PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksWhile the novel will certainly attract the attention of the former cadre, bless their elbow patches and thoughtful frowns, there’s more than enough meat on the bone here to satisfy those of us who are simply looking for a really great crime novel to engage and entertain us ... Danny Ryan is a compelling, well-drawn protagonist whose inner conflicts resonate as we follow him through each turn of fortune, some of them upward but most of them down. The story also has its share of suspense, even though it’s pretty clear things are not going to turn out well, and for the most part the narrative maintains a decent pace ... The setting on its own is a special feature of the novel ... As with many other stories that have taken several years to write, there are a few minor rough patches that should have been cleaned up along the way. The chapter that provides Pam’s backstory, for example, could have been condensed and slipped in somewhere else without slowing things down ... As well, the narrator’s use of bad grammar, sentence fragments, and east coast vernacular to assist in setting the atmosphere around his characters is not particularly charming or necessary, for the most part ... a crime novel you won’t put down voluntarily. It’s an instant classic in the genre, and it sets the stage for what we fully expect to be an equally explosive sequel.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksBosch is one of the best fictional detectives ever to hit the printed page ... The Dark Hours is a typically well-told Connelly effort. He interweaves the murder and sexual assault investigations effectively, never allowing us to confuse the details of the cases, and Ballard continues to work as a character who maintains our interest. We want her to succeed, to do well, even as we hold our breath at her questionable decisions. Relentless pursuit of justice is the iron rod that runs through every Connelly procedural, and The Dark Hours is no exception. As long as he keeps writing them, we’ll keep reading them.
James Lee Burke
MixedNew York Journal of BooksBurke tells his story in something of a stylistic pastiche. His descriptions of the landscape and Aaron’s longing for a lost paradise echo John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, and William Faulkner, while his dialogue, particularly when Aaron clashes with local villain Rueben Vickers and his son, Darrel, has a distinct Raymond Chandler/Ross Macdonald hardboiled tone to it. However, it’s difficult to know exactly how to approach this novel. Fans of Burke’s crime fiction will be pleased with Aaron’s darkness and with Wade Benbow, a chewed-up local detective who’s battling cancer and personal loss while trying to keep the peace and track down a murderer. Those interested in historical fiction will appreciate his portrait of rural and small-town Colorado in 1962 as drugs begin to enter the region, along with the dissolute culture and depressing loss of life that go along with them. However, beyond the historical element and the crime fiction slant, the ending of the novel will cause problems for many readers ... a challenging tale by an accomplished master of crime fiction. Fans of James Lee Burke will need to curb their expectations before reading this one, because their author has more in mind for his story than might meet the eye on a superficial level.
John Le Carré
MixedNew York Journal of Books... it’s possible—in fact, quite probable—that Le Carré held this manuscript back because it just didn’t feel good enough to release into the stream of public readership. While he was a master of the cryptic, turgid spy story heavily dependent on inference, association, and slender threads followed diligently to revelation, and while Silverview is written in this tradition, much of the uncertainty and mystery in the novel arise from an inconsistent writing style more than his famously furtive approach to storytelling. Too many sentence fragments, unattached pronouns, and floating strings of confusing dialogue leave us constantly wondering what’s going on from one paragraph to the next, who’s being referred to in a given sentence, and what the objective of a particular scene might be. As well, the novel gives us the feeling that Le Carré was thinking in terms of an extended storyline featuring these characters in other novels at some point in the future. As a result, it feels incomplete, perhaps almost half-baked .... However, Silverview is a gift to scholars, aficionados of the genre, and readers at large eager for one last look at the creative mind of an acknowledged master of his field.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksAt times it’s a rather high number [of characters] for readers to juggle as the story moves forward, especially when some of them have appeared in previous novels where aspects of their character have already been fleshed out. If this is your first Dolan novel, then, you might want to pay close attention in order to keep the various detectives separated in your head. Is it worth the effort? Is One Half Truth a crime novel you’ll want to spend time with, even if you haven’t encountered the series before? You bet it is. Dolan is an excellent writer whose work is a pleasure to read. For example, she has a talent for representing a detective’s thought processes when interviewing a potential suspect ... Dolan also does an excellent job of highlighting the subtleties and nuances in what people say or do, the things to which a good detective must be sensitive ... a top-notch police procedural from an author with a sure hand, an unwavering eye for detail, and a clear voice perfectly suited to the genre.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksAvery Keene is a stron[g] protagonist who’s multifaceted and holds our sympathies throughout ... Secondary characters are somewhat hit and miss. Authority figures such as FBI agent Lee and Homeland Security nemesis Major Vance are flat and predictable, and biotech executives Indira Srinivasan and Nigel Cooper could have been developed more confidently than they were. At the same time, the author’s experience writing romances has leaked into the story through the characters of Jared Wynn, an obvious love interest, and Avery’s circle of friends who pitch in and help solve the mystery. Her writing style, as well, still has room to develop. The first 50 pages are heavily larded with modifiers, she tends to include too many stage directions for the movements of her characters, and she occasionally commits the beginner’s error of shifting from one point of view to another mid-scene—the dreaded sin of head-hopping. A better editing job would have helped ... A manuscript this long in incubation will naturally show inconsistencies and seams where sections have been rewritten and stitched together, and While Justice Sleeps is no exception.
