Book round-up: Crime fiction

IN THE DARK Mark Billingham Little, Brown, £14.99

In this, Billingham's first non-DI Thorne novel, the ramifications surrounding the death of a detective during a gang initiation stunt are set out rather in the manner of TV's The Wire – we follow events on both sides of the law, each chapter seen from the point of view of different characters – all drawn non-judgmentally but sympathetically, although the reader's bias is naturally tipped towards the detective's pregnant widow as she tries to sort out the mess: corrupt coppers, Kray-type villains, youth drugs gangs. Brilliantly plotted and written.

Also try: Bill James, Easy Streets

THE SWEETNESS OF LIGHT

Paulus Hochgatterer

Maclehose Press, 16.99

Psychological thriller set in the Austrian Alps: Christmas in Furth am See and a small girl finds her grandfather dead with his head crushed. The murder is investigated by local detective Kovacs and the traumatised child is treated by psychiatrist Horn; the two never meet but patiently and in parallel work their way towards a resolution. Hochgatterer is a child psychiatrist and has obviously used his experience in this tale of a town, in effect a series of case histories, beautifully written (or translated) in cool clear prose.

Also try: Frank Tallis, Death in Vienna

FRACTURED

Karin Slaughter

Century, 17.99

I've grown a little weary of the slaughter delivered by Slaughter and co, but this one was a pleasant surprise. Will Trent is called in to help in a murder and kidnap case involving a wealthy Atlanta family: familiar enough territory, but Slaughter gives her hero an unusual character trait. Is Trent the first dyslexic detective? Much of the book is given over to the strategies Trent has devised to conceal his disability, such as using computer voice recognition to write reports. Not convincing for a Special Agent, but you'll keep turning the pages anyway.

Also try: Carol O'Connell, Find Me

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