PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewI didn’t quite warm to Harry, who feels less fleshed out than the Butcher or the Old Man ... Plotwise, though, “Murder Book” offers a master class in the craft of suspense.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewFalk’s investigation is a terrific one, but what makes the book memorable is Harper’s skill at plumbing personal mysteries — for instance, why a friendship has ebbed, or how not knowing the fate of a loved one affects a family.
PositiveThe New York TimesI was absorbed in the world Ava Barry concocted in Double Exposure to the point where I found myself irritated when I had to do other tasks that took me away from reading. And yet, when the big reveal arrived, I was annoyed — largely at myself, for not seeing what was coming, and especially for not picking up on Barry’s reliance on noir conventions ... The red flags are not just visible, they’re waving wildly ... The writing is evocative, especially when Rainey narrates her tortured past, her longing for normalcy and especially her propensity for self-sabotage.
PositiveAir Mail (UK)... exhaustively researched ... The story is well-rendered, bolstered by access to the original case files and trial transcripts ... But the writing of the crime sections, brisk and well paced as they are, lacks a sense of depth. I never felt like Edward Hall and Eleanor Mills, or their intimates and acquaintances, rose above what was written about them in said case files and transcripts...I suspect it has more to do with the subtle changes in style that emerge when Pompeo turns his attention to the media’s symbiotic but ultimately parasitic role in sensationalizing the story to sell more newspapers ... That Blood & Ink moves at a swift narrative clip is owing to Pompeo’s delight in detailing the competitiveness of the reporters covering the crime, as well as the differing internal machinations of tabloid versus broadsheet editors.
William Kent Krueger
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis genuinely thrilling and atmospheric novel brims with characters who are easy to root for. The pacing isn’t perfect — I could have done with fewer chapters in the bad guys’ heads — but when Cork, Henry and the others faced mortal danger, my heart leaped into my throat. For those new to the series, Fox Creek is a strong entry point.
PositiveThe New York Times... evocative ... Bahr deftly moves back and forth in time; his short chapters, which feature the perspectives of different townspeople, add to the feeling that the enormity of the horror cannot be fully comprehended. The Houseboat reminded me of works by Robert Bloch strained through a more literary — but quite welcome — sensibility.
PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewEffervescent ... Kaveri and Ramu form a true partnership over the course of the novel, one where they can play off strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. Even though I did see the main twist coming, the danger level felt palpable and authentic. This is a treat for historical mystery lovers looking for a new series to savor (or devour).
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewThe newest Slough House spy novel by Mick Herron, has at last arrived ... We can dispense with the plot fairly swiftly, because plot isn’t — at least for me — the book’s chief attraction ... What spurs me to keep reading each new installment is Herron’s absurdist voice, which could devolve into cheap cynicism but never does. That’s why the Slough House denizens, from Jackson Lamb to Roddy Ho to newcomer Ashley Kahn, maintain pathos in the face of parody.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewEli Cranor’s top-shelf debut, Don\'t Know Tough is unmistakably noir in the Southern tradition, a cauldron of terrible choices and even more terrible outcomes ... There is a raw ferocity to Cranor’s prose, perfectly in keeping with the novel’s examination of curdling masculinity. Don’t Know Tough is, so far, one of the best debuts of 2022.
RaveAir Mail... a harrowing narrative ... She details others’ pain with care and compassion, and her own past clearly informs those descriptions ... The book is most heartbreaking when Krouse speaks with her mother, who still has a relationship with [Krouse\'s abuser] and refuses to admit what he did to her daughter ... [an] unnerving, haunting book. It’s a triumph of literary reportage and memoir that doesn’t flinch at the ugliest truths—from others and herself.
