PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBrunetti has seen crimes like this before, but this cop is neither jaded nor callous, and he has that rare quality Italians would call \'un cuore d’oro,\' a heart of gold.
Stephen Mack Jones
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewSeeing Detroit through Snow’s adoring eyes is sweet. But except for the bad guys, who go out in a blazing gun battle, the characters are too good to be true, from Snow’s sainted godmother and a priest who operates an underground railroad to Snow himself, who could use a few flaws to make him human.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe protagonists of Perry’s ingenious thrillers are usually skilled at devising schemes for getting out of awkward situations. Elle uses her wits to break into tight spots, like the headquarters of the shady security firm hunting her down for involving herself in the triple homicide. Elle performs tricky feats here, but her pièces de résistance are the elaborate strategies she engineers to break into that company’s control center. If Perry is the king of obsessive strategists (and I so declare him), Elle is his pinup model.
James Lee Burke
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"But does anyone really read Burke expecting a coherent narrative? We’re hanging on for Robicheaux’s pensées, like his meditation on the living spirits of the dead... We’re keeping an eye out for vivid characters like Bella Delahoussaye... Maybe most of all, we’re waiting for those angry outbursts when Robicheaux lets it rip... [This reviewer would spend a few days in a parish prison] [o]nly if there’s a new James Lee Burke novel in the cell.\
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWell-rounded, sympathetic characters have always been a hallmark of Harvey’s work, and he’s at his best here. Katherine’s mood swings are uncomfortably real, as she’s desperately in love one minute and the next just plain desperate. Cad though he is, her feckless lover, the painter Anthony Winter, is still recognizably human. But the richest character of all is Elder himself, tough on the job but stopped in his tracks by a song.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe sheer cruelty of the case’s multiple murders demands coarse language, at which Guzlowski excels. But in describing the saintly Sisters of St. Joseph nuns who live near the murder scene as \'tough broads, eyes like razors,\' he lets us know that, back in the day, the city of Chicago was an all-around rough town.
Keigo Higashino, Trans. by Giles Murray
MixedNew York TimesHigashino’s fabled Tokyo Metropolitan Police detective, Kyoichiro Kaga, he of the \'razor-sharp mind and bloodhound nature,\' has been dispatched to the Nihonbashi precinct to investigate the inexplicable murder of a middle-aged woman who lived alone and seemed to have no enemies ... The characters, it must be said, are thinner than the dough used to create those delicate pastries; but in a fair exchange, the author has succeeded in making problem-solving logistics sexy.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewIs there anything creepier than being stalked on social media? In The Stranger Game...Peter Gadol makes a convincing case that the real-world experience is much creepier and far more dangerous ... Gadol plays his own games here, shifting the novel’s focus ... It’s dizzying, after a while, trying to live inside these people’s heads, fabricating their intimate thoughts, listening to them breathe.
MixedThe New York TimesThe wildlife scientist Delia Owens has found her voice in her...first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature. The author, with her husband, Mark, of three books about southern Africa, Owens here surveys the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast through the eyes of an abandoned child. And in her isolation that child makes us open our own eyes to the secret wonders — and dangers — of her private world ... In the end, Owens goes a bit too far as she attempts to make amends for Kya’s lonely childhood and solitary life. But it must be said that Kya has earned it.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIf you can overlook the high body count, The Bouncer...is a brilliantly goofy caper novel in the grand tradition of Donald E. Westlake. A terrorist plot to hit New York City is the only threat that would make confederates out of warring mobsters ... But for all their professional expertise, hunting spies and defusing bombs aren’t among the talents these tough folks have. Better they should hire a \'gangster sheriff,\' like Joe Brody, a bouncer at Club Rendezvous who carried out classified military missions during a stint in Special Forces. In a case like this, Brody is definitely your man.
PositiveThe New York TimesHarry Bosch is a one-of-a-kind hero ... [a] jam-packed narrative ... Connelly’s cop has always been a tough guy, but here he reveals a compassionate side.
PositiveThe New York TimesSandford has been working on Lucas for more than two dozen books, and by now Lucas can handle just about anything ... He’s a hero for these perilous times.
