RaveBookreporterIt is not long before various elements, which by turns work with and against each other, collide in a cataclysmic event that changes everything for Aaron and those around him, for better and for worse. I was initially disappointed in the book’s conclusion because it seemed somewhat abrupt and incomplete. But on reflection, the story set forth in this volume is not one that lends itself to neat endings or easy answers. It is all the more lifelike or real-world because of it, bittersweet but still full of hope as always. Another Kind of Eden features some of Burke’s best prose—the man’s wordcraft, even at this late date, is awe-inspiring—and his characters are unforgettable. You will want to put this book at the very top of your must-read list if you haven’t already.
RaveBookreporter... quite the wild ride. Readers who are familiar with Robyn Harding’s previous novels know that she always surprises and never disappoints as she strips and flays the secret skin of domestic life in the city and the suburbs from those who have the most to lose in the reveal. This is especially true in this newly published thriller ... Harding handles the narrative chores superbly ... No one gets to hog very many pages at one time; as a result, things clip along quickly, even as the suspense builds to a wonderfully excruciating level. It’s one of those books where, if you stop reading, you will spend a great deal of time wondering what will happen next, and why. Of course, you will be too busy dodging the plot M-80s that Harding tosses into the mix right up to the last page to set this compelling work aside before you are through.
Stephen Graham Jones
PositiveBookreporterMy Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones’ big wet literary kiss to the splatter film ... Jones provides a guidebook in the form of a coming-of-age story merged with a cinematic history lesson that works quite well, even if it takes a while for the engine to warm up ... Fans of horror cinema will find much to love here ... That said, there is plenty here to hold your interest. It is one of those books that, with a bit of selective editing, would work really well as a streaming service movie, and I mean that as a high compliment.
Ravebookreporter... one of the best books I\'ve read so far this year ... McKinney gives us a cultural and scientific tour of the 22nd century ... he avoids getting too bogged down in details that would lead the reader away from the story instead of through it. McKinney is also a heck of a writer. I would have finished the book in half the time had I not spent a good deal of effort underlining his short observations and turns of phrase. And if that wasn’t enough to make you want to hunt down and read Midnight, Water City at your earliest convenience, I must note that while it is the opening installment of a trilogy, it is complete in itself. In other words, McKinney won’t leave you riding on a talking choo-choo train and have you wait five years to see what happens, like some people we know. Be prepared to read and underline long into the night.
Ravebookreporter... a tale that should please longtime fans and newcomers alike ... a great deal of suspense comes from whether TJ and her little band of desperados will be caught on their interstate flight and who will nab them ... The Heathens may put one in the mind of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in all of the best ways ... Atkins continues to pepper his narrative and dialogue with homespun and regional colloquialisms from a seemingly and hopefully bottomless well. They are worth the price of admission all by themselves, though Atkins’ straightforward plotting and well-turned prose will keep you in your seat reading, which is as it should be.
RaveBookreporterI really hope that you have Nickolas Butler on your must-read list ... If you have not, then Godspeed is the perfect place to start and be entranced. Butler is first and foremost a wonderful storyteller. He has an innate sense of what information is important to a story and, more significantly, what is not. With regard to the former, he is able to explain the complex in a clear and simple fashion without dumbing down the subject matter. Given that a great deal of Godspeed concerns the building of a home from (almost) the ground up and the minutiae involving such a project, it is crucial that Butler gets it right and does so in a fashion that does not confuse or bore the reader. He hits the mark on both counts ... The conclusion contains a little bit of everything, from triumph and tragedy to pathos and redemption. As a result, it is as real as anything you are likely to read this year. Butler lays the story out and lets us draw our own conclusions. It will take a while—maybe longer—but that’s okay. It’s hard to walk away from Godspeed without being grateful for the life one has, and that in itself makes it more than worth reading.
RaveBookreporterThere are twists and turns, tragedy, redemption, plenty of surprises, and possibly more information than you want to know if you are in the habit of defying the laws of nature by flying on a frequent basis. But the end result is that you will appreciate your flight captain and crew—and their families—just a bit more after you have finished the book than you did when you started it. The pages turn themselves in T. J. Newman’s remarkably sure-footed debut, and you won’t be able to read it fast enough. That\'s okay, as I understand that her sophomore effort is well on its way to being wheels up. Read Falling, and you’ll know why I (and everyone else) will be waiting for it.
Stephen Mack Jones
Positivebookreportera long, violent love letter to the city of Detroit, warts and roses and all ... this latest installment displays an insider’s familiarity with a once-promising city gleaned from traversing streets where the busses don’t run and one is bound to rub elbows (and possibly more) with folks who many would wisely cross the street to avoid ... not just explosions and fisticuffs. Jones takes August on a culinary tour of Detroit, which will have some readers (including this one) checking their Waze app to see if a drive of a few hours to the city for lunch or dinner is feasible. If there is a downer to the book, it is the somewhat ham-handed \'woke\' sledgehammering that permeates it from beginning to end ... That said, one should come to this story for the action and stay for the scenery and the characters.
Ben H. Winters
Ravebookreporter... a haunting work that sinks its hook into readers from the first page and never lets go, even after the story has ended. Author Ben H. Winters...stretches his considerable talent even further in this atmospheric, genre-blurring tale that is by turns mysterious, puzzling and ultimately frightening ... indeed a courtroom thriller, it is also a mystery and, in some very special ways, a hair-raising supernatural tale. The revelations concerning Wesley are chilling, to say the least, and literally turn the entire story on its head. Let’s just say that my inclination when finishing the book was to round up my children, all of whom are well into their adulthood, and hide them away. That happens when you read a novel with powerful plotting and characterization, and this one has it by the truckload.
RaveBookreporterWidespread Panic is not so much a reading experience as an immersion into a time (the 1950s) and place (Los Angeles). The events described by author James Ellroy become more real by virtue of his (occasional) exaggeration in a work that is ostensibly historical fiction. Even the prose that he spits out staccato-style is more than what it appears to be. His sentences are usually short and loaded with alliteration, even as they are cringe-inducing in content and description, designed to elicit enough cuts and bruises to exhaust a giant box of wholesale club bandages. In Widespread Panic, they trample readers and then merrily drag them along ... The stories --- particularly those that never saw the light of day --- are graphic, stunning and in many instances hilarious ... No punches are pulled, and no literary expense is spared. Just to prove that too much of a good thing does not exist, Ellroy is working on a sequel to this book. Please, sir. Write quickly. And don’t forget Bob Crane.
Ed. by Michael Koryta
RaveBookreporter... original and highly rewarding tales ... Joe Hill\'s \'Last Fare\'...is worth the price of admission all by itself. You get all of this and more in one volume, with no reading speed bumps, from the first page to the last. Each author provides a twist or two not only in the plot, but also in what constitutes a \'stranger.\'
RaveBookreporterAuthor Josh Malerman has demonstrated time and again his masterful ability to craft atmospheric tales with unforgettable characters (sympathetic and otherwise). But he tops himself with this nightmarish account of a small, quirky and quietly terrifying town where the rain seemingly never stops ... It is very difficult to get these stories out of one’s head once they have been digested. I sense that Malerman by design has left spaces between each tale that may be filled at a later date. One familiar with the town might be hesitant to read more but would find doing so impossible to resist, which also might explain why the residents of Goblin never leave. You won’t either, without finishing these novellas in one sitting.
PositiveBookreporterIf I were looking for a one-word description of the book, I would reflexively, though still quite accurately, use the term \'creepy.\' ... It will haunt your dreams as it sweeps up the cobwebs around the edges of your subconscious and drops them into the middle of your brain. Believe me, you will want to experience this when the sun is up and the room is bright. The book does a good job of being scary without being terrifying, but it gets the two jittery states just close enough that it really doesn’t make much difference.
RaveBookreporterEvery Last Fear straddles multiple subgenres in the mystery and thriller categories while providing a number of puzzles that will keep you reading all night to untangle ... Despite its grim subject matter (or maybe because of it), Every Last Fear is a fun novel with a propelling story that surrounds a compelling mystery or two. Some readers may have trouble with the almost constant churn between the past and present, and the characters’ points of view, although Finlay clearly marks off the when and who in the narrative. It certainly works as a tool to build suspense while demonstrating that Finlay should have a bright future in the thriller world. I’ll look forward to his next book.
RaveBookreporterLola on Fire is that somewhat rare book that lives up to its pre-publication publicity. It is a multifaceted story that has attracted attention to some degree as a result of its occasional scenes of graphically described violence, perhaps at the expense of its other equally worthy elements ... While the carnage in Lola on Fire may not be for everyone, it is ultimately a story of sacrifice, redemption and forgiveness. There is also an element of revenge as well, just to keep things interesting. The book’s pages turn so quickly that you will singe your eyebrows and a couple of other places as you’re reading, but you’ll love every minute of it.
RaveBookreporter[A] welcome revelation for both fanatics and casual fans ... a unique experience ... Beeswing is not music, but it sings, telling the story of one of our greatest contemporary guitarists in a voice as unique as his playing and composing. It is worth reading, even if you have never heard a note he has played (though you probably have at some point).
RaveBookreporter... demonstrates a dark storytelling ability in the form of a piece of Emerald noir. It is an instant classic ... As it nears its conclusions, the book goes from being a dark, gritty work of suspense to a legal thriller where justice ultimately occurs outside of the courtroom. You might see one of the endings coming, but not all of them, yet you will not be able to stop reading just for the joy of seeing how they all happen ... O’Rawe takes what might have been in lesser hands a complicated topic --- the street politics of Belfast in the early 2000s --- and renders it comprehensible without sacrificing accuracy or emotion. The violence is explosive and the language is occasionally coarse, but neither prevents a bit of nobility and redemption to ultimately shine through, sometimes within the darkest of souls. Northern Heist may be O’Rawe’s first excursion into fiction, but hopefully it will not be his last, and I certainly wouldn’t mind revisiting the characters who make it to the end of this memorable tale.
PositiveBookreporterWhile this latest entry has a couple of weaknesses, it also contains some of Petrie’s best plotting, characterization and writing to date. It is more than worth your while if you are seeking some unusual edge-of-the-seat thrills ... a series of textbook examples of good old-fashioned detective work, 21st-century-style, coupled with terrific pursuit and engagement vignettes that get better and better as one proceeds through the book ... The book\'s initial scene seemed to go on for a bit too long and almost lost me. But by the time I was a third of the way through the story, I couldn’t stop reading. My other issue is that Peter, ironically enough, was the least interesting of the three protagonists. He seemed to be along for the ride with Lewis rather than the other way around ... However, these problems were more than counterbalanced by the manner in which Petrie morphed a chance encounter in a public market into an extremely convincing save-the-world scenario set primarily in Milwaukee with a very important side trip to Chicago. That absolutely worked for me.
RaveBookreporterIt seems that Scandinavian mystery novels have not been appearing quite as quickly in the United States as they once did, which makes us appreciate all the more the ones that do show up. Thus we herald the appearance of Katrine Engberg’s The Butterfly House, which is ably translated by Tara Chase ... The most impressive element of the book is the mystery that forms its red-hot core. There truly is no logical way of discerning whodunit prior to the big reveal that occurs near the end, after which a number of the subplots that have developed along the way are satisfactorily wrapped up ... it is my fervent wish that Katrine Engberg continues to write and never stops.
RaveBookreporterThis book — the 27th entry in the series — marks a number of personal passages for Banks, as well as the resolution of a couple of professional cases that have formed an extended story arc over several prior novels. Not Dark Yet is primarily and unsurprisingly driven by a murder investigation ... Longtime readers of the series will happily note that this installment, as well as those that have preceded it, is full of references to musicians and albums both obscure and nearly forgotten, forming a soundtrack for reading in the present and contemplating in the future. That Banks ultimately approves of his daughter’s new husband as the result of his musical taste made Not Dark Yet worth reading almost by itself. Robinson’s continued ability to reveal a mystery and a solution where you least expect it should make fans hopeful that this series will carry on for a while.
C J Box
PositiveBookreporterA simple yet ambitious tale that hints of significant conclusions and portentous beginnings ... This series has been excellent since its inception. Box has never been afraid to change things up and seems to be on the verge of doing so once again if the ending — one of the very best I have ever read — is any indication. I would urge readers who are unfamiliar with these books to jump in right now with both feet. Disappointment is not an option.
