SOUL MURDER Andrew Nugent Headline, £12.99
The third case for likeable Dublin police duo Superintendent Dennis Lennon and Sergeant Molly Power, with the housemaster in a boys' boarding school found in the dorm with his throat cut. Theories include revenge and terrorist attack, and the conclusion is genuinely shocking. Mercifully free from forensic clutter, it concentrates more on character and sense of place. A simply written, thoughtful book with the wonderful throwaway comment on Ireland as a place that "increases the imponderables".
Also try: Bartholomew Gill, The Death Of An Irish Sinner
I was looking forward to the third instalment of the Moriarty saga. There's still the figure of Moriarty as the ur-Capone, still the nightmarish Victorian underworld, still the colourful characters speaking their baroque patois, but there's a lack of cohesion in the tale, which is basically a series of horrible murders as Moriarty reclaims his empire from rival Idle Jack Idell. And it's over-freighted with footnotes and needless repetition. There are flashes of the old skilful Gardner, but it all needs a good editorial seeing to.
Also try: MJ Trow, The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade
Simon & Schuster, 15.00
A third third outing, this time for Gatiss's exponent of spoof Bondage, Lucifer Box. It's the 1950s and the now ageing agent embarks on one last mission, investigating a series of high-profile Establishment types dying in peculiarly wanton accidents. The farcical plot hardly bears description, resembling some daft Avengers script involving boy scouts, the evil A.C.R.O.N.I.M. and assassination by happiness. Don't think twice, just enjoy the ride and the truly terrible puns.
Also try: John Gardner, The Liquidator