RaveCriminal ElementCosby is attuned to working-class life in rural Virginia and the struggles of a business in an area where everyone is one paycheck away from an eviction notice or foreclosure ... Cosby has said the movie Hell or High Water was an inspiration, and it shows. But Red Hill County is more diverse and realistic, as most working-class people in the United States are not white ... Cosby knows his people and I was drawn in deep, distracted from the news of my country in flames and crying for justice by a classic, character-driven heist tale that inhabits that world, but delivers heart-pounding entertainment ... car lovers will relish and those who aren’t fanatics can enjoy just as well ... balances hardboiled and humor perfectly well, with brutal opposition who are just as tough and sharp as his anti-hero, women who are more than décor, and families and friends who are more than hostages. Blacktop Wasteland is an invigorating shot of nitrous oxide to the classic engine of the getaway driver and heist genre, with a skilled, callused hand on the wheel as it smokes the tires and throws the reader into the seat for an emotional thrill ride they won’t soon forget.
RaveCriminal ElementBoyle has the chops to write from the perspective of a half-dozen people, a decade before the events of his first novel, but only tangentially related ... Boyle tangles his characters in situations that people who live in brownstones and houses packed so close together than you can borrow a cup of sugar by knocking on your neighbor’s kitchen window from your own will understand ... And there’s no nostalgia at play here, no good old days to go back to ... There’s a foundation of sadness and loss, but true to the nature of his characters, Boyle deflects the gloom with humor ... Our time spent with the characters breeds empathy, not contempt ... City of Margins is not an epic, because Gravesend is not Troy, but more a place like Pompeii, and this story gives us a perfect snapshot of its people like the pyroclastic inferno of Vesuvius’s eruption. Another fine novel from William Boyle in the tradition of John Sayles and John Fante.
PositiveCriminal ElementWriting about child abuse is difficult without descending into cynicism, avoiding salaciousness, or making the stupid and offensive mistake to assume that abuse gives victims ninja superpowers, as one popular thriller writer has ... powerful a read as Denfeld’s masterpiece The Child Finder, and makes us face the children of the city streets, the ones whose abuse we as a society tolerate and ignore ... [Denfeld\'s] books show us how things work and how we are culpable without slicing us open with a rusty razor ... Her writing sparkles with truth and beauty ... feels rushed and a little compelled to tie things up a bit too neatly ... I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending, as I felt it was too insistent on that elusive \'closure\' that we’re told exists, but the book as a whole is another enjoyable marvel from Denfeld, who writes survivors like no other. Few books are as good as The Child Finder; this is a worthy sequel that deepens our relationship with Naomi and Jerome, and perhaps opens doors to a new chapter that will be as exciting as what came before. I’ll be watching for that book, too.
Joyce Carol Oates
RaveCriminal Element...an eloquent, terrifying, heartbreaking exploration of madness ... Joyce Carol Oates has a knack for diving into the psyche of the disturbed ... Oates is always compelling, and this story will appeal to fans of prison narratives where the killer is forced to confront his self.
RaveCriminal Element[McKinty] has proven a dozen times over that he knows how to write people enduring long-term trauma of terrorism, occupation, and kidnapping without cheapening the reality of it. And he brings that experience and talent fully to bear upon the reader with The Chain ... McKinty doesn’t use any tricks of the trade to make this story more relentless than it needs to be...He doesn’t eschew the poetics and embrace of the classical that make the Sean Duffy novels so enjoyable, but he gives the scenes the drive they are due ... harrowing and memorable ... So many stories treat trauma cheaply, like a scrape where whiskey serves as Bactine, but McKinty does not ... gives the reader just enough remove to be entertained and chilled, instead of traumatized ... gives us villains that are all too real ... a thriller I loved.
Robert Olen Butler
PositiveCriminal ElementWe are thrown into the war in Paris as Zeppelins hunt for targets and biplanes defend the city. And not long after we meet newsman \'Kit\' Cobb, an explosion rocks a nearby café. The war has come to Paris, and he is soon called upon by his handler, James Polk Trask, to end his retirement as a spy and hunt the German terrorists who have infiltrated the City of Light ... Butler, is very good at evoking the tension of the time for Americans, who were eager to help France in return for their gift of the Statue of Liberty and their assistance during our Revolution 150 years earlier. The volunteers carry gangrenous bodies out of the trenches and feel a twinge of shame that their government isn’t as game to join the fight ... I wonder what Cobb will get up to next? I’m glad I can see what he’s been up to beforehand while I wait.
PositiveCriminal ElementFans of Dexter will enjoy the serial killer mythology at play here, and those who enjoy the twisted relationships we can have in school and how they divert our growth like a bonsai tree gardener will love how Hillier plays out her line and pulls us in. Jar of Hearts is an unpredictable and unflinching thriller that keeps the pages turning with characters who are as riveting as the tangled web they weave.
PositiveCriminal Element\"Walter Mosley writes with a voice that flows as easy as that river of the title, and he introduces a series character who is both familiar and new with his latest … If you don’t go in expecting a story in the world of Easy Rawlins or Socrates Fortlow, it’s easier to swallow some of the gadgetry. The story gets pretty dark as Joe digs into the officers A Free Man killed and those who set him up … In the end, it works. Today, we need a fairy-tale element to believe that anyone who follows the rules can do something to be proud of when confronted with grievous injustice.\
James Lee Burke
RaveCriminal ElementThe novel kicks off with one of Burke’s poetic soliloquies, a romantic historian’s lament, as he sucks at the lotus fruit of nostalgia … Robicheaux begins with Dave thinking himself a murderer, and in the end, he is never cleared. Like 2017, we are distracted by new and greater outrages as the story goes on, with the initial grief of Dave’s loss erased by the chaos and madness around him. The one flaw is that the loss of Dave’s wife, Molly, which begins the novel, would be the center of everything in real life … Robicheaux earns its name as a consummate novel of the man we’ve followed for 21 novels, from The Neon Rain until today. You could pick it up without knowing the past 20 and be entertained, or you could see it as a capstone, what could be a final novel in one of the most enduring series in fiction.