RaveNew York Journal of Books... amazing story of the birth of a new type of journalistic investigation ... jaw-dropping ... Eliot Higgins is a remarkable young man, intelligent and relentless, and his book tells a story that needs to be read, digested, and discussed. We Are Bellingcat reveals the power within each one of us to pierce the walls of disinformation and learn the truth about what’s happening out there.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksAn in-depth look into the Bureau’s internal code of conduct and how they work tirelessly to maintain rigorous standards of behavior within one of the most influential and important law enforcement agencies in the world ... While he draws heavily on his work experience to dramatize and illustrate his points, The FBI Way doesn’t follow his career in a chronological fashion. Like any other law enforcement professional, he clearly enjoys telling war stories, but the book tends to jump back and forth along his personal timeline. As we move from field work to OPR investigations and back again, we tend to lose track of where we are in his career. However, it’s important to understand that Frank Figliuzzi has not written a book about himself. He’s written a book about the FBI ... Some chapters are better than others ... Despite hitting on most of the hot-button topics, The FBI Way is a somewhat dry read. Figliuzzi is not a particularly good storyteller, and he tends to step on his own punch lines while relating examples of specific cases in which he was involved. As well, his attempts to graft onto the main thesis of the book generalized corporate lessons in best practices based on the FBI’s core values are rather forced, sprinkled in as obvious attempts to widen his readership. Inspired by his five-year stint at General Electric after leaving the Bureau, no doubt. Nonetheless, The FBI Way is an important read for every American who values the rule of law and the role of the FBI in its maintenance.
C J Box
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBy all means, don’t hesitate—grab Dark Sky and don’t put it down until it’s done ... Box is an accomplished storyteller, and Dark Sky is an effortless read. His use of setting, in this case the fictional Twelve Sleep Valley and its attendant mountains, is very effective ... There’s a remarkably strong sense of place here that centers the story and anchors us firmly in the action.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... the strengths of this novel and the series in general lie in [Leon\'s] characters and setting. While Brunetti shows a tendency toward introspection and broodiness that reminds us somewhat of Georges Simenon’s Maigret, he also enjoys a rich family life that rounds out his personality and constantly lifts the mood of the story ... Leon’s writing style is often awkward, and her handling of the interactions among characters is sometimes stilted and unnatural. As well, her mystery is not particularly deep: the first two-thirds of the story are spent searching for a criminal offense, never mind the perpetrator ... Just the same, Transient Desires is a captivating, elegant novel that will delight Donna Leon’s many fans and attract the interest of readers who haven’t yet discovered this quiet star of international crime fiction.
Elliot Ackerman and James Admiral Stavridis
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a speculative thriller that seems all too plausible ... With such impressive credentials, the question becomes whether or not Ackerman and Admiral Stavridis can write a political thriller that not only matches their expertise but also entertains lay readers who are simply looking for a good story. The answer? Yes, they certainly can ... Lin Bao and Farshad are in fact excellent characters, well drawn, realistic, and remarkably engaging. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, after all, since Ackerman’s earlier novels drew effusive praise for his ability to present convincing and credible points of view from other cultures...Furthermore, despite the frantic and truly frightening nature of the story being told, the prose is calm and measured, almost elegant at times ... a haunting, disturbing cautionary tale about what can easily happen if international conflict is allowed to reach the boiling point. Make sure to add it to your spring reading list.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksWhile this author is well known for using events from the past to inform the structures of his plots, this one’s rather convoluted. The timeline’s a little tough to keep straight ... And how on earth do they all connect to each other? Well, that’s the mystery, of course, but it’s tough sledding to get there. Back and forth, up and down, around and around. As for our intrepid protagonist, while Win has been serviceable over the years as a foil to Myron, who’s generally intended to be likeable and reasonably normal, a full dose of Win on his own is another matter altogether. The novel’s told in the first person from Win’s point of view, which is like 350+ pages of blunt force trauma inflicted on our sensibilities ... an inconsistently drawn Win merely grates on the nerves ... the type of spin-off novel that will be wildly popular with Coben’s fan base as an extension of what they already know and love. As for the rest of you out there in the book-buying world, it’s your call as to whether or not it’s worth spending money on.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksKing’s structure, which jumps back and forth a bit along the timeline, is somewhat disjointed as a result of this retrospection, but not fatally so ... when [King] chooses to use a first-person narrator, as he has here in Later, the results are sometimes rather tinny, as he attempts to mimic the voices and thoughts of young people (adolescent males in particular) without really having a good ear for it. The reader must pass through a gauntlet of fart jokes and prurient fascinations—a style unfortunately imitated by many King admirers—in order to get to the good stuff centering on their special abilities and the threat they must face ... Thankfully, Later keeps this kind of thing to a minimum ... another example of Stephen King’s special ability to tell a story that’s both simple and compelling. Entertaining and thought-provoking, it’s a must-add to your 2021 reading list.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksPobi does an excellent job of reminding us as the story progresses what it must be like to live with multiple prosthetics, let alone explore crime scenes with such physical complications, but he coyly withholds the full back story that would provide specific details about The Event ... Pobi’s storytelling abilities come close to those of Hurwitz and Deaver, and Page is a rough-edged know-it-all reminiscent of Rhyme (a quadriplegic) and the contemporary Sherlocks. The chapters are very short—there are 106 of them altogether in Under Pressure—and Pobi takes full advantage of this growing trend in popular fiction to keep the pages moving under our fingers ... The drawback to this novel, however, lies in its writing style ... We sense an unrelenting pressure to crank out snappier prose, pressure to zing the reader with an endless stream of clever similes, and pressure to bombard us with insider allusions and product esoterica ... Nonetheless, Under Pressure is a thriller that’s fun, entertaining, and challenging.
