Sunday, 23 January 2011

Books to look forward to from Constable and Robinson

David Dickinson’s Death in a Scarlet Coat is due to be published in January 2011. Master of the Hunt, the fifteenth Earl of Candlesby, has come to lead his riders once again. But this time he comes as a corpse, wrapped in blankets across his horse, a corner of his scarlet coat visible in the morning mist. Only three people see the body. One dies. Another vanishes. Now only one man knows how he was killed. Lord Francis Powerscourt is summoned to investigate murder in a crumbling house where the paper is peeling off the walls and the stuffed owls each only have one leg. The estate is virtually bankrupt as Powerscourt uncovers a world of jealousy, revenge and hatred, where the sons are as dissolute and dangerous as the father. The fifteenth earl had left a trail of duels, theft and adultery across the flatlands of Lincolnshire. It takes another death and a deadly chase under the crumbling estate before Powerscourt unlocks the secret of death in a scarlet coat.

Death of a Sweep is by M C Beaton and is due to be published in February 2011. In the south of Scotland, residents get their chimneys vacuum-cleaned. But in the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one

day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn't believe that the affable chi

mney sweep is capable of committing murder. Then Pete's body is found on the Scottish moors, and the mystery deepens. Once again, it’s up to Hamish to discover who’s responsible for the dirty deed — and this time, the murderer may be closer than he realizes.

Stormtide is a Webb Carrick murder mystery. Webb Carrick of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Service latest adventure takes him on a North Atlantic shark hunt in the waters of the storm-tossed Hebrides. Webb Carrick finds he has inadvertently strayed right into the middle of a smouldering feud between a renegade band of shark hunters and some vengeful local fishermen, angered by the drowning of a young girl – a feud which threatens to ignite when he boards a wrecked fishing boat and finds her skipper dead on deck. As furious charges and counter charges are hurled, murder and arson come to the islands with stealthy suddenness. But when the final stormtide breaks even Webb Carrick is staggered to discover how much is at stake in terms of life and death. Stormtide is by Bill Knox and is due to be published in February 2011.

Murder at the Villa Byzantine is the sixth crime novel to feature amateur sleuths Antonia Darcy and Major Payne. What role does the mysterious Miss Hope, former governess to the Bulgarian royal family, play in the bizarre murder at the Villa Byzantine? And does she in fact actually exist? Antonia Darcy and Major Hugh Payne attend a birthday party for one of their Hampstead neighbours, little knowing they will end up investigating the grisly death of one of Melisa

nde Chevret’s other guests. The ageing actress becomes a natural suspect when her love rival is killed. But after that first murder, another murder takes place at the Villa Byzantine. The owner of the exotically styled house is royal biographer Tancred Vane, but he swears he is innocent. And surely his new friend Catherine Hope, an elderly lady helping him with his research, can have nothing to do with it? It looks as though the victim’s daughter is to blame – but how likely is it that a teenage girl should have a dainty silk handkerchief bearing her monogram? And would she drop it so conveniently beside her mother’s dead body? Murder at the Villa Byzantine is by R T Raichev and is due to be published in February 2011.

Why Don’t You Come For Me is by Diane Janes and will be published in March 2011. Sometimes Jo still wakes suddenly, thinking she can hear Lauren’s cry. Although twelve years have passed since her baby daughter was abducted, photos of the child continue to arrive by post with the words, I Still Have Her, scrawled across the back. The police think it’s the work of a hoaxer but Jo has always believed them to be genuine – and until there is some hard evidence to the contrary, she will always hold on to the belief that Lauren is still alive. But if the pictures really do come from the kidnapper it means that they have been keeping track of Jo’s movements all these years – and recently Jo has begun to feel as if she is being watched – and that whoever has her daughter is getting closer. Is Jo’s husband right to dismiss her fears as paranoia, or might Jo herself be in danger? As her life begins to unravel Jo fears that the truth may lie in older events; in a half-forgotten childhood world, scarred by rumours of insanity and murder.

