Tag Archives: Sam Eastland

Crime Thriller Book Log: Higgins, Nadel, Eastland & Ellis

A little bird tells me you went down to Ladbrokes to to place a wager that publishers will refrain from releasing books this year. Well – face palm – I’m afraid to tell you that they’ve only gone and released a few – yes, already!  Some familiar protagonists, scattered across the world, have new adventures out, and we’re what, barely a day into the New Year. Here are four of them.

51NVoHdTWEL._SY445_Sean Dillon started out as an IRA bad guy intent on wiping out the British cabinet in the 1992 thriller Eye Of The Storm. Author Jack Higgins was actually going to kill off the master terrorist at the end of that book but was persuaded by his daughter that he was too charming a character – and after that Dillon switched sides.

The Death Trade is the 20th novel to feature Dillon, a master of disguise and experts at all sorts. Warning! This blurb may contain capitalised sentences:

One man with the key to Armageddon. One chance for Sean Dillon to find him. The hunt is on, in the mesmerizing new Sean Dillon thriller of murder, terrorism and revenge.

THE CLOCK IS TICKING. When an eminent Iranian scientist makes a startling breakthrough in nuclear weapons research he knows that any regime, including his own, will use it to achieve global supremacy. Desperate, he is left with only one course of action.

THE BULLETS ARE FLYING. When a ghost from her past reaches out to Afghan war hero Sara Gideon, newest member of the ‘Prime Minister’s private army’, she knows they must risk everything to avoid apocalypse. Led by Sean Dillon, they are plunged into the white-hot crucible of the Middle East and North African terror networks and soon become caught between Iran’s secret service and al Qaeda agents in a desperate battle for the ultimate prize.

THE HUNT IS ON. But nothing is ever as it seems in the death trade, and as the operation spins out, from Paris and Syria to Iran and the Saudi Arabian desert, blood will be spilled on all sides as events spiral towards a shocking conclusion.

The Death Trade is out today.

51l82Aii3SL._SY445_Stalin’s Russia, with  its hideous state apparatus, has proved fertile territory for crime-writers who want to ask questions about just what it means to be a law-maker in a totalitarian state. New Jersey writer Sam Eastland has written a fifth Inspector Pekkala novel – The Beast In The Red Forest – about the Tsar’s former favourite detective who finds himself in The Great Bear’s crosshairs.

Stand up, comrade, for the blurb:

A soldier returns from the frontline of battle to report that Pekkala’s charred body has been found at the site of an ambush. But Stalin refuses to believe that the indomitable Pekkala is dead.

On Stallin’s orders, Pekkala’s assistant Kirov travels deep into the forests of Western Russia, following a trail of clues to a wilderness where partisans wage a brutal campaign against the Nazi invaders.

Unknown to Kirov, he is being led into a trap. A new enemy has emerged from the fog of war, more deadly than any Kirov or Pekkala have ever faced before.

Pursuing the legend of a half-human creature, said to roam the landscape of this war within a war, each step brings Kirov closer to the truth about Pekkala’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Pekkala’s nemesis is also closing in for the kill.

On his very occasional blog, Eastland says he wanted to take some time off after The Beast, but found it too depressing not to write. That’s a proper writer talking. The Beast In The Red Forest is out today in paperback and kindle.

Barbara Nadel’s Turkish detectives Ikmen and Suleyman now feature in their 16th book Body Count.

51oNDe47dGL._SY445_The blurb will direct you to Istanbul, not Constantinople:

Any bloody death will lead Inspectors Çetin Ikmen and Mehmet Süleyman out onto the dark streets of Istanbul. On 21 January, a half-decapitated corpse in the poor multicultural district of Tarlabasi poses a particularly frustrating and gruesome mystery. But as the months pass and the violence increases, it turns into a hunt for that rare phenomenon in the golden city on the Bosphorus: a serial killer.

Desperate to uncover the killer’s twisted logic as the body count rises, Ikmen and Süleyman find only more questions. How are the victims connected? What is the significance of the number 21? And how many Istanbullus must die before they find the answers?

Body Count is out today in hardback and kindle.


shroud_makerIf Jack Higgins is racking up his 20th Dillon novel, Kate Ellis is giving him a good run for his money. The Shroud Maker is her 18th Wesley Paterson novel. Paterson is an archaeological graduate and cop, so each book combines a contemporary murder mystery with a parallel historical case, set in South Devon.

