MANY of us could use a much-needed distraction as the tedium of lockdown rolls on. Here, we pick some of the best new thrillers to while away an afternoon (or two).

The Cut by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown, £18.99)

Millicent Spark is a world-weary septuagenarian newly released from prison after serving 25 years for murder. She may have her freedom yet feels far from free. Then, just when Millicent is ready to give up on life, she meets Jerome Kelly, a Glasgow film student with a chequered background.

The chance sighting of a photograph from 1994 hanging in a hotel corridor sends them down a rabbit hole as the duo uncover startling new information about someone from Millicent's past and shed new light on a life-altering night.

The Cut harks back to the razor wit and black humour of Brookmyre's novels All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye and Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks. Top marks too for the author's encyclopaedic knowledge of cult horror films and obscure death metal bands.

The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor (Michael Joseph, £12.99)

The chilling construct of The Burning Girls is one that mixes real historical events with fictional horror and mystery. Five hundred years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death. Thirty years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace. Two months ago: the vicar took his own life.

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The novel unfolds in the small Sussex village of Chapel Croft where a close-knit community is haunted by a dark past. When Reverend Jack Brooks arrives to take up the role as interim vicar at the local church, he and his teenage daughter Flo are seeking a fresh start.

Yet age-old superstitions and a strong mistrust of outsiders lingers. Threatening messages and sinister Blair Witch-style twig dolls begin to appear. Flo experiences visions of burning girls. Can restless ghosts ever be laid to rest?

The Dare by Lesley Kara (Bantam, £12.99)

Full disclosure: Lesley Kara is fast becoming one of my favourite psychological thriller writers. If you enjoyed her previous books The Rumour and Who Did You Tell? then The Dare will hook you in from its opening gambit.

Teenage best friends Alice and Lizzie are arguing by a railway line. One dies and one survives. Lizzie has no memories of what unfolded that fateful day. A terrible accident – or was it? The dead girl's family and friends seem to think Lizzie isn't as innocent as she seems.

The Herald: The Dare by Lesley KaraThe Dare by Lesley Kara

The story then picks up 12 years later as Lizzie is moving on with her life. She has a new home and a devoted fiance. But what happens when revenge is left to simmer? Buckle up for a gripping read and a gut-punch twist that will make you gasp.

What Will Burn by James Oswald (Wildfire, £16.99)

If you ever find yourself complaining there's not enough hours in the day, take a look at James Oswald. This is a man who manages to farm Highland cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep by day, while writing successful crime thrillers by night.

What Will Burn is the 11th book in his bestselling Inspector McLean series and as enthralling reads go, it is another treat. Albeit not one for the lily-livered: it opens with the charred remains of an elderly woman found in a burned-out cottage within secluded woodland near Edinburgh.

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Neither an accidental blaze nor a typical fire-raising attack, Detective Inspector Tony McLean and his team quickly realise that there is something far more sinister and darkly ritualistic at play.

Can You See Me Now? by Trisha Sakhlecha (Pan, £8.99)

Skeletons in the closet can be deadly. Any politician knows that. However, not every politician has secrets like Alia Sharma, a cabinet minister in the Indian government, whose life glitters with privilege and hidden fear.

Can You See Me Now? is a thriller that weaves together the mesmerising tale of a trio of 16-year-old girls who meet at an exclusive private school and form an intense yet toxic friendship that implodes with deadly consequences.

The Herald: Author Trisha Sakhlecha and her novel Can You See Me Now? Picture: Alexandra SokolovaAuthor Trisha Sakhlecha and her novel Can You See Me Now? Picture: Alexandra Sokolova

Author Trisha Sakhlecha, who grew up in New Delhi with a front-row seat to political life through her family connections, draws upon a true story – a famous scandal that erupted at her own high school and led to a seismic fallout.

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano (Headline Review, £9.99)

This is a mystery with a slightly different bent: it is hilariously funny. The debut adult novel by YA author Elle Cosimano, at its heart is struggling crime writer Finlay Donovan who becomes an accidental hitwoman after a case of mistaken identity.

Lunching with a literary agent, their tricky conversation about grisly plots and missed deadlines is overheard by a woman sitting nearby who slips a note asking to hire Donovan's services to deal with a problem husband, promising a large sum of cash in return.

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Cue a bungled kidnapping, a missing client, a growing stack of domestic crises, close shaves and a leading lady who realises that being embroiled in a real-life crime is a lot trickier than rattling off a work of fiction. A witty book that is chock-full of surprises.

Lightseekers by Femi Kayode (Raven Books, £14.99)

Femi Kayode doesn't mess about. His novel Lightseekers is a powerful and fast-paced thriller that will stay with you long after you have closed its pages.

It centres on the stomach-churning murder of three young students in a Nigerian university town, the soundtrack to their final minutes, the jeers of a baying crowd. Their brutal deaths are filmed on camera phones, the harrowing footage then shared on social media.

The world knows who killed them, but no one knows why. As the trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo, an expert in lynch mobs, is contacted by the father of one of the boys to uncover the truth. Yet, Taiwo soon finds himself out of his depth and in murky waters.

The Herald: Author Femi Kayode. Picture: Nicholas LouwAuthor Femi Kayode. Picture: Nicholas Louw

Future Perfect by Felicia Yap (Wildfire, £18.99, published March 18)

A tense and suspenseful race against time that spans multiple cities and decades, stretching from the snowy landscapes of 1980s Montana to the urban backdrop of 1990s New York and then a near-future, drone-filled 2030s London.

When a bomb explodes during a fashion show and kills a model on the catwalk, Police Commissioner Christian Verger must find a murderer still at large. Yet, Verger has his mind on more pressing matters, not least that his dependable voice assistant Alexa is 99.74% certain he will die tomorrow.

This deftly plotted thriller will make you ruminate about the digital footprints we all leave behind and how they could ultimately define us in a world of ever-advancing technology.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson (Faber & Faber, £12.99, published March 18)

Abigail Baskin has landed a fairytale ending, newly married and heading off on honeymoon after a whirlwind romance with a Silcon Valley millionaire.

Staying at an exclusive island resort, Abigail is jolted when she recognises a fellow guest: the handsome, charming stranger who, only weeks earlier, she had a one-night stand with during her drunken hen weekend. The man is convinced that their fling meant something far deeper.

Trapped on the island, Abigail can feel the tentacles of her betrayal tightening their grip. She faces a heart-wrenching choice: tell her new husband the truth and risk destroying their marriage or hatch a plan to stop her most dreaded secret spilling out.

Before The Storm by Alex Gray (Sphere, £14.99, published March 25)

The Herald: Author Alex Gray and her new novel Before The StormAuthor Alex Gray and her new novel Before The Storm

Alex Gray returns with another belter: a thriller that unpicks a terrorist plot to strike Glasgow on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, a series of murders prompts swirling rumours that someone inside the police force is passing information to criminal organisations.

Detective Superintendent William Lorimer heads up the Major Incident Team, dealing with murder inquiries and serious crime. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Zimbabwe, Inspector Daniel Kohi finds his home ablaze and his family dead.

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As Kohi flees with his life in perilous danger, he and Lorimer end up crossing paths. The pair soon learn they are cut from the same cloth when it comes to their dogged investigative skills. Before The Storm marks the 18th instalment in Gray's popular DSI Lorimer series.