Joe R. Lansdale
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewFor such a freewheeling stylist, Lansdale can write a sensitive obituary for a 'confused and tortured soul' like Sebastian, as well as boisterous action scenes for his irrepressible leads. And he has compassion for places like Hell’s Half Mile, 'a line of honky-tonks full of drunken patrons trying to wash down poverty, bad marriages and gone-to-hell children.'
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe Venetian settings are enchanting and Commissario Guido Brunetti’s investigative methods are drolly amusing. But it’s the living, bleeding humanity of the characters that makes Donna Leon’s police procedurals so engaging. In The Temptation of Forgiveness, Brunetti comes to the assistance of Professoressa Crosera, whose 15-year-old son is taking drugs and whose husband suffered a brain injury after being thrown down the stone steps of a bridge. In his sensitive dealings with the victims of crime, Brunetti proves as much a psychologist and social worker as a cop ... Tagging along after this sleuth is a wonderful way to see Venice like a native, especially since Leon takes care to give us precise directions for his routes.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAfter a slow and soggy start, the narrative picks up as it follows Anna Johnson’s efforts to determine why her parents chose to commit suicide, seven months apart, by leaping from the cliffs at Beachy Head, 'a beautiful, haunting, agonizing place. At once uplifting and destroying.'
PositiveThe New York Times\"King has no major sins staining his soul, and since he spent years doing hard time for a crime he didn’t commit, he has no need for redemption. While that makes this disgraced ex-cop an authentic hero, it also puts him at a disadvantage because (let’s come clean) virtuous victims just aren’t as much fun as bad boys … As usual with this singular author, the plot is way over the top; but the vibrant characters and pulsating dialogue are primo Mosley … Great stuff.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe intense thrills of Thomas Perry’s The Bomb Maker are almost unbearable ... Dick Stahl, who steps in to head the depleted squad, doesn’t get the joke, but he goes mano a mano with the abominable riddler, whose clear intention is to destroy those who respond to his devilishly clever booby traps. There seems to be no pattern to the placement of these 'well-designed, insidious and psychologically astute' devices, which turn up at a gas station, a school cafeteria and a hospital ward ... And when they do, the damage is spectacular.
James Lee Burke
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewJames Lee Burke is what fellow writers call a wordsmith. He can make your eyes water with a lyrical description of tropical rain falling on a Louisiana bayou … Dave Robicheaux, the narrator of this robust regional series, is an Iberia Parish sheriff’s detective with the melancholy air of a man who occasionally sees the hollow-eyed ghosts of the Confederate dead … Like most of Burke’s plots, this one has roots in Louisiana history, a gumbo of ‘misogamy and racism and homophobia,’ not to mention ‘demagoguery’ and ‘self-congratulatory ignorance.’
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewIt’s always story time in the charming mysteries Louise Penny sets in sleepy Three Pines...While constant readers may think they know all there is to know about its eccentric villagers, Penny is a great one for springing surprises … As with any village mystery series, attrition is a constant problem. Happily, Penny replenishes the population by introducing new characters, including the very promising Gilbert family, who have bought the old Hadley house and plan to turn it into a luxury inn and spa. There may be bad blood between the Gilberts and Olivier, but that only adds to the social chemistry that’s always on the bubble in Three Pines.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewPeter Temple drops the clipped delivery that gives a hard edge to his popular Jack Irish mysteries and delivers a mature and measured account of the kind of crimes committed in the dead quiet of rural Australia … When two Aboriginal youths caught with goods belonging to a murdered white man are killed in a police shootout, Cashin can’t ignore the region’s virulent strains of racism. Along with giving us mournful scenes of civilization’s slow encroachment on an idyllic countryside, Temple offers some provocative and painful views of Australia’s inner landscape.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewWhile every novel by Michael Robotham must be approached with caution, the ones featuring Joe O’Loughlin come with a special warning. That’s because O’Loughlin, a clinical psychologist who teaches at Bath University and serves as a consultant on difficult criminal cases, attracts such problematical clients … Robotham writes with grave tenderness about unhappy people caught in terrible situations.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMerriman’s subject is the rise and fall of the Bonnot Gang, but he shrewdly wraps his historical analysis in the arms of a love story. Rirette Maîtrejean and Victor Kibaltchiche met on the battlements of the class war, which fueled their affair and gave it purpose. But Jules Bonnot, the leader of their gang, was more committed to plunder than to the cause.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis underrated crime writer really gets under the hood of this part of the city in The Ancient Rain, the third novel in a habit-forming series about Dante Mancuso, a private eye who knows everyone to talk to — or goes to the funeral of anyone unable to talk ... As Dante works his sources — a vivid gallery of old-timers clinging to an eroding culture — he broods on the changes since 9/11, eloquently conveying the paranoia that can have a community seeing terrorists on every corner.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAfter doing time in a Mexican prison, the tough-as-they-come hero of Erik Storey’s Nothing Short of Dying heads straight for the Utah wilderness to refresh himself before making a trek to the Yukon... So begins a sweaty thriller by a first-time novelist who really knows how to handle himself in these thickets ...Barr heads for the Colorado backcountry, where the plot really takes off. Storey knows and loves this rugged territory.
