PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Ide, always a generous plotter, weaves several other storylines into this kaleidoscopic chronicle ... Dozens of other wonderfully sketched minor characters—science-fair whiz kids, pimps and prostitutes, working-class heroes, vengeance-bent relatives, sorrowful junkies and idealistic strivers—flesh out this richly imagined and sharply written saga. \'Smoke,\' which concludes with a cliffhanging crisis, positively demands a follow-up, and fast.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Berenson, a veteran storyteller, succeeds quickly in getting the reader to care about his main characters ... rife with crime-busting subplots and energized by a teenage captive determined not to be a victim, is one of the most unpredictable thrillers in years.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... edgy ... At first, The Mercenary seems an outstanding example of a familiar sort of spy saga. But there’s more to Alek Garin than most people know. Where did he learn to speak Russian? Why is his accent so odd? Family and professional secrets are revealed only gradually. We remain unsure how this conflicted character will fare in a Moscow full of political factions and Agency turncoats.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThese 13 tales of crime and consequences feature vengeful spirits, warning apparitions, bloody visions and a taunting \'Night Hag\' rationalized as \'a dream for the waking, a malfunction of the brain.\' ... These stories have an uncanny power to convince. The best of Mr. Neville’s ghost tales can hold their own with those of the Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen. But the ultimate prize-winner here, \'Coming in on Time,\' a heartbreaking vignette of domestic tragedy seen through the eyes of its youngest victim, hasn’t a trace of the supernatural—only the horror of innocence encountering evil.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... an unanticipated but welcome series entry ... Few authors write action sequences, build suspense and spring surprises as well as Mr. Perry. And few readers will expect anyone who’s roused Schaeffer’s alarm to escape his fatal attentions.
PositiveWall Street JournalMurder by Milk Bottle flows at a swift pace ... The plot thickens some more as readers learn of other apparent connections between the killings and the Milk Girl’s past schooling ... Ms. Truss’s approach to crime fiction owes as much to English comedy classics like The Goon Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus as to vintage British police-procedural series like Dixon of Dock Green or Fabian of the Yard. Her sharp-toothed whimsy may be an acquired taste, but it’s one well worth savoring.
PositiveWall Street JournalThese four tales explore the satisfactions, frustrations, and base and noble emotions of those who devote their lives to a profession where saving face is a priority and ethical conundrums are a frequent challenge ... Mr. Yokoyama, a journalist-turned-author whose novel Six Four was published in America in 2017 to much acclaim, immerses us in an environment at once familiar and exotic; his stories’ mysteries are solved in a manner that surprises the mind and moves the heart.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe Law of Innocence takes place from October 2019 to March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic gradually makes its presence felt. As in his Bosch stories, Mr. Connelly keeps his L.A. references up-to-date: The Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard is still hanging on in its 101st year, but Du-Par’s diner in Studio City, co-counsel Maggie laments, \'isn’t there anymore.\' The book is full of knowing info about how jurors are researched (\'Sometimes you want the Mercedes on the jury. Sometimes you want the Prius.\') and how to seed doubt during testimony (\'It’ll be about the questions we ask, not the answers\') ... Mickey and his loyal crew fight every inch of the way towards the freedom he craves and the exoneration he demands.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Horowitz (like his creation Alan Conway) enlivens his pages with wordplay, anagrams and jokes that often double as clues. To borrow a make-believe blurb from Atticus Pünd Takes the Case: \'I love a whodunnit with a real sucker punch and, boy, this absolutely delivers.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Connolly’s slam-bang thriller is studded with memorable characters and boasts cliffhangers within cliffhangers.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe Witch Hunter, the U.S. debut of Finnish author Max Seeck, begins like a traditional (if very creepy) procedural ... The Witch Hunter, translated with icy precision by Kristian London, is written in short, sharp, present-tense chapters, a technique which adds to its relentless tension. Flashbacks to earlier episodes in Jessica’s life suggest that the strangeness currently unfolding is tied to her personal history. Discovering the how and why of it brings a resolution as bleak as anything Poe might have conjured.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Rankin has been writing Rebus novels since 1987, and in this 23rd series entry, the author’s curmudgeonly hero proves as resolute as ever.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn Ann Cleeves\'s The Darkest Evening, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, who polices England’s Northumberland countryside, can’t help but fear the worst when she comes upon a car abandoned in the midst of a blizzard, with a snow-suited toddler strapped in the backseat ... \'This whole case,\' Vera comes to see, \'was about families, about what held them together and what ripped them apart.\'
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Morrow’s tale of an illicit craft conveys plenty of technical information, but it’s generally well-woven into the narrative. His sympathetic cast of characters—Henry aside—face difficult moral choices and try to prove the old cliché that there is honor indeed among (literary) thieves.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Perry ties her story-strands together in convincing fashion, in a work whose 20th-century setting seems to have brought out new psychological and descriptive nuances in an author better-known for her Victorian-era novels.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... a sprawling and eventful saga in which the central cold case shares space with other investigations, along with dramatic incidents in the detectives’ private lives ... Balancing social comedy, surprising twists and Grand Guignol horror, this doorstopping volume proves a formidable entertainment from the first page to the last.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] suspenseful historical mystery ... Ms. Hart, the author of a trio of novels involving an exiled librarian in 18th-century China, proves adept at depicting this \'realm of the collectors . . . a shadowy place full of illusions, \'tainted by greed and fraud and now homicide.
