IN AN attempt to restart her career after being outed as a whistleblower, research scientist Katie Flanagan signs up for winter on an Antarctic base in Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson (Lion Fiction, £7.99).
That means eight months in which the weather makes it impossible for anyone to leave or arrive and, whatever happens, it’ll have to be dealt with by the 10 people on the base.
Which would be bad enough under normal circumstances but it’s even worse when you realise that one of their number is a murderer.
With all the cabin-fever atmosphere you’d hope for in a snowbound story, this is a fine combination of suspense, adventure and mystery, along with the author’s customary insights into the cut-throat world of medical patents.
After witnessing an unusually awful act of violence, Detective Superintendent Lorimer of Glasgow Police is being treated as an in-patient for post-traumatic stress disorder.
But, in Alex Gray’s Still Dark (Sphere, £7.99), his recovery is interrupted by a glimpse on the TV news of a dangerous man who slipped through his team’s grasp the previous year. Involuntary euthanasia for financial gain is the crime and Lorimer knows that there will soon be more deaths. But is he healthy enough to pursue such a cunning quarry?
And, even if he is, can he convince his colleagues that his obsession with a closed case isn’t just a symptom of his illness?
Over the course of this series, Gray has assembled a lifelike cast of detectives and their associates, and she directs them through a tense police procedural with verve and subtlety.
In a village in the Italian Alps, a young girl vanishes without trace just yards from her home. Famous detective, Special Agent Vogel, is called in to investigate in The Girl in the Fog by Donato Carrisi (Abacus, £12.99). His glittering career is based more on his brilliant manipulation of the media than on any special skill at police work. The performance is the thing and, as long as it results in a conviction, nothing else matters.
Chilling and gripping, this unsettling thriller ruthlessly dissects the idea that tragedy has become a branch of show business which, like all industries, must convince its customers that they want what it is selling.
Another missing teenager, this time in a small town in New York, is at the centre of Jessica Treadway’s How Will I Know You? (Sphere, £7.99).
The author’s particular area of interest is the effect on families of lies and secrets, major and minor, when they are given sudden significance by terrible events. When private resentments and rivalries become matters of public concern, what happens to the relationships of those involved? As she takes us through the last days of the victim and the reactions of her friends and family, of witnesses and police, Treadway’s writing is superb. And that means that the tension and readability of her mystery plot cohabit perfectly with a psychological examination of unusual depth and acuity.