British Crime Fiction – Four new novels

I’ve started reading in earnest for this year’s Petrona Award so a lot of my reading has been from the Nordic countries. I’m not neglecting home-grown authors, though. Below are reviews of four crime novels by British writers that I’ve read recently.

the-cellarMinette Walters is a favourite writer of mine. Her debut novel, The Ice House, would probably make it into my top ten crime books. Unlike other writers, her books have got shorter over time but retain the focus on the darkness that’s often hidden behind closed doors. The Cellar is the story of Muna who is kept as a slave by the Songoli. Unable to remember her early childhood, Muna beneath her calm exterior plots her revenge. It’s more a horror tale than crime novel but an excellent and compelling read.

a-suitable-lieI’m a fan of Michael J Malone’s novels and poetry and his new book, A Suitable Lie, marks a change in direction from him. He tackles the difficult and emotive subject of domestic violence in a realistic way and the book was a very moving read. It’s difficult to say more without giving away spoilers but its my favourite of Malone’s works so far as he grapples with a subject shrouded by innuendo and shame.

51fsbbswvxlRebecca Bradley is a former CID detective and her wealth of experience comes across in her books. Made to be Broken is set in Nottingham where a poisoner is wreaking havoc on the city. It’s good to see a police team where the reverberations of a previous case are still being felt and you know you’re in safe hands with Bradley’s writing. The city of Nottingham is well depicted and I loved the clever murder plot.

51yzlijmaqlI read For Reasons Unknown  by Michael Wood as the author was appearing at a festival I was having at my local village. It’s a top-notch police procedural that draws on the authors experiences as a journalist in Sheffield. The writing is superb and the book certainly didn’t read like a debut. Wood is a writer to watch.

Review: Rebecca Bradley – Shallow Waters

shallow-watersI read Shallow Waters, the debut novel by Rebecca Bradley, over a month ago and enjoyed it. It’s taken me an age to review simply because of the amount of time I’ve been dedicating to my second book, the sequel to In Bitter Chill. It’s eaten into my reading time and has also meant I’m behind on writing reviews of books that I have read. However, as my own novel has now been sent to an early reader, I’m using the time to catch up.

Shallow Waters is set in Nottingham where a young girl is found murdered in an alleyway. When another girl is killed, detectives working on the murder investigation, led by DI Hannah Robbins, embark on a hunt for the murderer under the full glare of media scrutiny. Progress is slow and the manner of deaths horrifying. The race is on to prevent more victims of the terrifying crimes.

Bradley is an ex-murder detective and brings a wealth of her knowledge to the story. Shallow Waters is solidly in the police procedural genre. I don’t read as many of these types of crime novels these days and it was good to return to this style of writing with a book that contains such a wealth of detail. It’s a fairly harrowing read because of the subject matter and the focus on the police investigation helps to mitigate the horror of some of the story.

This is a strong debut from a writer who clearly knows the realities of working on a murder investigation and it is very well plotted. I hope it’s the first in a series as Hannah Robbins has an interesting back story and plenty more to give to a crime story.