Jennifer Finney Boylan
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewJennifer Finney Boylan has designed Long Black Veil as a whodunit — an existential whodunit about living with all your selves ... To the author, the prison is more than a setting, it’s also a powerful symbol for the closeted life she once led ... Although Boylan’s awkward handling of the two time frames depletes the tension, she has a good grip on the dynamics of her narrator’s current and past selves and the battle to keep them from fighting to the death.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review…[a] well-tuned new mystery … Coben does his usual professional job on the central mystery, which involves the violent deaths of a detective’s brother and the brother’s girlfriend, but his greater talent lies in his warmhearted descriptions of life in places like Westbridge...That kind of writing is what we call poetry, and it falls on the ear like the sounds of summer.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewMaureen is still on the right side of the law, if only barely, in Let The Devil Out, which finds this volatile cop on her worst behavior, using her month of disciplinary probation to beat down men who stalk and attack women leaving bars alone at night … Despite all the physical punishment Loehfelm’s rogue cop dishes out, there’s an air of cozy familiarity about this series. Here Maureen’s mentor, Sgt. Preacher Boyd, makes a welcome return visit, but villains like the local power broker Solomon Heath also rear their heads, as do their sociopathic offspring. That’s the thing about New Orleans: No one can bear to leave for higher, safer ground, not the evil men who prey on the city’s innocents or the decent folks who try to save them, and certainly not Maureen.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewJulia Keller doesn’t pull any punches in Fast Falls the Night. In the course of a single day, there are 33 overdoses (three of them fatal) in Aker’s Gap, the Appalachian town in West Virginia where she sets all her regional mysteries. The putative cause of this horrendous business is a batch of tainted heroin... The plot pretty much consists of waiting for the next OD victim to keel over, but Keller does a terrific job of rubbing our faces in the troubles of her hometown — of America’s hometowns.
Cay Rademacher, Trans. by Peter Millar
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPart police procedural and part travelogue, Cay Rademacher’s Murderous Mistral is a perfect getaway mystery. This tightly-plotted whodunit (briskly translated from the German by Peter Millar) uproots Capitaine Roger Blanc from his prestigious office in the Paris gendarmerie to the Midi... The detective-as-outsider convention works really well in humanizing Blanc, whom the elegant women in the district find especially amusing ... By the time Blanc is presented with his second murder case, he’s ready to admit that his new home in the countryside is more stimulating than he’d thought.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe great port of London is churning with activity in Anne Perry’s latest Victorian mystery, An Echo of Murder... The horridly mutilated victim is a Hungarian merchant, one of a growing populace of displaced persons fleeing oppression in European cities like Budapest and Vienna, only to stir up antagonism in their new home ... Perry fashions a rich, if blood-splattered narrative from this chapter of history.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewLocke writes in a blues-infused idiom that lends a strain of melancholy and a sense of loss to her lyrical style. Given the characters in her novel, that voice comes naturally ... As for the murder mystery, it’s tied up with buried feelings and secret betrayals that cross racial lines and go back generations. 'There were things you just didn’t do in Lark, Texas,' Locke tells us. 'And picking apart bloodlines was one of them.' So enjoy your stay in Lark; but don’t ask anyone 'Who’s your daddy?' and expect to get out of town alive.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBillingham allows his plot to wander down some pretty dark alleys. A friend of Amaya’s is gang-raped, considered appropriate retribution for talking to the police. And it’s disconcerting to learn that in Pakistan some honor killings can be forgiven by the victim’s family, with no punishment for the murderers. But Billingham saves his real animus for the Metropolitan Police’s Honor Crimes Unit, which receives 3,000 incident reports a year but doesn’t have a website — or even a sign on the door.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewEven inanimate objects come to life in Lange’s world ... The caper plot is tidier (and more violent) than Lange’s usual free-form efforts, with a solid back story about Army buddies conniving to retrieve the cash they made from stolen goods in Afghanistan. The book is most fun, though, when it focuses on Petty’s clever ruses to separate the rubes from their life’s savings ... Lange’s bread and butter are his quick studies of colorful characters, many of whom die here in unpleasant ways. So it’s only fitting when those who are still alive at the end raise their glasses on New Year’s Eve in a toast 'to the lucky and the unlucky, the swindlers and the swindled, the living and the dead.'