RaveThe New York TimesAs Simpson peels away layers of secrets at the heart of her marriage, including her husband’s connection to the shadowy and dangerous titular character, the suspense ratchets up—slowly, slowly, then all at once ... There is a casual elegance to Vidich’s spy fiction (now numbering five books), a seeming effortlessness that belies his superior craftsmanship. Every plot point, character motivation and turn of phrase veers toward the understated, but they are never underwritten. The Matchmaker is an ideal entrance into Vidich’s work, one that should compel new readers to plumb his backlist.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... delightful ... The key pleasure in Grave Reservations is Leda’s company, whether she’s hanging out with her best friend Niki or giving \'klairvoyant karaoke\' performances at a local bar. Priest layers the humor and camaraderie with unexpectedly moving scenes of Leda haunted by old grief. As she discovers, the line between what’s lost and what can’t be sensed by others turns out to be gossamer-thin.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewSome of my favorite crime novels juxtapose individual murders against the backdrop of wartime mass carnage. This is tough to pull off; it takes a skilled writer to keep the horror of such crimes vivid and stark when they’re surrounded by so much other death. In Five Decembers, James Kestrel, a pseudonym for the horror and suspense novelist Jonathan Moore, does this very, very well ... War, imprisonment, torture, romance, foreign language and culture are all explored with genuine feeling. The novel has an almost operatic symmetry, and Kestrel turns a beautiful phrase, too.
PanThe New York Times Book Review... brand extension is all it is ... The ingredients for a strong crime novel are all here ... Manning investigates with pluck and smarts, but the narrative is littered with expository potholes as well as clunky paragraphs and sentences ... This may be because Hall’s bylined co-writer, T. Shawn Taylor, has no known experience with crime fiction. The next Jordan Manning novel would benefit from a partnership between Hall and a writer better versed in the mechanics of the genre.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe ways in which women torture their bodies in pursuit of creative dreams make for enthralling fictional drama ... Delphine Léger narrates, and she is a willful, complex creature, at times maddeningly petulant ... For the longest time, despite Delphine’s offhandedly declaring herself a killer on the very first page, I struggled to classify this as a crime novel. But Kapelke-Dale has thought through the larger picture, and examined how trauma and asymmetries of power derail so many dancers.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... delicious ... To expose the darkness and rot beneath his tale, Copenhaver peppers it with literary allusions...But this 1940s noir homage would not succeed if it weren’t for Judy and Philippa’s chemistry, which promises to deepen — and perhaps combust — over two more books.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe Man Who Died Twice dispenses with new series jitters and dives right into joyous fun ... a twisting yet perfectly controlled plot featuring spies past and present, missing diamonds, unexpected love affairs, surprise attacks and killings with the power to shock. Osman’s writing reminds me of Anthony Berkeley’s in its mixing of sparkling humor and resonant emotion ... No wonder readers, myself included, have surrendered to [the characters\'] abundant charms.
PositiveThe New York TimesThe series has always excelled when Penny takes time to think through the ramifications of human behavior at its best and its worst, as filtered through Three Pines’ idiosyncratic characters. This new novel grapples successfully with the moral weight of its narrative, even if the plotting falters somewhat in the last third. \'All will be well\' never sounded so menacing.
PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewHummel doesn’t flinch from the discomfort of transforming trauma into creative work, detailing who is used up and discarded in the process. Like its prequel, Lesson in Red is a gutting meditation on the relationship between art, life and violence.
RaveThe New York Times... a novel that is immensely satisfying, refreshingly new and gloriously written. Here Moreno-Garcia mashes up Anglocentric genres with midcentury Mexican history, resulting in a brew flavored with love, heartbreak, violence, music and unsettling dread ... the gift of this book, and Moreno-Garcia’s storytelling, is how it imbues this well-worn genre with added strength, grace and even musicality.
Willa C Richards
RaveNew York TimesParticularly impressive ... Richards has flipped the usual narrative, centering not on the crime itself but on the loss that ripples out from it.
