Or maybe it is. It hardly ever happens, but all the crime novels here in our new books column this week come with a pinch of humour. Whether you’re riding the Bullet Train with a bunch of psychos in the latest crime novel from Japan, tracing in the footsteps of a former CIA agent or bumbling around a stone circle with a baffled detective, each of our picks should put a smile on your face.
Go ahead, try something different…
Vera Kelly is not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht
She’s lost her job with the CIA, and Vera Kelly is about to tackle her first case as a private detective – but when the destination is a sprawling countryside estate in the Caribbean it doesn’t take much persuading for her to leave Brooklyn behind. The idyllic location hides a multitude of sins, however, and Vera soon realises that she needs her wits about her if she is to come out of this in one piece. But when you’re forever looking over your shoulder, it is easy to miss what’s right in front of you… Rosalie Knecht’s Vera Kelly is not a Mystery is out on 6 April.
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka
A lot of the time, Japanese crime fiction novels are cultured and cosy, playing with the tropes of the Western Golden Age crime fiction in a uniquely Japanese way. But there’s another streak to Japanese crime fiction, peopled with psychopaths and gangsters. The latter is what you can expect with Bullet Train, appearing in translation for the first time from Kotaro Isaka. Satoshi is a schoolboy psychopath who is riding the train from Tokyo to Morioka. Kimura is the father of one of Satoshi’s victims, and he is hunting him. There’s also an assassin, and a citrus criminal duo called Tangerine and Lemon. Oh, and did we mention a suitcase full of cash? Well, there’s that too. Watch for our review and an author interview here on Crime Fiction Lover, soon. It’s out 1 April.
You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
The third instalment in Caroline Kepnes‘ popular You series, You Love Me is another tasty slice of darkly comic crime fiction and it arrives on 1 April. Joe Goldberg is in a different place. After years in New York and time in LA, he finds his own version of peace on a sleepy little island in the Pacific Northwest. He becomes a librarian and even finds love, with fellow librarian Mary Kay DiMarco, but can this multiple murderer really turn over a new leaf? Some people would kill to have a family of their own… In Joe’s case, he may well take that literally.
Courting Danger by JG Harlond
The body of a womanising young doctor is found floating in a moorland pool and soon curmudgeonly wartime Detective Sergeant Bob Robbins is huffing his way to the scene of the crime. First thoughts are that Dr Corin Lanyon committed suicide, but as Robbins and his trusty sidekick PC Laurie Oliver dig deeper, they are drawn to the doctor’s association with a shadowy local Celtic heritage group. Then another body is found at a stone circle and the pair need all their sleuthing skills to solve the case. Courting Danger, the third in JG Harlond’s Bob Robbins Home Front Mystery series, is out now.
Don’t You Want Me? by Richard Easter
The title is a total ear worm and with the cover riffing on Dare by The Human League you can be sure that Don’t You Want Me? will take you right back to 1981. This novel by Richard Easter has a subtler story about DI Anna Leeding, who is convinced that a series of accidents and suicides are actually revenge attacks. In fact, she thinks they amount to the work of a serial killer. With a Royal Wedding, race riots and synth pop playing in the background, if you enjoy a bit of 80s throwback crime fiction, you’re going to want this one, baby. It’s out now, and is free on Kindle Unlimited.