ORDERS TO KILL by Edward Marston (Allison & Busby £19.99)


by Edward Marston (Allison & Busby £19.99)

As casualties mount in World War I, a dedicated Army surgeon loved by his patients and admired by his colleagues is savagely murdered.

In the absence of motive or suspects, it is left to Inspector Harvey Marmion to make sense of the apparently inexplicable.

Delving into the victim’s background, a double or even a triple life begins to emerge. The doctor had been liberal in distributing his favours to needy women. Could his death be a revenge killing?

When similar unsolved cases are revealed, Marmion detects a pattern that leads him to the pitched battles on the Western Front in search of the truth.

Taking in a subplot involving Marmion’s son, a mentally damaged war veteran who has gone missing, the story moves along at a cracking pace. Edward Marston is a master of his craft.


by Georges Simenon (Penguin Classics £8.99)

With first-class new translations of all the Maigret novels now to hand, it is the short stories’ turn to be upgraded. In Death Threats, we find Maigret in the autumn of his illustrious career, enjoying the prospect of retirement. While his deductive powers are still hotly in demand, he is reluctant to break off a holiday to get involved in the investigation of a hotel guest, found drowned in his bath. But simply by watching and waiting, his patience pays off.

Closer to home, the unexplained death of a cafe crony leaves open the question: was it suicide or murder? Maigret knows the answer but he also knows that the truth will do more harm than deception. His moral quandary might well have served for a full-length novel but the substance is compressed brilliantly into a few pages.

DEATH OF A WEDDING GUEST by Anne Morice (Dean Street Press £10.99)


by Anne Morice (Dean Street Press £10.99)

A society wedding descends into chaos when the mother of the bride has her drink spiked with weed killer. This infuriating woman was not short of enemies. But matters are complicated by the suspicion that the poison may have been intended for one of the other guests.

Leading the search for a solution to the mystery is Tessa Crichton, a rising star of stage and screen whose amateur sleuthing is the despair of her policeman husband.

While the tone is light-hearted, with acerbic asides on the pretensions of the leisured class, Anne Morice leads us a merry dance before her heroine has to put herself in danger to unmask the killer. As soft-centred crime, this could hardly be bettered.

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