The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
From classic romantic suspense in New York via 'rural sanity' in Dartmoor to a London kidnapping that's not what it first seems
Laura by Vera Caspary (Vintage, £7.99) is a reprint of a classic 1940s romantic suspense novel, the most famous work of a writer who was later "greylisted" for her youthful involvement in the Communist Party.
In it, a young career woman is murdered in her smart New York apartment and the detective studying the victim's life in search of clues begins to fall in love with her.
But then comes one of crime fiction's finest mid-story twists, and everything he thinks he knew is turned upside down.
Caspary's somewhat autobiographical theme is the intelligent woman's struggle for identity and independence in a society not inclined to allow her either.
It's still a gripping and delightful read and, at just 171 pages, is a timely lesson in how compact and disciplined writing can carry so much more weight than the bloated doorstoppers demanded by modern publishers.
The Last Girl by Jane Casey (Ebury Press, £6.99) would certainly be more satisfying if it lost a few of its 465 pages but it's an enjoyable combination of police procedural and romantic thriller even so.
The protagonist of Casey's series DC Maeve Kerrigan investigates the killing of a mother and teenage daughter at a posh address in Wimbledon. The man of the house, a successful criminal defence barrister, claims he was wounded in the attack but is the obvious chief suspect.
There's one odd anomaly, though - why did the killer not harm his other daughter?
Kerrigan and her boss DI Derwent make an unusually amusing and convincing "odd couple" police duo.
Fans of Graham Hurley's recently completed Joe Faraday series, worried about what might take its place, needn't have fretted.
A new run of books begins very promisingly with Western Approaches (Orion, £12.99) as one of Faraday's former Portsmouth CID colleagues, Detective Sergeant Jimmy Suttle, moves to Dartmoor in search of rural "sanity."
Before long, his marriage is crumbling as fast as his idyllic country cottage, and he's learning that leaving his Pompey history behind won't be as easy as he'd hoped.
Meanwhile, he's suspicious about the death of a local rowing club's much-despised rich patron. It looks like suicide, or perhaps an accident. Surely it's not murder - except that one of the dead man's crew was questioned two years earlier concerning another boat-related tragedy.
In the new series, as in the old, Hurley treats crime, human relationships, and social geography to equally forensic examinations.
If someone close to you is kidnapped and you've got plenty of money, Charles Boxer is the man you need.
His job, in Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson (Orion, £13.99), is to negotiate a happy, if costly, ending.
When an Indian tycoon's daughter is snatched during a night out in London, Boxer is hired to get her back. But his carefully honed routines are sabotaged by one baffling fact. The kidnappers aren't making any demands.
Kidnap resolution is relatively fresh ground for thrillers and Wilson takes full and effective advantage of its inbuilt opportunities for tension and twists.
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