Book reviews: Spilled Blood | Strange Meetings | The Winter of the Lions

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It’s a cold night in the middle of Minnesota. A teenage girl meets her hated rival.

Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman

Quercus, £7.99 ****

The next day, one of the girls is dead. Chris Hawk, the surviving girl’s father, tries to sort things out in his mind. Can his daughter really be a killer? He thinks he knows her. But he’s divorced and lives miles away. He’s a lawyer, he’s sharp. He questions his daughter – like a lawyer, and like a father too. You could hear a pin drop. Is she guilty? Compelling.

Strange Meetings by Harry Ricketts

Pimlico, £14.99 ***

The First World War poets didn’t just go to the trenches and write brilliant, angry poems. They actually knew each other – or at least some of them did. Siegfried Sassoon met Rupert Brooke at a literary breakfast in Clerkenwell in 1914; next to the elegant Brooke he felt tongue-tied. Brooke would soon be dead; Sassoon would soon be at the front, where he would meet Robert Graves, a hardened combatant. Sassoon found some of Graves’s poetry violent, and repulsive, but he found real beauty, too. Later, Sassoon met Wilfred Owen in hospital in Edinburgh. Poignant and fascinating.

The Winter Of The Lions By Jan Costin Wagner

Vintage, £7.99 ***

Wagner, a German with a Finnish wife, writes about Finnish detectives with beautiful simplicity. It’s cold, ordered, simple – then the simplicity is shattered. Our cop hero Kimmo, having lost his wife, finds himself falling for a woman who tells him she’s a prostitute and that she’s been raped. And then a man is stabbed to death while he skis. This calls for Kimmo’s colleague, Patrik, a forensic expert. But Patrik is already there, Kimmo is told. He’s the dead guy. Very dry.