Derek B. Miller
RaveThe New York TimesI am convinced that Derek B. Miller’s How to Find Your Way in the Dark was expressly tailored to my tastes and that I am its ideal reader. I suspect others will feel the same way; it’s that kind of book ... In less confident hands the many moving parts would collapse into a jumble. Miller, however, juggles each element effortlessly. His character portraits are indelible, often heartbreaking. At times this novel moved me to tears, the highest possible compliment.
PositiveAir MailIn his entertaining, zippy chronicle of the Whittemores’ lives and crimes, Glenn Stout argues that their story \'is the torrid romance of an entire era\' ... The argument isn’t quite definitive, but making the Whittemores avatars for several seasons of massive change, and an example of early tabloid true-crime coverage, is a compelling narrative through line nonetheless ... To his credit, Stout doesn’t ignore the brutality or merciless nature of the Whittemores’ multi-state crime spree. But there is a trap in recounting old crime stories, where one ends up trying to imitate or emulate an earlier style, and he can’t quite avoid it, partly because of a penchant for ending chapters and sections with excessively snappy sentences ... Underneath the zip and zing, Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid is a story about petty behavior, poor decisions, and tragic mistakes—a story as much rooted in its own time as it is timeless.
RaveAirmailReanimating history is an important skill in the storyteller’s toolbox, but Telfer is equally adroit at reporting out more recent, and more obscure, femmes de confidence ... Telfer has a keen eye for the larger context of those in perpetual pursuit of marks, and right away zeroes in on why con artists—and especially female con artists—continue to fascinate us ... Confident Women exposes the high-wire dance between con artist and mark, between a certain number of women transforming their own combination of inherited trauma for personal gain and those who fall under their spell.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... takes its time, unspooling the history of the Gun Trace Task Force. Mr. Fenton is after more than the portrait of a few malcontents ... a standout examination of the failures of policing, laid out in context with greater systemic failures ... a sobering and necessary account of one dramatic way that trust was destroyed, but it is as much a damning indictment of how that destruction grew out of a mixture of negligence, incompetence and hubris.
Ausma Zehanat Khan
RaveThe Toronto Globe and MailWith great intelligence and sensitivity, Khan portrays the ease of online radicalization and the ways in which ideological divides cement into far more violent ones ... expands the Canadian crime fiction palette because it presents a world where crime-solving is part of deeper and more substantive global issues. It’s a piece of fiction that manages to tell a truth even non-fiction has had trouble communicating. Khattak and Getty aren’t world savers; sometimes they can barely save themselves. But each step they take to right wrongs and to help people is a step in much need. They, as detectives, have grown and changed a great deal over five books ... Khan has the confidence and authority to reckon with these larger issues. Her broader-scope explorations, however, do not transform A Deadly Divide into a \'message\' novel and do not detract from the primary aim of storytelling. Character remains key, which is why A Deadly Divide rightly devotes plenty of space to Khattak’s struggle to be a good partner and to Getty’s reticence in trusting other people ... Khan portrays the depth of feeling and friendship between her two main characters, and why readers have come to care about them so much ... Still, I can’t help but think Khan has barely scratched the surface of what her series can accomplish. There’s so much room for Khattak and Getty to grow, as detectives, and especially as complicated human beings. No doubt Khan will continue to explore, to paraphrase Inspector Khattak, how the enemy who smiles at you as they plot in the dark are the most dangerous ones of all.
RaveMacLean\'sDeraniyagala...writes sentences so stripped down they seem practically flayed. In their declarative tone, they reveal the barely controlled emotion she still feels, even after years of distance ... What makes Wave so remarkable is how Deraniyagala accepts her feelings of guilt and realizes she can move forward only by keeping her lost loved ones even closer to her heart and mind.