Dig deep for the blurb:

A grisly find . . . A year on from the mysterious disappearance of Jenny Bercival, DI Wesley Peterson is called in when the body of a strangled woman is found floating out to sea in a dinghy.The discovery mars the festivities of the Palkin Festival, held each year to celebrate the life of John Palkin, a fourteenth century Mayor of Tradmouth who made his fortune from trade and piracy. And now it seems like death and mystery have returned to haunt the town.

A faceless enemy . . . Could there be a link between the two women? One missing, one brutally murdered? And is there a connection to a fantasy website called Shipworld which features Palkin as a supernatural hero with a sinister, faceless nemesis called the Shroud Maker?

Will history repeat itself once again? When archaeologist Neil Watson makes a grim discovery on the site of Palkin’s warehouse, it looks as if history might have inspired the killer. And it is only by delving into the past that Wesley comes to learn the truth . . . a truth that will bring mortal danger in its wake.

The Shroud Maker is out today, January 2nd, on kindle and in hardback. You can read more about Kate at her website.

And there’ll be more books like these published this year, you mark my words. I’ll go as far as to predict plenty more.

Review: The Distinguished Assassin – Nick Taussig

UnknownThe Distinguished Assassin is a novel about an unlikely assassin during one of the most-terrible periods in Russian history.

Behold the glorious blurb, comrade:

1952. Free at last from a labour camp in Kolyma, the heart of Gulag hell, war hero and former professor Aleksei Klebnikov hopes to rejoin his family and recover some semblance of the life he once had. However he is crushed to discover that his beautiful wife Natasha has betrayed him with his old enemy Vladimir Primakov, the MVD agent who imprisoned him.

Embittered by the system that has destroyed his life, Aleksei accepts a mission from the notorious thief-in-law Ivan Ivanovich: to assassinate six leading Communists. All of them are evil men, responsible for untold misery, and Aleksei sees this as his opportunity to take revenge upon the Communist state.

But with just one man left to kill, Aleksei is unexpectedly reunited with his wife and daughter and hopes to put his demons to rest, repent for the past and return to family life. But the life of an assassin is not one that can be easily cast aside. All is not quite what it seems, and as Aleksei battles his conscience and the dark memories of his crimes, he realises that his greatest enemy has yet to be unveiled…

This novel ain’t subtle. It’s a sledgehammer of a book which bludgeons its embattled protagonist, and the reader, again and again. Aleksei, the assassin of the title, stumbles from one abasement to another: the killing of his parents, the apparent betrayal of his beloved wife, his incarceration in the remote gulag of Kolyma, and his brief and unhappy career as a reluctant angel of vengeance.

The motley collection of state operatives, criminals and nomenklatura who populate The Distinguished Assassin are about as corrupt and brutal a bunch as you are ever likely to meet. Taussig pokes beneath the grimy undershirts of the Russian experiment, in the aftermath of Stalin’s demise when his lieutenants scrabbled for control, to discover the disease mutating beneath its sallow skin. It’s a seriously grim book.

But it’s a big, emotional novel in the Russian style – not for nothing did the author gain a Master’s in Russian Literature. The Distinguished Assassin is written in prose that’s sometimes muscular and terse, and other times florid and elaborate. In these days of dry and ironic thrills, which tiptoe tastefully through history, Taussig does something very brave: he tells his tale with an impassioned, barely-contained fury. He slaps on the emotion good and thick, cranks up the Russian melodrama – it’s a righteous and unashamedly theatrical novel.

Aleksei’s journey takes him thousands of miles across the USSR, and if his odyssey from respected academic intellectual to expert killer is sometimes a little difficult to swallow, there’s no denying the author’s commitment and knowledge of his subject. Aleksei finds treachery everywhere, in the iron fist of the inhuman state apparatus, to the thieves-in-law, the shadowy criminal hierarchy who pulled strings behind-the-curtains.  Clues in the text remind us that today’s Russia still struggles mightily with its communist legacy.

The Distinguished Assassin may not be to everybody’s taste – as a crime novel, Stalin’s Russia is a precinct well-trodden by Tom Rob Smith, Sam Eastland and William Ryan, for example – but it’s violent and intoxicating and unexpectedly full of heart, and it smacks you in the face like a cold blast of Siberian air.

Thanks to Dissident for supplying a copy for review.