This spring is sure to be a good one for mystery and thriller fans: here is your guide to the next four months of must-reads!
December 1: In case you missed it, the illustrious P.D. James (she of the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame) has issued her missive on what makes detective fiction work. Talking About Detective Fiction should be the first thing on your reading list this season, if only to make you add four or five more titles to your near-tumbling pile of books. (Don’t forget to check out her rules of detective fiction applied to our great list!)
January 12th: Now, an utterly addictive new book from John Burdett, The Godfather of Kathmandu. Sonchai Jitpleecheep—Burdett’s Royal Thai Police detective with the hard-bitten demeanor and Buddhist soul—is summoned to the most shocking crime scene of his career. If you dug the adventures in Bangkok 8, Bangkok Haunts, and Bangkok Tattoo, you’ll dig this one.
February 2: Cold winter winds will bring you to David Peace’s Occupied City, a Rashomon-like telling of a mass poisoning in post-World War II occupied Japan. If you’ve read the Red Riding books, you know Peace is great at this kind of edge-of-your-seat storytelling, and this follows his stunning novel Tokyo Year Zero, which James Ellroy called “part historical stunner, part Kurosawa crime film, an original all the way.”
February 9th: Peter Straub‘s A Dark Matter arrives from Doubleday, and the premise alone leaves me craving a copy: a gathering of acolytes for a charismatic guru results in a gruesome death and widespread trauma. As the survivor stories emerge, you understand why Lincoln Child called Straub “the most important voice in suspense fiction today.”
February 16th: I’ve been waiting for the new Henning Mankell, The Man from Beijing, ever since my first taste of the brilliant Wallander series. Here, Mankell starts with a brutal murder in a small Swedish hamlet, and it’s up to his fascinating new hero Judge Birgitta Roslin to trace the crime’s roots back to worlds away and over a century earlier, to a personal vendetta passed down through generations. If the chilly setting of Stieg Larsson gave you a taste for great Swedish writing, you must pick up the new Mankell and see the master at work.
February 23rd: Two fantastic new thrillers on one day! First, Doubleday brings you S.J. Parris’s Heresy, a thriller set at Oxford University in 1583. Giordano Bruno–monk, scientist, philosopher, and magician–is on an unofficial assignment to uncover a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen, and when Oxford students start turning up dead, his job only gets harder. I love it when historical fiction gets into the mystery game…
That same day, Pantheon also delivers Nigel McCrery’s Tooth and Claw. In this electrifying new novel, Detective Lapslie must overcome his almost uncontrollable case of synesthesia (in which his brain tends to crosswire his senses) to investigate the murder of a television reporter. With the police pressing him for results, the media bearing down on him, and the synesthesia going wild, Lapslie is reaching his breaking point.
March: On March 3rd, dive into Keith Thomson’s Once a Spy, which, like McCrery’s book, has the human brain as one of its primary villains. In this new mystery from Doubleday, Charlie Clark is running for his life after his Brooklyn apartment goes up in smoke. He thinks his pursuers might be chasing down his gambling debts, but then he realizes his father Drummond might be the real target. But why?, Charlie wonders, when his father is an Alzheimer’s-addled old man and a former “appliance salesman” ? The Clarks must both dodge the threat and uncover the mysteries buried in Drummond’s rapidly deteriorating brain, making for a case of forgotten–not mistaken–identity as thrilling as the Jason Bourne trilogy.
April 20th: In late April, lead into our spectacular summer season with Michael Harvey’s final chapter in his Chicago trilogy, The Third Rail. Harvey’s tough-talking, Aeschylus-quoting, former Irish cop turned-PI, Michael Kelley, is back in a sizzling murder mystery that pits him against a merciless sniper on the loose. Kelly find sthat the murderer has an unnerving link to his own past, something he’d prefer to leave unexamined, but when his girlfriend Rachel Swenson is abducted, he has no choice but to find the killer himself. For Harvey, Chicago is a primo setting for a great caper, and if you haven’t checked out the writer Michael Connelly called “a major new voice”, now’s the time.
And finally, what better way to head into your summer than with the newest installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency? Pantheon brings you The Double Comfort Safari Club, in which Mma Ramotswe finds herself solving a mystery while on safari–no doubt sorting out a few grumpy hippopotamuses along the way (or is it hippopotami?) Mc Call Smith never fails to deliver something utterly delicious, so make sure you have this one on your list.
Lots to look forward to this upcoming season–what are your picks?