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Crime Fiction with Mat Coward Body counts in Suffolk, Ireland, Australia and Regency Bath

IN HELEN CALLAGHAN'S Everything Is Lies (Penguin, £12.99), London architect Sophia arrives at her parents' smallholding in Suffolk on a reluctant duty visit, only to find her mother dead and her father dreadfully wounded.

The police see it as an attempted murder-suicide, with the suicide bid unsuccessful. But this would be so out of character for the quiet couple who raised her that Sophia is convinced that a third party must have been involved.

With her father yet to regain consciousness, only she can find the truth — which must surely have something to do with the news that her rather dull mother has written an explosive tell-all memoir.

You'll struggle to separate the villains from the victims right up to the last pages of this absorbing psychological thriller.

At a time of renewed sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, an assassination takes place in Trafalgar Square in Killer Intent by Tony Kent (Elliot & Thompson, £12.99).

The presumed target, a former US president, is only wounded, but a senior British politician is killed.

While a right-wing Tory seizes his opportunity to make a move for the party leadership, a TV reporter, a London barrister and a British secret agent separately stumble across evidence that all is not what it seems.

But as ever in such tales, the question is will they live long enough to reveal what they've learned? There's plenty of action and a good few surprises in this enjoyable conspiracy story.

When a corporate team-building exercise in the Australian bush goes horribly wrong in Jane Harper's Force of Nature (Little Brown, £12.99), federal agents Aaron Falk and Carmen Cooper of the financial investigation unit have good reason to fear for the woman who's gone missing.

Alice was secretly working as a whistleblower inside the corrupt company and somehow Falk and Cooper must solve her disappearance without revealing their hand.
Had Alice finally got hold of the documents they'd been pressing her to steal? And if so, has that lead to her death? 

Switching between the search for Alice and scenes from the disastrous trek, in which five women who don't much like each other discover that they might in fact hate each other, Harper builds the tension superbly.

In the end, her second novel is as much to do with the way in which the consequences of greed and weakness can bounce back and forth between the generations as it is about money laundering.

A house demolition in Bath reveals a skeleton dressed in 18th-century clothes, in Beau Death by Peter Lovesey (Sphere, £19.99).

Can this really be, as all indications suggest, the body of Beau Nash, the one-time "King of Bath"? Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond investigates and is ruefully unsurprised when things turn out to be even more bizarre than that — as they generally do in this astonishingly consistent and endlessly inventive series.

The two things you need to get through the winter in one piece are the flu jab and a Lovesey whodunnit.



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