Max Allan Collins
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe case of the Mad Butcher, with its unsatisfying non-finale, fits a bit awkwardly into Messrs. Collins and Schwartz’s wider narrative. In the latter stages of their book, the authors ably follow Ness through an unsuccessful foray into city politics and a disappointing business career. But given this work’s title and its subtitle—\'Hunting America’s Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology\'—one sometimes gets the feeling of two different books uneasily hitched ... Messrs. Collins and Schwartz, in this, their second deeply researched book about Ness, don’t gloss over their subject’s failings and blind spots, but they do show that he tried harder than many to leave the world a better place.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Lovesey, a veteran master of mayhem and misdirection, laces ominous suspense with wit. The Finisher showcases his enduring abilities in this, his 50th year writing crime fiction.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] unique brainteaser of a mystery novel ... The tales are elegant equations, clever variations on classic \'Golden Age\' setups: the locked-room murder mystery; the case of the detective-as-killer ... Julia suspects the stories may also be, in hidden ways, autobiographical—even confessional. Why are there seeming errors in certain descriptive passages? Are these intentional clues, pointing to alternate interpretations and solutions? The editor starts imagining variations on the author’s stories. In time, there are enough forking paths in evidence to intrigue a reader of Borges ... Mr. Pavesi, himself a trained mathematician, has created something new under the sun: a book of clever mystery puzzles (with mordant noir endings), a challenging exercise in deconstruction—and one of the most innovative works in recent memory.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalJust as Margo tries the reader’s patience through her lack of street smarts, so her birth family fails to live up to her conventional expectations. But as “The Less Dead” progresses, Margo learns things she never expected, about the persistence of family traits and her own capacity for heroism.
Joe R. Lansdale
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... [a] raunchy noir fable ... The prolific Mr. Lansdale...draws on the spirit and themes of James M. Cain in this stand-alone book, which works clever variations on such Cain classics as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity ... no shortage of schemes. We read on, with dread, to see how it all works out.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Klass, an experienced screenwriter, incorporates shifting points of view and a score of diverse characters with well-developed back stories. His top-notch thriller builds toward a fateful showdown as Tom races to foil Green Man—even as the hands of that apocalyptic clock tick toward midnight.
Debra Jo Immergut
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalYou Again, combining psychological suspense and fantasy, is a family-life novel, an art-world chronicle and an examination of the mutability of reality ... Ms. Immergut provides several brain-teasing surprises—and ties up her theoretical loose ends in a manner that still allows readers the space to wonder.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalAt times Black Sun Rising displays the action of a vintage Richard Harding Davis adventure. Other passages exude the spookiness of an Edgar Allan Poe tale. The novel is thick with intrigue and incident, balanced by flashes of lyricism ... Mr. Carr well depicts an aging city at the outset of the 20th century—with the surrealistic architecture of Antoni Gaudí (himself a minor character in the novel), illuminated by glowing new electric lights. Most impressive perhaps is its flawed yet persistent hero: hobbled by fits of epilepsy but so devoted to his work and his new friends that \'he would not leave Barcelona until justice was done.\'
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[an] impressive first novel ... a finely written case history of a crime of passion—not only a \'why-dunnit\' but a \'what really happened?\' ... A metaphoric lyricism ripples through this chronicle of an unknown past recovered only in part. \'This story of ours has so many sides that I doubt I will ever know the full extent of it,\' Sumiko thinks. Also in question for Sumiko is her own future: What will she do with what she has managed to discover? Ms. Scott answers her compelling book’s questions with the skill of a master.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... intrigue-filled ... The reader is privy to the action of the conspirators ... Mr. Pepper, who has quickly established himself as one of the best political-thriller writers on the scene, keeps surprising us to the final page.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... exhilarating ... Mr. Hoffman, apparently a still-working private investigator based in Brooklyn, writes with a good ear, a fine eye and a sure hand; he has a wondrous ability to render the thoughts of his socially and morally diverse cast ... The book’s unpredictable sentences are full of such surprises, and its scenes build to unexpected revelations. With its crisp pace and superb timing, Clean Hands is a special treat to read.