RaveBookreporter[This novel] probably should have a \'satisfaction guaranteed\' legend imprinted on the cover ... These books have a tantalizing mystery at their core but are very much character-driven, with Brunetti’s internal dialogue commenting on the people, history, culture, flora and fauna of Venice. This latest installment is somewhat different. While it contains the elements noted above in generous amounts, it adds numerous dollops of suspense while revealing a side to Brunetti that is seldom, if ever, seen in previous volumes ... Leon has crafted this fine, long-running series so that one can pick up any volume at any time and be surefooted in their reading. The characters, of whom Brunetti is first among equals, are unique to their setting and purpose, but each has characteristics almost immediately familiar to any reader. Leon also keeps each mystery complex enough to compel interest but simple enough that the reader (or, for that matter, the author and characters) never gets lost or bogged down. While neither Leon nor Brunetti may be household names, bibliophiles and casual readers alike always seem to have at least a book or two of this series readily at hand and on their must-read list.
PositiveBookreporter[A] sure-footed debut ... not a long novel—just slightly over 200 pages—but it is a deep and disturbing one. Davis’ prose is not necessarily economical, but there is no wasted space. That said, the book’s substance and its eccentric protagonist put me in the mind of a collaborative effort between Edgar Allan Poe and Doris Lessing.
PositiveBookreporterThis volume is not a long read, but it is a worthwhile and memorable one ... Reading his work is akin to taking a quiet drive down a two-lane road before suddenly being t-boned by another vehicle without any warning at all. One might classify these tales as literary horror for no other reason than he liberally uses a number of horror archetypes. That doesn’t mean that Lanchester breaks new ground in the genre. It would be more accurate to say that he tills the same field but finds something unexpected and interesting ... will provide readers unfamiliar with Lanchester’s style eight excellent examples of his storytelling approach and undoubtedly will cause them to seek out examples of his extended work. Those already acquainted with him also will find much to love here if they can overcome any genre hesitancy they might possess.
RaveBookreporterI had so much fun reading Black Widows Everything about it is simply terrific—from the descriptions, characterizations and pacing to the structure of the novel and the mystery that pulses at the heart of the story from beginning to end ... extremely surefooted ... Each woman has a backstory that is tragic at best (Emily) and horrific at worst (Rachel), which explains to some degree why they wound up in their respective situations. These accounts are almost as fascinating as the mystery itself ... [a] mesmerizing tale that is all but impossible to put down.
RaveBookreporterIf you are looking for a twisty, one-sit read that will resonate with you long after the final page has been turned, then I would suggest you start perusing The Wrong Family immediately. Tarryn Fisher’s latest work is a domestic thriller with a tantalizing mystery at its core ... I cannot stress enough how marvelous Fisher is at subtle misdirection, hints and sleight of hand. The characters lie to each other and to themselves so that the truth is something that rises to the top of the book slowly, if at all. The tale also is shot through with a subtle irony. By its conclusion, one has mixed emotions for each of the characters, except for Samuel, who is loved by (almost) all but is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The title of the book has layers of meanings — some obvious, some otherwise — and you will want to experience them all.
RaveBookreporterKnock Knock would be noteworthy solely for the fact that it is Anders Roslund’s debut novel ... Knock Knock continues the Roslund/Hellström series featuring Stockholm Criminal Inspector Ewert Grens and former police informant turned security expert Piet Hoffman. I am happy to say that it meets and exceeds the expectations created by its predecessors ... shot through with images and scenes that are impossible to forget and are intertwined with a number of suspenseful vignettes. Anders Roslund is a household name throughout most of the world as a master of crime fiction, and this book is a sterling example of why.
RaveBookreporterThe Traveller and Other Stories is the perfect short-fiction collection. It provides an irresistible introduction to the work of author Stuart Neville for those who are unfamiliar with him ... These stories [...] sink the hook and draw one in ... The tales in The Traveller and Other Stories are beautifully crafted. They are also grim, dark and humorless, shot through with people whose lives are running out of a pot-holed road but who knowingly trudge gamely onward toward the inevitable without a deus ex machina or “happily ever after” to be had. How then can one help but be absolutely enthralled by every word that is found here? As you sit comfortably in your chair and bemoan the state of the world these days, read this book. It will put you and all of your blessings in perspective.
Chris Harding Thornton
Ravehttps://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/pickard-county-atlasThe quality of the plotting and writing are equally high, and I was thrilled to discover Chris Harding Thornton, who is now on my must-read list ... Thornton is reportedly working on a second novel, and it cannot come soon enough for me. My copy of this one is well-highlighted over her numerous and wonderful turns of phrase and descriptions, which beg to be reread until her next offering appears. There certainly seems to be enough potential for additional tales and trouble in her fictional Nebraska county to fill several more books.
RaveBookreporterWhile it does not contain a lot of surprises, there are revelations, action and munitions galore, with enough of all three to satisfy even the most jaded thriller reader ... Perry does an exemplary job of bringing those who are new to the series, which started in 1982, into the fold and up to date ... sometimes reminded me of the John Wick movie franchise, in that Michael seems to jump into and out of lethal trouble with the adroitness of a younger (but not much younger) Keanu Reeves in the instantly iconic films. The idea of a thriller is to present how a protagonist gets out of a situation, and this book does not lack for situations. The narrative only drags a bit when it goes into detail about the different players in the LCN empire and their ever-changing alliances. This is a decidedly minor quibble, particularly in a novel loaded with action scenes and a charismatic hero pulling the trigger. Perry also provides readers with a number of life lessons that could be kept in good stead by anyone, even if they don’t constantly have a target on their backs.
RaveBookreporter... ends satisfactorily but not neatly, making it more realistic. In its complexity, it is one of Haddam’s best books. It slices into and out of contemporary issues without necessarily resolving any of them, yet provides interesting points of discussion without succumbing totally to political correctness. It is also a fitting conclusion for Haddam’s loyal readers, while providing a convenient place for those seeking out a new series to jump on before seeking out her backlist.
RaveBookreporterIf you like your literature dark, gritty and violent, then you’ve come to the right place ... Maberry’s seemingly inexhaustible imagination uses a style --- short chapters, each of which presents an alternating point of view --- that lends itself to rapid reading, particularly when his characters begin painting the walls with each other. I guarantee that readers will be unable to walk past a tattoo parlor or see someone who has sunk the ink without thinking of one or more passages from this frightening and memorable novel ... While Ink<.em> has been described repeatedly as a stand-alone work, the primary characters are so striking that literary retirement will not suit them. I predict that Maberry’s output, which never sacrifices quality at the altar of quantity, will almost certainly find a way to bring back Monk and the inhabitants of Pine Deep --- those who survive to the end of the book, that is --- for another round. Or two.
PositiveBookreporter... has a somewhat meandering plot that settles down about two-thirds of the way through. As always, McGarrity’s descriptions of the people and places on both sides of the southern border of the United States make for terrific reading, and the journey through the tale is more than worth it, regardless of who is and isn’t prominently featured. It is a fitting end to a well-crafted series.
RaveBookreporterLauren North garnered some well-deserved praise with The Perfect Son, her debut novel. The protagonist of One Step Behind, her newly published sophomore title, is quite different from the tragic figure who readers followed in her first book, but is no less recognizable in this perfectly paced, multilayered story that begs to be read in one sitting ... There is quite a bit to One Step Behind, more than you might expect in this kind of thriller. As a result, it’s just the book you need to transition from this strange summer to an uncertain autumn.
RaveBookreporterTaylor’s life is a train wreck that you cannot help but watch, in large part because of Bruen’s beautifully bruised prose, which careens across the page in a stream-of-consciousness, where Bruen and Taylor (the lives of both seem conjoined at times) maintain at least a finger on the wheel, if not a grasp. The result has been — and remains — one of contemporary genre fiction’s most unique series ... The narrative also takes several side alleys into music, literature, politics and social commentary, all of which are interesting and diverting (as opposed to distracting) as the plots continue to move along at Taylor’s staggering pace toward an ending that is foreshadowed but nevertheless chilling.
Jo Nesbø, tr. Robert Ferguson
RaveBookreporter... a somewhat different book for Jo Nesbø. It is a stand-alone novel that has many more slow-boil elements than any of the entries in his Harry Hole series. However, those who have followed Nesbø from the beginning or arrived as latecomers to his work will find much to love here ... intermittently bounces back and forth between the past and present, so while the plot that runs through the book is deceptively straightforward, every page or two contains a small revelation or surprise that intersects with others. This creates a tangle of intricate branches that cause the players to be revealed as much more complicated than they would seem ... I thought that I had the ending figured out on multiple occasions and was wrong every time. Whatever disappointment I initially experienced upon learning that this was not a Harry Hole novel evaporated within the first few pages and never reappeared. No one who reads The Kingdom will ever forget it or its author, who deserves a place at the summit of the must-read list of anyone who enjoys dark quality literature. I also would be remiss if I did not offer a tip of the fedora to Robert Ferguson for his fine and nuanced translation, which picks up on Nesbø’s wondrous turns of phrase and gifts them to his English-speaking readers.
RaveBookreporterThomas Maltman, who has written two critically acclaimed books, uses the months in the runup to Y2K as the setting for The Land, a dark and disturbing novel that is beautifully and fearfully told ... The Land is a marvelous novel, and there is no good place to stop reading it. One is never quite sure at all times if Lucien saw what he says he saw, because he is rarely certain himself. It makes for a haunting work that runs its tendrils across the back of the brain long after the last paragraphs have been consumed.
George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus
RaveBookreporterThe Living Dead...should satisfy horror fans and aficionados of the movies ... There is plenty of blood and viscera to go around. However, Romero and Kraus have produced a very literary work, which is more about the living than the living dead ... the authors take the time to stop and smell the roses, as folks do what folks will do, which is to form relationships of all sorts even in the worst of times. But not even the most bloodthirsty reader will be disappointed as long as one does not anticipate an idyllic denouement ... Regardless of the kinds of books that usually catch your eye, you should set aside a few days to read this expansive, nightmarish work to see how the job of writing an epic novel in any genre is exquisitely done.
RaveBook ReporterLupica’s style is perfect for this series ... It no doubt will be exciting to see where Lupica takes this venerable character from here.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden
RaveBookreporter... a remarkable debut novel ... This Native noir gem introduces an interesting and complex protagonist in Virgil Wounded Horse, who refuses to conform to the expectations of what is and what is not a 21st-century Native American. Add a right-now, real-world problem as an anchor for the plot, and the result is a one-sit read that will leave you wanting more ... Weiden saves plenty of surprises and the majority of the violence for the final quarter of the book. He does an exceptional job of matter-of-factly describing the cringe-inducing poverty rampant on the reservation, which may well (and should) make readers appreciative of their own situation, however dire it might seem. Weiden also treats his audience like grown-ups, tossing out Indian terms in the vernacular so that one might spend some time digging up interpretive meanings of individual words, as well as using online slang dictionaries ... Immersing a reader in unfamiliar terms isn’t a bad thing, but it might break the reading flow for some. A separate glossary included in the next installment of the series might be helpful. And, yes, I am hoping that there will be a book two and more beyond that.
RaveBookreporterEach [story] is memorable to varying degrees, with some tales featuring [Rash\'s] best prose yet ... Each of these pieces shares some elements with the others, including Rash’s remarkable prose, which elevates even the simplest story to an epic tale, and the frequent unpredictability of what does or does not occur. One can be almost right in guessing what will happen, but never totally on the mark. Yet another is the sharp and memorable characters Rash creates, each of whom puts one in the mind of a friend, acquaintance or relative. You will find all of this and more within the pages of In The Valley, which is very much worth the wait.
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
PositiveBookreporterAnyone who has ever witnessed an abrupt personality change in an acquaintance and wondered Why did they do that? will find much to love here. Del Toro and Hogan borrow just a bit from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos while invigorating it enough to draw the curious back to the source material. One could be forgiven for thinking that The Hollow Ones would be a better screenplay than a novel (not that there is anything wrong with that), but horror fans who read this occasionally shocking tale will be back for seconds ... not a bad way at all to scare yourself silly.
