So far the first half of the year has already seen a number of books that will no doubt end up on my end of the year lists. With six months to go until the end of the year the books that are I am looking forward to are as follows -
Razorblade Tears by S A Cosby (Headline Publishing) A black father. A white father. Two Murdered sons. A quest for vengeance. Ike Randolph left jail fifteen years ago, with not so much as a speeding ticket since. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. Ike is devastated to learn his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah's white husband, Derek. Though he never fully accepted his son, Ike is broken by his death. Derek's father Buddy Lee was as ashamed of Derek being gay as Derek was of his father's criminal past. But Buddy Lee - with seedy contacts deep in the underworld - needs to know who killed his only child. Desperate to do better by them in death than they did in life, two hardened ex-cons must confront their own prejudices about their sons - and each other - as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.
1979 by Val McDermid (Little, Brown) The shadows hide a deadly story … 1979. It is the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys' club to take her seriously. Soon Allie and fellow journalist Danny Sullivan are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies - and Allie won't stop there. When she discovers a home-grown terrorist threat, Allie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the group and make her name. But she's a woman in a man's world ... and putting a foot wrong could be fatal
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Simon & Schuster) If you have a problem, if no one else can help, there's one person you can turn to. Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that's hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way onto the reservation and finds Virgil's nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop. They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realises that being a Native-American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
The Nameless Ones by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton) In Amsterdam, four people are butchered in a canal house, their remains arranged around the crucified form of their patriarch, De Jaager: fixer, go-between, and confidante of the assassin named Louis. The men responsible for the murders are Serbian war criminals. They believe they can escape retribution by retreating to their homeland. They are wrong. For Louis has come to Europe to hunt them down: five killers to be found and punished before they can vanish into the east. There is only one problem. The sixth.
Widespread Panic by James Ellroy (Cornerstone) Freddy Otash is the man in the know and the man to know in '50s L.A. He operates with two simple rules - he'll do anything but commit murder and he'll never work with the commies. Freddy is an ex-L.A. cop on the skids. He snuffed a cop killer in cold blood - and it got to him bad. So Chief William H. Parker canned him. Now he's a sleazoid private eye, a shakedown artist, a pimp - and, most notably, the head strongarm goon for Confidential Magazine. Confidential presaged the idiot internet - and delivered the dirt, the dish, the insidious ink and the scurrilous skank on the feckless foibles of misanthropic movie stars, sex-soiled socialites and potzo politicians. Freaky Freddy outs them all! In Widespread Panic, we traverse the depths of '50s L.A. and dig on the inner workings of Confidential. You'll go to Burt Lancaster's lushly appointed torture den; you'll groove overhyped legend James Dean as Freddy's chief stooge; you'll be there for Freddy's ring-a-ding rendezvous with Liz Taylor; you'll be front and centre as Freddy anoints himself the 'Tattle Tyrant Who Held Hollywood Hostage'.
The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin. (Cannongate) Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he's dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter's left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow? DC Jack Laidlaw's reputation precedes him. He's not a team player, but he's got a sixth sense for what's happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.
Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky (Hodder & Stoughton) In this spellbinding collection, Sara Paretsky showcases her extraordinary talents with fourteen short stories, including one new V.I. story and seven other classics featuring the indomitable detective. In 'Miss Bianca' a young girl becomes involved in espionage when she befriends a mouse in a laboratory that is conducting dark experiments. Ten-year-old V.I. Warshawski appears in 'Wildcat,' embarking on her very first investigation to save her father. A hardboiled New York detective and elderly British aristocrat team up to reveal a murderer in Chicago during the World's Fair in 'Murder at the Century of Progress'. In the new title story, 'Love & Other Crimes' V.I. treads the line between justice and vengeance when the wrongful firing of a family friend makes him a murder suspect.
Sunset Swing by Ray Celestin. (Pan MacMillian) Los Angeles. Christmas, 1967. A young nurse, Kerry Gaudet, travels to the City of Angels desperate to find her missing brother, fearing that something terrible has happened to him: a serial killer is terrorising the city, picking victims at random, and Kerry has precious few leads. Ida Young, recently retired Private Investigator, is dragged into helping the police when a young woman is discovered murdered in her motel room. Ida has never met the victim but her name has been found at the crime scene and the LAPD wants to know why . . . Meanwhile mob fixer Dante Sanfelipe has put his life savings into purchasing a winery in Napa Valley but first he must do one final favour for the Mob before leaving town: find a bail jumper before the bond money falls due, and time is fast running out. Ida's friend, Louis Armstrong, flies into the city just as her investigations uncover mysterious clues to the killer's identity. And Dante must tread a dangerous path to pay his dues, a path which will throw him headlong into a terrifying government conspiracy and a secret that the conspirators will do anything to protect . . .
The Wrong Goodbye by Toshihiko Yahagi (Quercus Publishing) pits homicide detective Eiji Futamura against a shady Chinese business empire and U.S. military intelligence in the docklands of recession Japan. After the frozen corpse of immigrant barman Tran Binh Long washes up in midsummer near Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base, Futamura meets a strange customer from Tran's bar. Vietnam vet pilot Billy Lou Bonney talks Futamura into hauling three suitcases of "goods" to Yokota US Air Base late at night and flies off leaving a dead woman behind. Thereby implicated in a murder suspect's escape and relieved from active duty, Futamura takes on hack work for the beautiful concert violinist Aileen Hsu, a "boat people" orphan whose Japanese adoption mother has mysteriously gone missing. And now a phone call from a bestselling yakuza author, a one-time black marketeer in Saigon, hints at inside information on "former Vietcong mole" Tran and his "old sidekick" Billy Lou, both of whom crossed a triad tycoon who is buying up huge tracts of Mekong Delta marshland for a massive development schemeAs the loose strands flashback to Vietnam, the string of official lies and mysterious allegiances build into a dark picture of the U.S.-Japan postwar alliance.
Turf Wars by Oliver Norek. (Quercus Publishing) Since Capitaine Coste and his team's last case, calm appears to have returned to the SDPJ93 - but not for long. The summary execution of three young dealers - one them shot in the head in full view of a police surveillance team - is the signal for hell to be unleashed in the suburb of Seine-Saint Denis. Cocaine stashed in pensioners' apartments; a psychopathic gang leader of just thirteen at large among the high rises; a cult militia recruited from the boxing clubs run by the council; a deputy mayor found tortured to death in his own home. And, if all this wasn't enough to contend with, when a police intervention in a local estate fuels the residents' resentment towards authority, Coste finds himself faced with an army of merciless thugs capable of enacting a genuine revolution.
Murder Isn't Easy: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine (Little, Brown) While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels. It was this early fascination that led to her job as a pathology technician, trained in forensics and working in mortuariesNearly every Agatha Christie story involves one - or, more commonly, several - dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles. Of course, Agatha herself didn't talk of 'forensics' in the way we use it now, but in each tale she writes of twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the 'whodunnit', Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn't Easy Carla illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.