Max Allan Collins
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksCollins and Schwartz have organized their story into alternating threads. One follows Ness’s advancements in police reform and crime fighting as he cleans up the city, while the other documents each new discovery of body parts and the struggle not only to find the killer but to put a name to each victim ... It’s a difficult way to narrate a biography, and readers will feel the struggle between trying to tell a gripping murder mystery on the one hand and documenting the various achievements during Ness’s run as Safety Director on the other hand. The storylines eventually get somewhat tangled up as satisfactory conclusions become fewer and farther between ... the story understandably loses its momentum and becomes tedious and rather depressing toward the end. Not much that biographers can do about that, though ... Nevertheless, Eliot Ness and The Mad Butcher is an excellent biography that reads like a thriller ... It’s a very welcome look at the actual achievements of this remarkable man, separate from the Dick Tracy-like legend, and it’s a worthwhile, entertaining reading experience.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... something of a tweener. It begins as hard-edged crime fiction as Virgil beats the crap out of someone who has it coming to him while taking a bit of punishment in return. It looks as though we’ve got ourselves another hard-boiled protagonist with the kind of edge fans of American noir can’t get enough of ... As the novel progresses, however, Weiden moves him into situations that seem more aligned with domestic suspense than hard-assed noir ... while the author pitches his hero to us up front as a hard-edged leg breaker on a mission, his attempts to mix inter-personal suspense and love interest into the story end up making Virgil an annoyingly inconsistent character. Perhaps in part because the narrative is first-person and we get a lot of state-of-mind analysis from Virgil, he ends up fluctuating between an immature, half-formed person and a man focused on what needs to be done—a tweener who fails to nail down a solid identity in the story ... The strength of the novel, on the other hand, lies in his treatment of the Rosebud reservation setting and its attendant characters ... a notable debut by an author who clearly has many important and insightful things to say about life on the reservation. Once he makes up his mind what kind of crime fiction he wants to write and finds a way to remain consistent with his choice throughout, David Heska Wanbli Weiden will build an audience that won’t hesitate to grab his next one off the rack or click on \'Buy Now\' on the Web site.
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksThe authors have presented us with a great premise and interesting characters, along with a promise of much more to come (the subtitle is The Silence Tapes Book 1), but the plot for this novel feels more like an origin story, a John Silence Issue #1 comic book, than a solidly crafted novel that could stand on its own merits if something happened and the authors never got around to Issue #2 ... The secondary story thread that dips back into the 16th century to trace John Silence’s beginnings is a bit clunky and over-written. The thread that follows the early career of FBI agent Earl Solomon, however, a Black rookie sent to the Mississippi Delta in 1962 to investigate the strange lynching of a white man, is much better. Solomon jumps off the page, the scenes are tight and suspenseful, and it reads very quickly ... Odessa broadcasts a high level of skepticism on all wavebands. It goes on for too long, though, and at times it feels as though the authors are shooting for a Bogart-Hepburn type of back-and-forth between her and Silence. Unfortunately, it misses on dramatic edginess and strays into irritating and distracting debates between the two that go nowhere. Silence remains cryptic while Odessa is just really, really pissed off ... Nevertheless, The Hollow Ones features some good writing, with a few similes and metaphors that will bring the pencil up to the page for quick underlining ... Despite its Issue #1 thinness and somewhat uneven development, The Hollow Ones is definitely recommended reading for everyone with a taste for occult detective fiction featuring a great premise, interesting characters, and a tantalizing promise of more to follow.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksTurow is also a practicing lawyer with experience in tax fraud and corruption litigation, as well as criminal law, and it shows. Readers have come to expect a high degree of verisimilitude in his fiction, and The Last Trial is no exception to the rule ... where legal procedure and jargon may often become complex and difficult to follow, Turow ensures that his courtroom drama is accessible to general readers. His narrator often takes a moment to clarify the meaning of legal terms in a casual, non-intrusive way, and fuzzy concepts such as the rules pertaining to hearsay evidence are explained simply and without unnecessary detail ... For a person whose primary career has been the law and legal advocacy, Turow should also receive credit for being more than a passable novelist...His ability to create and develop engaging characters is on display to full effect in The Last Trial ... If fault must be found with this novel, it resides in its structure. The prologue, while creating suspense, sits in the back of one’s head throughout like a second shoe that won’t drop. There’s a fine line between Hitchcockian suspense and prolonged irritation, and this prologue arguably crosses the line ... Additionally, where the climax of most courtroom dramas lies in the delivery of the verdict by the jury, this one occurs beforehand, right after Stern’s summation, when he finally keels over and the lights go out. News of the verdict comes to us afterward, at the beginning of a very long dénouement that involves more than a hundred pages of back story explanations, housekeeping, and mystery solving. Too long, too repetitive of earlier scenes, and too anti-climatic ... Despite its structural flaws, The Last Trial is another excellent courtroom drama by a proven master of the legal thriller. Unlike other hall of famers in the genre, Turow is smart enough to stick to what he does best—a solid legal thriller with a page-turning story, an excellent main character, and fresh insight into subject matter that extends naturally from the trial at the center of the novel.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... pulls out all the stops. The Sigma Force characters are familiar and comfortable to readers following the series, the story is written to be read at break-neck speed, and the underpinning of legend, history, and treasure captures our interest and holds it throughout ... For readers who may have avoided the original epic poem because of its dryness and daunting length, Rollins’s thriller makes the ancient tale not only accessible but mysteriously fascinating ... Make no mistake—this is what reading for pleasure is all about. The Last Odyssey is fast, fun, and thoroughly entertaining.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books[Dundas\'s] switch to a contemporary thriller for his second outing is, in large part, a success ... Matthew Rose is an interesting character, and his struggle to regain his memory keeps us engaged. As an alternate point of view, Georgie is well drawn, and her busy-body nature as a reporter working the city desk helps move the story along ... the first 100 pages of the novel set a brisk pace as Dundas shows a well-developed talent for storytelling. The middle hundred lag a bit as Matthew’s search for his past seems to flounder somewhat, taking us in apparently random directions, but Dundas brings his threads together in the final third of the novel in such a way that everything adds up and makes sense after all ... A fourth-generation Montanan and resident of Missoula, Dundas uses his setting effectively without drowning us in local color, and his work experience in journalism lends credibility and realism to Georgie’s relentless pursuit of the story ... The Blaze falls a trifle short of being an out-and-out barn burner, but there’s more than enough here to like that readers will enjoy this one and will certainly want to come back for whatever’s next.
PanThe New York Journal of BooksFrankly, it’s a disappointment ... While Joona remains one of the best detectives in current Scandinavian noir, once again he has far too small a role in a novel with his name on the front cover ... most of the characters in this novel are inexplicably dreadful. Readers are made to suffer through the likes of Janus Mickelsen, Saga’s Security Police cohort, who’s one of the most randomly weird police characters yet ... Not literary, not socially relevant, not well crafted or thought out. Just carelessly thrown together, recycled, boring nonsense the prime objective of which is to maintain Lars Kepler’s place as a #1 International Bestseller ... The Ahndorils seem bound and determined to rehash the same tired material here that has interfered with the quality of their previous novels. We must endure another obligatory orgy scene, violent dreams of impaled spouses, and extended sequences featuring random, graphic violence that, when involving women, is sexually suggestive ... If you happen to like rabbits, cute and vulnerable little creatures that they are, you won’t want to read this story. The Rabbit Torturer might have been a more appropriate title ... It’s all very formulaic and predictable at this point. Scandinavian noir has a reputation to live up to, and the Ahndorils are doing their best to make sure their novels keep up with the rest of the herd ... profoundly disappointing.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksThe author successfully creates an atmosphere of unrelenting stress and paranoia that will remain in our mind long after reading his story. There are, however, several problems with Amnesty, and foremost of these is Adiga’s management of his chosen narrative technique. Fluctuating rather madly between interior monologue and exterior point of view, it peppers the reader with memories, fantasies, and current action in such a fractured presentation that it often confuses, zipping back and forth along Danny’s timeline in such a way as to interfere with the novel’s sense of continuity and its forward progress. His decision to expand from mainstream literary fiction to dabble in a popular genre, i.e. crime fiction, is also problematic ... An effective mystery novel requires multiple suspects, a process of detection, and a heaping portion of suspense added to the mix. Amnesty skimps on the first two, and the jumbled narrative style continually chokes off effective development of the third. Not to say that Amnesty is bereft of good writing. Danny is a character we experience and empathize with on multiple levels, and Adiga manipulates our sensibilities with regard to his protagonist ... His use of metaphor and symbolic imagery is, at times, extremely effective ... At the end of the day, inconsistencies and lack of narrative control hold Amnesty back from achieving its full potential. It’s a good novel, and worthy of your consideration, but not a great one.