Joe R. Lansdale
RaveBookreporter...one of his best, loaded with dark imagery, hilariously layered dialogue, tight plotting and unforgettable characters. It is also one of the must-read novels of this or any year ... As one might expect, the book is worth reading twice (or more) for the dialogue alone ... Put More Better Deals at the top of your must-read pile.
RaveBookreporter... one of the best novels of the year thus far, worthy of your time, money and undivided attention ... blurs genres to great effect. It is part caper novel, part police procedural, part love story (as opposed to romance), and very much a thriller ... There are twists, turns and surprises galore, with the suspense amped up to 11, and possibly an issue or two is left unresolved at the end. There may be enough characters surviving at that point to be featured in a sequel. While a follow-up certainly would be welcomed, the story is simply terrific on its own ... will make you want to be a thief when you grow up. It’s that good. Parish’s third-person, present-tense narrative provides an immediacy to the goings-on that will leave readers unable to guess precisely what will happen next until almost the final paragraphs. The bumps and scrapes that Alex and Diane experience along the road of their relationship feel real and provide a nice counterpoint to the action. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another six years for Parish’s next book, though I am sure it will be worth it if we do. For now, we have Love and Theft to read again. And again.
S. A. Cosby
RaveBookreporter... one of the best books I have read so far in 2020 ... will be the book that gets [Cosby] the notice, attention and readership that he has earned and deserves ... an edgy study in dual natures existing in the same person at the same time ... There is violence here, which is somewhat offset by occasional tenderness and introspection ... What is perhaps most compelling about Blacktop Wasteland is the manner in which Cosby, with great subtlety, whispers to the reader \'What would YOU do?\' if faced with the same problems and possessed of the same skills as Montage. The answers are not easy ones. Other questions are left unanswered at the close of the book. It would be grand to see if the characters who make it to the end return to answer them. These folks, not to mention Cosby, are way too interesting to languish in limbo.
RaveBookreporterAlthough it took the powers-that-be some time to find a suitable author to continue Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall series following his unfortunate passing, they struck gold with Mike Lupica ... he takes the character to new heights in Grudge Match. This new iteration of the series will appeal not only to its many fans, but also to those who are unfamiliar with Sunny Randall or have been away for a while. The magic that Lupica works on these mysteries will make a believer out of you.
RaveBookreporter... a tale for all seasons and in many ways is an example of what the best of the mystery genre can be ... an unforgettable tale that is startling on several levels. Jonasson should be much better known among American readers than he currently is because of his magnificent ability to toy with story structure within individual novels and over the arc of a trilogy. Perhaps this book will reach the audience that he has earned and thus deserves. It also would make for a powerful film. If someone out there is willing to spend the money for acquisition rights, Jonasson (with Victoria Cribb’s pitch-perfect translation) does all the work for you.
RaveBookreporter... a book that straddles the detective and horror genres to great effect ... Barron drops enough info-nuggets throughout the novel to ensure that newcomers aren’t lost at sea, though these folks likely will want to duck back to see what they have missed ... At times, Coleridge’s interior first-person narration tends to prattle on for just a bit too long. However, just when you think that Barron is veering off the narrative highway into the weeds (sometimes he seems to think he’s on Facebook), he comes up with the most memorable sentences and passages. We’re talking underlining/highlighting/writing in the notebook lines, the ones that other authors will be using for epigraphs in their own stories ... It is this quality alone that makes Worse Angels worth reading and recommending as we await the next entry --- and hopefully the return of some of the nightmares that we experience here.
James Carlos Blake
RaveBookreporterIt is but one mark of Blake’s immense talents to note that the Wolfes, unabashed outlaw activities notwithstanding, are the good guys in this series ... an edge-of-the-seat ride that will leave readers hurrying to the end ... Blake somehow keeps you cheering for the Wolfe family, who would be bad guys in any other context; here, though, they are the very best of a bad lot. I keep going back and rereading the previous books in this masterful series. I enjoy them more each time and give thanks that life would be so good as to give me another.
RaveBookreporter... darkly brilliant and beautifully written ... memorable thanks to his keen eye and sharp wordcraft ... The story...makes for uncomfortable and at times painful reading. But Farmer’s impressive talent makes the journey through several cringe-worthy passages more than rewarding. His similes, metaphors and turns of phrase are worth underlining and rereading over and over. They are equaled, if not exceeded, by his sharply drawn characters, who you will remember long after you finish this book and probably many others.
RaveBookreporterStreet Music has been heavily publicized as the final installment in the long-running Poke Rafferty series ... Taking [Hallinan\'s] pronouncement at face value, it can be said with certainty that he has saved the best of himself for it ... It crossed my mind as I read the last page that, if it were possible to sustain some sort of low-grade, localized amnesia that left me without the ability to recall reading this book for all seasons, I would inflict it upon myself just for the joy of getting to experience it again for the first time. I’m really not kidding. It’s as funny, sad, horrific and memorable as anything you are ever likely to read. There are countless passages here that will stand up two, five or seven decades from now. It’s as good as it gets, and if you’re looking for something to read and linger over, you simply should not pass up Street Music--- or, for that matter, anything else that Hallinan has written.
RaveBookreporterWhile it stands independently of its predecessors...there is some bleed-through among all three titles. However, unfamiliarity with the hard lives lived in the area will not prevent your full-throated enjoyment of Panowich’s latest, which is beautifully told and full of surprises ... Panowich’s fiction is as dark as it gets. Appearing in one of his books, particularly in Hard Cash Valley is a tough gig, but his plotting and complications keep things moving quickly for the reader and for the unfortunate individuals who populate the novel. Hopefully, there are plenty of new characters to keep the stories of this hardscrabble, crime-ridden area coming for the foreseeable future.
RaveBookreporterThere is no denying that David Ignatius can tell a story while keeping readers on the edge of their seats ... This is one of those rare novels that you will want to read twice --- the first time for the enjoyment, and the second time to take note of how Ignatius does what he does so well ... plenty of suspense...Ignatius achieves this with a minimum of explosions and karate, choosing instead to keep the plot clock ticking quietly, though it is still heard throughout the book. It is a marvelous accomplishment that overshadows the occasional, but by no means pervasive, problem with pacing that rears its head in places during the narrative. Then there is Dunne, an extremely interesting and tragically flawed protagonist. The conclusion certainly leaves the door open for a sequel, and perhaps more, should Ignatius see fit to do so. Longtime readers of his will hope that he does.
Stephen Graham Jones
RaveBookreporter... [The Only Good Indian]\'s unpredictability is the stuff of nightmares ... Jones has written an entire shelf or two of books across a boatload of genres. Only recently has he made a foray into the horror and dark fantasy waters. That makes his latest effort all the more remarkable. Jones, a Blackfeet indigenous American, presents a powerful work that threads bits and pieces of American Indian culture into a tapestry that is dark, frightening and ultimately uplifting, even as he gently toys with his storytelling structure to constantly surprise the reader ... Jones could have gratuitously slipped nuggets of Native culture into his narrative, but instead --- in a manner that is far more effective --- uses elements of Indian life on and off the reservation to support and guide his story, so readers think they know what is coming. More often than not, they will be wrong, particularly about the ending, not to mention the beginning and middle. In some ways this is the ultimate revenge tale, and it is quite difficult to pick a favorite character ... wonderfully frightening and compelling.
Samanta Schweblin, trans. by Megan McDowell
RaveBookreporter... outstanding ... what I would call an instant classic ... a wonderful translation by Megan McDowell ... a book that cuts across genres and leaves them in shambles, while utilizing a unique storytelling structure to keep the pages turning ... the most remarkable thing about the book for me --- beyond Schweblin’s prescient extrapolation of where we are headed as a gadget-controlled society --- is how she infuses the kentuki with enough personality that it is difficult for the reader not to want one, notwithstanding the implicit warning label that is imprinted in each of the vignettes from which the novel is constructed. For that reason, as well as the others that I have noted, Little Eyes may well be the book that everyone is reading and talking about as we enter an uncertain summer.
Jussi Adler-Olsen, Trans. by William Frost
RaveBookreporterAdler-Olsen (with a very able translation assist from William Frost) keeps twin plot clocks ticking almost in unison as two separate plans by two lunatics head toward their conclusion, even as Department Q races on separate fronts to end them ... Adler-Olsen is a master of intense suspense. There is really no way to guess how any particular scenario in VICTIM 2117 is going to end. We are talking big budget here, folks. Over the course of the past 10 years, he has been lauded frequently and repeatedly by crime fiction organizations, and books such as this one demonstrate why. It is a superior read.
RaveBookReporter... meets and exceeds the promise of The Good Detective, establishing that the superior plotting and writing chops McMahon exhibited in his debut outing were no fluke. He assures readers in his Acknowledgements that Marsh will return. While this book is complete in itself, there are enough unanswered questions left hanging to provide more than enough fodder for another installment of this highly readable and enjoyable series.
RaveBookreporterThe Bramble and the Rose is a dark, blinding joy to read. Author Tom Bouman writes neither long nor frequently; when he does, he makes every sentence --- every word --- count. This newly published work, the third entry in his series, is impossible to put down when you start reading it and impossible to forget when you are finished ... Farrell has a life outside of law enforcement, and Bouman’s delicate and elaborate construction of this, which is beautifully described here, is as interesting as the quietly riveting murder investigation ... beautifully conceived and written from beginning to end. I do not know if there will be another Farrell novel, but it is my fervent hope that Bouman will revisit Wild Thyme, its inhabitants and the surrounding environs frequently and, if possible, often.
Michael Farris Smith
RaveBookreporterOnce you begin Blackwood, it will be difficult to stop. The book will haunt, echo, whisper and scream in the corners of your mind and memory for days after you have finished it --- so much so that it will drown out almost everything else ... [Smith\'s] most fully realized work to date --- a dark, grim and very real tale ... You will not just want to read Blackwood. You will want to keep it and hold it close, to revisit it again and again. For all of its woebegone passages and subtle plot misdirection, Smith writes with a dark and frightening beauty that is so addictive once beheld that nothing less will do. Read this book, then carve out some time to become familiar with his backlist. A master is in our midst.
RaveBookreporterIf you have never read one of Donna Leon’s marvelous Guido Brunetti mysteries, don’t let the unfamiliar locale and culture --- Venice --- or the fact that the newly published Trace Elements is the 29th installment in the series dissuade you. These novels are written so that one can pick them up in any order at any time without missing a beat ... [a] long-running, character-driven series that never fails to winningly entertain ... Anyone who has even a passing interest in mystery literature should be reading this series religiously. Leon is incapable of writing badly and is a subtle, nuanced storyteller of the first order. Trace Elements continues her wondrous string of memorable police procedurals, all of which are keepers.
RaveBookreporterIt is only February, but there have been some excellent books published so far this year. Chief among them is The Good Killer, by Harry Dolan. You should file him at the top of your reading list under \'Should be a household name.\' I say that based not only on the strength of this new novel, which is perfect in every way, but also on the previous four that Dolan has written ... Once you start reading The Good Killer, there is no good place to stop, other than the end. Comparisons of Dolan’s novels to the work of Elmore Leonard are inevitable and not entirely inaccurate, but ultimately are unfair to both authors. Pick up the book, give yourself a few hours to read it, and then carve out a block of time to check out Dolan’s impressive backlist on its own terms. You’ll see what I mean.
RaveBookreporter... arguably the perfect horror novel. It may well be the perfect novel, period, or at least on a shortlist of such titles ... a mind-numbing, nightmarish turn of southern gothic with supernatural elements clashing with humanity’s best and worst impulses, narrated with literary prose of the highest order. I was by turns reminded of Cormac McCarthy’s first several novels, W.W. Jacobs, August Derleth and Erskine Caldwell, among others. However, the originality of Davidson’s unique voice shines through the wonderful and distinctive babble of those who have come before him ... Davidson leaves no atrocity unmentioned in The Boatman\'s Daughter, yet there is not a gratuitous act in the book. It is the darkest of tales, beautifully but unflinchingly told, full of violence, sacrifice and --- however unexpectedly --- redemption, written as if composed while listening to the David Eugene Edwards songbook played at full volume. You will never get this book, its characters or its author out of your head or your nightmares after reading it.
