Summer Lockdown Reads 2020

1. Ash Mountain - Helen Fitzgerald
Orenda £8.99

"Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway. She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

For any readers who planned to see Australia in 2020, this will hopefully be a good replacement as all our holidays are postponed. An Australian herself, Fitzgerald is the author of the TV phenomenon, The Cry and uses her knowledge to bring the Australian outback to stark and dangerous life. One can never forget the forest fires that raged through Australia in 2019 and Fitzgerald involves that devastating event here to bring an edge to her mesmerising latest novel.

Check out the Crimesquad review of ‘Ash Mountain’ by Helen Fitzgerald"

2. Blood Business - Barbara Nadel
Headline £20.99

"Brothers Ugur and Lokman Bulut are locked in a bitter inheritance battle and need a sample of their mother's DNA to contest her Will. But when her body is exhumed, her corpse is found to be missing and a fresh body, with its heart removed, has been put in her grave. Assigned to the case, Inspector Mehmet Süleyman quickly realises that the heart has been illegally harvested, and his team has a murder inquiry on its hands.

Meanwhile, retired inspector Çetin Ikmen is tracking down a missing person: Sevval Kalkan, a once-famous actress, who has joined an underground movement called the Moral Maze, whose mission is to help the destitute living on Istanbul's streets. The unidentified body in the grave cannot be Sevval's, but her shocking reappearance leads Ikmen to fear that she, too, is a victim of organ harvesting...

Joining forces, Süleyman and Ikmen confront Istanbul's darkest underbelly to expose the horrifying truth of a city in crisis.

Nadel has established herself as a chronicler showing the shifting tides of the amazing city of Istanbul. With each book, Nadel brings the sounds and smells of Istanbul, including the dark alleyways and corners. Over this series she has weaved a dark tapestry and forged a loyal readership for Süleyman and Ikmen. It has also been announced that this series has gone into production for TV, so it will be intriguing to see these detectives coming to life on the small screen.

Check out the Crimesquad review of ‘Blood Business’ by Barbara Nadel"

3. Gallows Rock - Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Hodder £16.99

"On a jagged, bleak lava field just outside Reykjavik stands the Gallows Rock. Once a place of execution, it is now a tourist attraction. Until this morning, when a man was found hanging from it...

The nail embedded in his chest proves it wasn't suicide. But when the police go to his flat, a further puzzle awaits: a four-year-old boy has been left there. He doesn't seem to have any link with the victim, his parents cannot be found, and his drawings show he witnessed something terrible. As detective Huldar hunts the killer, and child psychologist Freyja looks for the boy's parents, the mystery unfolds: a story of violence, entitlement, and revenge.

This book will transport you to the shores of Iceland and its capital, Reykjavik. If, like me you haven't got to Iceland quite yet, this is a lot cheaper way of discovering this mythical place whilst being drawn into its deep and dark depths.

Check out the Crimesquad review of Gallows Rock "

4. A Shooting at Chateau Rock - Martin Walker
Quercus £18.99

"Following the funeral of a local farmer, Bruno gets a phone call from hthe dead man's son. He tells Bruno that before his father's sudden death, he had signed over his property to an insurance company in return for a subscription to a luxury retirement home. Bruno discovers that both the retirement home and the insurance company are scams with links to a Russian oligarch whose dealings are already being tracked by the French police. Meanwhile an aging British rock star is selling his home, Chateau Rock. The star's son returns for the summer with his Russian girlfriend. As Bruno pursues his inquiries into the farmer's death and the stolen inheritance, he learns that the oligarch is none other than the girlfriend's father. Bruno's talents are tested to the limit as he untangles a Gordian Knot of criminality that reaches as far as the Kremlin.

This one will transport you to the Dordogne with another mystery for Bruno. If like me you are of a certain age, this will remind you of 'A Year in Provence' by Peter Mayle which was a massive seller back in the day. Here, Walker takes you through Bruno's culinary desires... with crime thrown in for good measure. Good food and crime... what more could you desire??

