September 2020 new fiction books
  Books Monthly
Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club is lliterally to die for...


My book of the month for May is Stephen King's  brand new collection of four novellas, including a new tale featuring the brilliant Holly Gibney from The Outsider...

Richard Osman: The Thursday Murder Club

Published by Viking 3rd September 2020


In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it's too late?

Viking kindly sent me a limited edition proof of Richard's book at the beginning of last week - I had already put aside Bernard Cornwell's The Death of Kings to read the latest Ann Cleeves's Vera novel The Darkest Evening, of which more in the October edition, and found myself putting that aside also to cast my eyes over the first few pages of The Thursday Murder Club... And that was it. The Thursday Murder Club is a book you simply cannot put down or put aside for anything. I was hooked. You'll probably have seen Richard on BBC Breakfast talking about how he came to write the book, and about the characters, and so on, and you'll probably also have seen that Richard's book is topping all of the bestseller lists. The simple truth is that Richard Osman has a way with the written word in the same way that he has with the spoken word. He is, in short, brilliantly funny. I have admired Richard, his charm, his ready wit, his outsized personality from the very first episode of Pointless, and watching him on shows like Would I Lie To You is as enjoyable as an episode of that show featuring the outrageously funny Bob Mortimer. These two personalities, along with David Mitchell and Lee Mack, are giants of twenty-first century comedy at a time when so much comedy and so many so-called "comedians" are third-rate and not funny at all. Richard must have thought it would be so easy to write a blockbuster crime novel, and it turns out he was right - it was easy for him, although he'll tell you that he had lots of help from all kinds of people along the way. But the simple fact is, The Thursday Murder Club is sensationally funny, the plot is intricate and twisted, the characters are absolutely superb, every last one of them, and the book is a joy to read. Along the way it also confirms what we septuagenarians already know - we are a force to be reckoned with. The Thursday Murder Club is the first in a new series - my finished copy, which arrived Friday - advertises the second book in the back pages, and advises the reader to pre-order it right now, which I shall do. It's rightfully at the top of the best seller lists because it is fresh, original, hilarious, and ultimately enjoyable. Ann Cleeves won't mind me putting The Darkest Evening to one side for a couple of days. After all, it will be my joint book of the month in the October Autumn Crime Fiction Special, along with The Thursday Murder Club, because the latter is good enough to carry over into next month. With books coming very much to the fore in these troubled times when this deadly virus is still terrifying people, it's essential that people find something good to read. The Thursday Murder Club is on my shortlist for the best book of 2020 already, and although there are some good books on the way, books such as the new Cormoran Strike, Troubled Blood, and the new Bernard Cornwell Dark Ages blockbuster, War Lord, which just happens to be the final book in this magnificent series, I genuinely think that come December, The Thursday Murder Club will be nudging the top of my list... Don't take my word for it, this book is really, really special, as is Richard Osman - who is fast becoming a national treasure, which befits one of the funniest people in what is now a very dark, troubled country. A beacon of light at a time of national peril. I promised myself there would be no politics in this review, and really, there's no need to bring politics into it, but at a time when we are in the hands of so much evil incompetence, thank God there's something joyful and joyous to fall back on in the way of entertainment - a stunningly superb book!

Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood

Published by Sphere September 15th 2020

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough - who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.

Strike has never tackled a cold case before, let alone one forty years old. But despite the slim chance of success, he is intrigued and takes it on; adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and Robin investigate Margot's disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . .

A breathtaking, labyrinthine epic, Troubled Blood is the fifth Strike and Robin novel and the most gripping and satisfying yet.

J R Ellis: The Nidderdale Murders

Published by Thomas & Mercer 20th August 2020

In a Yorkshire Dales village everyone has a motive for murder—except the killer.

A retired judge is shot dead outside the Dog and Gun inn in the remote Yorkshire village of Niddersgill. There’s a witness who saw everything, and the gunman’s on the run; the case should be open-and-shut for DCI Jim Oldroyd. But the murderer had no motive for wanting Sandy Fraser dead and, what’s more, no trace of him can be found.

As Oldroyd and his team cast the net wider, they discover that Fraser wasn’t without enemies in Niddersgill. As the wealthy owner of a grouse moor, he’d clashed with farmers, debtors, hunt saboteurs and blackmailers. But none of them were at the scene of the murder. And when a local shopkeeper is gunned down in a second senseless attack, it’s clear that these killings are anything but random.