RaveBookreporterDeep State is terrific. It is immediately engrossing, features a strong and endearing protagonist, and coasts along so smoothly and quickly that one never misses the fact that there is no good place to stop reading, if only temporarily. It is everything that a classic thriller, particularly a political thriller, should be ... It is full of twists and turns, including a big one at the conclusion ... if you were in front of me, I would forcefully place Deep State into your hands and guarantee you will enjoy every page of it, as much for Hayley as for the plot, the writing, and...well, everything.
RaveBookreporterFinder utilizes his extensive research abilities with current events to make House on Fire yet another winner in this series. There are subtle but significant parallels displayed between Heller and Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, with enough differences incorporated into Finder’s creation to make him utterly unique. Fans of financial thrillers and private-eye fiction will find much to love here.
PositiveBookreporter... what Sarah Perry has given us is an elaborately constructed, atmospheric work that builds slowly to a haunting conclusion and is worth reading. This is very much a character-driven work on a couple of different levels ... there is a dreamlike element that affects the characters as well as the reader. That said, what occurs here—a stranger stumbles into a situation and becomes an extended part of it—is something that many of us have experienced, with events influenced one way or another as a result. This makes Perry’s story even more unsettling. Again, After Me Comes the Flood may not be what I expected, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading and enjoying this carefully crafted work.
PositiveBookreporterSomehow [Perry] finds something new to write about on an annual basis and, at the close of 2019, has presented us with A Small Town a satisfying novel of the manifestation of evil deeds and resultant revenge ... There are minor and major twists and turns throughout, some of which you may see coming and others of which you will never predict, including a satisfying ending that resolves everything ... However, A Small Town should not be mistaken for one of Perry’s best books. He stretches things just a bit more than usual ... That said, this is a solid tale of revenge...
PositiveBookreporter...a transitional entry in the series and perhaps McDermid’s most complex book to date ... How The Dead Speak clips right along. McDermid’s numerous plotlines are easily distinguishable from each other, and when they intersect (as we know they must do), their crossing is neither strained nor obvious. There quite simply isn’t a good place to stop reading the book until its satisfying conclusion, which pulls off the neat trick of resolving everything on a potential up note while leaving readers waiting impatiently for the next installment.
RaveBookreporter... a perfect read, though an uncomfortable one due to the subject matter. Lourey takes a real-world incident that took place in her Minnesota hometown in the 1980s and spins it into a tale that will shock and haunt readers long after the final page is turned ... Thankfully, there are just enough loose threads (as well as a hint in the Epilogue) that indicate Lourey may not be done with either Lilydale or the McDowell family. If she does see fit to revisit either, that journey will be mesmerizing and unsettling. Hopefully, she will bring her talent for creating similes and metaphors, which by themselves would have made this tale worth reading.
RaveBookreporterThe primary characters remain true to form without a miss, and the secondary characters are always memorable, whether or not they are engaging. While the emphasis is on humor, Dorsey also demonstrates a masterful ability to create suspense at some point along the way ... Dorsey gives his readers much more than their money’s worth. As if creative homicide and fascinating historical and geographic trivia were not enough to draw one in, the narrative alternates in time between the present and a few years in the past, where two stories follow twin paths before intersecting and catching up with the book’s here and now ... At a minimum, this book will entertain you, as well as give you plenty of fodder for places to visit and see that you can add to your bucket list.
RaveBookreporterYou will want to read The Rabbit Hunter. I am actually afraid to tell you more than that because giving you too much information about this intricately plotted and wonderfully written novel would be like pulling the thread on a favorite sweater and watching in horror as the entire kit-and-kaboodle unravels ... This is a flawless collaboration for two reasons: [the authors] stay out of each other’s way, so it is difficult (if not impossible) to tell who has written what, and it is apparent within the first few pages that what one doesn’t think of, the other does. This newest entry has everything: graphic sex, violence, meticulous plotting, strong characterization and a deep, deep mystery at its core. Let’s also give a moment of thanks to translator Neil Smith, without whom most of us probably would never get to read this outstanding work ... There are twists and turns galore here --- so many, in fact, that you will give up trying to guess who the guilty party is or what will happen next ... It will drive you insane in all of the best possible ways ... Strongly recommended, if you’re not too squeamish.
RaveBookreporter... fully deserving of every word of the pre-publication buzz that it has received ... a memorable, haunting feast of supernatural literature ... an extremely effective and --- dare I say it? --- chilling work. We all depend on water while giving little thought to its availability unless we turn on the faucet and get nothing but a quiet sigh, for whatever reason ... a ghost story for our time.
PositiveBookreporterReaders of the series are treated to a history lesson and tour of London; exposure to an ensemble of quirky, unique characters; and a vocabulary lesson, with an emphasis on arcane insults. And, of course, there is an intriguing, baffling mystery at the beating heart of each volume, as well as a dollop or two of romance. One receives quite a bit for the price of admission ... Fowler, who is involved with other projects on a regular basis, never sacrifices quality or quantity. But I don’t know if I can wait another year to see what occurs.
RaveBookreporter... the first of what hopefully will be a long-running series ... Anyone with more than a passing interest in the world of internet scamming must read The Missing American, with its extremely realistic heroine and unblinking assessment of cultural similarities and differences between the United States and Ghana. I also must give a tip of the fedora to Quartey and his publisher, Soho Crime, for the book’s extensive glossary for those of us interested in broadening our vocabularies. Well played, and strongly recommended.
PositiveBookreporterIde arguably juggles a few too many flaming chainsaws in the air as far as plots are concerned. This situation is created in large part by the primary plot device. Christiana’s multiple personalities give readers and the author quite a bit to deal with. It is an intriguing concept, and Ide handles it quite well so far as it goes. But the side plots involving supporting characters tend to slow things down just a bit, and needlessly so. Ide also goes all-in on political and cultural issues repeatedly and excessively, and the pacing suffers as a result. That said, Hi Five is well worth reading for Ide’s command of language. I underlined or highlighted numerous passages on many pages to memorialize similes, metaphors and descriptions that I found to be quite memorable. Isaiah also continues to be one of the more distinctive characters in contemporary detective fiction, both because of and in spite of the occasional hiccups in this one. The ending may be somewhat open-ended as to the future of the series, but if the conclusion constitutes a new beginning for IQ, I’ll be there for the next round. You should be as well.
Max Allan Collins
RaveBookreporterThe trick here is to weave sufficient suspense into a story where readers know that everything is going to be all right. Collins pulls this off, and quite successfully. Of course, there are heaping doses of violence and explicit sexual situations peppered throughout the book, as if we needed incentive to keep going (we certainly don’t) ... allows Collins to set up a few scenarios that border on the fantastic, but in their setting --- ’50s-style pulp noir --- are not out of place at all. In addition, readers are provided with a lot of deep and interesting background into Quarry’s home and the surrounding environs ... At just under 200 pages, this instant classic has something for everybody. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to Paul Mann, who designed the front and back covers and whose talent is exceeded only by his own imagination. I wouldn’t mind a bit if this series, which harkens back to a past and better era, went on forever.
PositiveBookreporter... works very well, even though it shouldn’t ... cringeworthy and more, in all the best ways. Even when you anticipate what Taylor or any other character is going to do, you still hope against hope that they won’t. Hopes such as these are repeatedly dashed. But the tale is so beautifully and bleakly told that one simply cannot stop reading ... Each of Bruen’s Jack Taylor thrillers builds on the last, but he does a prime job of giving newcomers just enough information to follow along ... an ending that is dark in pitch but oddly satisfying ... Bruen gives readers more than a top-flight story here ... It is but one indication of the casual power of Bruen’s writing that I am already cringing over what might happen in his next Taylor tale, even as I eagerly and impatiently anticipate it.
PositiveBookreporterBlood Sugar is not your usual Hard Case Crime book. It is, for one, an original story, newly written and released, as opposed to the rare, out-of-print and/or long-lost novels that this venerable and indispensable imprint typically publishes. For another, it is not a crime novel, as that term is normally used in the literary world ... That said, Blood Sugar makes demands. It is told in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, and the stream is polluted ... It’s extremely gritty, and while there isn’t really any sex or violence, there is some cringe-inducing and unblinking focus on bodily fluids and functions that you won’t want to encounter while drinking or eating. There is, however, plenty of suspense of the will-they-or-won’t-they type, and the character development that Kraus whittles out of the vignettes ultimately elevates the book above the street-level situations it describes in nuanced detail before the reader is aware of it ... whatever difficulties one might have with the breathless narrative...are balanced by the short chapters and frequent chapter breaks. The cover art, courtesy of Paul Mann, features a fetching broom-riding witch and has absolutely nothing to do with the story, other than that both concern Halloween. It works for me.
RaveBookreporter... by far [Maleeny\'s] smartest and best novel to date ... Maleeny provides a bit of a San Francisco travelogue, as well as some fascinating information about octopuses. Actually, you’ll never look at an octopus the same way again after reading this book…or, for that matter, deep fryers, Russian nesting dolls or any number of things. It’s a fabulous read, one that goes from fun to engrossing to enthralling over the course of a complex but well-explained mystery with a satisfying though bittersweet ending ... a great mystery novel, but it is also terrific literature. One cannot read it without appreciating how sharp a writer Maleeny is, from his similes and metaphors to the manner in which he keeps the narrative moving from the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next, connecting seemingly disparate themes and subjects in a way that demands you keep reading. Welcome back, Tim. And please don’t make us wait so long for the next one.
PositiveBookreporterConnolly includes enough references to matters outside of the novel’s four corners to give anyone with even a modicum of historical curiosity a plethora of wondrous distraction. For anyone else, his superlative writing is more than enough to carry one through to the terrifying conclusion, where any character can be --- and is --- consigned to the choir invisible ... While Connolly is a master at bringing newcomers up to speed on what has unfolded, those who previously had not visited Charlie Parker’s world will feel compelled to go back and read what has gone before. Please do. You will not be sorry, even when you imagine hearing a tapping at your window.
RaveBookreporterJames Sallis writes neither long nor often but always wonderfully ... His new book, Sarah Jane makes mild demands of the reader but with great and haunting rewards.
RaveBookreporterThis is an enthralling and addicting novel full of characters who readers will recognize from their own lives and situations that make it more of a cautionary tale than simple entertainment ... Longtime fans of French will find their high expectations rewarded, while newcomers will be motivated to explore the author’s backlist. I envy their discovery.
RaveBookreporter... deftly and effectively straddles a number of genres ... a twisted ending that is more Grimm than Disney and leaves the reader haunted long after the last page is turned ... Hamill wears some of his influences on his sleeve. There are homages to Lovecraft, of course, but also to Stephen King. With regard to the latter, he gets the subtle message of King’s early work --- that the true horror in the story isn’t the monster but rather the heartbreak and tragedy found in the everyday visible world that strike unpredictably and without warning. In addition, there are nods to Steven Spielberg, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, as well as passages that bring to mind the artwork of Arthur Rackham ... is all Hamill, who will keep you up all night reading and have you wondering, pondering and checking your windows for weeks, if not longer.
RaveBookreporterWhat Rose Forgot is not only a well-written and addicting work, but also an important one, and surpassed all of my expectations ... Barr’s latest should be required reading for anyone over 60. Many in this age group have loving, caring children, but it’s always a good idea to keep your head up and watch for the manifestation of signs and symptoms.
RaveBookreporter... concludes with a new spin upon the classic drawing room denouement, one that is not only memorable but also brilliant in its execution ... Tana French\'s grasp of her material belies the fact that The Likeness is only her sophomore effort. The subject matter that she explores is dense and deep, and only a few authors --- John le
Carre comes to mind most readily --- feel confident enough to tread into it. It is not something one can phone in or fake; French, as she demonstrates here, is the real deal. Combining elements of
police procedurals, dark psychology and classic mystery, The Likeness is a keeper.
RaveBookreporterA mystery? Yes. But In the Woods is much more than that ... I would be remiss if I did not note that French, in addition to the quiet, chilling psychological study that forms the bedrock of In the Woods, has crafted a first-rate mystery. It is as exquisitely told as it is wondrously plotted. Why does one read? To experience novels like this. Not to be missed.
