Crime Thriller Book Log: Rankin, Rickman, Pelacanos & Easter

I confidently predict the shelves of your local bookshop will be groaning beneath the weight of all the new books on display in the next few weeks. Goodness, anybody would think Christmas is just around the corner.

This week’s selection of releases all feature recurring protagonists. The Holy Grail of genre-writing is a popular character you can write a whole series of adventures around. Every crime thriller author wants to get themselves a good one of these or – oh, go on then – maybe several.

Unknown-1Top of the wrapping-up pile has to be the new John Rebus novel by Ian Rankin. Rebus is up there with the most popular fictional detectives. I read somewhere that his books comprise 10 per cent of UK books sales – that can’t be right, surely?

Anyhow, Rankin tried to let Rebus rest after his seventeenth outing, Exit Music, in 2007. But a comeback novel, Standing In Another Man’s Grave, followed last year, and now Rebus, the burly old fellow, seems to be back in the swing of things.

Saints Of The Shadow Bible is also the third book to feature Rankin’s other series protagonist Malcolm Fox, an internal affairs cop who first appeared in The Complaints.

Gie it laldy wi the blurb:

When a young woman is found unconscious at the wheel of her car, evidence at the scene suggests this was no ordinary crash. Especially when it turns out her boyfriend is the son of the Scottish Justice Minister and neither of them is willing to talk to the police.

Meanwhile, John Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a big demotion and an even larger chip on his shoulder. A new law has been passed allowing the Scottish police to re-prosecute old crimes and a thirty-year-old case is being reopened, with Rebus and his team from back then suspected of corruption and worse.

Known as ‘the Saints’, his colleagues swore a bond of mutual loyalty on something called ‘the Shadow Bible’. But with Malcolm Fox as the investigating officer – and determined to use Rebus for his own ends – the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer.

With political turmoil threatening to envelop Scotland, who really are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other.

Saints Of The Shadow Bible is available in hardback and on your e-reader.

As you know, on this blog we love finding out how authors write their books and there’s a terrific interview with Rankin about his writing day here.

Unknown-4The Magus Of Hay is the latest book in Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series, which combines crime with the supernatural. It’s a tricky recipe but Rickman’s baking it up a storm because this is his twelfth Watkins book. Merrily is a priest, a single – oh, wait, I’ll let the blurb tell you so I don’t have to type it myself.

When a man’s body is discovered near the picturesque town of Hay-on-Wye, his death appears to be ‘unnatural’ in every sense. Merrily Watkins, priest, single mother and exorcist, is drafted in to investigate.

A man’s body is found below a waterfall. It looks like suicide or an accidental drowning – until DI Frannie Bliss enters the dead man’s home. What he finds there has him consulting Merrily Watkins, the Diocese of Hereford’s official advisor on the paranormal.

It’s nearly forty years since the town of Hay-on-Wye was declared an independent state by its self-styled king. A development seen at the time as a joke. But the pastiche had a serious side. And behind it, unknown to most of the townsfolk, lay a darker design, a hidden history of murder and ritual magic, the relics of which are only now becoming visible.

It’s a situation that will take Merrily Watkins – on her own for the first time in years and facing public humiliation over a separate case – to the edge of madness.

So, The Magus of Hay is available now on e-reader and  hardback.

Rickman, by the way, is two books into another series – featuring the Elizabethan astronomer and occultist John Dee.

George Pelacanos is a terrific novelist – Drama City, The Big Blowdown – who also writes and produces shows such as The Wire, Treme and The Pacific.

Unknown-3The Double is his second book to feature PI Spero Lucas, an overbearing Iraq veteran, who first appeared in The Cut. Much like John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee, he finds stuff for a fee.  Lucas is a satisfyingly damaged and aggressive character, traumatised by his experience of war.

The blurb won’t take up much of your valuable time:

Every man has his dark side… Spero Lucas confronts his own in the most explosive thriller yet from the writer of the award-winning THE WIRE.

Pelacanos is no stranger to recurring characters, with his Nick Stefanos, Strange and Quinn, and DC Quartet series.

You know the drill: kindle, hardcover.

UnknownAnd finally, The Rising Tide is the third of Patrick Easter’s Tom Pascoe books – I guess that makes them, for the moment, a trilogy. Pascoe is a River Surveyor with the Marine Police in the Port of London – which was apparently the first professional police force in the country. In his 18th century adventures Pascoe tackles evil underworld characters, dastardly French agents and slavers along the Thames.

Set sail with the blurb:

September 1799. William Pitt is attempting to force through anti-slavery legislation, but many have a vested interest in preventing this change and would go to dangerous lengths to stop it.

Meanwhile, Tom Pascoe of the river police is grieving for the woman he loved and looking for solace at the bottom of a bottle. Tom’s drinking has made him increasingly belligerent and unpredictable, so when he is called to investigate a body found in the Thames – that of an MP and a close associate of William Pitt – there’s doubt whether he’s up to the task.

But Tom must pull himself together, or be dragged under; Pitt’s life is in his hands.

The Rising Tide is available in hardback, on kindle and in paperback.

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