PanThe New York Journal of BooksWhile the exploration of multiple personalities is less than commonplace in crime fiction and catches our interest up front, it soon bogs down as IQ and everyone else in the story plays a tedious guessing game of name-the-personality as they manifest with random unpredictability ... Interesting up front, but after a while the gimmick lasts too long and becomes tiresome ... Another problem with the novel is Ide’s writing style. His interpretation of LA noir involves riffing on Chandler’s well-known use of similes to inject a humorous and badass tone to the proceedings. Unfortunately, Ide never met a simile he didn’t like. In fact, like would seem to be his favorite word in the language. After a while, your eye skims the surface of his prose, looking for the next like. They crop up multiple times on a page, often more than once in a single paragraph ... Instead of constantly telling us what something’s like, at some point it might be better just to tell us what it is ... Joe Ide’s fan base continues to dig this kind of writing, and there’s no arguing with taste. L.A. noir has definite expectations it must meet, and over-writing is apparently one of them. But for the rest of the crime fiction-reading public, this stuff just won’t get the job done ... the kind of novel readers will like if they’ve already fallen under IQ’s spell and want more of the same. If they’re coming to Ide’s work fresh off the street, though, they may not get past that can of alphabet soup before dropping this one to look for something else more deserving of their time and attention.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... a very enjoyable three-for-one. The legend of Harry Bosch, who is currently recovering from knee replacement surgery, continues forward to the delight of all his fans. In addition, readers are treated to another appearance by the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller. Then there’s Reneé Ballard, who’s earned her chops in two previous novels and works as an interesting complement to Bosch ... Despite this flareup of moral ambiguity, something that we’ve seen before in Connelly’s plots, the novel satisfies on every other level ... His writing style remains carefully tailored to keep things moving briskly, a tribute to his journalistic training and his long experience as a storyteller ... Connelly delivers the goods once again, extending his legacy as quite simply the best author of police procedurals in the business.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksAs is often the case, the roster is a little hit-and-miss ... a very good way to acquaint yourself with a selection of writers who deserve our attention and praise. Thanks to Otto Penzler and Jonathan Lethem, we have contributions from Arthur Klepchukov, Preston Lang, Robb T. White, and Jared Lipov that will encourage us to get out there and discover what else they’ve written ... And as for Brian Panowich, well, if you haven’t read his work before now, you’ve got some homework to catch up on.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksPart of the pleasure that comes from reading a Longmire novel comes from Johnson’s use of the surrounding landscape as a complement to his central character. Both are rugged, challenging, and steadfast ... Longmire’s deputies serve as effective foils ... Although Land of Wolves offers a somewhat less engaging story than the knock-down, drag-out adventures of the previous novel, it’s vintage Longmire, which makes it an outright pleasure to read ... Walt Longmire is one of the best crime fiction heroes around today. Period. And Land of Wolves is a Longmire novel not to be missed.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksUnder the Cold Bright Lights is something of a problem novel. Readers expecting another stolid and heroic detective are forewarned that Disher has a somewhat different objective in mind. Fraught with moral ambiguity, the story forces us to decide whether we’re on Auhl’s side at the end or not. It’s a challenge. Under the Cold Bright Lights is well written. It reads quickly and holds our attention throughout. Disher’s characters, as always, pop from the page. The bottom line? It’s a Disher crime novel, so don’t you dare miss it.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksPenny walks a tightrope over cozy territory with these characters and the quaint rural Québec setting of Three Pines. She takes a risk playing them off against the police procedural elements that dominate when Gamache and his Sûreté colleagues pursue their investigation, but she’s too good a writer to slip and fall. She uses these local characters to create brief, resonant moments of insight into the human condition, her true object of study ... brush strokes jump off the page ... Penny has a very distinctive writing style that first-time readers should be aware of—short paragraphs, frequent use of sentence fragments, repetitiveness. Sometimes it feels as though she’s assembling her thoughts from pieces of modeling clay, one chunk at a time...This uneven rhythm takes some getting used to, and it may be a little off-putting to readers looking for a smoother, more polished style of prose, but it’s part of what makes this author so successful at what she does. It conveys a thoughtfulness, a willingness to examine a situation from multiple angles, and a Clara-like uncertainty as to how the whole thing might be received ... a worthy addition to the Chief Inspector Gamache series, and her fans will love it ... Louise Penny is convincing proof that a Canadian setting, Canadian characters, and the Canadian point of view represent a deep, rich stratum in contemporary crime fiction that cannot, should not, must not be overlooked.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksClark’s strength in this novel lies in his characters ... Clark’s shortcomings in the novel lie in the exposition of his plot. As the charges against Kevin continue to mount, the threads begin to tangle in the reader’s mind ... Clark and his protagonist may be comfortable in this world but most of us are not. The legal subtleties elude us, and Clark declines to spell them out ... While Clark’s intentions in this regard obviously were to generate suspense, the actual result irritates and frustrates. When a hero embarks on a quest to redeem himself, no matter how harrowing and fraught with difficulty the process might be, readers tend to want to travel along the road with him, suffering the defeats and savoring the little victories along the way as though this were a joint venture and not a secretive, elaborate plot from which we’re excluded until the big \'reveal\' at the end ... a good legal thriller with enjoyable characters and a dilly of a situation faced by the main character. A better exposition of the plot, however, would have resulted in a much more effective story.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksRicciardi’s simply a very good storyteller, which more than qualifies him to author an international thriller worthy of our attention. In fact, Rogue Strike doesn’t let up for a moment. There’s no time to sit back and catch your breath, because each chapter explodes with action. Your fingers take on a life of their own, turning the pages as fast as your eyes can read. Even better, the action flows naturally out of his plot, rather than simply dropping gratuitously onto the page ... Jake Keller is a good protagonist, and Ricciardi has done a good job extending him from the first novel into a character who dominates our interest in this follow-up offering. At the same time, Ricciardi has a real knack for action scenes, and Jake’s various encounters feel realistic and exciting. The only drawback to the novel involves the author’s use of multiple points of view ... frequent shifts in point of view make Rogue Strike choppy and a little frustrating at times ... Despite the somewhat irritating narrative shuttling, Rogue Strike is an excellent thriller that’s fun to read and tells an entertaining story.
RaveNew York Journal of Books[Hillerman\'s] writing has moved to another level this time out, and a solid case could be made that it’s her best to date. While her characters are familiar old friends to devoted readers, they once again appear in the pages of this new offering as rich and well-developed figures ... A staple of Hillerman procedurals is the use of multiple plot threads that come together \'like weft and warp,\' and the author again succeeds in launching Leaphorn, Bernie, and Chee in separate directions that ultimately overlap either in case details or in theme ... While characterization and plot development are strengths, perhaps Anne Hillerman’s finest achievement in The Tale Teller is the manner in which she integrates the setting of the novel into her work ... The Tale Teller is more than just a police procedural set in the Southwest, it’s a reading experience not to be missed. Anne Hillerman has reached a new level of storytelling in this one, and she deserves recognition as one of the finest mystery authors currently working in the genre.
