MixedBooklistThe answers come slowly in an easygoing narrative that will frustrate readers looking for harder edges. They’re advised to relax into the amiable tale and savor the vignettes along the way, like the encounters with a full-of-himself professor and a raffish thief or two, while marveling at the findings of those fellows with the metal detectors. Turns out valuable relics from the Roman occupation of Britain are one only one twist of your metal detector away.
PositiveBooklistReaders starting this novel might wonder what sort of book they’ve wandered into. After a cracking opening, we learn about heroine Aubrey Sentro’s personal problems, including her memories of a miserable childhood ... A classy read, with humor provided by a fellow passenger, a dirty-minded Englishwoman we don’t see enough of. Know what \'rumpy pumpy\' means?
PositiveBooklistChanneling Agatha Christie isn’t a bad way for a writer to spend his time, not if he does it well. Raman does it splendidly ... Fortunately, a master detective is here, one Harith Athreya. He’s a little bland compared to Miss Marple and Poirot, as though the author is trying too hard to make him realistic. The solution has roots in crimes far from the country house, but Athreya brings it artfully back home.
PositiveBooklistThe Russian ballerina is dead in her L.A. loft, \'pale and light as shaved ice\' ... Whether readers find this a striking turn of phrase, or just peculiar, will be the key to their reaction to this ambitious novel. The inflated language—he showers \'to baptize myself for a new day\'—ornaments Carver’s attempts to learn more about the dead woman ... Even readers not enamored of the language—\'the indelible lie of beauty\'—will find plenty to enjoy in the engaging plot.
PositiveBooklistThe first thing one notices upon entering this thrill ride of a novel is not the violence or the characters but the startling, organic language ... There’s a classic puzzle at the core of this flamboyant thriller, with clues and misdirection cleverly laid out for Page and the reader to spot and figure out.
PositiveBooklistCleeves has a fine time constructing a clockwork murder plot and using it to examine the lives in that circumscribed world ... Those not wanting to wallow in the sociological side of this mystery should focus on Vera as she follows the clues, including the baby in the abandoned car. Remember to watch out for that avocado.
RaveBooklistElena’s attempt to understand the mystery man who betrayed her takes up about half the novel and is relayed in tense, understated prose with limpid moments ... This manages to be a winning mix of crime story and espionage drama, boat chase and seaplane rescue included.
RaveBooklistAll the signature elements of this acclaimed series are present: the gin-dry humor, the engaging characters, the ending that kills you before you know you’re dead ... Slowly, but with relentless pacing and magical writing...the plotlines converge. Surprises abound, like the corpse with a mind of its own ... the finale reminds us that Diamond is a relentless, hard-edged, strictly-business copper.
PositiveBooklist... the real pleasure is the companionship of Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire and his salty pals ... The first half of the novel is an amiable ramble as the principals discourse on Wyoming history, General Custer, Michelangelo’s Libyan Sybil and Dickens’ Bleak House. It’s pedal to the metal in the second half as the murderous art fraudsters behind it all are revealed, and the action culminates in a riotous chase involving “a motorized motorcade” of ramped-up wheelchairs...Johnson knows it’s Walt his readers crave, and he delivers.
PositiveBooklist... an overlong but engaging, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller that throws off its share of sparks. And a little humor ... What’s scary, if not surprising, is the suggestion that the president had a good point about monopolies.
RaveBooklistMake room for this splendid genre-bender, a crime novel with emotional resonance and a steady flow of fine writing. Plus staggering plot twists, jaw-dropping revelations, and enough suspense to fill two books ... A first-rate thriller, lavishly decked out in high style.
PositiveBooklist... a cracking-good suspenser carried by some fine writing ... a sweaty-palms finale that goes on for 100 quickly turned pages. The author displays uncommon knowledge of the effects of the undercover life: you’re always looking over your shoulder, though you know nobody’s there.
MixedBooklistBouman’s rural noir boasts a tantalizing premise but has difficulty sorting out the thriller component from the more ruminative literary elements ... After the intriguing opening, we get a long account of a wedding. A gripping interview with the medical examiner is followed by five pages of Farrell jawing on Mom and Dad’s porch. Some readers will savor the low-key prose that rises effortlessly to big moments. Others will wish there were more of those moments and less jawing.
