A simple heist, I thought, but it turned into a race to stop the apocalypse. So I rolled the dice, and now I’m up against the ancient Greek Titans, an interdimensional spider god and a mysterious creature known as the Fool. I’m going to need more than just luck to solve this one. If I fail, all things—in all realities—could be destroyed. Just another day in String City. This week, it’s time for some crime, but with a distinctly different flavour than any other crime novel I’ve ever reviewed before. The threads of reality that hold the fabric of existence together all meet in String City. All manner of beings, weird and wonderful, devilish and divine, inhabit the city streets. When things go wrong, and a degree of subtlety is required, then a certain individual is called upon to ensure the wheels of all the…