Crime Thriller Book Log: Billingham, Deaver, Harper and Ryan

Last week publishers cleared the decks for fear of getting lost in the wake of the marketing juggernaut that was Dan Brown‘s Inferno, but there are some new titles out there this week, and they ain’t bad, either.


Following the stand-alone sweetness of Rush Of Blood, Mark Billingham has returned to the detective who made his name. His instincts are still there — as his cameo in Rush Of Blood suggests — but poor old Tom Thorne returns in reduced circumstances — busted back down to uniform.

Let the blurb take the strain:

A cluster of suicides among the elderly. Such things are not unknown to the police and the deaths are quickly dismissed by the police as routine. Only one man is convinced that something more sinister is taking place.

However, no one listens to Tom Thorne anymore. Having stepped out of line once too often, he’s back in uniform and he hates it. Patronised and abused by his new colleagues, Thorne’s suspicions about the suicides are dismissed by the Murder Squad he was once part of and he is forced to investigate alone.

Unable to trust anyone, Thorne must risk losing those closest to him.He must gamble with the lives of those targeted by a killer unlike any he has hunted before. A man with nothing to lose and a growing list of victims. A man with the power to make people take their own lives.

The Dying Hours is available in hardback and on Kindle from Thursday.

Unknown-2Another character who makes a cameo in someone else’s tale is Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme, who pops up in the Kathryn Dance novel XO, which comes out in paperback from Thursday.

Behold the blurb:

Kayleigh Towne is a beautiful and successful singer-songwriter, and Edwin Sharp is her biggest fan. When she replies to one of his fan letters with ‘XO’, Edwin is convinced she loves him, and that her latest hit song ‘Your Shadow’ was written for him. Nothing Kayleigh or her lawyers can say persuades him otherwise.

Then the singer gets an anonymous phone call; it’s the first verse of ‘Your Shadow’ playing. Soon after, one of the crew is horribly murdered. Kayleigh’s friend Kathryn Dance, a special agent with the California Bureau of Investigation, knows that stalking crimes are not one-off occurrences, and, sure enough, more verses of the song are played as warnings of death to follow. With a little help from forensic criminalist Lincolyn Rhyme, Dance must use her kinesic and investigative skills in an attempt to find the killer before more people die.

What’s particularly interesting about XO is that Deaver has actually written the lyrics to actual songs featured in the book, formed a band, released an album and performed the songs. Dan Brown was a singer-songwriter, right? Maybe his people should call Deaver’s people, and they could write a musical together. Just a thought.

Unknown-1William Ryan’s the Twelfth Department is the third in his series about Captain Korolev, a police investigator in Stalinist Russia. Say all you like about Totalitarian states, but they’re a fertile stomping-ground for terrifc crime novels.

Let the blurb transport you:

Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer. It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he’s caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD.

And then his son Yuri goes missing . . . A desperate race against time, set against a city gripped by Stalin’s Great Terror and teeming with spies, street children and Thieves, The Twelfth Department confirms William Ryan as one of the most compelling historical crime novelists at work today.

The Twelfth Department is out on Thursday, in hardback and on kindle.

Unknown-3The Orpheus Descent, by Tom Harper, is an adventure in the Dan Brown vein, in which musician Jonah Barnes searches for his missing archeologist wife, Lily. However, there’s a dual timeline, so  Jonah has to share the narrative with none other than Plato – yes, that Plato – who leaves ancient Greece to search for his friend Agathon in Italy.

Don’t take my word for it. Trust in the blurb:

I have never written down the answers to the deepest mysteries, nor will I ever… The philosopher Plato wrote these words more than two thousand years ago, following a perilous voyage to Italy — an experience about which he never spoke again, but from which he emerged the greatest thinker in all of human history.

Today, twelve golden tablets sit in museums around the world, each created by unknown hands and buried in ancient times, and each providing the dead with the route to the afterlife. Archaeologist Lily Barnes, working on a dig in southern Italy, has just found another. But this tablet names the location to the mouth of hell itself.

And then Lily vanishes. Has she walked out on her job, her marriage, and her life — or has something more sinister happened? Her husband, Jonah, is desperate to find her. But no one can help him: not the police and not the secretive foundation that sponsored her dig. All Jonah has is belief, and a determination to do whatever it takes to get Lily back.

But like Plato before him, Jonah will discover the journey ahead is mysterious and dark and fraught with danger. And not everyone who travels to the hidden place where Lily has gone can return.

I’m not sure about much in this life, but I’m almost certain that at some point, these two narratives, spaced approximately 2,500 years apart, will converge. It’s a intoxicating brew and a far cry, I’d imagine, from Mr. Harper’s former work in pension services.

What about you guys – what are you reading this week?


2 thoughts on “Crime Thriller Book Log: Billingham, Deaver, Harper and Ryan

  1. Ashlee Stalling

    Jonelle Patrick writes great Crime Thrillers. Her newest book Fallen Angel has had me at the end of my chain engrossed. is her site. I saw you had all men authors so it might not be your things, but if it is check it out!


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