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewTibbehah has been an outlaw haven since bootlegging days, so it’s a professional insult when out-of-town robbers steal $192,000 from the First National Bank. But even that major crime is overshadowed when two local girls go missing and everyone fears the worst. What Atkins understands is that regional mysteries can go only so far when updating local crime patterns. It’s O.K. to rob the town bank, but you can’t burn it to the ground.
MixedThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewA hell-raising thriller … Slaughter executes a number of tricky plot twists, some clever and others preposterous. (Would the F.B.I. really offer witness protection to someone who’s a ‘borderline psychopath’?) But all these sweaty maneuvers are in the service of a genuinely exciting narrative driven by strong-willed female characters who can’t wait around until the boys shake the lead out of their shoes.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewMina has always been a close observer of the brutality drunkards can inflict on their wives and children. But she also feels for women like Manuel’s mother, Brigit, and the father of a murdered girl who describes her in the blandest of terms on the witness stand because he can’t bring himself to share his memories of the 'real daughter' the public knows only as a mangled corpse. Mina even holds out her hand to those inarticulate thugs whose violent acts are a perverse way of validating their own lives ... With one plotline continually hopscotching over the other, Mina manages to keep two narratives going at once: the farcical account of Watt and Manuel’s binge and the sober courtroom drama of dueling life-or-death stories when Manuel faces a jury. Despite the novel’s final reassurance that it’s 'just a story. Just a creepy story about a serial killer,' this one feels painfully real.
Jo Nesbø, Trans. by Neil Smith
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...intricate plotting keeps the story shifting under our feet. Nesbo is a master at this narrative sleight of hand, and if you can stand the gory details and hang on during the switchback turns, the payoff is its own reward.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewSara Paretsky defies the old notion that regional detectives don’t travel well outside their home turf ... This is the kind of social consciousness we’ve come to expect from Paretsky, a committed political activist whose conscience informs everything she writes. She’s strong, she’s fierce, and she carries that chip on her shoulder with real pride.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewDavid Joy’s bleakly beautiful tales of the rapacious drug culture of the Appalachian mountain dwellers of Jackson County, N.C., have a dreadful consistency. Every day, it seems, there’s 'another story of another man killing another man in another godforsaken town.' In The Weight of This World, a boy like Aiden McCall knows that 'in time he would become his father' — a man who told his wife he loved her before shooting her in the head and killing himself. That alone should explain why Aiden would choose a brute like Thad Broom for his best friend, remaining loyal even when Thad returns from military service 'malformed and hardened by bitterness and anger.' Their friendship forms the spine of this gorgeously written but pitiless novel about a region blessed by nature but reduced to desolation and despair.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewI See you, a nasty little tale by the British author (and former police officer) Clare Mackintosh, articulates female riders’ secret fears of being stalked by some silent watcher on the London Underground ... Mackintosh supplies refreshingly realistic domestic scenes for the women in this slow-burning narrative, including Kelly Swift of the British Transport Police, who talks her way onto this case to get back in the big leagues. She’s a well-drawn character with a rich home life (another one of the author’s strengths) and good company on this case, which — with the exception of a forced and truly awful ending — really hits home for daily commuters with robotic schedules and vivid imaginations.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewGloria Seever never intended to share her life with a man who would murder 31 people and bury their remains in the crawl space under the house. She just wasn’t very observant ... In trying to understand Seever’s appeal to his imitator, Ralph Loren of the Denver Police Department adopts his fashion sense, hairstyle and mannerisms, which alters his looks but doesn’t do much for his deductive skills. But while that plot turn leads down a blind alley, Chaney has more success with her other, striking characters.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThere’s a distinct creepiness to this claustrophobic story, but in time common sense triumphs; what initially felt deliciously sinister eventually seems schematic and just plain sadistic.