MixedBooklist... [a] perplexing novel ... A perfect setup for a procedural, and Frederickson delivers a solid one, although readers will need to be patient with some exasperating overwriting that drags down the momentum. Still, the clues are well camouflaged, and there’s a blast of an ending begging to be argued about.
MixedBooklistFans won’t be surprised by such mundane matters; an earlier Crosswhite novel began with hip-replacement surgery and a weight problem. Then it shifted gears and became a first-class detective story. This one, not so much. Seattle homicide detective Crosswhite copes with motherhood and goes about investigating the murder of a police officer’s wife, but long stretches of the narrative are given over to her lawyer husband’s court case. He represents a merchant about to cheated out of his business, and the prose just lies there ... Dugoni’s touch for creating characters keeps the murder investigation afloat ... And there’s a reward for hanging on for the finale, when murders are exposed, secrets revealed, and an ex-cop wonders, \'How can there have been so much evil in one small town?\'
PositiveBooklist... a cop novel so good it makes much of the old guard read like they’re going through the motions until they can retire ... Detecting prowess aside, the real appeal here is Goldberg’s lean prose, which imbues just-the-facts procedure with remarkable tension and cranks up to a stunning description of a fire that was like \'Christmas in hell.\'
PositiveBooklist... [a] stem-winder of a murder mystery wrapped in a legal thriller ... The story is gripping, and the pace is furious, but the author also manages to take the scenic route with some nice writing.
RaveBooklistHis series featuring Havana Police Inspector Mario Conde is so free of pretension, his characters so interesting, and his prose so bouncy one can even forget there’s murder going on ... How nice it is to watch a high-powered talent at work on a form that too often relies on flat-footed prose.
PositiveBooklist... gives Coyle the opportunity to show off his flair for hard-boiled language ... There’s a really good detective plot, too, though the verbiage, entertaining as it is, may find some readers mumbling, \'Get on with it, man.\' Still, for those who admire old-school PI style, there’s plenty to savor here.
PositiveBooklist...a novel that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. A crime story? Plenty of that ... Or a mainstream novel that happens to bump into a crime or two? Maybe ... A subplot involving a transvestite in love with Sheriff Creek is treated sensitively. The prose is gin-clear and occasionally striking ... For readers patient with a ramble.
PositiveBooklist... impressive ... Steiner has pulled off a crime story and a procedural in the frame of a historical novel ... A precisely written, carefully plotted novel, all the more dramatic for its understated tone.
RaveBooklist...a fascinating narrative interrupted, according to the modern style, by introspection, family histories, and a detailed account of a road trip. Readers who stay the course will enjoy some vivid writing ... here’s also a fine, twisty ending[.]
PositiveBooklist... intriguing ... wishes to be a hard-boiled knockout while commenting on the form, even mocking it ... The two cases merge, or try to, amid the author’s postmodern digs. He imagines Spade and Marlowe mocking him, exults in zingy accolades for his one-liners, and manages, amid all the wordplay, to survive a kerosene-soaked finale that is, incidentally, a stunning bit of bravura writing.
PositiveBooklistFans of adorable sourpuss—and brilliant detective—Peter Diamond of the Bath, England, constabulary’s Criminal Investigation Division will have to wait nearly 80 pages for the old charmer to show up ... As the tensions crank up, we’re treated to Lovesey’s enchanting style.
J. Todd Scott
PositiveBooklistReaders who think this presages a high-burn crime story should know that Scott is after something else: a re-creation of the societies in which these bad things happen. So be prepared for a narrative line constantly interrupted by backstories, abrupt scene shifts, meditations on family linkages—a lot of these—and even a political campaign as the officer investigating the murders runs for reelection. Scott writes beautifully, dreaming up intriguing action scenes, which those who are focused only on thrills will wish kept going and going. But patient readers will recognize and appreciate Scott’s end game: showing us a world where thieves, murderers, and sadists are everyday folk.
PositiveBooklistIt’s all told in a heightened prose that can be its own worst enemy: the effect is exhaustion as well as exhilaration. Still, this will reward patient readers with its vivid language, which finds fresh expressions for familiar sensations.
MixedBooklistWhile Davis’ collection offers the pleasure of undiscovered countries, it also reaffirms that the Master is still the Master. The earliest tales show a pace too slow and a syntax too elaborate for modern tastes ... Things perk up as the twentieth century gets going, and the focus on reading a pattern in the physical world strengthens ... Still, Doyle’s magnetic personalities are missing, and this collection will likely be of mostly historical interest.
