Crime In Brief: Darkhouse<br></br>Double Tap<br></br>Choke Point

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Alex Barclay's story kicks off when a kidnapping goes tragically wrong in New York City. Joe Lucchesi is the detective in charge. He's not a well man and maybe shouldn't have been working the case. And he knows it. Then his wife Anna, a freelance interior designer, concerned for her man, her marriage and her 16-year-old son, Shaun, moves the family, lock, stock and barrel to a seaside village in the south of Ireland. She's renovating an old lighthouse for a chic magazine spread and so Joe takes a year's sabbatical. Then Shaun's girlfriend, a young local girl, goes missing.

Shaun is the prime suspect and, when Joe undertakes an unofficial investigation, a dark nightmare begins. Everyone he trusts is lying and the past reaches out to grab them as the kidnap returns to haunt the people he loves most.

Darkhouse is a terrific debut by an exciting new writer. Check it out!

Double Tap by Steve Martini (HEADLINE £18.99 £18.99 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897

La Jollo, California, and murder is in the air. Madelyn Chapman is CEO of a software empire with a big government contract. Her company can predict crime and terrorist activity before it occurs. One fine afternoon, she is shot twice in the head in her luxury home - a double tap. But with two kinds of bullets from the same .45 H&K semi-automatic.

Emiliano Ruiz, an ex-army sharp-shooting champion, once a security guard at Chapman's firm, is in the frame for the killing. He and the victim had a sexual relationship and the gun belonged to him. End of story. He's broke, but a bunch of old soldiers have put together a defence fund, and Paul Madriani's law firm gets the job. Ruiz pleads his innocence and tells Madriani that the government is out to get him as cover for the real murderer. But he's wrong.

This is a first class legal/political thriller - intriguing, sentimental and chilling at the same time.

Choke Point by Barry Eisler (MICHAEL JOSEPH £10 #163;10 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897

Welcome to Macau, an ex-Portuguese colony now back under the control of the Chinese. Meet John Rain, half-Japanese, half-American martial-arts expert and a burnt-out US Government assassin called out of retirement for one last job. His target: an arms dealer travelling with a beautiful woman named Delilah. There's a bit too much martial arts action in the novel, unless you happen to know what a sambo foot lockis. This book was a disappointment as it's been puffed by Lee Child, and Rain has been dubbed a new James Bond. But even in my wildest dreams I could never imagine Bond as a fan of Eva Cassidy.