1__Dig Two Graves by Eric Beetner
The rise in e-book publishing seems to have reignited interest in the novella, and in Beetner, it’s found a perfect match. Pitched perfectly and razor sharp, Dig Two Graves, sees Val, a recently released bank robber, seek revenge on his double-crossing former partner, Ernesto. It’s fast, furious and sparkles with black humour. We’ve seen the likes of Stuart Neville and John Rector make the leap from the Internet to a wider stage. Beetner might just be the next to join them.
2__One Behind the Ear by Wensley Clarkson
Known predominantly as a true crime writer, Clarkson’s foray into fiction shows he’s no one trick pony. Malcolm Deakin is a hitman for hire. He’s careful, methodical and doesn’t take risks. That is until he’s contracted to kill a former school friend. What unfolds is a nasty tale of paronia, as Deakin becomes increasingly unsettled by the feeling he’s being lined up to take a nasty fall. Although the dialogue occasionally leans towards being a little clichéd, this remains a brutal and unflinching story.
3__Happy Days by Graham Hurley
DI Faraday is gone and Hurley’s immaculate police series is brought to a close. Former police detective, Paul Winter, remains on the payroll of criminal-turned-businessman, Bazza McKenzie, but with the recession biting, McKenzie’s attempt to win real power at the local elections is Winter’s chance to escape the increasingly erratic behaviour of the man. But that proves easier said than done. Pitched perfectly in the claustrophobic environment of Portsmouth, Hurley’s morally complex series cements its position as the absolute benchmark for authentic police novels.
Nick Quantrill lives and works in Hull, an isolated city on the east coast of England. His second Joe Geraghty novel, The Late Greats, is published March 2012 by Caffeine Nights. His short stories appear in Volumes 8 and 9 of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime.