Crime fiction round-up

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THE DEADER THE BETTER BY GM FORD (Pan, £6.99)

LEO Waterman, one of Ford's two series sleuths, visits a friend who is launching a leisure ranch near Seattle. The friend, who has been having problems with the neighbours, is subsequently found dead. At peril of his life, and as other deaths follow, Waterman is determined to unmask the killer. There is no shortage of suspects, some blatant in their activities. But, as surprise piles upon surprise, the ultimate perpetrator is totally unexpected.

THE DEATH PICTURES

BY SIMON HALL

(Accent Press, 6.99)

AN EMINENT artist in Plymouth is found dead in his bath, his wrists slashed. Is it a suicide – or could it have been murder? A local TV reporter, a friend of the dead man, is determined to find out, and is guided by a trail of puzzles which the artist is left to solve, within a given timeframe. Prime suspect is a jealous artist-protg, but there are others who might have wanted the victim out of the way. The outcome is fiendishly clever.

FLESH HOUSE

BY STUART MACBRIDE

(Harper, 12.99)

ABERDEEN police sergeant Logan McRae is on the hunt for an exceptionally brutal murderer, nick-named the Flesher, who kidnaps victims, butchers them – and then turns them into edible meat. Aided by Birmingham's chief constable – and what exactly is he doing, in the granite city ? – McRae pursues his inquiries through amazing levels of deception to a gruesome finale.

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

BY DAVID ELLIS

(Quercus, 14.99)

YET another serial killer is at large, this time in an American city. The twist here is that the murderer is using the same methods as a previous serial killier – but the perpetrator of those murders has been executed for his crimes. Did attorney Paul Riley bring about the execution of an innocent man, or has a successor duplicated the methods of the previous murderer? Or is there yet another solution? Riley investigates – with stunning results.

KITTYHAWK DOWN

BY GARRY DISHER

(Bitter Lemon Press, 8.99)

A CRIME wave is engulfing an Australian beach resort near Melbourne. Inspector Hal Challis of the Homicide Squad has to look into the killing of an unidentified corpse fished from the sea, as well as searching for a missing toddler and trying to find out who is stealing cars and torching them – and then there's a more mundane letter-box arsonist. This solid police-procedural provides a capable investigating team, good local colour, and an excellent ending.

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