Søren Sveistrup, Trans. by Caroline Waight
RaveBookreporter... one of the best novels of this (and perhaps any) year ... The plot is somewhat complex but easily understood thanks to Sveistrup’s straightforward narrative, which is given a very able boost by Caroline Waight’s translation ... an extremely intriguing mystery, but the character development is so fascinating that it almost puts the puzzle in the second chair. The suspense is excruciating by the time one reaches the end of the story, where much is revealed and even more is sacrificed ... Sveistrup’s extensive experience in television scripting is present here, the cinematic narration of which leaves the reader without a suitable pausing point for all of the best reasons. Don’t hesitate to read the book, or watch the series when it is finally available. There is already proof positive that one is superb. The other should be as well.
Howard Michael Gould
PositiveBookreporterWhile Waldo’s schtick gets a bit old here, Gould’s mystery writing is honed to a razor-sharp finish, with a striking cast of characters who seem to leap off the page ... Below the Line is very much a character-driven novel, and as irritating as Waldo is at times, Gould fills his creation with enough positive qualities to make him somewhat endearing, even as Waldo’s rabid anti-consumerism almost gets in the way of the story on occasion. Lorena provides an interesting, if excessive, balance to the team and to the story. As a result, it isn’t until the very end of the book that the reader discovers how everything turns out. Maybe. Read it and see.
William Kent Krueger
RaveBookreporter... not quite the book that William Kent Krueger’s fans expected, but it’s hard to imagine a better one ... a story that will stay with you long after you read the last page ... A reading of This Tender Land flows like the Mississippi River, which runs through the novel in a quiet backdrop. Although it takes place in a bygone era, the themes are contemporary, as occurs with the best of historical fiction, of which this book should certainly be included. You will not be disappointed with the story and will read it effortlessly from start to finish in a single sitting.
PositiveBookreporter... perhaps the most straightforwardly plotted entry and thus the easiest to follow (thanks to an ace translation by George Goulding). The result is an addicting read that will be more than satisfying to fans of the series and those encountering it for the first time ... The ending comes off as slightly rushed. One of the more interesting characters almost seems to disappear in the chaotic conclusion, though that may be a good thing. Perhaps this individual will be brought back in a future volume. The pacing leading up to it, though, is first-rate, with Lagercrantz shifting perception, time and setting rapidly (but without confusion) at just the right places to keep the pages turning almost of their own volition ... Lagercrantz’s descriptions and obvious extensive research make those particular passages worth the price of admission all by themselves ... the perfect one-sit read (well, maybe two) with which to enjoy and appreciate the final days of summer.
RaveBookreporter... the book commences with a startling vignette that will launch any number of readers (including this one) out of their seats. Keller knows how to get the attention of her audience and keep it, and she displays this knowledge early on. The vignette in question hovers over the book like a shadow from beginning to end ... Surprises abound as revelations occur. Keep yourself strapped in as you read ... Keller reminds me of Helen Fuller Orton, a prolific children’s mystery author who wrote books that often took place in rustic settings. Orton could wring every bit of mystery out of a situation without the reader knowing it and make it look interesting, while populating her books with identifiable and sympathetic characters. Although this series is most definitely not for children, Keller’s ability to dig less than obvious plots out of dark landscapes is noteworthy. One has the feeling that she is just getting started with her tales of Bell Elkins and the streets of Acker’s Gap. I, for one, will be happy to read these novels as long as she continues to write them.
PositiveBookreporterYou may ferret out some of the places that Goldman will take you, but it is doubtful you will guess all of them correctly. That is part of the fun of The Shallows. Goldman uses Shapiro as a vehicle for a fine tour through Minneapolis, from its skywalks and restaurants to its shopping malls and baseball team. His personal life gets a bit of an upgrade as well, though it may not seem like that at first. The results provide a number of plot threads that may play themselves out over the course of the next few volumes of this enjoyable series, which demonstrates that the private-eye subgenre remains strong, viable and readable, just like Shapiro and The Shallows.
RaveBookreporterWho would have thought that Stephen Hunter would write one of his best novels at this point in his career, let alone well into the second decade of the 21st century? The newly published Game of Snipers is just that ... The book begins perfectly, ends wonderfully and is top-notch at all points in between. The first chapter consists of an enigmatic vignette that will haunt each and every reader up until the narrative catches up with it about midway through ... a thrilling mystery, full of false leads, cat-and-mouse chases, forensics, and deep background into the world of snipers, firearms and the rough men who stand ready in the night to do violence upon those who would harm us ... Game of Snipers is superb, but I’ve already told you that several times. You don’t have to have read a single volume of the series to thoroughly enjoy it and the laconic, effective Swagger, but you will want to do so after reading just the first few pages. You will, in fact, want to read every word that Hunter has ever written. Don’t wait.
RaveBookreporterYou are officially granted permission (as if you really need it) to believe all the hype and advance press that you may have ingested concerning The Arrangement ... [Harding\'s] latest is one of those books that everyone, regardless of genre preference, simply must read ... The Arrangement is terrific. Readers can understand exactly why each character does what he or she does, even if they can’t fully sympathize with these individuals. Harding has a masterful ability to make the semi-plausible believable while keeping the pitch and pace of her prose perfect. There is also a bit of a mystery thrown into the final third of the book that takes what is occurring in an entirely different direction, even as it provides for a surprisingly satisfying ending. The result is a novel that is the ideal way to meet and embrace the closing weeks of summer.
PositiveBookreporter... will almost certainly strike a familiar chord with anyone who reads it ... a novel that neatly and comfortably straddles the domestic thriller and cozy mystery genres and is guaranteed to appeal to fans of both ... Ephron displays her imaginative talents at full wattage. Readers won’t be able to drive by a storage facility without thinking of Emily, and perhaps will wish that the Clutter Kickers were around to help them sort through their accumulations/collections/whatever and regain a room or five in their households. When one can identify with a situation in a novel, you know that it’s a good one, and Careful What You Wish For fits that description.
PositiveBookReporterThose who have read the previous novels in this series know what to expect, and no doubt will have a defibrillator on hand when they crack the binding. Betley wastes little time in setting up a few dominoes before getting Logan rolling. And roll he does ... Betley has walked the walk in some of the world’s most dangerous areas, and it is reflected in the talk he talks here. Rules of War is shot through with his own experiences to the extent that one wonders at various points where the fiction ends and the reality begins. The result is an exhilarating and passionate read that you won’t soon forget.
Joyce Carol Oates
PositiveBookreporter...dark as night in atmosphere and subject matter ... Oates digs so deeply into the psyche of the murderous personality that it makes for rough reading in parts, but the subject matter is not and should not be sacrificed on the altar of the reader’s comfort zone. That said, this is not a volume that one who has not read Oates’ work should reach for as an introduction. Its publication, though, is still important and ultimately indispensable for anyone who is even marginally familiar with Oates, one of the great literary voices of the 20th and 21st centuries.
RaveBookreporterThe mystery...takes a shocking...turn ... You’ll have to read the book to find out the answers, and it will be worth every moment of your time. Jonathan Moore has been compared to Raymond Chandler. While such comparisons are inevitable, I believe that they state things backward. With all due respect, if Chandler was alive today, he would be writing like Moore. Yes, the guy is that good. If you have even sniffed around private-eye fiction, or great fiction of any genre, you will want to read Blood Relations and Moore’s backlist.
RaveBookreporterWhile a bit more of a slow boil than the works preceding it, the narrative’s more deliberate pacing is balanced by his frequent flashes of prose brilliance and the final few chapters of the book, where the dominoes that had been painstakingly set up are explosively knocked down to great effect ... You won’t be able to read the last quarter or so of The Shameless fast enough. There is a bit of irony here that is worth the price of admission all by itself, as well as a cast of characters you will not soon forget. Some of them even make it to the end of the book. Knowing that they are out there somewhere will keep you waiting impatiently to see what happens next. The only certainty is that, with Atkins at the helm, you will not be disappointed.
J. Todd Scott
PositiveBookreporterScott spends a good portion of the first quarter of this latest installment reminding those who have read The Far Empty and of what has gone before, while setting up some complex and violent dominoes that will be exploded in due course. You can see the fireworks coming, but you don’t know the schedule. The only sure thing is that it is all going to end badly for someone, or several someones ... By the book’s conclusion, the reader is left in shock, not only by what has occurred but also by the Easter egg or three that Scott leaves unresolved ... presented as fiction, but given Scott’s background and the immediacy of his narration, one cannot help but think that many of the vignettes that are woven into the story took place in the here and now. Scott, as demonstrated by the epilogue, obviously has more stories to tell. I, for one, will be happy to read them going forward.
PositiveBookreporterA great deal of the attraction of David Bell’s newly published psychological thriller, is that so many readers will be able to relate to it ... The strength of this thriller isn’t the number of times it makes your heart race, but rather the pitch-perfect way that Joshua is manipulated so realistically and so often. The male members of the audience will shake their heads quietly but knowingly, while female readers will smile in the same fashion. Layover is especially recommended if you’re traveling by plane this summer for business or pleasure.
RaveBookreporterJust when one thinks that there cannot possibly be a new configuration of the thriller genre, along comes Robert Pobi and City of Windows ... The book begins with a memorable—make that never to be forgotten—vignette that haunts the reader throughout the entire story ... City of Windows is populated by interesting and complex characters ... the book is perfectly and exquisitely paced and plotted ... Pobi also brings a cinematic viewpoint to the page that causes his story to unreel...through the mind in a wonderfully seamless fashion.
PositiveBookreporterCandlish structures Those People in an interesting manner, ping-ponging the narrative of the first half of the book between the present and the past as she describes prior events while moving slowly toward the present day. She introduces her cast of characters through a revolving door of changing perspectives. This allows us to learn more about the other characters, as well as good old Darren and Jodie, who never really get their turn with the megaphone until things are settled. No one comes off entirely well here, but that is ultimately part of the dark fun of it. And if you feel that you would be better served by living neighborless on a mountain after reading this book, I daresay you wouldn’t be alone in that attitude.
RaveBookreporter... awful in all the best ways. It confronts readers with the truth about themselves --- and all of us, really --- by presenting a believable dilemma and asking how far one would go to resolve it. The answer is not pleasant, but it’s true. Adrian McKinty’s book, which is expertly paced and pitch-perfect, will have you turning pages, even as you will feel like throwing your copy across the room ... an experience that will leave you changed and exhausted ... loosely based on a real-world situation. McKinty works it into the story in such a way that the supposition that what occurs here could never happen in your city or neighborhood is pretty much obliterated. The result will have you wandering from room to room at night, making sure that your children are where they are supposed to be, that the windows are secured, and that the doors are locked ... will scare the stuffing out of you, but will entertain you as you lose every drop.
PositiveBookReporterJust when you think you might know what to expect from Mark Billingham, he throws you a curve ball and maybe a kitchen sink to boot ... Billingham does an exquisite job of keeping readers guessing while giving them more information than Thorne and DI Nicola Turner possess at any given point until (almost) the end of the book ... a terrific place to jump on the Billingham bandwagon. The mysteries here are straightforward and ultimately link up without fuss or strain, but with enough room to insert plenty of twists and turns, particularly in the final fourth of the book. You may see some of them coming, but by no means all of them.
Ragnar Jonasson, Trans. by Victoria Cribb
RaveBookreporter...The Island... leaves [Jonasson\'s] win streak intact and strengthened ... Hulda is an instantly relatable character, solidly if not entirely comfortably in middle age and no stranger to the darkest of tragedies. Known for her ability to ferret out the truth in homicide cases, her rank and salary do not remotely match her abilities, which may or may not change in future volumes. Explosions and karate are notably absent here, and as such it is the perfect balance to an afternoon of watching, say, John Wick ... The Island is a quiet and suspenseful book full of whispers, but you will hear every word.
RaveBookReporter... one of the best books published in any genre so far this year ... has a bit of everything. There is sex, violence, thrills and mystery. Actually, there are a lot of mysteries ... As might be evident to longtime readers of the series, this latest entry is a bit more plot-driven than the earlier installments. However, the threads that weave their way through the book are interesting enough that no one should mind a bit. Even at that, Cole and Hitch stand large enough in the goings-on that there is no danger of them disappearing in the mix ... Pick up Buckskin and discover why this is one of the best series in genre fiction.
