The current crop of crime books covers a suitably scary range of subject matter. Extending from the darker side of 1950s Dublin, courtesy of Benjamin Black, right through to a Cambridge rival to Inspector Morse, it also takes in a couple of slices of Nordic noir along the way.
Read on for five selections from IBTimes UK for your crime reading, all lurking out there ready and waiting to put the frighteners on.
Quirke returns to work to do the right thing on the dark side of 1950s Dublin
This is the seventh thriller from Benjamin Black (the pseudonym of Irish novelist John Banville). The series' protagonist, pathologist Quirke - his Christian name is never revealed - has been taking a sabbatical. But he returns to work when a young man is found dead in suspicious circumstances in Dublin's Phoenix Park. The story maintains a strong focus on the dark mix of religion and politics that dominated Ireland during the 1950s, with its unfortunate effects for women from all social classes. Black's prose is as decorous as ever, despite his brutal subject matter. And the novel's structure is as loose as its predecessors, with numerous digressions exploring Quirke's bafflement at the workings of the world around him.
Jack Parlabane encounters a dysfunctional marriage, online trolling and a mysterious car crash
Brookmyre's latest thriller featuring journalist Jack Parlabane is a thorny mystery with topical social media issues thrown into the mix - notably the online trolling of women. Brookmyre's main interests remain wedded to the psychology of the characters he creates, however, with an acute portrait of an unhappy marriage on offer here. Surgeon Diana Jager's career crashes when she is outed as the author of a controversial blog. She seeks relief with her lover, IT expert Peter, before he is killed in a car crash. Serious doubts arise about whether the crash was an accident and Parlabane decides to take on the case. Brookmyre has been writing thrillers for more than 20 years now but his approach is as fresh and edgy as ever.
Detective inspector Goodhew is rapidly shaping up into Cambridge's answer to Inspector Morse
This is the latest in Bruce's DI Gary Goodhew series. Goodhew is starting to look rather like Cambridge's answer to Oxford's Inspector Morse, although so far Goodhew's extracurricular interests cannot match Morse's patrician tastes for vintage cars and opera. As the story begins, Goodhew is debating whether to continue with his career in the force, following a tragedy during a previous case. Then the badly battered body of a homeless man is discovered in the city's market square. Goodhew knew the victim, who worked for him as an informant, and decides he must get involved. Bruce has a talent for deceptively simple, elegant plotting and she is developing a distinctive take on police procedurals. She is a writer well worth keeping an eye on.
This doorstop of Nordic noir features tells a disturbing story of child abuse and trafficking
This slice of Nordic noir from Sweden is a doorstop of more than 750 pages and it could have been even longer still. Originally, this was three separate novels, but they have been condensed into one for the English translation. The content is frequently shocking, beginning with the discovery of a mummified boy who has been bound up in tape inside a bin liner. Detective superintendent Jeannette Kihlberg and her colleague Jens Hurtig tackle the case, which takes in child abuse and trafficking. There are problems on the domestic front for Kihlberg, meanwhile, because her house husband Ake wants to become an artist. This tale of psychological disorder foregrounds strong female characters and features a complementary narrative about gender discrimination in the Swedish police force.
A dead postman prompts a search for a missing girl and a journey into the past for DS Simonsen
This is the third in the five-part Konrad Simonsen series, another unsettling story from the Danish brother and sister co-authors of The Hanging. It starts with a postman found dead at the bottom of the stairs leading up to his apartment. At first sight, this appears to be no more than an unfortunate accident. But detective superintendent Simonsen is doubtful about whether the postman fell of his own accord. Photographs of a vanished girl are then found in the apartment's attic. Soon the homicide team are busy delving into the past, while Simonsen confronts his own history. The Hammer siblings deliver serious, complex narratives which raises disquieting issues. Expert creators of atmospheric settings, they offer fast-paced plotting to keep readers guessing.