The Emperor of Ocean Park: Stephen L. Carter

When Oliver Garland, a well-respected judge, dies—ostensibly of a heart attack—his daughter, Mariah, suspects foul play. Her brother, Tal, a professor of law at a university, is sceptical. Oliver (whom Tal refers to as The Judge) was tipped to a Supreme Court judge, one of the two black judges. But at the hearings, he was …

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Magpie Murders: Anthony Horowitz

This is a whodunit within a whodunit. One Friday evening, Susan Ryeland, the Head of Fiction at Cloverleaf Books, picks up Magpie Murders, the latest manuscript by Alan Conway—one of their most successful writers—and takes it home. She pours herself a glass of wine and starts to read. As she reads the manuscript, so do …

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Flicker: Theodore Roszak

“[E]ntertainment rules more lives than art and rules them more despotically. People don’t put up their guard when they’re being entertained. The images and the messages slip through and take hold deeper.” Flicker is a thriller, a history of film (with a conspiracy theory thrown in) and a cautionary tale about the power of movies. …

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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: Olga Tokarczuk

Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones “[S]ometimes I feel we’re living in a world we fabricate for ourselves. We decide what’s good and what isn’t, we draw maps of meanings for ourselves… And then we spend our whole lives struggling with that we have invented for ourselves. The problem is that each of us has …

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Tombland: CJ Sansom

I wasn’t going to write this, since I’ve already reviewed a book in the Shardlake series (Dark Fire). But Tombland is a little different—it is not just a murder mystery but also describes a little-known event in English history. The series centres around Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer in London, who used to work for …

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Macbeth: Jo Nesbo

Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett A town in Scotland where the sun never breaks through the clouds, pollution hangs heavy, unemployment is high and people are in thrall to a potent drug called the brew, manufactured and sold by the drug lord, Hecate. This is the setting for Jo Nesbo’s grim, gritty reworking of …

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle: Stuart Turton

Stuart Turton takes the traditional English setting for a whodunit—a country house thrumming with secrets, tensions and fears—and turns it into something completely unexpected. I have read a lot of crime fiction, and this is one of the most original books I’ve come across. Take the way it begins. “I forget everything between footsteps.‘Anna!’ I …

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No sweet song, this

Lullaby by Leila Slimani Translated from the French Chanson Douce (2016) by Sam Taylor (Faber & Faber, 2018) I encountered Leila Slimani and her work in the New York Times Review of Books, months before the English translation came to market. My fingers raced across the keyboard to Amazon, only to find I had to wait …

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The Long Way Home: Louise Penny

“There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There's power enough in Heaven to cure a sin-sick soul.” On the surface, this seems like a regular whodunit. But it is more than that—a story about losing and finding yourself, about art and landscape, and escaping from your past. Armand Gamache, the former …

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