RaveBookReporter... as dark and brooding a slice of rural noir that one is likely to encounter this year, an engrossing read that is impossible to digest quickly enough ... complete in itself, but a question (or two) is left hanging at the conclusion. It does resolve one issue that is more or less unstated; some will see it coming and may even predict the outcome. Even if that is the case, this novel is a dark and violent ride that will make your hair stand on end in spots as Panowich slowly and inexorably ratchets up the suspense quotient to 11. He does this without sacrificing plot or character development ... Panowich has the rare ability to make each character, even the most minor ones, well-defined and unforgettable.
RaveBookreporterDespite being a first-time novelist, Downing writes with the confidence of an author with several books under her belt, which makes My Lovely Wife even more impressive than its intriguing concept. She fleshes out her work with a bevy of memorable characters who do more than just provide scenery and transition to an engrossing story. Readers have to pay attention to the folks who dip and swirl through Millicent and Tobias’ world. Each one plays a role that sends the plot spinning in a new direction. However, it is ultimately Tobias and Millicent who are full of surprises in this tale of life in the tony suburbs gone very, very wrong. Those who encounter My Lovely Wife—and many should—will want more from its extremely talented author and as soon as possible.
RaveBook ReporterMakes for wonderfully dark reading ... This series was originally conceived as a trilogy, but the complexities of the character as well as the secondary players are too original and interesting to be consigned to the dust bin. We’ll have to wait and see if Swinson will continue the story --- perhaps in another three-book arc --- but for now we have Trigger and its predecessors, all of which are worth your time and money.
Joe R Lansdale
PositiveBookreporter\"Most of the book’s fun is the journey, from the roadside to the police station and ultimately to a long-out-of-business bowling alley where Hap, Leonard and a friend make what is the last stand…for one side, anyway. Leonard’s first-person narrative is also, as one might expect, full of the similes and metaphors for which we all come early and stay late. That said, there are indications that this may be the last outing for the duo, though at least one unresolved element is still riding off into the sunset at the end of the story ... The Elephant of Surprise comes strongly recommended, and that is no surprise at all.\
RaveBookreporter\"Leon gives her readers a murder, a mystery or three, and a great deal of other wonderful things in this 28th installment, which is arguably her best to date ... Even at this late date, Leon remains amazing. With each installment of the series, she continues to find and reveal new layers to her familiar characters and to Venice, which is full of quiet and enjoyable surprises of the cultural, geographical and architectural variety. You can start with any volume, but if you begin with Unto Us a Son is Given, you’ll want to devote time to reading the backlist. You won’t be able to help yourself.\
RaveBookreporter\"... an A-list domestic thriller ... Before She Knew Him burns slowly but brightly from the first paragraph. You won’t find a good place to stop reading. The pacing is so well staged that the pages flow one into the next until you’re sliding feet first into the story with no hope of attaining any sort of traction. If that isn’t enough, Swanson lobs a few hand grenades into the proceedings during the final quarter of the book, just to make sure you’re still awake. You will be, and you’ll never meet the new folks on the block again without thinking of it.\
Jenny Rogneby, Trans. by Agnes Broomé
RaveBookreporterAny Means Necessary is a must-read for fans of thrillers and/or general fiction ... It is not necessary to have read the first book before delving into this one. As with the best of the series, Rogneby gives newcomers all they need to know about what has gone before without stutter-stepping the new narrative ... The novel is a bit of a slow burn that saves the majority of its sinus-clearing thrills for the last quarter of the story. But reader interest will not lag one bit, as Rogneby gives several eye-opening lessons on how to be a successful criminal or, at the very least, reduce one’s risk of failure. It’s all extremely entertaining, with the criminal lessons actually presenting some advice transferable to the legitimate world as well. Any Means Necessary is an enjoyable ride that you won’t want to miss.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Trans. by Victoria Cribb
RaveBookreporterIt has everything you want in a police procedural: strong, memorable characters, a puzzling mystery and bizarre murders, all served up perfectly ... The Reckoning makes for addicting reading. The believable odd-couple matchup of Huldar and Freyja is neither cloying nor precious, a fine line for an author to walk and one that Sigurdardottir does very well. The mortar of the book, though, is the mystery, with its seeds in the past and gruesome blossoming in the present. There is some grim humor presented to counterpoint the nastiness of the crimes committed, with both elements well-paced and harrowing right up to the final pages.
RaveBook ReporterI am hard-pressed to explain why, but the newly published Careless Love is my favorite Alan Banks novel to date. Peter Robinson’s series about the British detective inspector has been a reliably excellent police procedural since its inception over 30 years ago. His latest, though, relies on a fairly simple plot and the gentle foibles of its main character to carry things along. It does so quite quickly and so very well ... As always, Banks presents a terrific playlist for readers interested in music both contemporary and classical. Robinson does a wonderful job of aging his character slowly, carefully and realistically. Hopefully we will see several more books in the series before Banks is inevitably retired, but for now we can appreciate that Robinson --- even at this late date --- continues to favor us with his best writing.
PositiveBook ReporterContinues Ragnar Jonasson’s pattern of combining traditional mystery elements and some unexpected twists with sharp, quirky characterization --- with the entirety highlighted by the exotic and frigid geographical backdrop of Iceland ... Jonasson (assisted by the always fine translation of Quentin Bates) creates and maintains an air of deep melancholy that threads these books together ... Jonasson’s ever-growing body of readers will no doubt be on board for the next installment.
RaveBookreporter\"Horrifying in some places, darkly humorous in others, it is a novel that you will remember for a long time ... In the Dark has everything --- from mystery, violence and passion to greed, lust and envy. Hunter’s pacing is perfect, and I actually find myself missing the characters. That’s an increasingly rare commodity these days that we as readers should treasure and hold near and dear. Don’t miss this fine work that reminds us of why we read.\
RaveBook ReporterOne of Kepler’s trademarks is the upfront, in-your-face descriptive paragraphs that pepper the narrative from beginning to end. I’m not just talking about the violent vignettes, which in a few (but not all) instances will melt your face off. I also am describing the collateral damage, where tables fly, glass shatters, people slip, and all manner and sorts of mayhem ensue. One reads and looks up in amazement to find their own environs relatively unscathed. Oh, and in the middle of Stalker, there is the mystery concerning the identity of the serial killer. For me, the revelation was the same as if someone had dropped a bunch of lit matches on my lap ... These books are the best legal drug you could possibly ask for. And what’s terrific is that you can use it over and over until the next installment is published in the United States, which hopefully will be as soon as possible.
PositiveBookreporter\"... as fine a bit of suburban noir as you are likely to encounter this year ... Benedict’s legion of loyal readers will not be disappointed at all by her foray into a suspense subgenre that is not completely identical to what has gone before. Her new focus, set entirely on the demons existing on this side of the veil, will undoubtedly also attract newcomers ... Once they start [the book, readers will] find it impossible to put down.\
PositiveBook ReporterRequires some patience, though it is ultimately worth the expenditure ... There is an electric undercurrent that informs the novel practically from the first page, and its hum carries the reader right along as Lelic slowly and exquisitely ratchets up the suspense ... Lelic pulls off a couple of neat literary tricks here ... If you like your stories tangled and complicated but eminently readable, this is one you will want to pick up.
RaveBookreporter\"Coming seemingly from nowhere, it is one of the year’s most unforgettable reads ... Adams does for highway rest stops what Stephen King did for shuttered resort hotels, psychotic nurses and clowns under bridges. And yes—air is fair—No Exit stands up with King’s best work. Read it with a hat on. It will blow your brain right through your ears.\
PositiveBookreporter\"Tim Dorsey has kicked off the new year by writing what may be the best of his 22 books in the Serge A. Storms series thus far ... I also am pleased to report that Dorsey continues to find plenty of the arcane, unusual, bizarre and, yes, downright useful elements of the state of Florida to stuff this intriguing, one-sit novel right up to its brim ... No Sunscreen for the Dead is more than worth its price of admission.\
PositiveBookreporter\"Fowler is in no particular hurry to set the story pieces up on the board, and spends a good part of the novel’s first half doing just that while keeping readers wondrously entertained, as he reveals the first historical hints of the personality traits of his primary characters. The mayhem kicks in soon enough, as the numbers of those assembled... begin to alarmingly decrease ... Longtime fans of the series will rejoice once again... Hall of Mirrors serves as an excellent introduction to what you’ve been missing for the last 15 years or so but can now enjoy to the fullest.\
PositiveBook ReporterThe conclusion of this intriguing story packs an unexpected wallop, which resonates long after the last (and highly satisfying) sentence is read ... anyone who has read Nighttown (not to mention the previous six books) will be back for more, regardless of hinting, prodding or otherwise. The plotting, characterization and superior prose make this a memorable series that you should be reading religiously.
PositiveBook ReporterThe late Oakley Hall is no longer a literary household name, but he unquestionably remains an author’s author ... may put one in the mind of James M. Cain, but its characters and settings foreshadow Hall’s subsequent literary love affair with the West as a contemporary rather than a historical setting ... Hall may be gone, but his haunting influence lives on. Read So Many Doors, and you will understand why.
RaveBookreporterHusk may be Zeltserman’s best book to date. Charlie’s narrative is a bit stilted, enough so that we realize from the jump that the boy is not quite right. There’s a touch of humor here and there -particularly when Zeltserman subtly inserts himself into the story for just a moment or two - but it’s sparingly and deftly applied. Many of the twists and turns are saved for the final third of the novel, but they come hard, fast and heavy, right up to the last sentence, which is one of the best I have read this year. Don’t bother looking at it first, as it will make little sense unless you read what has gone before. You should definitely do that.
Rave20 Something ReadsI heartily recommend The Drama Teacher if you are not tired of all the new books that seem to hang their respective hats on the damaged, unreliable narrator who manages to rise above it all and recover some lost element of her life. This novel takes that plot device and turns it on its head ... The Drama Teacher is in part a cautionary tale for our times.
RaveBook ReporterAs bleak and compelling a read as anything he has ever written ... Anyone who has sought salvation by reaching for the bottom of a bottle will see themselves in stark relief here. There have been only a few authors who have handled this type of exploration of dark and tortured souls this well --- James M. Cain and Jim Thompson immediately come to mind --- but Starr is our contemporary master. Read this book and then what has gone before.
PositiveBookreporter\"Slowhand is neither a slavish love letter nor a hatchet job. The subject matter is more complicated than one might expect and thus all the more interesting ... All of [Clapton\'s story] is told in Slowhand, and told well.\
RaveBookreporterBruen has a distinctive style, comprised of both short and run-on sentences that dip and swirl throughout Jack’s first-person past tense narrative. That worthy text is not a stream-of-consciousness technique, but occasionally comes close ... I assure you that no one other than Ken Bruen is producing books quite like this, or quite this side of wondrous. He writes like an angel, a fearsome one such as he describes here, but one that you will want to keep and have close to you in order to appreciate your quiet and blessed life. A stunning experience from beginning to end, In the Galway SIlence surpasses even Bruen’s usual superlative standards.
PositiveBookreporterThe Spite Game ping-pongs back and forth over a 10-year period between 2008 and 2018. Snoekstra drops hints about what has transpired across the timeline, giving readers plenty of opportunities to speculate. The narrator is a woman named Ava, who, after the present-day Prologue, begins recounting her experience as a high school senior ... This is a book that many readers a few years removed from high school will be able to identify with, but don’t be surprised if it finds a high school audience on its own.
Helene Tursten, Trans. by Marlaine Delargy
RaveBookreporter\"You’ll love every word of every story in this book as you watch how Maud reacts to those who attempt to take advantage of the elderly and the weak ... You will want to get An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good for anyone you know who enjoys reading great stories, whether they be mysteries or otherwise, but you will want to read it yourself first.\
T M Logan
RaveBookreporterLies is everything you want in a thriller. It introduces memorable characters, moves quickly and is straightforward. It also combines real-world situations and passions with a touch of escapist literature, keeping the reader just a bit off-kilter throughout. You can recommend it not only to your friends who love thrillers but also to those whose tastes run elsewhere ... You will remember the name T. M. Logan, even if he never writes another book (though I certainly hope he does, and soon) ... There are plenty of twists, turns and misdirections throughout the novel, but the best ones involve Logan taking the reader’s own inherent perceptions and using them to turn things up a notch.