PanThe New York Journal of BooksThe density of Ellroy’s story, in which we are obliged to follow so many threads that the list is necessary to help us when we lose track, is exacerbated by his narrative style. And here, truly, is where readers need to make a decision ... It’s a style. Some like it; some don’t. But it goes on and on. For 577 pages. Like a machine gun spraying noir at you nonstop. Can you take it? Can you parse the churning prose, figure out what the hell’s going on, and keep turning the pages? All 577 of them? ... While Ellroy’s in the middle of a very ambitious story arc, and he’s employing a time-honored narrative technique sure enough, the question is not whether he’s the Demon Dog of American Literature, as he loves to call himself, or whether he’s producing crime fiction worthy of the ages ... The question is whether or not This Storm is readable. In point of fact, it’s not ... Perhaps James Ellroy is the greatest American novelist ever, as he and Stephen King both assure us, but most readers will be too exhausted after battling through the first few chapters to argue the point ... The fact is, out here in the mainstream where the book-buying dollars are spent, readers learn to pick their battles carefully. They’ll be more than willing to leave This Storm to the university professors, graduate students, and the Extremely Serious Noiristas, and instead choose something they can actually enjoy reading.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... skillfully evokes the cultural, political, and social atmospheres of small-state India during the time period in question. The food, the clothing, and the rugged beauty of the Sahyadri mountain region jump out from every page in vivid detail ... The story flows, maintaining a steady pace that keeps the reader fully engaged. Perveen is a wonderful protagonist, flawed and endearing, and we care about what happens to her as each page turns. The secondary characters, including the British agent Sandringham and his employee Rama, are round and well drawn ... Simply put, The Satapur Moonstone is a flawless gem. Historical mysteries don’t get any better than this. Sujata Massey takes us into a world that fascinates and entices, and she gives us a protagonist whose company is warm and welcoming. We can only hope, with appropriate fervor, that there’s more to come in the near future in this well crafted series.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksIn Redemption David Baldacci maintains that basic consistency with his series protagonist, which makes the Memory Man so attractive to fans. Decker is an interesting character worthy of further exploration. Unfortunately, the author’s control of other elements such as secondary characters and plotting is wildly uneven. At the end of the day, he’s far from being the kind of author one could say has consistent command of his material. Redemption is more Amos Decker for faithful fans who love their guy, but it’s a long, long way from being worthy of anything more than faint praise.
PanNew York Journal of BooksThe problem with the plot...is that while Land waggles between the two timelines, drawing out the suspense, it takes forever to get to the point of the whole thing ... Well over two thirds of the novel passes, in fact, before the magical words are uttered that are supposed to captivate and astonish us. Land has tried to splice his usual Texas-style gunfest with an action/adventure story in imitation of Dan Brown, Clive Cussler, or Douglas Preston, but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t have the writing chops to pull it off. The story is lumpy and uneven. He tosses stuff into the mix like cups of lard, hoping it all will render down into something palatable, but it never really does. His characters are flat and not believable ... On top of that, the dialogue is hopeless ... Strong as Steel is an over-written splatterfest that may be fine for the shoot-’em-up crowd that buys Land’s stuff each time out, but he offers nothing of interest here to any reader who may be looking for something set in the Lone Star State that’s a little more realistic and three-dimensional, with characters that are believable, and a story that doesn’t stick in your throat like a lumpy, inedible stew.
PanNew York Journal of BooksThin Blue Lie documents in great detail the evolution of the Taser as a tool in modern policing, and Stroud presents a convincing argument that its manufacturers didn’t operate in good faith when it came to the reliability or safety of their product ... A significant difficulty with the book is that Stroud researched and wrote it from the outside. Relying on countless news articles, web posts, and a few interviews with carefully selected individuals, he makes no attempt to capture the point of view of law enforcement, except to document instances where they publicly supported a tool that failed in one way or another ... His only concession to objectivity is to quote Elizabeth Joh, a law professor at the University of California at Davis ... Joh’s thesis, that technological advances in policing should be subject to oversight, that legal standards should be set for investigative techniques that use these technologies, and that vendors should have a lesser role, represents a balanced, commonsensical position that’s missing from Stroud’s polemic, which implies that the whole thing should be thrown out. Immediately. At the end of the day, Thin Blue Lie fails to convince ... The book is subjective, it’s written in a tone that’s cynical, accusatory, and often bitter, and it’s uneven to the point of feeling rushed and incomplete. A thin blue failure.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThese are three remarkable characters that you will remember and think about long after you’ve finished The Book of Dreams ... Henri’s narratives provide the greatest challenge to readers, as they tend to be repetitive and to offer alternate outcomes for past memories ... The novel is extremely easy to read, in part thanks to the translation by Simon Pare, which is flawless and transparent ... a sensitive, insightful exploration of the emotional landscapes of George’s characters. It’s also a thought-provoking consideration of what it’s like to cross the shadowy topography between life and death, to watch the sun go down at the world’s end, and to follow loved ones as they navigate the alternate futures that lie ahead of them.
