Cop and Robber by Tristan Bancks

Tristan Bancks is my go-to author for young readers who come into the bookshop desperate for something pacy and addictive. I can’t rave highly enough about “Two Wolves,” “Detention” and (my favourite) “The Fall.” Bancks knows how to create a killer hook, a scintillating premise that demands exploration; and his characters are always fully-fledged concoctions, accoutred with authentic foibles and imperfections. He writes thrillers with heart and personality; page-turners that pose moral dilemmas for their young protagonists. 

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Lying Beside You by Michael Robotham

If you’re after a gripping thriller, you can’t do better than Michael Robotham; as close to a sure thing as you get in the genre, which is a line I used last year when reflecting on “When You Are Mine,” but one that deserves repeating. He makes it look so easy, you wonder why all suspense novels aren’t this slick.

“Lying Beside You” is the third novel in his Cyrus Haven series, which sees the forensic psychologist embroiled in a complicated police investigation involving two missing women; the second of whom was last seen by Evie Cormac, the young woman Cyrus has opened his home to as she struggles to deal with her traumatic childhood.

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Shit Cassandra Saw by Gwen E. Kirby

“Shit Cassandra Saw” is a treasure trove of short stories centred around women dealing with everyday grievances and aggressions precipitated by the perpetual behaviours of men. Gwen E. Kirby bequeaths her characters the superhuman fortitude — and even superhuman abilities, in the case of “A Few Normal Things that Happen a Lot” — to fight back in this collection that is ablaze with her wild ingenuity and suffused with genuine laugh-out-loud humour. 

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The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves

“The Heron’s Cry” is my first Ann Cleeves, and it most assuredly will not be my last. There’s no reason why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading the prolific creator of the Vera Stanhope mysteries and the Shetland series (among others…) — my only excuse is that I only have so much time to read so many crime writers, and Cleeves slipped through the cracks. Well, no longer.

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Shadows Reel by C.J. Box

“Shadows Reel” is not the place to start the Joe Pickett series. Never mind that it’s the twenty-second instalment — really, the expanse of a series should never prohibit new readers from jumping into the fray — but C.J. Box’s latest picks up directly from last year’s stellar “Dark Sky,” with Joe’s old pal, master-falconer Nate Romanowski teaming up with Black Lives Matter activist Geronimo Jones to hunt down Axel Soledad, who we last saw beating Nate’s wife, threatening his baby, and stealing his birds. 

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The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

In Jessamine Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers,” Frida Liu — a recently divorced Chinese American mother of 18-month old Harriett — makes the imprudent, sleep-deprived decision to leave her daughter at home alone for a few hours to head into the office and catch up on work. When the authorities discover Harriett unattended, Frida’s parental rights are rescinded pending the outcome of her stay at a live-in rehabilitation program for bad mothers. If she can prove herself a better mother, she’ll be reunited with Harriett. If not, her parental rights will be severed entirely, and she won’t be able to see her daughter again — ever.

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The Match by Harlan Coben

I believe Harlan Coben is at his best when he writes about everyday people — like you and me — thrust into crazy situations. Take “No Second Chance,” for example, which is about Marc Seidman’s desperate measures to recover his kidnapped daughter. Or “Run Away,” when Simon Greene spots his runaway daughter in Central Park, reigniting his quest to reunite his family. 

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Black River by Matthew Spencer

Regulars of this parish I call my blog will know I’m always harping on about my love for police procedurals and my desire for them to be (more) prevalent in the burgeoning Australian crime writing field. Well, lo and behold, Matthew Spencer has answered my call: his debut, “Black River” reads like a Sydney-based Ed McBain 87th Precinct novel, with all the mechanics down pat. Which means it’s very much my cup of tea. And, coincidentally, its primary setting — an independent boys’ boarding school in North Parramatta — is inspired by my (and the author’s) old school; so I had fun identifying specific locations from the campus I spent nine years exploring. (Well, okay — sitting in the library…)

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The Scarlet Cross by Lyn McFarlane

In her debut The Scarlet Cross, Lyn McFarlane uses genre fiction to explore weighty social issues relating to the abuse of institutional power, the management of mental health, and harassment in the workplace — while narrative momentum is powered by St Jude Hospital nurse Meredith Griffin’s investigation into the deaths of three women who all suffered identical fatal injuries, and whose corpses bore distinct lacerations.

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