PositiveBookreporterAuthor Jo Spain puts an interesting spin on a number of classic mystery genre themes, updating things here and there ... The result is a story that you will want to simultaneously linger over and read quickly while you attempt to guess the motive ... a rare treat, a combination of a psychological thriller and a domestic drama with a bit of a police procedural thrown in. Spain has a wonderful ear for cop shop dialogue and puts it on full display here.
PositiveBookreporterThe Forbidden Place is a bit different from what we normally anticipate in Nordic noir offerings ... a slow-boiling novel that combines elements of classic and modern mysteries with discussions of such disparate topics as quantum physics anomalies, ancient mysticism, legends and religion ... Jansson (skillfully translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles) has given us a first work that sits solidly in the mystery genre but blurs the lines around its edges ... ultimately thought-provoking.
Erle Stanley Gardner
RaveBook ReporterStands up extremely well, in spite of (or maybe because of) its age ... Each of his Cool & Lam novels contained the holy trinity of the crime fiction of the era --- titillation, violence and a twisty, puzzling mystery --- and The Count of 9 is no exception ...This reissue of The Count of 9 serves as a reminder of both what we had and what we lost in the golden era of paperbacks, right down to the new and eye-riveting cover by the incomparable Robert McGinnis. It is required reading for any fan of hard-boiled detective fiction who is interested in where the wellspring of his or her favorite novels came from, at least in part.
PositiveBookreporter...a new crime trilogy that is quite different from his previous books. What the two series have in common is the manifestation of Jónasson’s careful development of memorable characters and his plotting skills ... a bit of a slow boil, though it certainly roars at the end ... this trilogy is off to an addictive and compelling start.
RaveBook ReporterIf you are unfamiliar with Eryk Pruitt’s novels, this collection of his short fiction will provide you with an excellent introduction to the heart of his exquisite southern darkness ...If, however, your familiarity with such works as Hashtag and What We Recon has led you to this book, you will find your choice more than rewarded ... Such is Pruitt’s talent that within a few pages, he can deliver a tacit literary nod to the classic EC crime comics and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment ... the stories you find in Townies are as real as they can get.
PositiveBookreporterThe Stranger Game defies ready categorization ... The Stranger Game is haunting, certainly one of the most paranoid-inducing tales that I have read in a while. It is faintly reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s later work (without the religious overtones), even as it takes the concept of Facebook lurkers one step further and into the real world ... worth your complete and undivided attention.
RaveBookreporterIn the House in the Dark of the Woods is presented as something special, and fittingly so ... The book may not run long—it’s a bit over 200 pages—but veteran and critically acclaimed author Laird Hunt goes deep ... Hunt is a marvel ... You won’t drive past woods again—let alone walk through them—without thinking of this book.
RaveBookreporter\"IQ’s strong deductive talents and lack of business acumen combine to make this third entry in the series his best to date ... However, there are elements to Wrecked that indicate it might be the series finale. I certainly hope that’s not the case. Actually, that’s not a strong enough statement. I would lay down in front of someone’s car if that’s what it took to get more IQ stories ... This is a series that has earned and thus deserves your readership and support. Buy and read Wrecked, then go back and catch up on what you’ve been missing. You’ll thank me, but it\'s Ide—and the yeoman’s work he does—who deserves the platitudes.\
Scott Von Doviak
RaveBook ReporterVon Doviak captures perfectly the dialogue, mood and mores of each of the eras that comprise his tale. There is also a fine bit of symmetry at the end on a number of levels, providing a perfect conclusion to a caper that never overstays its welcome. And, whatever else you do, don’t skip Von Doviak’s Afterword, which provides readers with the real-world basis for what has been presented between the covers of this excellent debut. He ends his book with an ask. Please do it. I just did.
Howard Michael Gould
RaveBookReporterGould has recently turned his hand to detective fiction, and if his debut novel is any indication, one can only wish that he had done so before now. He has created a unique protagonist and set him against the backdrop of contemporary southern California in a very original and engrossing manner, one that will keep you reading nonstop for hours ... There are many twists and turns before Last Looks concludes, and while the book is complete in itself, one or two issues are left dangling that just might provide fodder for future installments, should Gould see fit. Gould’s scriptwriting experience shines through here. Each page contains a number of crystal-clear images that beg for translation to video while making it ultimately unnecessary. There’s also some humor in just the right places to keep things from becoming too dark.
PositiveBook ReporterThe story begins in North Carolina, where 18-year-old Tyler Welch is first accosted and then abducted by a vaguely familiar stranger who calls the teen \'Keith\' and identifies himself as Mick Jakes, Tyler’s long-lost older brother. It develops that Mick and Keith were taken into custody by Social Services some 13 years earlier when a local sheriff named Wyatt McGee assisted on an abandoned child call. Retired in the book’s present, McGee is slowly drinking himself into oblivion over a costly error in judgment he made some years before. When Tyler’s adoptive father approaches McGee to help find Tyler, McGee rebuffs him at first ... Of course, McGee has no badge or authority to be of any assistance and is in no shape to do so. However, when security camera footage shows the brothers robbing a convenience store at gunpoint, McGee is compelled to act, not knowing that Tyler was forced into the act by Mick ... You will not stop reading Fortunate Son once you start. It clips along at such a pace that I was two-thirds of the way through and thought I had only just begun. If his work is unfamiliar to you, Fortunate Son is the perfect way to become acquainted.
PositiveBookreporterBlauner combines his considerable and ever-present cinematic and narrative chops to fine effect in Sunrise Highway ... be prepared for a marathon reading session. The last third of the book uncorks a couple of surprises.
RaveBook ReporterMcKnight, an ex-cop and occasional private detective living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region, tends to stick somewhat close to home as a general rule. Dead Man Running takes him out of his comfort zone, and then some. A couple from Scottsdale, Arizona, is on a cruise when the husband, monitoring their wireless security online, witnesses a shocking tableau. It consists of a stranger walking through their home and a dead woman in their bed. Law enforcement is immediately notified, a trap is set, and the stranger --- the killer --- is captured ... Dead Man Running is the real deal. Hamilton did his geographical homework while preparing to take McKnight to unexpected places, and it shows ... You won’t want to miss Dead Man Running, and you won’t want to put it down once you start reading it.
James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle
RaveBookReporterTexas Ranger is something special. While it is certainly an ideal beach read, it is also a book for all seasons, as well as for anyone who enjoys strong, compelling characters and a puzzling mystery with a number of potential suspects. That it takes a geographical detour to an unexpected locale is a major plus. If Patterson and Bourelle decide to keep Yates and his extended coterie of friends and family active beyond this book, I’ll be there
PositiveBookreporterI came for the title and stayed for the story ... While Proulx writes neither quickly nor frequently, the quality of her work makes her efforts more than worth waiting for. Her latest is a skillfully told tale of cringe-inducing occurrences brought on by impulsive actions and recurring inactions ... We All Love the Beautiful Girls is one of those books that haunts the mind long after the last sentence is read ... It can be forgiven that the novel somewhat loses its way at the end as it flirts with the outer edges of diatribe ... The book does not end tidily or well for everyone (maybe not for anyone), but very few things do in the real world. Neither the story nor its author flinches.
RaveBookreporterKeller’s Bell Elkins books rely more on drama than action (though they are not necessarily bereft of the latter) and on slow-boil plots as opposed to explosions. However, there have been plenty of judiciously placed twists and developments to keep the pages of each novel turning. The newly published Bone on Bone is no exception ... Keller is at her chilling best in Bone on Bone, particularly when giving the reader an up-close, unblinking look at the physical and emotional tolls of addiction on both the addicts and those closest to them ... Keller’s vision and voice add a new dimension to the problem, one that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned. It is unsettling but makes for necessary reading.
Ragnar Jonasson Trans. by Quentin Bates
PositiveBookreporterJonasson...balances Blackout between characters and plot, allowing each to have equal driving time. The basic whodunit concerning Elias’ murder is perplexing and puzzling. Jonasson gives the reader a bit more than he gives Ari, at least initially, but it really doesn’t help those who like to ferret out the solution. That’s fine. At least half of the attraction of a good mystery is getting tugged along to the end, a task that Jonasson performs in skillful fashion. The book’s real draw is Iceland itself. As the story plays out, Iceland is in the midst of its 24-hour arctic summer, which, in turn, is being transformed into total darkness due to untimely (though not entirely unexpected) volcanic eruptions. The contrast of the weather and geology compares with the moods of the characters, all of whom are memorable.
William Kent Krueger
PositiveBookreporterDesolation Mountain isn’t quite a transition volume in the Cork O’Connor series, but one can sense that perhaps the baton is being lifted, if not passed ... He hints with startling effect near the conclusion that at least one major change is in the offing in the near future, but in the meantime reintroduces a long-absent character in a tale that brings sudden death and intrigue from the outside world to Cork’s relatively quiet life ... It is easy to conclude that Krueger may be on the verge of slowly winding down the series, or at the very least instituting a major shift in perspective. The constant here is that his prose continues to mirror and echo the beauty of Minnesota’s wilderness and the soul of the people who reside there in a lifestyle that hardly can be considered easy. Followers of the series will want to put this one on their must-read list.
PositiveBookreporterBad Man will slowly but surely creep you out ... [Auerbach] wrings terror out of the every day and every night of the semi-urban Florida Panhandle and makes the world stop for the time it takes to read this work ... Auerbach describes perfectly the painful and depressive nooks and crannies that have burrowed into Eric’s family and taken irrevocable root at its foundation ... Auerbach’s work has been compared to early Stephen King, and while I don’t know if that is accurate from a stylistic standpoint, one could certainly draw a ragged line between King’s accounts of the Whites and the Torrances and the incidental despair that Auerbach demonstrates here ... It is perfectly understandable if, after reading Bad Man, you never want to take your child to a supermarket again.
PositivePittsburgh Post-Gazette...a stand-alone work that cinematically unfolds in equal parts beauty and violence ... There are a number of quiet twists and turns that play out all the way to the book’s satisfying, somewhat bittersweet ending ... The Man Who Came Uptown may or may not become your favorite Pelecanos novel. What is undeniable is that it contains some of his best writing to date in any media.
PositiveThe Book Reporter\"It’s an unsettling book, all the more so for its ability to play upon the reader’s often erroneous expectations and perceptions. Blood Highway, her sophomore effort, is (somewhat) more straightforward but no less surprising than its predecessor for entirely different reasons ... The book as a whole seems at times to be a collaborative effort between Elmore Leonard and Joan Didion, which isn’t as impossible as you might think. Blood Highwaymay be more of a young adult novel than its predecessor, but it is intriguing as well as unsettling for both demographics. Check it out.\
Anne Holt, Trans. by Anne Bruce
RaveBookreporterAs to whether the multifaceted and somewhat difficult Oslo detective fades into the sunset or passes tragically, you are going to have to read the book to find out. However, there are many other reasons to pick it up, including sharp characterization, brilliant plotting and a pair of puzzling mysteries, all of which play out against the background ticking of a loud plot. It seems that author Anne Holt (with an assist in the form of a fine translation by Anne Bruce) has saved the very best for last ... an exceedingly clever work that demands to be read in one sitting ... Things aren’t entirely resolved until the book’s very last sentence, but don’t you dare peek and spoil it all for yourself. It’s an ending worth waiting for.
Rave20SomethingReadsYou are going to be hearing a lot about A Simple Favor. Debut author Darcey Bell manages to cram a lot of living, if you will, into a standard-length novel with some extremely contemporary, \'right-now\' elements and enough sordid episodes and surprises to fill a couple of books ... Bell sets things up nicely. You know these women, or ones similar to them. You may even be one of them, up to a point ... You will come to doubt everything you know before the book reaches its conclusion ... While it is tough to predict such things, it is a good bet that you will be seeing Bell’s novel stuffed in a lot of beach bags this summer. It is engrossing, fascinating in parts, and very real-world in spots.