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBy injecting a spritz of supernatural fizz into Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough shrewdly transforms a romantic suspense novel into an eerie thriller calculated to creep you out ... In brief chapters with alternating narrators, Pinborough keeps us guessing about just who’s manipulating whom — until the ending reveals that we’ve been wholly complicit in this terrifying mind game.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewRankin is an expert at manipulating multiple plots. Here they involve touchy gang chieftains itching for war, equally quarrelsome police officials squabbling over jurisdiction and one especially 'ruthless, rapacious, hands-on, determined' banker trafficking in fishy offshore shell companies ... Along with his plotting prowess, Rankin has cultivated a fluid style that accommodates mordant cop talk, coarse gangster lingo and the occasional honest expression of compassion. So there’s a certain rough charm to the banter between Rebus and his well-drawn colleagues.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewPenny weaves their forgotten histories into her artful tale of a charismatic but despised instructor at the police academy who is found murdered in his quarters, perhaps at the hands of one of the cadets favored by Gamache, who, having cleansed the Sûreté of internal corruption, is now charged with sanitizing the academy. Despite the theme of defiled innocence that makes this such a mournful story, the immense charm of the Gamache series survives in the magical setting and feisty residents of Three Pines ... Like most of the yarns we’ve heard about Three Pines, this one honors the town elders and respects the rituals of their quiet existence. But in a broader sense, the novel reaches beyond the living to become the saddest kind of ghost story, a lament for all 'the phantom life that might have been.'
Graeme MaCrae Burnet
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewGraeme Macrae Burnet makes such masterly use of the narrative form that the horrifying tale he tells seems plucked straight out of Scotland’s sanguinary historical archives.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPreston has written this page-turner like a political thriller, with urgent dialogue, well-staged scenes, escalating tension and plenty of cliffhangers, especially once the trial begins. But no matter how hard he tries to convince us of Thorpe’s 'magnetic personality,' his central character comes off as selfish, arrogant and manipulative.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] highly combustible procedural ... Although the dominant theme of his book is rampant police corruption, Mullen touches on fascinating topics like the rise of the Dixiecrats, the war between moonshiners and legitimate distributors, and the business end of local prostitution and gambling rackets. Change is in the wind, but it’ll be a long time coming.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewKoryta isn’t entirely successful in his attempt to merge these two plots into a cohesive whole, but each one has its distinct thrills.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] dazzling if thoroughly dizzying new novel ... 'The Disneyland of animism,' in Siri’s wry opinion of the place, is easily the highlight of this mind-bending book.
PositiveThe New York TImes Book Review...[a] wonderfully offbeat voice ... McInerney’s characters aren’t what anyone would call saints, but they’re so richly drawn you have to respect the way they think and sympathize with their moral conflicts ... Not only is McInerney’s prose ripe with foul language and blasphemous curses delivered in the impenetrable local idiom, but her style is so flamboyantly colorful it can’t always be contained.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewOver the course of her irresistible book, [Summerscale] takes on popular attitudes toward children and their place in society ... Summerscale proves a wonderful champion of these exciting adventure tales, which allowed young boys to dream of better things than a life of poverty.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThere’s intelligence and style, if not much shape, to the plot, which concerns stolen artifacts being traded on the black market. But Cass’s voice, as deep as a dungeon and as dark as a grave, is addictive.
PositiveThe New York TimesThat’s why it’s such a joy to hang around with Easy, who is...easy. No furies in his brain, no fires in his gut, just an unquenchable curiosity about people and their personal dramas. Following the meandering plot is beside the point once Mosley starts bringing on his familiar characters for Easy to chat up.
PositiveThe New York TimesAlthough it follows too closely the plot of a previous book, Blood on Snow, this forcefully written story of personal defeat, despair and salvation, translated by Neil Smith, sends a man off to lose himself in the wilderness — where he finds himself instead. Introspective and sensitive, Hansen is the polar opposite of Harry Hole, Nesbo’s far more commanding series detective.