Surrounded by the dramatic beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, Oldroyd faces a race against time to connect the crimes and find who’s behind them. But with all the evidence sending him down dead ends, can he get one step ahead before someone else is killed?

LIan Rankin: A Song For The Dark Times

Published by Orion 1st October 2020

He's gone...'

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it's not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days.

Rebus fears the worst - and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect.

He wasn't the best father - the job always came first - but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective?

As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast - and a small town with big secrets - he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn't want to find...

Peter James: Find Them Dead

Published by Macmillan 9th July 2020

Ending his secondment to London’s Met Police, Roy Grace gets a tip-off about a county lines drugs mastermind operating out of Brighton. On his first day back in his old job in Sussex, he is called to a seemingly senseless murder.

Separately, Meg Magellan finally has her life back together, five years after the car crash that killed her husband and their son. Her daughter, Laura, now 18, is on her gap year travelling in South America with a friend, and Meg misses her badly. Laura is all she has in the world.

In between jobs, Meg receives a summons for jury service. She’s excited – it might be interesting and will help distract her from constantly worrying about Laura. But when she is selected for the trial of a major Brighton drugs overlord, everything changes.

Gradually, Grace’s investigation draws him increasingly into the sinister sphere of influence of the drug dealer on trial. A man utterly ruthless and evil, prepared to order the death of anyone it takes to enable him to walk free.

Just a few days into jury service, Meg arrives home to find a photograph of Laura, in Ecuador, lying on her kitchen table. Then her phone rings.

A sinister, threatening stranger is on the line. He tells her that if she ever wants to see Laura alive again, it is very simple. At the end of the trial, all she has to do is make sure the jury says just two words . . . Not guilty.

Victoria Hislop: Those Who Are Loved

Published by Headline Review August 2020

Athens, 1941. Nazi forces occupy Greece ... and a nation falls apart. Victoria Hislop's NEW Sunday Times Number One bestseller takes you into the darker days of Greek history and, through the eyes of its extraordinary heroine, illuminates the courage it takes to live in peace.

After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.

Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This gripping new novel from bestselling author Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece's past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

.Val McDermid: Still Life

Published by Little, Brown 20th August 2020

'The bodies never stay buried forever . . .'

On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets.

But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice - a killer who is still out there.

In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good . . .

The number one bestseller and unrivalled queen of crime Val McDermid is back with her most exhilarating, breath-taking thriller yet.

Lynda La Plante: Blunt Force

Published by Zaffre 20th August 2020

Things can't get much worse for detective Jane Tennison.

Unceremoniously kicked off the adrenaline-fuelled Flying Squad, she's been relegated to Gerald Road, a small and sleepy police station in the heart of London's affluent Knightsbridge.

With only petty crime to sink her teeth into, Tennison can feel her career slowly flatlining. That is until the discovery of the most brutal murder Jane has ever seen: Charlie Foxley has been found viciously beaten to death, his body dismembered and disembowelled.

As a big-time showbiz agent, Foxley had a lot of powerful friends - but even more enemies. And alongside her old friend DS Spencer Gibbs, Tennison must journey into the salacious world of show business to find the killer, before they strike again . . .

In Lynda La Plante's most gripping thriller yet, Tennison discovers that the brightest lights hide the darkest secrets - and the killer doesn't always hide in the shadows . . .

Helen Cox: Murder on the Moorland

Published by Quercus 20th August 2020


Kitt Hartley wakes to the news that a murder has been committed in Irendale, a village high on the wild Yorkshire moors where her boyfriend, DI Malcolm Halloran lived with his ex-wife until she, too, was murdered. The MO of the two crimes is identical, right down to the runic symbols carved into the victims' hands.

Unable to leave it to the local police to solve, Kitt and Halloran travel to Irendale, where a literary mystery awaits. A line of Anglo-Saxon poetry found on the victim leads to a hiding place, and another cryptic clue. What is the connection to the murder of Halloran's wife all those years ago?

It will take the combined ingenuity of Kitt and Halloran, as well as Evie Bowes, Grace Edwards and, despite their best efforts, Ruby the (possible) psychic to solve this case. The moors may be beautiful, but they're not peaceful!

A good, solid Yorkshire Dales thriller, although I was slightly out off by the unnecessary detail about the sexual preferences of the "heroes"; this was a case where such information should have stopped at the bedroom door, it left a bad taste in my mouth!

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 22nd year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email at and I'll let you know where to send it.

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