MixedBooklist...insider stuff from the dark side is a secondary pleasure in thrillers like this one, and author Ricciardi pours it on ... Readers may wish there was more Keller and his Reacher-like adventures and less of the war-loving politicians jawing, but there’s still plenty of action. Now and then the insider terms are mystifying ... Still, there’s plenty to learn here[.]
PanBooklistThe earlier novels had Porter doing detective work, which kept him—and us—from being overwhelmed by the awfulness of everything. But here, as he returns to his New Hampshire hometown after a time on the road, plot has given way to character study, and reader reaction will depend upon tolerance of a man who lives under a cloud of pessimism and depression. Clifford is one fine writer , but how many times can one read about \'used up, broken-down men\'? The novel perks up in the last half as Porter seeks the identity of an arsonist, but the glumness is laid on so thick it begins to parody itself ... For those who eat, drink, and sleep noir, this one’s for you.
PositiveBooklistPanowich is a terrific storyteller with a way with words. Clayton’s mountain, he muses, is \'a wheel of tragedy that never stops rolling.\' Fine country noir.
MixedBooklist\"... beautiful, maddening ... The writing is intermittently gorgeous ... The final confrontation between cop and killer isn’t just written; it’s orchestrated. The problem? We get so much of such quality that it smothers the narrative, rather like the Vienna Philharmonic tearing into a polka. The novel will be best enjoyed by readers who don’t expect a fast-action rip and can appreciate lines like, \'to squeeze history through a prism so the colors may speak.\'\
RaveBooklistA Brad Parks novel offers two pleasures. One is watching a stunning talent at work. The other—operating almost apart from the first— is getting wrapped in the coils of a fiendishly clever thriller. Parks here works his magic ... The prose is hypnotic, the emotions genuine, the characters warm and alive. And the revelations as the masks drop are for Parks to reveal. Readers are not likely to scorn Tommy because he got fooled. So will they.
Jonathan De Shalit
PositiveBooklist...[a] challenging novel ... For many, this gripping premise will overcome the trudging pace and the overabundance of detail, and there are fascinating bits of tradecraft along the way. It’s the portrait of a stone killer—\'a complex, dark and violent soul\'—and her world, miles away from Fleming’s romanticized capers and le Carré’s meditations on love and betrayal, that linger in the mind.
MixedBooklistHart’s magical way with language is still in evidence here, but too many of the stories taper off without going anywhere. Still, there are some high points: \'The Gift of the Wiseguy\' leaves a delightfully bitter aftertaste, and \'Foodies\' will deliver a special jolt to anyone who’s read Stanley Ellin’s The Specialty of the House. Keep paying attention to Hart: the breakout is coming.
Erle Stanley Gardner
PositiveBooklistThis newly reissued novel is nearly 80 years old and inevitably dated in places ... Still, Gardner has a way of moving the story forward that is almost a lost art: great stretches of dialogue alternate with lively chunks of exposition, and the two work together perfectly, without sacrificing momentum. And the expanded courtroom scene at the end, with Mason’s bravura methods on full display, cleverly rehashes the novel’s plot and makes it easy to follow. Oh, and don’t worry (sorry for the spoiler, but this is important): The kitten survives and even helps solve the case.
PositiveBooklist\"A novel’s opening moments are there to rivet readers’ attention; this one begins with a dazzler ... This story is a mix of beautiful writing and a maddeningly slow, overly complex plot. Still, we’re hooked.\
PositiveBooklistReaders will content themselves with Post’s rich, atmospheric prose and displays of dark magic ... the ending, with animal howls of rage, is all the more effective for the suddenly understated prose.
Ed. by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
PositiveBooklistThere are 13 stories plus one ringer, an engaging comic set in a bug world and featuring Inspector Mantis, complete with deerstalker and calabash pipe, bringing down the evil Spangleworm. The others vary a bit in quality, with the best being Zoë Sharp’s \'Hounded,\' a retelling of the Baskerville story by a PI who was on the moor for her own reasons. It honors the source, and so, curiously, does Inspector Mantis, sounding most Holmesian as he denounces the \'miscreant\' and tells Watson (called Hooper here) that he remains alone because, \'My courtship is with crime.\'
Hideo Yokoyama, Trans. by Louise Heal Kawai
MixedBooklistBe careful about recommending this one. It is not much of a thriller ... Readers interested in understanding the waning days of the newspaper business will find much to ponder in this darkly humorous tale, but steer mainstream thriller fans in another direction.