The Calling by Alison Bruce and is the third in the DC Goodhew series and is due to be published in July 2011. Kaye Whiting went to buy a birthday present and didn’t come back. She isn’t dead, or physically injured. But she is alone and very, very scared. Fifty miles away in Cambridge town centre a deeply disturbed young woman is standing by a payphone. She kno

ws she often feels compelled to do harmful things and is driven by a desire to make a call. DC Goodhew is

one of the detectives assigned to find Kaye and when her body is discovered the only clue to the potential murderer is a woman’s voice on his answerphone saying, ‘K

aye isn’t the first and won’t be the last…’

The Witness is by Cath Staincliffe. A senseless crime, a community in fear, would you dare stand up and be counted? Would you bear witness knowing how high the cost might be? Four bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time. Witnesses to the shocking shooting of a teenage boy. A moment that changes their lives forever. Fiona, a midwife, is plagued by panic attacks and unable to work. Has she the strength to testify? Mike, a delivery driver and family man, faces an impossible decision when his frightened wife forces him to choose – us or the court case. Cheryl, a single-mother, doesn’t want her child to grow up in the same climate of fear. Dare she speak out and risk her own life? Zak, a homeless man, offers to talk in exchange for witness protection and the chance of a new start. Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. Will the witnesses stand firm or be prevented from giving evidence? How will they cope with the emotional trauma of reliving the murder under pitiless cross-examination? A compassionate, suspenseful and illuminating story exploring the real human cost of bearing witness. The Witness is due to be published in April 2011.

Death’s Other Kingdom is the third Inspector Max Romero mystery. 23rd February 1981 – an attempted military coup in Spain. Thirty years later, young journalist Mariana Mora learns that her father’s death that day was suicide. She doesn’t believe it. As Granada moves through its winter cycle of pageants and rituals, Inspector Max Romero investigates assaults on two young women. Both had received threatening notes. And then Mariana is found dead. The police are convinced they are dealing with a serial assailant but Max discovers a link to the death of Mariana’s father. The ghosts of the coup are still powerful and deadly. Death’s Other Kingdom is by P J Brooke and is due to be published in July 2011.

Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera is by Simon Brett. There is consternation at Tawcester Towers! While giving a guided tour of the house’s Long Gallery Blotto is stunned to discover that two of the family portraits – a Gainsborough and a Reynolds – are missing. Tawcester Towers has been the victim of art thieves! Blotto is forced to summon his brilliantly intelligent sister Twinks who instantly deduces that a gang of international art thieves based in Paris has stolen the paintings. So Blotto and Twinks instantly set off in the former’s Lagonda for France! Their investigations in Paris bring them into contact with the absinthe-soaked art community of the Rive Gauche, but after an attempt on his life at the Folies Bergere, Blotto is persuaded by Twinks that it is to Nice they must travel, as the criminal mastermind La Puce runs his evil empire from there, funded by the proceeds of many European art collections – including those from Tawcester Towers. The French Riviera is a gay old place, and following various lead, Twinks makes contacts with many expatriates and Americans all leading the good life, including the famous silent movie star Mimsy La Pim, who Blotto finds himself curiously drawn to. But after a particularly decadent party it is discovered that La Puce has kidnapped Mimsy – and so it is up to Blotto and Twinks to save the starlet from many fates worse than death and restore the fortunes of Tawcester Towers to boot! Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera is due to be published in July 2011.

Warsaw Anagrams is a chilling mystery set in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. Autumn 1940. The Nazis seal 400,000 Jews inside a small area of the Polish capital, creating an urban island cut off from the outside world. Erik Cohen, an elderly psychiatrist, is forced to move into a tiny apartment with his niece and his beloved nine-year-old nephew, Adam. One bitterly coldwinter’s day, Adam goes missing. The next morning, his body is discovered in the barbed wire surrounding the ghetto. The boy’s leg has been cut off, and a tiny piece of string has been left in his mouth. Soon, another body turns up – this time a girl’s, and one of her hands has been taken. Evidence begins to point to a Jewish traitor luring children to their death. The Warsaw Anagrams is by Richard Zimler and is due to be published in February 2011.

