New books by my Favourite Writers

It’s always very exciting when one of my favourite writers publishes a new book. The summer and autumn of 2020 has brought a raft of new titles, some delayed because of COVID, and here are four of my favourites.

First up is Margaret Murphy who I first read in back in 2005, I think. Her thought-provoking psychological thrillers were enthralling and I particularly loved the Liverpool settings. Murphy went on to write thrillers under the name of AD Garrett and Ashley Dyer.  I was delighted to see that Joffe books are now publishing her backlist along with a new book, Before He Kills Again featuring Detective Cassie Rowan. Cassie is working undercover on the streets of Liverpool to capture a predator known as the Furman who is killing women sex workers. As I’ve come to expect from Murphy’s books, this new thriller combines a compelling plot along with a keen eye on life for the working girls and the subtleties of Cassie’s relationship with her colleagues.

Marnie Riches is a versatile writer whose crime series have been published to rave reviews.  She’s written a series of historical sagas about the early days on the NHS under the name of Maggie Campbell, the first of which is Nurse Kitty’s Secret War. It has a Manchester setting,  Park Hospital which is now the Trafford General. It’s just after the war and Kitty Longthorne is a nurse juggling a family unsupportive of her career, a romance with a doctor and the stresses of nursing in a new regime. There’s plenty of suspense, especially in relation to Kitty’s love life and I personally loved the insights into the birth of the NHS and it’s impact on ordinary lives still reeling from the effects of war. Meticulously researched this book is a perfect celebration of the early days of the NHS.

Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite writers. The Lantern Men is the latest outing for DCI Harry forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson. A man convicted for killing two women is prepared to reveal the location of other bodies but only if Ruth will do the digging. Ruth has relocated to Cambridge but is unsettled personally and professionally. I love how Griffiths keeps the will they/won’t they drama going for Ruth and Nelson and there’s a nice touch of folklore about the existence of the lantern men in the marshes. Possibly my favourite in the series, I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Jane Bettany is a debut writer who I met at one of my writing workshops and was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the early chapters of the book which became In Cold Blood. DI Isabel Blood investigates a body in the back garden of a house she once lived in as a child. The forensic team think the body has been in the ground for forty years which coincides with the date of Isabel’s father’s disappearance. In Cold Blood won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition and it’s easy to see why. It’s a tightly written police procedural with a very relatable protagonist and a compelling plot. If you like Elly Griffiths, I’m sure you’ll love this book.

Books to Look Out For

I loved Stephanie Marland’s first Starke and Bell thriller My Little Eye and her follow-up, You Die Next is an outstanding read. A group of urban explorers enter a disused studio and discover a gruesome scene they’re pretty sure isn’t staged. One by one the explorers are murdered while a fellow thrill seeker pleads with academic researcher Clementine Starke to look into the deaths. This brings her into contact with former lover DI Dominic Bell. The shifting point of view works very well here – unsettling the reader and allowing us into the minds of both urban explorers and Clementine and Dom. This is definitely this author’s best book and was a delight to read.

 A Dying Breed by Peter Hannington is an excellent a political thriller with a strong protagonist. His follow-up, A Single Source, has veteran BBC Reporter Will Carver in Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring. Political intrigue, the perils facing foreign correspondents and the exploitation of refugees fleeing conflict are all represented in this intelligent and well plotted thriller. With multiple points of view and a vast geographical scope, it was great to read a satisfyingly complex story. Brilliant for fans of Star of the North and I Am Pilgrim.

Remember me is the compelling debut by Amy McLellan. Sarah suffers from prosopagnosia, the inability to recognise faces. When her sister is killed by an attacker who might be known to her, Sarah needs to convince the police that not only is she not the murderer but try to help them find the culprit.  A very well written psychological thriller, with a killer premise, I was rooting for the protagonist from the start.

I devoured Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton’s books in my twenties and have long lamented the demise of the female PI novel. It looks like it’s back, however, with Marnie Riches Tightrope. Featuring the intrepid and very human Bev Saunders, this thriller is destined for great things. Earthy and raw, it features a great cast of characters and I loved that it was based in my home town of Manchester.

I read an early version of Allan Martin’s The Peat Dead and I’m delighted to see it’s being published on the 17th April. Set on the Hebridean island of Islay, it involves a historic crime (which are always a favourite theme) which is suddenly uncovered in the present day. Martin is excellent at showing how in small communities, the past can be as painful as the present and I loved the island setting.