One thing we’ve noticed over the past nine years since we started Crime Fiction Lover is that publishing schedules vary quite a bit. Some weeks, the big publishing companies go head to head with their leading writers – a battle royale of bloodletting, so to speak. Other weeks are a lot more eclectic, bringing you the opportunity to discover something new, different and unexpected. As February 2021 gets underway, we’ve got two debut novels – one set in Essex and the other on Merseyside. There’s also the latest from Rio Youers, the fantasy author who has turned to crime, plus an undercover cops story by Harry Old and the latest from LA author Jonathan Kellerman. Plenty to discover, so read on and choose your next crime read…
The Source by Sarah Sultoon
Award-winning CNN journalist Sarah Sultoon takes her first steps into the world of crime writing with this thriller out on 15 February. Back in the mid-1990s, squaddies from an Essex army base lured in local girls for illicit sex. Ten years later, that exploitation is being investigated and junior newsroom reporter Marie wants in on the story. She’s spent six months gathering information about a gang of sex traffickers and has her reasons for wanting to stay the course. As the action hops between two story strands, 10 years apart, we learn more about Marie – and Carly, a naive young teenager who unwittingly finds herself in a perilous situation and with nowhere to turn.
Under the Bridge by Jack Byrne
There’s another reporter at the centre of this debut by Jack Byrne, which is set in Liverpool and comes out on 18 February. The discovery of a skeleton in Liverpool’s docklands piques the interest of local journalist Anne, and she’s keen to get to the bottom of the story. It’s clear that elderly Irish caretaker Michael knows more than he’s letting on – but can Anne convince him to spill the beans? Meanwhile, postgraduate student Vinny is researching Liverpool’s immigrant history and a burgeoning Scouse identity. His father disappeared back in the 1970s and it looks like Michael knows more than he’s letting on here too. As the pieces come together there are revelations galore – but are some secrets best left undisturbed?
Lola on Fire by Rio Youers
A random act of kindness could turn out to be deadly for Brody Ellis in the latest thriller from Arthur Ellis award nominee Rio Youers. Brody is desperate, and turns to robbery in the hope of getting enough cash for vital medicine for his sister, Molly. But on the way out of the store after doing the deed, he bumps into a woman and loses his wallet. Then Blair Mayo calls – she has Brody’s wallet, yay! But the return comes with the proviso that Brody steals her late mother’s diamonds from her wicked stepmother. He reluctantly agrees and that’s when Brody’s world collapses. Because Blair is the daughter of a notorious mobster, and now Daddy wants his revenge… Lola on Fire is out on 16 February.
Operation Bluebird by Harry Old
If you like your crime with a handful of grit thrown in, Harry Old’s Operation Bluebird should fit the bill. Carrie Hart is used to living life on the edge as an undercover detective. Posing as dancer Cara Parry, she has infiltrated one of the biggest crime families in London, the Parks, and now works at the family-owned Paradise Casino. She has her partner David Watts as backup, because he’s undercover too as her brother Drew, an ex-con. But when Carrie’s work leads her to an intense life of parties, sex and drugs, she starts to find it hard to differentiate between her undercover persona Cara and herself. Does she have the wherewithal to get this job done?
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Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman
Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware return, so it’s time for a trip to LA as the pair take on a cold case for a local millionaire. A quarter of a century ago, Ellie Barker’s mother was found in a burned out Cadillac on Mulholland Drive… with a bullet in her head. Why is a total mystery and there was no evidence, no motive and no witnesses. Now Ellie is a self-made millionaire and she has the resources to get answers. As this cold case creaks open like a musty old crypt, well you can imagine what bats from the past may fly out. It’s out now. See also our review of Jonathan Kellerman’s The Museum of Desire.