The best recent thrillers – review roundup | Books

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Louise Candlish
Simon & Schuster, £12.99, pp400

“People don’t kill over house prices, do they?” asks Tess, one of the mothers in Louise Candlish’s new novel, Those People. But it turns out they just might. Tess and her neighbours in the desirable Lowland Way are dismayed when a new couple move into number one. Darren and Jodie don’t fit into this supremely middle-class world of “bespoke steel-framed glass kitchen doors” and “Play Out Sundays”; they park their multiple cars all over the pavement, play Metallica at epic volumes and quickly become known as “those people”. As tempers fray and life becomes unbearable for some residents of the road, Candlish flits between a police inquiry into a death that has occurred in Lowland Way and how exactly events led up to it. A clever, enjoyable follow-up to Our House, Candlish’s award-winning first venture into “property noir”, this is scarily plausible.

Lexie Elliott
Corvus, £12.99, pp384

Lexie Elliott’s debut novel, The French Girl, was excellent: a knotty, read-in-one-sitting look at the death of a French girl while six Oxford graduates were on holiday, 10 years earlier. Her second novel, The Missing Years, moves the action to the Highlands, where Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house after the death of her mother. She returns home in an attempt to sell the house, but is stymied by the fact that her father, who disappeared 27 years ago, leaving a wash of anger and misery behind him, owns the other half. Her return has her probing forgotten childhood memories as both the house itself, and some of the locals, appear determined to scare her off. The whip-smart Ailsa’s descent into terror and confusion as the Manse begins to have an effect on her is played out beautifully. Like The French Girl, this manages to be both uncannily creepy and grounded in the true horror of human evil.

Sarah Hilary
Headline, £18.99, pp368

Never Be Broken is the sixth in Sarah Hilary’s crime series about DI Marnie Rome, and is her darkest, grittiest outing yet. Rome and her team are looking into the murders of London’s “lost” children: those recruited and exploited by gangs. Then Raphaela Belsham is shot on the street in Muswell Hill: she’s white, it’s a nice part of town and the world starts to notice. As Rome digs into the links between the deaths and Erskine Tower, a poverty-stricken high-rise nearby, her sidekick, DS Noah Jake, continues to reel from the recent murder of his brother in prison. He’s finding it increasingly hard not to let his demons affect his work. Starting with the rage that explodes out of Raphaela’s father when Noah finds a bullet in her room – “I want him out of my house. He worked his jaw to get rid of the adrenaline” – racism, both overt and hidden, bubbles under the surface of everything in this searing, perceptive novel.

Mick Herron
John Murray, £14.99, pp352

Following the misadventures of the sidelined spies who have been banished to Slough House for various misdemeanours – “this was the Service’s backwater, where they sent you when they wanted to bore you to death” – Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb novels are among the best spy novels being written today. In this sixth outing, Joe Country, Slough House’s band of misfits are out for revenge and looking for a missing 17-year-old, the son of one of their own, the late Min Harper. As these tangled threads play out, there is, as always, no greater pleasure than watching the malevolent, corpulent genius that is Lamb himself. Foul and frequently cruel, he’s also brilliant, when he can be bothered, and astute when he needs to be. If you’ve not read Herron before, start at the beginning, with Slow Horses, but do start: this series is bitingly intelligent, light of touch and frequently hilarious.

To buy Those People, The Missing Years, Never Be Broken, or Joe Country, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99

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