THE ECHO MAN by Sam Holland (HarperCollins £14.99, 464pp)
THE ECHO MAN
by Sam Holland (HarperCollins £14.99, 464pp)
This striking debut from a self-confessed true crime ‘nerd’ is the darkest of dark serial killer thrillers. Someone out there — dubbed The Echo Man — is recreating the worst excesses of the world’s most notorious killers.
He poses five massacred bodies, including one of a pregnant woman, just as Charles Manson’s Family did. He snatches female hitchhikers just as the Co-Ed Killer Ed Kemper did. And he sends messages to the Press as the Zodiac killer did.
Almost by accident, DCI Cara Elliott finds herself piecing together the clues that suggest there is a copycat killer operating around the country, a man who clearly takes a malicious delight in what he does.
Meanwhile, Elliott’s brother, Nate, a troubled detective whose wife was one of the victims, is drafted in to help with the investigation and befriends the wife of another victim. Bleak, but utterly compelling, the story rushes forward relentlessly. If Holland can keep this up he is a writer to watch.
THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR by Tony Parsons (Century £12.99, 448pp)
THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
by Tony Parsons (Century £12.99, 448pp)
In the wake of his successful DC Max Wolfe crime series, the hugely talented Parsons has turned his hand to a standalone thriller — and a creepy, menacing one at that, even if it is set in the lush green fields of Oxfordshire.
Lana and her husband Roman have left the terrors of the city for the tranquillity of a small, honey-coloured house in a residential close known as The Gardens, where everyone seems to be charming and distinctly well-off.
On the surface, nothing could be more comforting, but then Lana discovers that their house was the scene of a murder-suicide in which an airline pilot killed his wife and son before taking his own life.
Not surprisingly, it sends a shiver down the couple’s spines, but Roman brushes it aside — anxious to fit in with their new neighbours.
Gradually, other ghostly secrets begin to emerge in this rural idyll, which brings back memories of the film The Stepford Wives.
Parsons’ prose is as elegant and vivid as ever, and his storytelling immaculate.
THE SLEEP OF REASON by Mark Rowley and David Derbyshire (Legend Press £8.99, 288pp)
THE SLEEP OF REASON
by Mark Rowley and David Derbyshire (Legend Press £8.99, 288pp)
Written by Mark Rowley, a former Assistant Commissioner from the Metropolitan Police who was in charge of the UK’s counter-terrorism policing for four years until 2018, and his friend, journalist David Derbyshire, this is a superb evocation of what trying to track down terrorists is really like.
It opens with an attack on an Asian group on a rollercoaster ride at a theme park in Kent, which seems to have been organised by a new white supremacist group. Seven people die at once, which inflames the Muslim community, who strike back at a rally in Whitehall.
Beneath all this, however, there lurks a more formidable foe, an experienced British-born jihadist, now known as Abu Mujahid, who may be planning a terrorist attack in London.
The depiction of political life at the Home Office and Downing Street reeks of authenticity, but there is also a fast-moving plot and a determined heroine to root for: Detective Superintendent Sophie Gabriel. It ends with the hint of a sequel. Let’s hope so.