Check out the Crimesquad review of ‘The Shooting at Chateau Rock’ by Martin Walker"

5. When The Dead Speak - Sheila Bugler
Canelo £1.99

"When the murdered body of Lauren Shaw is discovered laid out on the altar of St Mary the Virgin church in Eastbourne it sends a chill to the core of those who have lived in the area for a long time. They remember another woman, also young and pretty, whose slain corpse was placed in the same spot 60 years ago. Dee Doran is as intrigued as the rest but focused on her investigation of the whereabouts of a missing person from the Polish community. The police weren’t interested but Dee’s journalistic instincts tell her something is amiss. But as she starts asking questions Dee finds the answers all point to the same conclusion - someone is keeping secrets and they will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

This is the second Dee Doran after the fabulous 'I Could Be You' which is one of the best reads of 2020 for me. Based in Eastbourne on the Sussex coast, Dee again gets involved in a case when she asks too many questions and gets attention from the wrong kind of people. This series has got off to a roaring start. Bugler brings her homeland of Eastbourne to life and is a mistress of the fast-pace thriller."

6. Sorry For The Dead - Nicola Upson
Faber £8.99

"Summer, 1915: a young woman falls to her death at Charleston Farmhouse on the Sussex Downs. But was it an accident? Twenty years later, Josephine Tey is faced with the accusation that it was murder, and that she was complicit in the crime. Can she clear her name and uncover the truth, exposing the darkest secrets of that apparently idyllic summer?

I have loved Upson's Tey series since the first and have been delighted to watch this series grow and flourish. I loved the previous book, Nine Lessons with the fogged-filled streets of Cambridge in Winter. Here, Upson transports us to the Sussex Downs in Summer. In both locales Upson brings the landscape to life. Reminiscent of P.D. James who always claimed the landscape an important 'character' in her books. Upson is a marvellous writer in her own right, but she always infuses that wonderful sense of time and the Golden Era of crime, without it becoming a parody. Making a real crime writer the 'detective' of your series really shouldn't work, but Upson has such respect for Josephine Tey that one feels we are slowly getting to know the private woman who wrote such amazing novels as The Franchise Affair and Brat Farrar. Another delicious feast from Upson. "

7. The Chain - Adrian McKinty
Orion £8.99


The Chain is one of those books that readers have been buzzing about since it was released. Plus, it is based in NYC where this Belfast writer now lives. Having visited NYC and loved it last year, any blurb simply has to state it is based in NYC and I'm all over it. This is a distinctive departure from McKinty's usual fare, but one that will certainly get you turning those pages in rapid succession! "

8. Before He Kills Again - Margaret Murphy
Joffe Books £0.99

"A serial predator on the prowl in Liverpool. Seven victims so far. And he’s already chosen his next one. The police can’t catch him. He leaves no trace. No one has been able to provide a reliable description. Detective Cassie Rowan goes undercover in a dangerous game of cat and mouse through the teeming backstreets of Liverpool. But how long will it be before he turns the tables and begins hunting her?

This is one for those who enjoy their holidays within the UK. 'Before He Kills Again' makes a welcome return to Murphy, again writing under her own name after many years and different pseudonyms. This is one of those books that pitches you straight in to the story and grips you throughout. This is the first to feature Detective Cassie Rowan, so a great jumping on point for this hot new series with a psychological twist. "

9. A Knock at the Door - T. W. Ellis
Sphere/Little Brown £18.99

"They ask for your husband. They just want to talk. THEY'RE LYING. Your husband isn't who he says he is, say the people at your door. Come with us.

Don't trust them, says a voice on the phone. Run! Who would you believe?

T. W. Ellis was our Author of the Month with this thumping good read that will have you on the edge of your seat. Based in New York, this pulsating thriller will having running down the NYC streets, not knowing who to trust!

Check out the Crimesquad review of ‘The Knock at the Door’ by T. W. Ellis"

10. The Listening Walls - Margaret Millar
Pushkin Vertigo £8.99

"Amy Kellogg is not having a pleasant vacation in Mexico. She's been arguing nonstop with her friend and traveling companion, Wilma, and she wants nothing more than to go home to California. But their holiday takes a nightmarish turn when Wilma is found dead on the street below their room - an apparent suicide. Soon after, Amy disappears and rumours begin to swirl.

This could be the original Gone Girl of its day. Published in 1959, Millar was at the zenith of her writing powers. Despite this, as with Highsmith, Millar was always more appreciated across Europe than in her homeland, despite being praised by writers such as Raymond Chandler. I have loved Millar's novels since the early 90s. Her prose is sharp and succinct and laced with dry humour - very much akin to Highsmith. Millar has been reported as being as personable as Highsmith, so I imagine that is why their books are so similar. The Listening Walls is a short novel, but one that packs punch, especially in the very last line!! "