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Book Bites: 25 February

Published in the Sunday Times

Sweet Little LiesSweet Little Lies
Caz Frear, Bonnier, R270

Caz Frear’s debut is a slow burner and the premise is spelt out in the first few chapters. It’s 1998 and Cat Kinsella knows that her wily father has lied to the police about a teenager who is missing. Fast-forward to the present day and a woman is murdered near her father’s pub. Cat, now a police officer, is heading the investigation. She thinks her father might be guilty of murdering both women. It takes a while for her, and consequently the reader, to unravel what becomes a very complex mystery. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Shadow Man
Margaret Kirk, Orion, R295

Margaret Kirk, first winner of Good Housekeeping’s novel-writing competition, has kick-started her career with a crime thriller series. Morven Murray, a UK B-list celebrity, is murdered in her posh Inverness hotel room just before her wedding. Elsewhere in the city, police snitch Kevin Ramsay is executed gang-style. Inspector Lukas Mahler, a tormented insomniac, takes both cases and soon suspects the two deaths may have more in common than previously thought. Full of tension and Scottish flair, this tale has colourful, complex characters and plenty of twists that will delight readers to the final page. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

In Dust and AshesIn Dust and Ashes
Anne Holt, Corvus, R295

The usual definition of a cracking novel is one that you cannot put down. But there is also the flip side; it’s the book so beguiling you want it to last as long as possible. Anne Holt, journalist, lawyer and briefly Norway’s minister of justice, fits the bill for the latter. This is the 10th title featuring Oslo detective Hanne Wilhelmsen, and Holt’s most accomplished yet. It’s an engrossing plot, reminiscent of Agatha Christie in her prime. There’s a recent suicide, which the retired Wilhelmsen thinks might be a murder. And there’s a 15-year-old murder, which her sidekick, Henrik Holme, thinks might have resulted in a wrongful conviction. The two detectives are a marvellous study in oddities. Wilhelmsen is a bad-tempered, wheelchair-bound recluse; a lesbian married to a Muslim refugee. Holme is a social misfit, an obsessive-compulsive 30-something virgin, with a kind heart and a prodigious intelligence. William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

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