Leila Slimani Trans. by Sam Taylor
PanThe Washington PostThe opening is unfortunately a harbinger of what ails the rest of this novel. We are expected to believe that a person like Adèle — outwardly successful, with her marriage to a well-to-do surgeon husband, an ascendant career in journalism, adorable children — has an inward void that can only be slaked, temporarily, by random sexual encounters. This dichotomy is meant to be transgressive, all the more for the lack of explanation for Adèle’s extramarital desires. It’s not ... Adèle glides through the narrative on a numb-inducing wave ... Reading Adèle was like being in the middle of a blocking exercise in a play rehearsal. Move her here, move him there, see what happens, if anything happens at all.
Stephen L. Carter
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewCarter’s portrayal of his grandmother is full of love and admiration, though it sometimes tips into overt speculation about her thoughts and emotions ... Mercifully, Invisible escapes hagiography in favor of cleareyed portraiture, even when matters don’t fit comfortably into it. This is especially true when Carter chronicles the fissures in her marriage...and the deep estrangement between Eunice and her brother, which was not fully repaired by the time both died, within 10 days of each other. A keen sense of loss permeates the book, grief for a ruptured family whose members could not be reconciled ... Struggle demands nuance. Truthful narratives demand complexity. Stephen L. Carter has revived his grandmother’s voice when we most need it, and with utmost urgency.
PositiveNew RepublicWilliam Roughead (a Glasgow Lawyer and writer)...attended the trial of Oscar Slater in Glasgow in May 1909, writing it up for the Notable Scottish Trials series. He believed that the guilty verdict, arrived at after barely an hour of deliberation, was wrong ... Roughead broadcast his disbelief in Slater’s guilt from the first, to anyone who would listen, enjoining the most famous detective fiction writer in the world, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his cause. Conan Doyle For the Defense cannot resist structuring itself as a detective novel, though the whodunit is less about who killed Marion Gilchrist and more about who framed Oscar Slater ... The ingredients are too good to pass up: a famous detective novelist actually playing detective, a man serving time for a murder he did not commit, and a criminal justice system slowly, and reluctantly, reckoning with the advent of forensic science—fingerprints were around when Slater was arrested and convicted, but in one of so many missed opportunities to right the wrong, never used ... How the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories fought for—and ultimately turned against—a man wrongfully convicted.
PositiveThe Paris ReviewWhen I first read Helen Weinzweig’s Basic Black with Pearls several years ago, I emerged in the sort of daze that happens when a book seems to ferret out your most secret thoughts and hopes. Since then I’ve described the book to others as an \'interior feminist espionage novel\' ... The interior nature of Basic Black is central to its unfolding ... Basic Black with Pearls contains overt references to Virginia Woolf and covert ones to feminist classics like Kate Chopin’s The Awakening ... These novels describe women not only breaking away from conventions but filled with desire and ambition that are almost too much to bear, a secret from themselves. Weinzweig had to search out these books to counteract decades of reading male-dominated narratives, which she needed to reject to construct her own style ... A novel needs an ending, but Basic Black with Pearls manages to subvert that requirement too.
RaveThe Washington Post\"But derivative works and adaptations can’t fully explain why Christie’s work endures. A splendid biography by Laura Thompson, however, does. Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life was published in Britain over a decade ago and took an inexplicable amount of time to cross the pond. Yet the timing is perfect because Thompson’s thorough yet readable treatment of Christie’s life, in combination with artful critical context on her work, arrives at the reason for her endurance.\
PositiveThe New Republic...a delightful concoction of well-told vignettes ... Avid Reader errs on the side of congeniality. Gottlieb, for all of his blunt prose, is a smoother-over, chiefly concerned with what needs to be done but careful to manage the feelings and egos of his authors and the agents who represent them ... I took heart, as someone steeped in genre, at Gottlieb’s lack of snobbery about popular fiction ... Gottlieb never forgets it is the reader who matters, since he himself is foremost one of those people.
PositiveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewI cannot think of a more informed, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable tour guide through the historical and contemporary intersection of burglary and architecture than Geoff Manaugh. A Burglar’s Guide to the City makes disparate connections seem obvious in hindsight, and my worldview is altered a little bit more, and far for the better, as a result.