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A Vengeful Longing by R N Morris

Three gruesome murders in the stifling summer heat of 1860's St Petersburg: Porfiry Petrovich is convinced there’s a connection but just what this is keeps him and us guessing right up to the last chapter when all is revealed. You certainly don't have to have read Crime and Punishment to enjoy this intelligent and atmospheric crime novel; if you have, there's an added pleasure in seeing Dostoyevsky's engaging, brilliant and very human detective exercise his forensic and psychological skills again.

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The Bird Room by Chris Killen

From its voyeuristic cover to its snappy, sexy, humorous style Killen's debut novel is a spiky modernist take on the effects of technology on relationships. Characters agonise about art, love, the pain of rejection, identity and sex. Love is as fragile as a pane of glass that shatters at the first impact. The reader gets caught in the game as flashback techniques play with perception. How the book is viewed depends on what the reader sees through the looking glass but it is a compulsive, surprising journey rather like watching a film of awkward relationships through a camera lens.

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The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

Densely poetic, this daring novel traces a story of love and desire from Montreal to Phnom Penh. The brutalities and horror of war and genocide are balanced by a young girl's intense desire for, and love affair with, a Cambodian refugee and musician. After losing him once when he returns, alone, to Cambodia she makes the journey herself ten years later, only to suffer a greater loss there than she could possibly have imagined. A beautiful, haunting book.

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Mystery Man by Colin Bateman

This book is hilarious, I loved it. Take a hypochondriac book dealer with OCD and combine him with Miss Marple and what do you get? The manic owner of a mystery bookshop in Belfast, next door to a missing private detective, who finds that cases keep walking in on him. So does his new girlfriend, with adventures he is too timid to enjoy. And if you are a vintage film freak, watch out for the last line.

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Blood Kin by Ceridwen Dovey

Following a coup in an unnamed country this book tells the story through six characters all caught up in the unrest. As the story unravels the relationships between the six become more fraught and tense as the prospect of power combined with ever more impulsive greed and vengeance takes hold. It is a story simply but effectively told with its own unique rhythm, drawing the reader into the mind of each of the characters with an almost hypnotic quality.

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