THE ANATOMY OF DESIRE by L. R. Dorn (Trapeze £14.99, 320 pp)


by L. R. Dorn (Trapeze £14.99, 320 pp)

Written by two successful American screenwriters under a pseudonym, this deliciously contemporary story focuses on a social media influencer, Cleo Ray, who has it all: hundreds of thousands of followers for her fitness advice and a rich and successful boyfriend.

But Cleo is torn between him and her old friend Rebecca (Beck), so on her way to join Finch for a hiking trip in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, she and Beck take a canoe trip on a deserted lake.

Less than an hour later, Beck is found drowned and Cleo has disappeared. What happened? A manhunt is launched and Cleo is eventually discovered with her boyfriend in the mountains — where she’s arrested for murder.

So begins a fascinating courtroom drama, witnesses each telling their stories as the plot unfolds. It reveals a compelling, poignant portrait of sexual desire in our social media age.


by Richard Chizmar (Hodder £16.99, 336 pp)

A former collaborator of the incomparable Stephen King, here Chizmar branches out on his own with a novel about a serial killer stalking young women in the small U.S. town of Edgewood, Maryland.

But he injects himself into the story, as this is his home town and he imagines himself there in the summer of 1988 as a 22-year-old aspiring writer who witnesses the shocking events, and even knows some of the victims.

It emerges that the girls’ bodies are not only mutilated, but also posed, though the killer leaves no traces. Rumour spreads that the killer may not be entirely human, hence the nickname ‘Boogeyman’.

The writer launches his own investigation, with the help of a local reporter, and even advises the police.

The line between fact and fiction may be blurred here but this is still a haunting story, beautifully told.

THE GREAT SILENCE by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books £8.99, 300 pp)


by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books £8.99, 300 pp)

The Skelfs are three generations of female members of an Edinburgh family, who began as funeral directors but then branched out into private investigations.

This is their third outing and the stories get better each time. Here the matriarch of the group, Dorothy, is walking her dog Einstein when he discovers a human foot.

Meanwhile, Dorothy’s daughter Jenny is investigating the strange circumstances of a dying lady when her violent husband, a fugitive from jail, turns up unexpectedly.

Add in granddaughter Hannah, a budding astrophysicist, whose new colleague insists that he is receiving threatening messages from outer space. And there’s a missing big cat roaming the streets, who may have something to do with the foot.

Told with a wry humour and affection, the novel underlines just how accomplished Johnstone has become.

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