RaveBookReporterThose who share the view that rural communities often (though not always) hide the commitment of vile deeds beneath a quiet and peaceful veneer will find much to love in The Saint of Wolves and Butchers. They will especially appreciate the ending, which ties up just enough plot lines to make this volume complete in itself while leaving a couple of matters open in the event that Grecian wants to revisit Paradise Flats and this unforgettable cast of characters. I loved every word of this book. It’s perfectly paced, nicely detailed, and terrifying and tender by turns in all of the right places. At a few points, it reminded me of a collaboration between Stephen King and Lee Child.
Positive20SomethingReads...the darkest and grimmest of this mesmerizing quartet ... Alex Segura is known for his sudden twists and unusual vision when dealing with otherwise familiar topics...and Blackout is an excellent example of this.
Positive20SomethingReadsConnelly, through Bosch’s eyes, provides a by-the-numbers description of prescription drug abuse, how it occurs, and why it continues to thrive ... It is Connelly’s descriptions and Bosch’s investigation that help make Two Kinds of Truth one of the author’s most intriguing books in a consistently brilliant career.
PositiveBookreporterJohn Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series continues to grow, thrive and prosper ... a terrific plot and a touch or two of political incorrectness --- indisputably make Twisted Prey one of Sandford’s best.
Rave20SomethingReadsPatterson, who has never been rightfully accused of failing to give his readers their money’s worth, pulls out all the stops in the newly published The People Vs. Alex Cross. Yes, as the title indicates, Cross is in the courtroom, and on the wrong side of it, as he finds himself on trial not only for his job but also for his life...and that’s only part of the book ... The People Vs. Alex Cross is a turning point of sorts. Patterson, who is without peer in the creation of frightening antagonists, is also a master of throwing curves at irregular intervals into the lives of his protagonists. If the conclusion is any indication of what is to come, it appears that Cross and his family will be experiencing some major changes in the next several installments of the series. If you have been away from Cross’ world for a bit, now may be the time to get reacquainted.
James Patterson & James O. Born
Positive20SomethingReads\"Born\'s considerable chops and skill set --- not to mention his own past employment in law enforcement --- bring new life to the series ... The book concludes on an unexpectedly upbeat note, which undoubtedly will play out over future installments of the series. It also compares and contrasts urban New York with rural Maine, even as the story’s parallel plot lines never quite intersect but are nonetheless related in a most unfortunate way. The end result, however, is that I will be there as a reader, regardless of where Patterson and Born take this intriguing series.\
Rave20 Something ReadsIt would be inaccurate, though not entirely untrue, to describe Michael Kardos’ new novel as a slow burner. Kardos is an author of immense, if somewhat unappreciated, talent who is incapable of writing badly, so it would be unfair to say that not much happens in the first two-thirds of the book ... Anyone who has ever wondered about how a card trick was done or where that coin (or pigeon or rabbit) went will love Bluff. But be prepared for the final third of the book. There are some tricks from which you don’t come back.
Joe R. Lansdale
Positive20 Something ReadsWhile Jackrabbit Smile is not Lansdale’s best or worst book --- he really doesn’t have a 'worst' one --- it contains some of his best writing, including a new phrase that seems to be an original. You’ll love it. It’s a term for a manifestation of obesity that incorporates the condition’s etiology. You’ll know it when you see it. If there is a fault with the novel, it’s that the first third or so is a bit top-heavy with virtue signaling and is light on the humor, violence and metaphors for which we all came. Still, that absence is more than balanced out by the presence of same throughout the remainder of the book. Strongly recommended, particularly for those coming aboard as a result of the television series.
RaveBookreporter.com...as upsetting and revealing a book as you are likely to read in this or any year … Moore creates a fascinating scenario whereby the reader knows more about the protagonist than he himself is aware of. Carver painstakingly investigates what happened to him, and while he does so, the reader learns in increments that the setting of the novel is San Francisco in a (somewhat) foreseeable and dystopian future. Moore does not tell but shows, in a number of subtle ways — the prevalence of electric vehicles, weather changes, and a new method of advertising — and one near the end that not only thinly ties The Night Market in with its predecessors, but also measures how far in the future the book is actually set.
RaveBookreporter.comIt is clear that Arvin knows Nashville with an intimacy that is at once pleasurable and painful. It is a town of quiet, subtle intrigue, of promise and pain, where a kiss
on the cheek and a knife to the back both can be delivered with a smile and cordiality unmatched elsewhere. Arvin captures this spirit quite nicely. But his main protagonist is Thomas Dennehy, senior District Attorney for Davidson County. Dennehy's first person, present tense narration provides a knife's edge immediacy
for his tale … Blood of Angels has enough intrigue and suspense for three novels, yet it never feels crammed or unduly compressed. Arvin provides what is perhaps the fairest, most balanced discourse on capital punishment I've encountered, while at the same time he populates his story with characters who
the reader will honestly care about, and wonder about, when the tale is told.
RaveBookreporter.comThose who enjoy reading about vulnerable protagonists who wind up in even worse straits despite all good intentions will find this book fully satisfactory ... The great majority of Her Every Fear takes place within the somewhat claustrophobic confines of an apartment building ... Peter Swanson creates quite a mysterious stew here, accentuated by Kate’s near-constant anxiety, which she has learned to deal with, even if she can’t conquer it ...those readers who are tired of encountering the scenario in which the damsel in distress is rescued by a prince will find much to love here, given how Swanson puts a unique corkscrew on that plot device ... For those unfamiliar with Swanson’s work, start here and work your way back through his bibliography. You will be rewarded.
RaveBookreporter.comThe Forgotten Girls is yet another example of why Owen Laukkanen has been on my must-read list since the release of his debut novel ...this newly published title is the best of the lot to date, with Laukkanen combining suspense, extreme danger and an exotic setting to create another winner in the series ...Laukkanen brilliantly injects a technological plot point here, demonstrating that, while the police procedural mystery genre is vintage and venerable, technology in all its forms will continue to provide the seasoned dog with new tricks ...is set in a world that most people rarely contemplate, other than when the gates do down at a railroad crossing ... He ratchets up the suspense along the way as well, taking an unexpected player or two off the board before story’s end.
PositiveBookreporter.comNothing Short of Dying injects just the right amount of adrenaline into the doldrums of the closing days of summer and gives thriller fans everywhere a new protagonist to follow ... Clyde Barr is the book’s first person narrator, a scarred but still upright former soldier on just the right side of middle age with a skill set that moves him toward rather than away from trouble. Storey doesn’t waste much time getting Clyde into the thick of things in this inaugural volume ... Comparisons between Clyde Barr and a certain fictional MP are inevitable, but while both are very capable and wandering loners, Clyde is certainly unique in his presentation ... Storey seeds his debut work with plenty of potential story material for future books ... Jump on the Clyde Barr train now; you’ll have less catching up to do later.
PositiveBookreporter.comLittle White Lies takes place in the immediate aftermath of Slow Burn, with Spenser in living quarters that may or may not be temporary following the arson that destroyed his familiar lodging ...Atkins gives the series one of its more complex plots, although it starts off simply enough ...has everything one might want or wish for in a Spenser novel: an interesting mystery, explosions, fisticuffs, that wonderful dialogue, Hawk, Spenser and Silverman ...there is a small, uncharacteristic glitch that keeps it from being one of my favorites ...ultimately –– no one really reads Spenser for the villains –– and it certainly won’t deter me from reading Atkins’ next book in the series or recommending it to you, whether you are a new reader to the series or a stalwart from the 1970s.
PositiveBookreporter.comLinda Castillo has made the series extremely accessible for anyone who wishes to pick it up at any point, a factor that makes Down a Dark Road a must-read for both newcomers to the series and longtime fans ...latest installment finds Kate’s past and present colliding dramatically when a prisoner escapes from the nearby Mansfield Correctional Institution ...when Kate drives out to their farm to do a well-being check, she herself is taken hostage by King ...it’s only halfway finished. Kate begins an investigation of her own on a case that is not only cold but also closed in the mind of law enforcement ...is certainly one of the best installments of the series thus far and is a great place to start, given its strong characterization of Kate Burkholder past and present and the terrific mystery that forms the core of the book. It’s a must-read for this summer.
RaveBookreporter.comDrew’s cinematic descriptive powers, which he displayed so well in his debut, are on full and wonderful display here, helping to make it an absolute must-read... Shadow Man technically qualifies as a historical novel, given that it is set in 1986 in southern California... The primary story is simple enough. A serial killer is operating in the usually quiet town to which Wade has returned, and it takes the police force as well as the public at large a bit of time to discover that there is a monster in their midst ... Drew’s prose will remind readers by turns of Dennis Lehane and T. Jefferson Parker. This is a remarkable work that you will want to read in one sitting, simply because its author sinks the hook so deeply from its first paragraph that it is impossible to put down until completed.
RaveBookreporter.com...if you read sequential art stories (and you should), you more than likely have encountered and enjoyed his work –– but Revolver, as George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Jerome Brailey would say, tears the roof off the sucker ...is a trilogy contained in one well-written novel of just a little over 300 pages, a mystery done right that is perfect in every way. Each section is divided into three parts, stretching over three generations and a half-century ... Each section advances the timeline of each part, giving the reader little breadcrumbs of clues and hints of mystery to follow, which you will, right to the end, while reading as fast as you possibly can. It’s a tantalizing mystery full of interesting characters, major and minor ... Anyone who has ever celebrated a holiday with their dysfunctional family will find much to love here, mystery aficionado or otherwise.
RaveBookreporter.comThe Dr. Knox of the title is one of the most interesting characters you are likely to meet this year ...a kind of Ray Donovanof the ghetto, only he’s Donovan with a medical degree and without the penchant for mayhem ... A great deal of the attraction of Dr. Knox is the amount of research that Spiegelman obviously invested in writing this book... major plot thread running through Dr. Knox arises early on in the book. As the clinic is getting ready to close after a normal day of chaos, a woman brings in a young boy who has had a severe allergic reaction. Knox and his staff have barely treated him when they realize that the woman, who appears to be his mother, has left... This is a character-driven novel, however, and the concept of a guy like Knox fighting the good fight in a medically underserved area makes one hope that someone like that is really out there.
RaveBookreporter.com...Fast Falls the Night, a truly riveting work that has provided me with the impetus to seek out the preceding volumes of this fine series ... It begins with the death of a young woman in a convenience store restroom just after midnight. It continues, with overdoses across the somewhat narrow class and income demographics of the small town ...is a story that is complete in itself but will have repercussions that undoubtedly will shape and affect future storylines in the series ...it attempts to discuss an issue that is being raised with more and more frequency: that being whether saving habitual drug offenders –– bringing them back from the brink of death following an overdose –– is a worthwhile endeavor, particularly for those who routinely put their own lives in danger ... This novel presents both arguments very well, which is as it should be.
RaveBookreporter.comNesbø doesn’t just exceed the expectations that he always creates with the publication of his books; in the words of the immortal George Clinton, he tears the roof off the sucker. Once you read The Son, you’ll never get it out of your head … The setup works well for all, particularly an enigmatic, frightening crime lord known as the Twin, who is the stuff of legend. However, it all gets shot to hell when Lofthus learns that his father was murdered … Nesbø has the ability to tell a dark story in a voice that is unflinching yet roughly poetic, resulting in novels that transcend any genre to which one might be inclined to assign them.
RaveBookreporter.comPretty Girls is one of the best books published in 2015 thus far. It also may be one of the most controversial … The plot, while easy to follow – Slaughter’s narrative, as always, is first-rate – corkscrews magnificently throughout the book. She doesn’t just upend the china cabinet and kick it down the stairs; she also jumps up and down on it a few times before story's end … The journey on which Slaughter takes her readers is a graphic and horrific one. The book will be difficult for the faint-hearted, though perhaps it is that group that needs it the most. While a work of fiction, it has the power in its message to literally save lives.
MixedBookreporter.comAt its heart, this book is a character study, with elements of a private detective mystery and pretensions of a political thriller. But it is more concerned with the story of its protagonist, who is wonderfully wrought... The result is a tale that stays with you long after the final page has been turned ... The investigation meanders throughout the American northwest, as the reader comes to know the intriguingly complicated Celine and, yes, her husband as well... Celine is a complex work that makes some demands –– not the least of which is a major suspension of disbelief with respect to the MacGuffin of the piece –– but is shot through with beautiful, addictive prose while creating a multi-dimensional and accessible character.