In A Bedlam of Bones there is more blackmail, mayhem and murder for the humbug-crunching vicar, his dog, and the cat. After the unsettling exploits in the Auvergne the vicar and his companions try to resume a life of moderate respectability. But the recent events cast a long

shadow and they are soon in the grip of sinister repercussions. Who is the menacing blackmailer stalking the previous blackmailer and the bishop? Can the bishop survive the threat of being ‘outed’? Why is there a body in the polyanthus bed and can Lavinia Birtle-Figgins really be as dippy as she seems? These and other imponderables immerse the Reverend Francis Oughterard in a fresh web of danger and subterfuge while his animal ‘minders’, Maurice and Bouncer, try their best to make sense of all this human bedlam. A Bedlam of Bones is by Suzette Hill and is due to be published in May 2011.

In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline. Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to the glorious height of Rome’s empire under Hadrian. Through the eyes of the Pinarii, we witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the cruel escapades of Nero, and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors in 69 A.D. The deadly paranoia of Domitian is followed by the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian—but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to inflict death and destruction on a whim. But at the novel’s heart are the wrenching choices and seductive temptations faced by each new generation of the Pinarii. One unwittingly becomes the sexual plaything of the notorious Messalina. One enters into a clandestine affair with a Vestal virgin. One falls under the charismatic spell of Nero, while another is drawn into the strange new cult of those who deny the gods and call themselves Christians. However diverse their destinies and desires, all the Pinarii are united by one thing: the mysterious golden talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed. As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire. Empire is by Steven Saylor and is due to be published in May 2011.

A serial killer holds New York in his grip. He does not choose his victims. Nor does he watch them die. But then there are too many of them for that. The explosion of a twenty-two storey

building, followed by the casual discovery of a letter, lead the police to face up to a dreadful reality: some of New York’s buildings were mined at the time of their construction. But which ones? And how many? A young female detective hiding her personal demons behind a tough appearance, and a former press photographer with a past he’d rather forget, and for which he still seeks forgiveness, are the only hope of stopping this psychopath. A man who does not even claim responsibility for his actions.

A man who believes himself to be God. I am God is by Giorgio Faletti and is due to be published in June 2011.

The Counterfeit Madam by Pat McIntosh is due to be published in June 2011. Gil Cunningham had hoped that the first time he set foot in the brothel on the Drygate it would also be his last, but by the time all was settled he felt quite at home within its artfully painted chambers. The bawdy house, along with the neighbouring property and two more in Strathblane, are all part of a deal offered to Gil and his wife Alys by the forceful Dame Isabella. Her proposal also involves Gil’s young ward, and matters are further confused by an outbreak of counterfeit coins in Glasgow, which Gil has been ordered to investigate. Then Dame Isabella is found dead in strange circumstances, and the more Gil pursues the cause of her death, the more false coins he finds. And then the bawd-mistress, the enigmatic Madam Xanthe, gets involved and rumours circulate that the Devil is abroad in Strathblane. By the time Gil and Alys have untangled matters, some very surprising – and sinister – thing have come to light.

Devil-Devil by G W Kent is an exotic crime series set in the Solomon Islands featuring Sergeant Kella and Sister Conchita. It’s 1960 and Sergeant Ben Kella of the Solomon Islands police force is only a few days into a routine patrol of the most beautiful yet dangerous and primitive areas of the South Pacific. Yet, already, he has been cursed by a magic man, stumbled across evidence of a cult uprising and failed to find an American anthropologist who has been scouring the mountainous jungle in search of a priceless erotic icon. To complicate matters further, at a local mission station, Kella discovers the redoubtable Sister Conchita secretly trying to bury a skeleton, before a mysterious gunman tries to kill her. Mission-educated yet an aofia – the traditional peacemaker of the islands – Kella is forced to link up with Sister Conchita, an independent and rebellious young American nun, in order to track down the perpetrators of a series of bizarre murders. Devil-Devil is due to be published in June 2011.


Judith said...

Ayo, the dark blue colour you used for the links in this post is very hard to read. The yellow in the previous post is much more legible! I am really enjoying this blog, by the way!

Mike Stotter said...

Thanks for your comments, Judith. Ayo is doing an excellent job in keeping the blog lively with almost daily blogs.