Criminally good reads... July

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Agatha Raisin and the curious curate / M.C. Beaton
Amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin is going through a man-hating phase and so is unmoved by news of a captivating new curate. But when she meets the golden-haired, blue-eyed Tristan Delon, she is swept off her feet ... along with every other female in the village. She is positively ecstatic when he invites her to dine with him, but the next day Agatha is left with a hangover from hell - and his cold corpse.

Pleasantville / Attica Locke
Fifteen years after his career-defining case against Cole Oil, Jay Porter is broke and tired. That victory might have won the environmental lawyer fame, but thanks to a string of appeals, he hasn't seen a dime. His latest case—representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire—is dragging on, shaking his confidence and raising doubts about him within this upwardly mobile black community on Houston's north side. Though Jay still believes in doing what's right, he is done fighting other people's battles. Once he has his piece of the settlement, the single father is going to devote himself to what matters most—his children.
His plans are abruptly derailed when a female campaign volunteer vanishes on the night of Houston's mayoral election, throwing an already contentious campaign into chaos. The accused is none other than the nephew and campaign manager of one of the leading candidates—a scion of a prominent Houston family headed by the formidable Sam Hathorne. Despite all the signs suggesting that his client is guilty—and his own misgivings—Jay can't refuse when a man as wealthy and connected as Sam asks him to head up the defense.

The good liar
This is a life told back to front.
This is a man who has lied all his life.
Roy is a conman living in a leafy English suburb, about to pull off the final coup of his career. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman.  He will swiftly move in with her and together they will live the seemingly calm life of a retired couple – evenings in front of the television, a little holiday in Berlin.  Then he will slip away with her life savings.
But who is the man behind the con and what has he had to do to survive this life of lies?
And why is this beautiful woman so willing to be his next victim?

The Crow Girl/  Erik Axl Sund ; translated by Neil Smith
 In a Stockholm city park, the hideously abused body of a young boy is stumbled upon. Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg heads the investigation, which quickly dead-ends: no trace of the boy's identity can be found. But with the discovery of two more children's bodies in similar condition, it becomes clear that a psychopathic serial killer is at large. Jeanette turns to therapist Sofia Zetterlund for help in identifying suspects, and as their lives become increasingly intertwined, professionally and personally, as we begin to know their particular histories, needs, and desires, as they draw closer to the truth about the killings--working together but, ultimately, each on her own--we come to understand that these murders are only the most obvious evidence of a hellishly insidious societal evil. As viscerally dramatic as it is psychologically intense, The Crow Girl is a tale of almost unfathomably heinous deceit and deeds, and of the profound damage--and the equally profound need for revenge--they leave in their wake.

A Time of Torment  / Connolly, John
Jerome Burnel was once a hero. He intervened to prevent multiple killings, and in doing so destroyed himself. His life was torn apart. He was imprisoned, brutalized.
But in his final days, with the hunters circling, he tells his story to private detective Charlie Parker. He speaks of the girl who was marked for death, but was saved; of the ones who tormented him, and an entity that hides in a ruined stockade.
Parker is not like other men. He died, and was reborn. He is ready to wage war.
Now he will descend upon a strange, isolated community called the Cut, and face down a force of men who rule by terror, intimidation, and murder.
All in the name of the being they serve. All in the name of the Dead King.

The ex: a novel / Alafair Burke
Olivia Randall is one of New York City's best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiance, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide--and that one of the victims was connected to his wife's murder three years earlier--there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is, who would go to such great lengths to frame him--and why? For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets and absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

Ten days/ Gillian Slovo
It's 4 a.m. and Cathy Mason is watching dawn break over the Lovelace estate. By the end of the day, her community will be a crime scene. By the end of the week, her city will be on fire. In this gripping thriller, a death at police hands has repercussions far beyond one family plunged into grief ...As violence erupts in the middle of a stifling heatwave, the dead man becomes a useful tactic (or an urgent threat) in political games at the highest level. So while lives are at risk in Cathy Mason's estate, across London in Westminster, careers are being made, or ruined.

The graveyard of the Hesperides / Lindsey Davis
In first century Rome, Flavia Albia, the daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, has taken up her father's former profession as an informer. On a typical day, it's small cases cheating spouses, employees dipping into the till but this isn't a typical day. Her beloved, the plebeian Manlius Faustus, has recently moved in and decided that they should get married in a big, showy ceremony as part of beginning a proper domestic life together. Also, his contracting firm has been renovating a rundown dive bar called The Garden of the Hesperides, only to uncover human remains buried in the backyard. There have been rumors for years that the previous owner of the bar, now deceased, killed a bar maid and these are presumably her remains. In the choice between planning a wedding and looking into a crime from long ago, Albia would much rather investigate a possible murder. Or murders, as more and more remains are uncovered, revealing that something truly horrible has been going on at the Hesperides. As she gets closer to the truth behind the bodies in the backyard, Albia's investigation has put her in the cross-hairs which might be the only way she'll get out of the wedding and away from all her relatives who are desperate to 'help'.

Fellside/ M.R Carey
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.
It's a place where even the walls whisper.
And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.
Will she listen?

You don't have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you. You don't have to be a murderer to be guilty. "This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths but perhaps all of them were murders. It's a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let's just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways." For Penelope Sheppard, university offers an escape from her troubled past. Running from a life weighed down with scandal and tragedy, Pen sees this as the ideal place to reinvent herself among perfect strangers. Life in her new hall of residence feels like a wonderland of sex, drugs, and maybe even love. But all too soon Pen realises you never can run far or fast enough. And when Pen's secrets are revealed, the consequences are deadly.

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