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As we slowly emerge from lockdown here in the UK, we begin to read more about how lockdown has affected many, with a number of the populace now fearing leaving the homes they have become to see as their safe havens. Many have got to feeling agoraphobic, fearing open spaces and crowds. It is fascinating how we become conditioned so quickly. Even I had to force myself to go out after months inside.

This condition brings me swiftly to the main protagonist of Julyís Author of the Month. In A Knock at the Door written by T.W. Ellis, Jem is agoraphobic and is informed that the FBI agents now in her house are no such thing, that she needs to escape. She needs to get out of the house. Now. Easier said than done when you donít suffer from a mental condition as Jem does. This begins with a race against the clock and this Ellis does perfectly in his new heart-thumping thriller.

Fresh Blood will continue to be The Memory Wood the stunning debut from Sam Lloyd. This is the story of Elissa, a thirteen-year old girl kidnapped from a Chess tournament. Waking up in an underground cell, Elissa finds she has a visitor in the form of Elijah and so begins a battle of wits as Elissa tries to trick Elijah to get help. The only trouble is that Elijah wants to keep his new-found friend.

This is an astonishing and disturbing debut a one that will grip you as the battle of wits between the two intensifies, leading to a disturbing revelation that Elissa is not the first to inhabit the cell in the Memory Wood, nor that Elijah has been telling her the whole truth.

Fresh Blood will change during July.

Reviews this month includes a number of new writers alongside established writers. They include Helen Fitzgerald, Barbara Nadel, Sharon Bolton, Martin Walker and many more, plus a new short story from P.D. James to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday.

Classic Crime stays as Gladys Mitchell with her wonderful creation, Dame Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley. This was a comfort read, spiriting me away from the troubles of the present, back to 1979 and a superb case for Dame Beatrice under the title of Nest of Vipers. Although this is one of her later books, it shows how Mitchell was still at the top of her game and producing great mysteries like the one chronicled here. Who could not love a murder in a house full of eccentric residents? Thankfully, you can dip in and out of Mitchellís novels so they can be read in any order. If you have never read her books before, then this is a great one to start with. If you enjoy it, then you have sixty-five other cases to catch up on!

Events features the books by Ted Lewis who many of us will know through the Michael Caine film, Get Carter. The Empress of Noir herself, Cathi Unsworth has written what is basically a love letter to Ted as two of his books, GBH and Plunder are given gorgeous covers. If you havenít already, Lewis is definitely an author to investigate, read and cherish.

My Lockdown Top Ten features new reads we have reviewed since January 2020 and ones I have suggested would be perfect to entertain and enthral you during the lockdown. I am certain you will find a gem or two here for you. I know we loved them! Soon I will be changing this to the Summer Top Ten. As many of us wonít be jetting off I have decided to collect together books set across the world. If we canít go to that part of the world, then hopefully my choice will catapult you to that particular locationÖ with a mystery involved as a bonus!

To check out all our past reviews use the Review Archive. Search under author surname and author Christian name if you canít recall the surname. And for good measure you can also search under the title of the book. Simply click on the box at the top of the page and then click on to the letter of the author/title you would like to find. As you will see, we have reviewed a huge number of books during Crimesquad.com's thirteen years. Have a wander round our archives and I hope you will find something you might have missed first time around!

If you have any comments or have a particular author you would like to see highlighted on this website please e-mail me at chrissimmons@crimesquad.com.

Chris Simmons
Online Editor.