Criminally good reads...January

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Pretty girls by Karen Slaughter
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

The killing lessons by Saul Black
When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done.
For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of corpses - women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them - has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens.
But the slaughter at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's 10-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more terrifying than what she's running from.
 Palace of treason by Jason Matthews
Captain Dominika Egorova of the Russian Intelligence Service (SVR) has returned from the West to Moscow. She despises the men she serves, the oligarchs, and crooks, and thugs of Putin’s Russia. What no one knows is that Dominika is working for the CIA as Washington’s most sensitive penetration of SVR and the Kremlin.

As she expertly dodges exposure, Dominika deals with a murderously psychotic boss; survives an Iranian assassination attempt; escapes a counterintelligence ambush; rescues an arrested agent and exfiltrates him out of Russia; and has a chilling midnight conversation in her nightgown with President Putin. Complicating these risks is the fact that Dominika is in love with her CIA handler, Nate Nash, and their lust is as dangerous as committing espionage in Moscow. And when a mole in the SVR finds Dominika’s name on a restricted list of sources, it is a virtual death sentence…

 I am death by Chris Carter
Seven days after being abducted, the body of a 20-year-old woman is found on a green patch of grass by the Los Angeles International Airport. She has been left with her limbs stretched out and spread apart, placing her in a five-point human star. The autopsy reveals that she has been tortured and murdered in a most bizarre way. But the surprises don't end there. This killer likes to play, and he left a note lodged inside his victim's throat. Detective Robert Hunter, who leads LAPD's Special Section, Ultra Violent Unit, is assigned the case. But almost immediately a second body turns up. Hunter knows he has to be quick...

Try not to breathe by Holly Seddon
Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she's cut herself off from everything but her one true love drink. Until she's forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy. Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park not far from her house. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She's as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands. Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma...

Fall by Candice Fox
If Detective Frank Bennett tries hard enough, he can sometimes forget that Eden Archer, his partner in the Homicide Department, is also a moonlighting serial killer . . .Thankfully their latest case is proving a good distraction. Someone is angry at Sydney's beautiful people – and the results are anything but pretty. On the rain-soaked running tracks of Sydney's parks, a predator is lurking, and it's not long before night-time jogs become a race to stay alive. While Frank and Eden chase shadows, a different kind of danger grows closer to home. Frank's new girlfriend Imogen Stone is fascinated by cold cases, and her latest project – the disappearance of the two Tanner children more than twenty years ago – is leading her straight to Eden's door. And, as Frank knows all too well, asking too many questions about Eden Archer can get you buried as deep as her past …

 Bat out of hell by Alan Gold
From the jungles of Indonesia to the very heart of New York City comes a plague that kills 100 percent of its victims. Medicine’s greatest nightmare, this modern black death is caused by the most virulent and uncontrollable mutant virus humanity has ever witnessed. And medicine can do nothing to stop its merciless spread.

Scientist Debra Hart and her team of experts are tasked by the United Nations to stop the disease. Racing against time, they must find the cause and the cure and figure out why this deadly disease—spread by bats—is killing thousands in cities across the globe. Debra and her team will struggle to stop the disease from spreading to millions more, even if it means killing off every bat alive. But fighting to prevent her are manic animal rights’ activists who rail against species genocide, even if it means risking the deaths of human beings. And hidden behind a cloak of secrecy is a crazed academic who’ll even kill top American government officials to save one living creature.

This is the nightmare scenario that Debra faces as the public becomes so terrified of bats that entire communities become vigilantes.

No free man by Graham Potts
Stepan Volkov forfeited his future when he was paid to forget his past.

Forced to adapt, he ultimately became the world's most wanted killer... feared, vicious and brutal.

A tool of the Organizatsiya, a Russian crime syndicate that forged him into 'The Wolf', he's pursued by American spies and Australian agents, torn between his need to survive and his desire to be free.

When a shock encounter in Australia uncovers forgotten secrets and threatens uneasy allegiances, Volkov suddenly sees a choice... one he thought would never be his to make.

With a billion-dollar international oil deal threatening to shift the global balance of power, will Volkov return to Moscow to wage war for the Organizatsiya, or will he find the courage to escape with a vengeful thief whose life he destroyed?

The truth and other lies / Sascha Arango ; translated by Imogen Taylor
Famous bestselling author, loving husband, generous friend—Henry Hayden is a pleasant person to have around. Or so it seems. And when his mistress, who is also his editor, becomes pregnant, his carefully constructed life threatens to fall apart.

So Henry works out an ingenious plan. Craftily and cold-bloodedly, he intertwines lies and truths and all the shades of grey in-between.

But when he tries to get rid of his mistress, Henry makes a terrible mistake. Not only are the police soon after him, but his past, which he has painstakingly kept under the carpet, also threatens to catch up with him with deadly consequences.

 What she left by T.R Richmond
When Alice Salmon died last year, the ripples were felt in the news, on the internet, and in the hearts of those who knew her best. But the person who knows her most intimately isn't family or a friend. Dr Jeremy Cook is an academic whose life has become about piecing together Alice's existence in all its flawed and truthful reality. For Cooke, faithfully recreating Alice's life - through her diaries, emails and anything using her voice - is all-consuming. He does not know how deep his search will take him, or the shocking nature of what he will uncover.

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