If you’re looking for something for the bookworm in the family, here are some last minute ideas for crime, thriller and mystery fans:

Tombland by C.J. Sansom 

Summer, 1549. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos…

The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector’s prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry.

Since the old King’s death, Matthew Shardlake has been working as a lawyer in the service of Henry’s younger daughter, the Lady Elizabeth. The gruesome murder of Edith Boleyn, the wife of John Boleyn – a distant Norfolk relation of Elizabeth’s mother – which could have political implications for Elizabeth, brings Shardlake and his assistant Nicholas Overton to the summer assizes at Norwich. There they are reunited with Shardlake’s former assistant Jack Barak. The three find layers of mystery and danger surrounding Edith’s death, as a second murder is committed.

And then East Anglia explodes, as peasant rebellion breaks out across the country. The yeoman Robert Kett leads a force of thousands in overthrowing the landlords and establishing a vast camp outside Norwich. Soon the rebels have taken over the city, England’s second largest.

Barak throws in his lot with the rebels; Nicholas, opposed to them, becomes a prisoner in Norwich Castle; while Shardlake has to decide where his ultimate loyalties lie, as government forces in London prepare to march north and destroy the rebels. Meanwhile he discovers that the murder of Edith Boleyn may have connections reaching into both the heart of the rebel camp and of the Norfolk gentry…

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

London Rules by Mick Herron

London Rules might not be written down, but everyone knows rule one.

Cover your arse.

Regent’s Park’s First Desk, Claude Whelan, is learning this the hard way. Tasked with protecting a beleaguered prime minister, he’s facing attack from all directions himself: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat’s wife, a tabloid columnist, who’s crucifying Whelan in print; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who’s alert for Claude’s every stumble.

Meanwhile, the country’s being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks, and someone’s trying to kill Roddy Ho.

Over at Slough House, the crew are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath. But collectively, they’re about to rediscover their greatest strength – that of making a bad situation much, much worse.

It’s a good job Jackson Lamb knows the rules. Because those things aren’t going to break themselves.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crime.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott

You told each other everything. Then she told you too much.

Kit has risen to the top of her profession and is on the brink of achieving everything she wanted. She hasn’t let anything stop her.

But now someone else is standing in her way – Diane. Best friends at seventeen, their shared ambition made them inseparable. Until the day Diane told Kit her secret – the worst thing she’d ever done, the worst thing Kit could imagine – and it blew their friendship apart.

Kit is still the only person who knows what Diane did. And now Diane knows something about Kit that could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for.

How far would Kit go, to make the hard work, the sacrifice, worth it in the end? What wouldn’t she give up? Diane thinks Kit is just like her. Maybe she’s right. Ambition: it’s in the blood…

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott – once his assistant, now a partner in the agency – set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been – Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that . . .

The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, Lethal White is both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever.

Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realise that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of this country’s most exceptional writers.

The Red Ribbon by H.B. Lyle

Captain Vernon Kell’s fledgling secret intelligence service is under pressure. It’s meant to root out German spies and quell foreign threats, but with few results it faces closure.

Harassed by politicians, like the ambitious Winston Churchill, bullied by Special Branch, undermined by his colleague Cumming’s ill-advised foreign ventures and alarmed at his wife’s involvement with militant suffragettes, Kell is making no progress in tracking high-profile leaks from the government. To make matters worse, his only agent, Wiggins, would rather be working on cases of his own.

Wiggins grew up on the streets, one of the urchins trained in surveillance by Sherlock Holmes and known as the Baker Street Irregulars. He has promised to avenge the death of his best friend, and to track down a missing girl.

But when his search takes him towards a club in Belgravia – a club containing a lot of young women and presided over by the fearsome Big T, one of his former gang-mates – Wiggins is drawn into a conspiracy that will test both his personal and his professional resolve.

A satisfying, standalone sequel to The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy, H.B. Lyle’s brilliantly entertaining spy story is also a superb evocation of London in 1910, from the finest drawing rooms to the meanest streets.

Past Tense by Lee Child

JACK REACHER NEVER LOOKS BACK . . . UNTIL NOW.

The most hotly anticipated thriller of 2018 follows our hero Jack Reacher on a quest into his father’s past, and climaxes in the most blood-curdling ticking time bomb of an adventure yet.

The present can be tense…

A young couple trying to get to New York City are stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. Before long they’re trapped in an ominous game of life and death.

But the past can be worse…

Meanwhile, Jack Reacher sets out on an epic road trip across America. He doesn’t get far. Deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been – the town where his father was born. But when he arrives he is told no one named Reacher ever lived there. Now he wonders: who’s lying?

As the tension ratchets up and these two stories begin to entwine, the stakes have never been higher for Reacher.

That’s for damn sure.

In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

IN A HOUSE OF LIES…

Everyone has something to hide
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – both for his family and the police – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.

Everyone has secrets
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now – after a decade without answers – it’s time for the truth.

Nobody is innocent
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.

All in all, ten excellent chillers, thrillers, crime and historical fiction and all tip top entertainment!

Paul Burke
December 2018