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The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup

The best recent crime and thrillers – review roundup

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim book jacket

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Angie Kim’s novel “Happiness Falls” is available for purchase at a price of £16.99 from Faber.

In Kim’s second novel, set in a Virginia suburb during the summer of 2020, the story is told through the perspective of 20-year-old Mia. She is living in quarantine with her twin brother John, their Korean mother Hannah, and their American father Adam. Adam takes care of their nonverbal brother Eugene, who has autism and Angelman syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. When Eugene returns from a hike with Adam, he is distressed and unable to explain what happened. The official investigation yields no results, and as the family struggles to cope with the situation, Mia delves into her father’s notes on his research about happiness. Could his disappearance be an experiment, with his family as the subjects? Did he simply want a new life without the responsibilities of being a caregiver? Or is there a more drastic and tragic explanation? This poignant and thought-provoking novel explores themes of love, neurodiversity, and heuristics within the framework of a literary mystery.

The Trials of Lila Dalton by LJ Shepherd book jacket

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The Trials of Lila Dalton by LJ Shepherd (Pushkin Vertigo, £16.99)

The beginning of this first novel has a surreal quality, as the main character finds herself in a court trial without knowledge of who she is or why she’s there. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that she is a junior barrister defending a man accused of terrorism on Assumption Island, a fictional location in the north Atlantic. Additionally, she begins receiving threatening messages in her hotel room. Lila is already struggling to distinguish reality from fiction, and the plot becomes increasingly strange as she attempts to uncover the truth about both the bombing that killed 27 people at a Home Office building and her own identity. The author, a lawyer, skillfully balances intrigue and confusion, resulting in an imaginative and thrilling read.

The Winter Visitor by James Henry book jacketView image in fullscreen

The Winter Visitor by James Henry (Riverrun, £20)

Henry’s DI Lowry trilogy takes place in Essex in 1983. In his latest novel, we follow DS Daniel Kenton, who has been promoted since the previous books, as he works at Colchester CID in the freezing February of 1991. He is partnered with the untidy DS Brazier as they investigate the death of drug dealer Bruce Hopkins, who had just returned from the Costa del Sol. His body was found naked in the trunk of a stolen car that had been submerged in a reservoir. Along with this case, Kenton and Brazier must also look into an arson attack that destroyed a historic church roof and the suicide of an elderly florist. Despite appearing unrelated on the surface, these events are all connected in some way. The novel is fast-paced and masterfully crafted, providing an accurate depiction of the time and place. The period details accurately portray the societal changes taking place, such as the deinstitutionalization policy and financial scandals like mis-sold endowment mortgages. Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals.

Butter by Asako Yuzuki book jacketView image in fullscreen

The book “Butter” written by Asako Yuzuki and translated by Polly Barton (published by Ecco) is priced at £14.99.

Based loosely on the true account of Kanae Kijima, a notorious “Konkatsu” (marriage-hunting) serial killer and con artist, this ambitious and unsettling Japanese novel follows journalist Rika Machida as she becomes increasingly fixated on Manako Kajii, a convicted killer she visits in prison. Kajii has used her cooking and nurturing skills to lure middle-aged men to their deaths. Despite her traditional wife demeanor – her pet peeves include “feminists and margarine” – she is just as self-absorbed as any other criminal of her kind. As Rika delves deeper into the world of gastronomy, she begins to reassess her own life and relationships, with Kajii taking on the role of mentor rather than subject. While some of the societal critiques may feel heavy-handed, this novel offers thought-provoking insights on friendship, unconventional pleasures, and society’s conflicting expectations of women.

Knife Skills for Beginners by Orlando Murrin book jacketView image in fullscreen

“Beginner’s Guide to Knife Skills” by Orlando Murrin, published by Bantam for the price of £14.99.

The debut novel by real-life chef Murrin is a mystery set in a prestigious yet struggling cookery school in Belgravia. The charming Paul Delamare steps in to lead a residential course when his friend Christian is unable to due to a broken arm. Despite once being highly praised and holding a Michelin star, Christian has fallen on hard times. When Paul discovers Christian’s almost decapitated body on a kitchen table, he begins to question if there is more to the story than just an accident. The authorities suspect Paul or one of his students may be responsible. This murder mystery is entertaining, with moments of humor and unexpected emotion. It also includes unique recipes, interesting culinary facts, and helpful cooking tips.

Source: theguardian.com