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12Jul

The best recent crime and thriller writing – review roundup

The tensions of a small community inspire a couple of ‘island noir’ crackers, while three female authors explore revenge

Agatha Christie found And Then There Were None, her story of 10 strangers invited to an island off the Devon coast, her hardest book to write. “I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been,” she wrote in her autobiography. But Christie’s struggles failed to put off future crime writers: from PD James’s The Lighthouse to, more recently, Lucy Foley’s The Guest List, the charms of a closed, dangerous setting, where everyone is a suspect, are just too tempting for mystery novelists.

This July, we have two crackers on offer in what I’ll call island noir. First up is Chris Brookmyre’s The Cliff House (Little, Brown, £18.99, pp352), which sends Jen off to a remote Scottish island for her hen party, accompanied by her best friends and her future sister-in-law. “Many of them didn’t know each other, one of them didn’t know anybody, including Jen, one of them quite possibly hated her, and two of them definitely hated each other. What could possibly go wrong?” They are the only guests at the luxury resort, but from the famous pop star to her estranged former best friend everyone here has a nasty little secret. When one of the party disappears, those remaining are told they need to confess or she’ll die. There’s no way off the island, no wifi, no signal. Brookmyre is always a class act and it is a pleasure to be back in the hands of one of our best crime writers with this clever, propulsive thriller with a whole lot of heart.

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