Warren C. Easley
PositiveBooklistIt\'s a perennial mystery theme ... greedy oligarchs overbuild high-rises...decimate neighborhoods ... It’s a familiar trail of crime syndicates, money laundering, and contract killers, but what’s most interesting is Claxton himself—good-natured, superficially dull as dishwater, not at all deft with the ladies. He’s generally slow to anger, too, but when the greedheads, on top of their international scams, crank up a loud gravel quarry outside Claxton’s home, things change. They should have known better.
PositiveBooklistSome readers will be happy to go with Carter’s languorous pace, relishing every particle of vividly described landscape. Others will wish the talented author had sharpened the scenes a bit, reduced the number of characters, sparked the dialogue, and decomplicated the plot ... Still, Carter’s world is a bit like that of Ann Cleeves, and this might well appeal to the latter’s fans
RaveBooklist\"Harris has a remarkable talent for world building...Here, the world she’s building is a phantasmagoric U.S., shattered by war and the assassination of FDR. Mexico has retaken Texas, Canada has claimed the Northwest, Russia has California. Through this brutal landscape, with its street killings and public hangings, moves 19-year-old Lizbeth Rose, who discovered early on she was good with guns and so became a \'gunnie,\' a shootist selling her skills to people seeking protection. This time she is hired by a Russian pair searching for a descendant of Rasputin whose blood could save their czar’s life ... In all, this looks like another winning series from a sure-bet author.
MixedBooklistAlternates bravura passages and sludgy sequences that can leave readers feeling they’re forging through the same chapter over and over. It all comes together in the last 50 pages, which are distinguished by fine writing, rousing action, and an especially haunting confrontation with \'the results of pure evil.\'
PositiveBooklist Online...Narrator David Hazard has returned to his fogbound New England village to care for Grandma and tend his own secret, which will stay secret here, just in time to encounter a murder. Grandma’s pal, the octogenarian lady next door, has had her skull bashed in. Getting a grip on what happened means probing layers of betrayal as well as murder. Turns out the past half-century has been an elaborate smokescreen, a carefully orchestrated flimflam to cover up something that shouldn’t have happened. Burgess handles the revelations with an effective mix of wry humor and tough-guy violence.
PositiveBooklistAuthor Moreci attempts to mix a conspiracy novel with an actioner, and it works most times, though we wonder how Mark manages to survive car crashes, near-drownings, and ferocious beatings and still turn up for the next chapter. Still, we don’t wonder all that much because we’re caught up in what is, finally, a fast-moving, entertaining read.
MixedBooklist Online\"The launchpad for this challenging novel is familiar ... The beautiful turns of phrase stall the narrative and, as they pile atop one another, start calling attention to themselves rather than the people, places, and events they’re meant to describe. Still, as an effort to blend literary style with crime-fiction content, the novel, while not entirely successful, should prove satisfying to those more interested in the former than the latter.\
MixedBooklist...this is an attempt to fuse a literary novel with a crime thriller and—also like the earlier novel—its success depends upon reader reaction to the blending of the two approaches ... the novel gets lost in a sea of introspection ... There is fine, thoughtful prose here, but it is never entirely in sync with the action around it.
RaveBooklist\"This splendid offering is tagged ‘a caper novel,’ but watch out. Anyone expecting a romp, like Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder novels, is in for a surprise. The thieves are a collection of maladroits, and the dialogue zings, as in Westlake and numerous other caper crafters, but there’s also something much darker lurking below the immensely readable surface of this powerhouse of a novel … The revelations in the twisty finale are backdropped by a conflagration that is a magnificent piece of writing purely on its own. In all, a fiercely beautiful novel.\
PositiveBooklist\"The attraction here is watching the publishing world catch on to what readers have always known: these are not detective stories but \'stories about a detective\' ... The canon of critical and biographical material on Holmes and Doyle is massive, of course, but even so, this latest entry makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how a bloodhound called Sherlock took over the world.\