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Geoffrey Wansell


Jounalist


Geoffrey Wansell



Thrillers and Crime Reviews

Crime Thrillers

18th February 2021

BLACK WIDOWS by Cate Quinn
(Orion £12.99, 480 pp)

Black WidowsThis serpentine, elegant debut from an acclaimed historical novelist starts with an intriguing premise. Blake Nelson, a Mormon — though he prefers to call himself a Latter-Day Saint — has married three women and lives with them on an isolated ranch miles outside Salt Lake City, Utah.
The first wife, Rachel, is a faithful follower of the church, obedient to a fault. The second, Tina, used to work in Las Vegas and is everything Rachel is not, including streetwise. The third, Emily, the youngest, whom Blake picked up in a diner, seems to live in a fantasy world of her own.
Then Blake is found hanged by his own belt from a juniper tree beside a river where he likes to fish. Suspicion immediately falls on the three wives, as there are signs of a struggle. But which one could have killed him and — more importantly — why?
Written with great panache, it superbly evokes the lives of all three women and the secrets they hide. This story lingers in the memory.

18th February 2021

THE JIGSAW MAN by Nadine Matheson
(HQ £12.99, 400 pp)

The Jigsaw ManCriminal solicitor Matheson reveals she’s a talented storyteller in this exciting debut set in her native Deptford, South-East London.
Body parts are washing up on the banks of the Thames and DI Anjelica Henley is sent to investigate. She quickly concludes that they must be the work of convicted serial killer Peter Olivier, who dismembered his victims.
But that is impossible, as she helped to bring him to justice and was stabbed by him in the process, forcing her to stand down from frontline policing for months. But if the killer isn’t Olivier, who is it? Someone copying his work, or an old accomplice?
She visits her nemesis in jail, much as FBI agent Clarice Starling went to visit Dr Hannibal Lecter. As the death toll grows, Olivier decides to find out who is responsible and escapes by feigning a heart attack.
So begins a spellbinding game of cat and mouse between the serial killer and a haunted detective as the body parts accumulate, with chilling echoes of Thomas Harris’s The Silence Of The Lambs.

18th February 2021

THE ART OF DEATH by David Fennell
(Zaffre £14.99, 432 pp)

The Art Of DeathAt the opening of cyber security expert Fennell’s first novel, an underground artist leaves three glass cabinets outside the church of St Martin-in-the- Fields in London. Each contains the floating corpse of a homeless man.
It is the first of a series of gruesome art installations across Central London — from Little Venice to Highgate. The cabinets are traced through social media and a mysterious figure known only as @nonymous emerges, who proceeds to live stream some of his killings.
Newly promoted DI Grace Archer becomes senior investigative officer on the case, along with blunt-speaking DS Harry Quinn — but what she does not know is that there is history at work: 18 years ago she escaped a serial killer, and @nonymous has her in his sights as his final ‘art’ installation.
Written with a clear grasp of social media, the story simply bristles with invention — though it is not for the faint-hearted.


21st January 2021

GIRL A by
Abigail Dean (Harper Collins £14.99, 336 pp)

 

Girl AThis story of a family held hostage and terrorised by their parents — and the daughter who is the first to escape and alert the authorities — is an assured and striking debut from a young lawyer.
With a gimlet eye for detail she tells the story of each of the six children, but it starts with the death of their mother in prison, seen through the eyes of Alexandra Gracie (Lex) — the daughter who escaped and is known to the Press as Girl A.
The picture it paints of the torture the children suffered at the hands of their over-bearing, religious, fanatic father is sometimes so painful that it’s difficult to read.
It is utterly compelling nevertheless, for it superbly dissects the effects of trauma and the horrors of the media spotlight, and is already optioned for a TV series.

21st January 2021

THE SURVIVORS by
Jane Harper (Little, Brown £14.99, 384 pp)

 

The SurvivorsThe mistress of Australian noir returns with an emotional story about secrets beneath the surface of apparently respectable small towns.
The setting this time is not the Outback, but Evelyn Bay, Tasmania, where the sea provides the backdrop to this tale of a tragic mistake and its aftermath.
Kieran Elliott’s life changed when his elder brother Finn was drowned in storm-troubled waters.
Now he has returned, with his baby daughter and girlfriend, to the town where it happened and where his elderly parents still live.
Inevitably, the past comes to haunt him when the body of a girl is found on the beach and a murder investigation is launched.
Told against a set of flashbacks leading to Finn’s death, it is both a mystery and a subtle examination of character.
Once again Harper demonstrates how good she is at portraying the fear and menace that lurk in ordinary lives.


21st January

YOUR NEIGHBOUR'S WIFE by
Tony Parsons (Century £12.99, 432 pp)

 

Your Neighbour's WifeThe gifted Parsons has written a poignant stand-alone story that bears comparison with his 2000 novel Man And Boy.
Tara Carver seems to have it all, a loving husband, Christian, a delightful five-year-old son and a Labrador.
She is also a powerful businesswoman who started her own dating app company that’s so successful she is invited to give a speech at a conference for start-ups in Tokyo.
But there she foolishly has a one-night stand with investment banker James Caine, then finds herself stalked by him, threatening the happiness of her family.
When Caine is found dead, suspicion immediately falls on her husband. The family begins to disintegrate and an enthralling murder mystery ensues. Laced with humanity and the shadow of guilt, it is Parsons at his very best.




Crime Thrillers

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For a synopsis of any of Geoffrey's books, please click on the appropriate cover above.

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