A reader's guide to love and murder: Dig into 10 new mystery novels

SINGAPORE - As the film adaptation of Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery Death On The Nile finally sails into cinemas, The Sunday Times rounds up a rogues' gallery of whodunnits for you to take a stab at solving.

Murder on the online express

"The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death," wrote British playwright Oscar Wilde.

Singaporean Jane Pek's debut novel combines a murder mystery with immigrant family drama and dating app ethics. PHOTOS: VINTAGE, JANE YUAN

Singaporean Jane Pek considers both kinds of mystery in her debut novel The Verifiers, an intricately knotty whodunnit that matches online dating with murder.

Her heroine, Claudia Lin, works at Veracity, a New York detective agency that investigates online dating profiles, verifying for clients if their potential dates are indeed who they claim to be.


Doctor Whodunnit? Alex Kingston's metafictional mystery

The Ruby's Curse is Alex Kingston's debut novel. PHOTOS: BBC BOOKS

Melody Malone is a private detective in 1930s New York. She is also the fictional creation of River Song, a time-travelling archaeologist who is killing time in the universe's most secure prison by writing a hard-boiled mystery novel.

River, in turn, is a character on cult science-fiction show Doctor Who, played by British actress Alex Kingston - who wrote her debut novel, The Ruby's Curse, about River writing a novel about Melody.

Confused yet? "It's all a bit wibbly wobbly timey-wimey," says Kingston, 58, with a laugh, quoting Doctor Who, which she was on from 2008 to 2015.


The lady vanishes: New mysteries on classic authors

Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair is about the 11 days of Agatha Christie's disappearance in 1926. PHOTOS: TASHA THOMAS, PAN MACMILLAN
In Jessica Fellowes' The Mitford Vanishing, author Nancy Mitford seeks help finding her missing sister. PHOTOS: EMILIA GUTIERREZ, MINOTAUR BOOKS

England spawned some accomplished women authors in the first half of the 20th century, whose names are literary brands to be reckoned with.

Their lit cred, combined with the glamorous aura of the period, are fine bait to draw readers into two new books: Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair, about the 11 days of Agatha Christie's disappearance in 1926, and Jessica Fellowes' The Mitford Vanishing, in which author Nancy Mitford seeks help finding her missing sister.


War and noir in 1940s hard-boiled thriller

Five Decembers by James Kestrel is an electrifying thriller set in the Pacific theatre of World War II. PHOTOS: MARIA WANG, HARD CASE CRIME

Those unfamiliar with the world of noir may be tempted to write off Five Decembers as a seedy third-rate novel when they first see the cover on bookshelves.

Yet the retro pulp art cover - a shirtless man stares out of a bedroom window as bombs light up the sky, while a naked woman sits shyly in the foreground covering her body with a sheet - pays fitting homage to the iconic hard-boiled genre of the 1930s and 1940s.


Five other new mystery novels

1. The Maid

By Nita Prose
HarperCollins/Paperback/334 pages/$29.96/Buy here/Borrow here


Molly, a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, is used to being ignored by the guests she cleans up after. But she is thrown against her will into the spotlight when she discovers a guest, the wealthy Mr Black, dead in his bed.

Film company Universal is set to adapt Prose's locked-room mystery for film, with Oscar nominee Florence Pugh playing Molly.

2. The Gosling Girl

By Jacqueline Roy
Simon & Schuster/Paperback/400 pages/$29.95/Buy here/Borrow here


As a young black child, Michelle Cameron was locked away for luring a little white girl to her death.

Released from prison as an adult with a new identity, she tries to start afresh. But another shocking death places her under suspicion again.

3. Death On The Trans-Siberian Express

By C. J. Farrington
Constable/Paperback/327 pages/$32.95/Buy here


In the sleepy Russian town of Roslazny, railway engineer Olga Pushkin spends her days in a hut next to the tracks of the Trans-Siberian Express, nursing her dreams of becoming a best-selling author and accompanied only by Dmitri, her pet hedgehog.

But one day, she is knocked unconscious by an American tourist falling from the train with his mouth stuffed with coins and his throat cut.

4. Notes On An Execution

By Danya Kukafka
William Morrow/Paperback/304 pages/$32.64/Buy here/Borrow here


There are many stories about serial killers. This one is not about the murderer, but the women caught in his orbit: Lavender, the mother who gave birth to him at the desperate age of 17; Hazel, the twin sister of his wife, a helpless witness to their relationship's collapse; and Saffron Singh, the police detective who spends years hunting him down.

5. Cherish Farrah

By Bethany C. Morrow
Dutton/Hardcover/336 pages/$32.64/Buy here


Farrah Turner and Cherish Whitman are the only two black teenage girls in their country club community.

Cherish, adopted by a wealthy white family, is coddled in a way that Farrah's upper-class black parents cannot afford. Farrah leverages her friendship to manipulate her way into the Whitman household - even as strange things begin to happen there.

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