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"Bharara’s steadfast devotion to the rule of law and due process permeates every page of this book ... One of the more charming aspects of this book, and there are several, is that Bharara freely discusses his own human limitations ... [The book is] easily read, conversational, and with short digressions that turn out to be effective amplifications of his central point ... Additionally, [Bharara’s] sense of humor lightens the subject matter when it tends toward heaviness, and he consciously employs colloquialisms such as \'super impressive,\' \'noggin,\' and \'hinked up\' to avoid turning over to readers a bone-dry legal textbook ... Doing Justice is an essential read for every American who cares about the rule of law and the pursuit of justice in the United States, particularly at a time when these ideals are a constant subject of attack for self-serving political purposes ... Buy it, read it, take lots of notes, mark up the index, put it in an easily findable spot on your bookshelf, and accept the fact that you’re going to be going back to it again and again to remind yourself that intelligence, objectivity, and a light sense of humor all have an extremely important place in today’s public debate about the future of the rule of law in the United States of America.\
Helene Tursten Trans. by Paul Norlen
PanNew York Journal of BooksBegins slowly and never really picks up the pace. Tursten spends a great deal of time establishing the atmosphere of the hunting camp and surrounding terrain, including what the parties eat for meals and where they relieve themselves when necessary. The snake and fox incidents, along with a clichéd mysterious room in Peter’s house, are intended to build suspense ... Readers who are at all sensitive about animals are advised to give this book a pass. Anything that moves is caught up in the slaughter ... Embla is unfortunately not the memorable, engaging protagonist Tursten wishes her to be. She’s flat and derivative, and if she’s a top-notch criminal investigator, we certainly don’t get a strong sense of that here ... Her unfortunate decision to fall into an intimate relationship with Peter, the primary suspect, is a head-shaker. Tursten’s obviously angling toward readers who enjoy a combination of romance and mystery, but the whole thing comes off as disappointing and distasteful ... Tursten tries to mix so many different flavors into her novel that it simply presents itself as undercooked and unappealing. Hunting Game is variously a dark, brooding Swedish noir crime novel, a titillating romance, and an outdoorsman-type hunting adventure. It takes a shot at each target, but unfortunately misses them all.
PanNew York Journal of BooksHard-core Lescroart fans will no doubt be pleased to see their favorite characters back together again as an investigative team; however, readers only casually acquainted with Hardy and the group, or those deciding to try a Lescroart novel for the first time, will find The Rule of Law off-putting and improbable. The dialogue among these people runs a little too cute for a little too long. If you’re new to Lescroart, you’ll find yourself feeling as though you’re on the outside looking in. The cozy closeness seems patterned on previous episodes of a situation comedy you never got around to watching ... The Rule of Law errs in failing to tell a convincing story involving characters who are worthy of our trust. An exercise in recursion, it relies on its own series arc to fuel its plot, and it provides new readers with absolutely no reason to want to read anything else by this author in the future.
Jeremy N. Smith
PositiveNew York Journal of Books...a book that reads like a fictional thriller while remaining solidly grounded in fact ... Smith’s book is remarkably easy to read. Although hacking can involve very complex programming tactics and systems architecture issues that lay readers would struggle to understand, the author keeps the technical side of the story manageable and easy to follow ... Breaking and Entering is an engaging cautionary tale of security vulnerabilities and the constant threat of cyber attacks that businesses and institutions face on a daily basis.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAn excellent police procedural ... The two detectives make for effective co-protagonists, and their up-and-down relationship keeps us interested while we’re following their progress through the mystery. Some of the secondary characters are rather two-dimensional, though, and Hoag seems to have a problem finding a positive male character to write about ... the author does an excellent job of creating a convincing atmosphere suggestive of rural Louisiana’s French Triangle ... Hoag is a good writer ... Readers make up their own minds as to whether or not their favorite bestsellers have written themselves out and are just mailing in revenue generators, but in the case of Tami Hoag, The Boy is proof that this author continues to work hard at her craft ... a story well told, and Nick Fourcade and Annie Broussard are an investigative team you’ll eagerly come back to for more.
