Jeff Noon

Making Brexit thrilling

The long gestation period of Brexit has allowed authors to plan and write and publish novels in time for the big day. Alan Judd’s Accidental Agent (Simon & Schuster, £12.99) is a spy thriller set during the EU negotiations. Charles Thoroughgood is the head of MI6. The secret service is forbidden from spying on the

Death at close quarters

Alex Jackson is buried alive inside his own body, a body which lies in a long-term coma following a climbing accident. He can’t see, he can’t move, he can’t speak. This is the terrifying fate of the protagonist of Emily Koch’s debut novel If I Die Before I Wake (Harvill Secker, £12.99). The doctors believe

Crazy nannies and missing children: the latest crime fiction reviewed

Madeline Stevens’s debut thriller, Devotion (Faber, £12.99), might more appropriately have been titled ‘Desire’. It’s a riff on that old standby: the crazy nanny story. Except, in this case, both the nanny and the mother of the children are equal contestants in the madness stakes. Ella is poor and adrift in the city. It seems

Secrets and suspense

Andrew Martin continues his quest to create uniquely interesting crime novels in The Winker (Corsair, £16.99). Lee Jones is a rock musician facing cultural extinction as the punks take over. It’s 1976. He wanders around London dressed to the nines, living his fantasies. His trademark move on stage was to wink at a member of

Mad, bad and dangerous

Mr Todd is a lonely man, out of work, nursing a thousand grudges while he ekes out a living with his grown-up son, Adrian. He believes Adrian is dangerous, a threat to other people. But the real evil might be living inside Mr Todd’s head. This is the squalid battleground set out by Iain Maitland

The journalist as sleuth

Despite being well-travelled as the BBC’s world affairs editor, John Simpson doesn’t roam far from home in his spy thriller, Moscow, Midnight (John Murray, £20). Life and art intermingle, in both subject matter and character. The hero is named Jon Swift, a veteran journalist bristling under new media regimes. When government minister Patrick Macready is

Bodies pile up

A young girl finds the body of her nanny, brutally murdered, and the barely moving form of her mother, a second victim of the attack. The perpetrator of these deeds is the child’s father, who manages to flee the country and has never been seen since. This is the wound at the heart of Flynn

Family mysteries

Maggie is sitting alone in the park when she’s approached by Harvey, who introduces himself as a recruiter for MI5. This is the starting point of Mick Herron’s This is What Happened (John Murray, £16.99). The company Maggie works for is under investigation as a possible threat to national security. She takes on a task,

Strewn with foreign bodies

Ghosts of the Past by Marco Vichi (Hodder, £18.99) is unashamedly nostalgic in tone. The title could not be more apposite. The action takes place in 1967, when Inspector Bordelli of the Florence police force is called to a house where a wealthy industrialist has been run through with a sword. Each member of the

The murderous past

How can you defend a man you hate? John Fairfax, in his Blind Defence (Little Brown, £16.99), explores this dilemma. Diane Heybridge is found dead in her London flat. She was poor, working-class, without much of a future to look forward to. But did she take her own life, or was she murdered by her

Unusual motives for murder

Donald E. Westlake wrote crime books that were funny, light and intricate. Help I Am Being Held Prisoner (Hard Case Crime, £7.99) was first published in 1974. The protagonist is Harold Künt. (That umlaut, as you can imagine, is very, very important.) In reaction against his name, he’s become a serial prankster. After one of

Close up and far away

It’s difficult to keep a crime series going after 11 books but Boris Akunin manages it well in All the World’s a Stage (Weidenfeld, £20). His hero, Erast Fandorin, is now in his fifties. It’s 1911 in Russia, and while the Bolsheviks gather their power, another revolution is taking place in the theatre, and the

Recent crime fiction | 12 October 2017

Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling (4th Estate, £12.99) has the word masterpiece emblazoned on the cover, alongside quotes from several famous authors telling us how brilliant it is. It can be difficult to see through this hype and find the true novel, but let’s try. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston lives with her father, Martin, a survivalist

Latest crime fiction

Wolfgang Herrndorf’s Sand (Pushkin Press, £14.99) is set in 1972 and moves back and forth between a North African city and a small unruly town surrounding an oasis. One man is on the run through the desert regions: he has no name, no memory and no clue as to why he’s being pursued by at

A choice of recent thrillers | 30 March 2017

A young Norwegian police officer finds a rusting vintage car inside a locked and disused barn, and the presence of bullet holes in the bodywork intrigues him enough to start an investigation in his spare time. This is the central puzzle of Jorn Lier Horst’s When It Grows Dark (Sandstone Press, £7.99), and it offers

Recent crime fiction | 9 February 2017

There isn’t a clear line separating crime and literary fiction, but a border zone where ideas are passed from one genre to another. Flynn Berry’s debut Under the Harrow (Weidenfeld, £12.99) is set well to the literary side of this border, but doesn’t shirk on the thrills of a psychological mystery. Nora Lawrence expects to

Crime fiction for Christmas

Imagine receiving an anonymous suicide note addressed to you by mistake. Would you try to find that person, to help them in some way? This is the opening dilemma in Bernard Minier’s Don’t Turn Out the Lights (Mulholland Books, £14.99), and Christine Steinmeyer’s failure to locate the letter’s sender turns her life in Toulouse upside