Allan Martin (Thunderpoint, £9.99)

This is only the second appearance of Oban-based police detective Angus Blue, but so vividly did Allan Martin depict Blue and his supporting cast in its predecessor, The Peat Dead, that it’s already like revisiting old friends. In this mystery, Blue is sent to Jura, where Cabinet Minister Lord Steppingham has been wounded by a sniper while walking from his mansion to a waiting helicopter. An assassination attempt on a leading politician means that the local coppers have to fight a turf war with the Metropolitan Police and the security services, leading to a tense tug-of-war which leaves Blue in no doubt that the Met investigators know a lot more than they’re willing to share. Never less than absorbing, The Dead of Jura shows Westminster clamping down on dissent and disrespect towards “national symbols”, deepening the sense that Blue and his team are fighting a losing battle against powerful state operatives.


Michael J. Malone (Orenda, £8.99)

Following her experiences at the hands of a stalker, film star Amelie Hart left acting behind and now lives with her accountant boyfriend, Dave, in a Lanarkshire village, where she’s mulling over how to break it to him that she wants to end their relationship. All that is swept aside, however, when the next-door neighbours accuse Dave of sexually assaulting their young daughter. Dave’s subsequent incarceration, and the tsunami of press that accompanies it, is devastating for him, his parents and for Amelie, bringing back the paranoia she thought she’d shaken off. Even when she thinks she’s won a temporary respite from death threats and media vilification, further harrowing twists await her. Taking care not to marginalise the alleged victim, 11-year-old Damaris, Malone keeps us reading to see how much worse things can possibly get, while forcing us to examine our own reactions and preconceptions as this nightmarishly compelling novel unfolds.


Amina Cain (Daunt, £9.99)

Despite its slimness and simple, measured prose, Indelicacy has a lot going on. It’s the first-person narrative of Vitória, a former cleaner in some unspecified era and city, who strove to escape her circumstances and chose to do it through writing. Marriage raises her up from her humble origins, but she continues to write, to her husband’s disapproval. Having cleaned in a gallery, she’s enraptured by art and compelled to write about it. Forever an outsider, looking in quizzically on the lives of others, she explores vision, imagination and creativity in a continuous process of self-creation. Her prose is careful and guarded, reflecting her difficulties relating to others (though her relationships with her two female friends are deeply important to her) but hinting at powerful emotions she can’t even admit to herself, much less on the page. Vitória is still keeping a wary distance from us by the end, but she’s no longer a stranger.