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"In a House of Lies is Ian Rankin’s 22nd Rebus novel. It’s a high-quality police procedural that covers off all the classic elements of the sub-genre: a team of investigators, more than one case to be followed, and careful attention to detail ... [Cold cases are] a situation that seems to bring out the best in Rankin as a writer ... While Ian Rankin has often been described as Britain’s finest detective novelists, In a House of Lies clearly demonstrates that he remains among the very best crime fiction authors in the world.\
Scott Von Doviak
PanThe New York Journal of BooksThe problem with the novel is that it’s a chore to read. The characters are hopeless parodies of post-war Irish hoods, eighties college students, and modern-day homicide cops. The dialogue is so bad it sets your teeth on edge. It’s the sort of manuscript that, while being a good first effort, should have been sent back to the writer with firm instructions to enlist the help of a stern-minded coach and editor ... while Charlesgate Confidential may attract many fans of the noir subgenre with its clever storyline, Von Doviak will alienate and annoy many others with his unpalatable writing style. Readers not interested in bad parodies, intentional or otherwise, won’t make it all the way through this one.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksThe novel is divided into thirds. Part One introduces us to Nolan and his production crew, gets them into the Grand Canyon, and delivers them to the doorstep of their discovery ... Part Two, in which their experience takes a sudden turn for the worse, unfortunately fails to maintain the same high standard of storytelling ... When Part Three finally arrives, for those who are still tuned in, the answers to all our questions are revealed, and they turn out to be rather implausible but definitely strange and fantastic ... For fans of the Indiana Jones movies and television series such as Fringe, The Anomaly is great escapist entertainment for the summer cottage or those long vacation drives across the country.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksPhilip Marlowe, is an \'archetypal wisecracking, world-weary private detective who now occupies a permanent place in the American imagination.\' His narrative style, featuring slang-filled dialogue, a panning \'camera eye\' approach to scene description, and hyperbolic similes, is much admired and imitated. His depiction of Los Angeles in the 1930s and ’40s, furthermore, cast the city \'in some ways as the other major character in the Philip Marlowe novels.\' ... The Annotated Big Sleep is a terrific addition to your crime fiction library.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books\"Anne Hillerman has a clean, tight, and consistent writing style. A former journalist who covered the Southwest for the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal, her prose shows the same discipline and economy of description that other authors such as Michael Connelly also bring to the genre from their newspaper reporting experience. At the same time, she’s capable of very nice touches that reveal her comfort level as a writer of fiction ... While the primary characters come across as quite consistent with those of her father—which is fine, thank you—the manner in which she has expanded and developed Bernie Manuelito’s point of view is gratifying ... The only false note is the new FBI character Agent Sage Johnson, who comes across as an annoying caricature right out of the gate ... in sum, Cave of Bones is a success. It’s an enjoyable and entertaining novel that takes us once again into a landscape and a culture we’ve learned to appreciate on many levels. It’s easy to read, it pleases the sensibilities, and it answers our earlier question nicely—this fictional universe now belongs firmly in the hands of Anne Hillerman.\
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
PositiveNew York Journal of Books...readers must understand up front that it has been deliberately written to fall into the “lost world” sub-genre of late-Victorian adventure fiction ... It could have been lifted wholesale from a lost manuscript by Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, or Jules Verne ... The Pharaoh Key is an entertaining read if approached with appropriately lowered expectations ... a bouncing, page-turning camel ride across an exotic landscape we thought had been left behind a century ago, if it ever existed at all.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksFor a thriller, Meltzer’s plot is acceptable. The story moves steadily forward, sort of like a hearse with no brakes careening downhill, bouncing off parked cars and scattering pedestrians like frightened chickens while the body bounces up and down in back. The pages turn, which is more or less the point. The problem with Meltzer, though, is his narrative voice. He has the kind of writing style that sets your teeth on edge. His dialogue is unrealistic, particularly with children who come off like characters on a mediocre Saturday morning cartoon. His scenes are contrived and artless, written with a careless lack of concern for verisimilitude ... His thrillers have also found their base and are guaranteed to make the bestsellers’ lists. Unfortunately, however, The Escape Artist promises much more than it delivers, and it’s not something you’d really care to cross the street to look for.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books\"Although she only dedicated a very short section of the book to a description of her own background, her distinctive, humorous, and very honest voice captures our attention and keeps us fascinated by the person that she was ... By all means, buy this book for the comprehensive information it presents on a serial sexual offender who managed to elude capture almost as an act of defiance as anything else. Read it, though, to hear and appreciate the voice of a writer who cared deeply, who was haunted by these heinous crimes, and who ultimately followed the truth into the darkness, where it remains to this day.\
Douglas Preston and Lee Child
PanThe New York Journal of Books...improbable at best and clownish at worst … Seemingly pulled from the pages of a comic book, our protagonists participate in a story that is equally less than literary. D’Agosta flounders as the body count climbs and ends up adopting an improbable hypothesis published by journalist Bryce Harriman, who might qualify as one of the ten most annoying fictional characters of the decade … The authors flip-flop between Pedergast’s point of view and that of the threatening antagonist, defanging the story of almost all its suspense and further distancing us from our hero.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWhen three American GIs stationed in South Korea during the 1970s go missing, Army Criminal Investigation Division Sergeants George Sueño and Ernie Bascom hear rumors that their disappearances are connected to the local legend of the gumiho, a nine-tailed fox that transforms into a beautiful woman to seduce men and eat their livers afterward ... Martin Limón served ten years in the US Army in South Korea, and his Sueño and Bascom Mystery series reflects a solid understanding of the country, the period, and the difficulties faced by American forces posted in this region during a very complex decade in international relations ... The narrator charges into each scene without unnecessary delay, focusing on the next bit of action to be enjoyed with only enough explanatory or descriptive text to ensure the reader understands Sueño’s thought processes beforehand ...a fast-paced, enjoyable story that is fun and easy to read.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books...introduced the subjects of secret societies, religious conspiracies, semiotics, art, and architecture, tin cans that Brown has kicked down the road in each subsequent blockbuster all the way to Origin ...his novels are readable. Despite the inaccuracies, overabundance of italics, malapropisms, and occasional misspelled word, the pages turn briskly and the stories are very easy to read ... Perhaps the critics who vigorously bash Dan Brown and will instantly trash Origin, with or without reading it, should gently but firmly remove the hockey stick from their posterior region and relax ...comfortably predictable, it brings back Robert Langdon and his Mickey Mouse watch for another sprawling romp.