Alexander McCall Smith
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... tricky ethical nooks and crannies in Malmö, Sweden ... Cheerful or melancholy, irritated or resigned, Detective Varg gives the reader more dry wit, inspired whimsy and comic pleasure than any other Swedish investigator in the business.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... told in alternating sections that move back and forth in time between 1997 and 30 years earlier, building tension to the snapping point ... emotionally wrenching.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] surprise-filled saga ... Mr. Panowich, as he did in his previous novels, depicts his Southern terrain well. He deftly sketches the tension between Dane, the rural lawman, and Roselita...
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalA Good Marriage has many intertwined story strands, first- and third-person points of view, one intermittently unreliable narrator, and some whopping coincidences to tie it all together. Readers who persist through this novel’s diversions and digressions may well feel greatly entertained.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Wright...has crafted a swift and all-too-convincing chronicle of science, espionage, action and speculation that moves from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia to the U.S. as it eerily evokes real-life current events. Deeply rooted in factual research, The End of October may well prove the most frightening novel of the year.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...thought-provoking ... There’s certainly more than enough sharp writing and provocative content in this initial adventure to justify a sequel.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Fredericks’s tour of old New York—from a seedy Bowery dive to the gilded palace of a department store—is eye-opening, and her mystery well-spun. But what makes this book a stand-out is its affecting depictions of interactions that transcend race, creed, gender and generations.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn Ms. Gentill’s clever construction, both characters inhabit a world in which reality and make-believe blur and blend ... careens toward a fateful culmination as Maddie and Edward write each other into personal limbos that, it seems, will prevent them from saving one another. Readers are left to their own devices to escape from this infinity of mirrors.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... a circuitous first novel ... Ms. Sligar’s debut is by turns an art-world satire, an erotic romance and a descent into madness. Its gratifying conclusion proves well worth the digressive journey.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Black...excels at setting vivid scenes, creating lively characters and maintaining pulse-elevating suspense. Three Hours in Paris, with its timetable structure and its hunt for a covert operative, recalls such comparable works as Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal and Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... an engrossing and accessible chronicle of Frances’s life and the early years of scientific detection ... Mr. Goldfarb tells a great deal about Magrath’s career and, along the way, conveys the primitive and unsatisfying state of forensics in the early 20th century ... \'I hope that I have done her justice,\' Mr. Goldfarb concludes. That he has.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...slick and twisty ... The couple at the center of the story, for all the perils they face, are always good company, both likable and resourceful ... Mr. Dolan’s great gifts for storytelling, well displayed in his four previous books, are in even fuller evidence in The Good Killer, a story somewhat larger in scope, thus allowing for yet more tension, suspense and surprising resolutions.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... written through the alternate perspectives of a number of well-drawn characters ... The good and bad hunches of Alexis and her allies propel her closer to the truth, while her Holmesian devotion to \'pattern recognition\' never ceases deductive reasoning can take you only so far in a thriller as full of surprises as this one. Those who relished the sudden shocks and well-timed twists of Mr. Bohjalian’s 2018 work, The Flight Attendant, should be well-pleased by his latest book, whose unexpected revelations extend to the final sentence.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe early pages of the book, with their comforting trappings (the purring store cat, the endearingly eccentric employees), suggest a work on the cozier end of the spectrum. But things soon turn dark ... Eight Perfect Murders creates expectations it then subverts, presents suspects only to eliminate them, and in general has its own way with the tropes of the mystery thriller—including that genre mainstay, the unreliable narrator. \'All works of art,\' Malcolm tells us early on, \'seem like cries of help to me.\' Darned if he doesn’t make us see what he means.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Perry is an expert storyteller—employing flashbacks, shifting viewpoints and jaw-dropping twists. A Small Town unfolds like a 1950s film noir—crisp in execution and thrilling until the very end.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... terse and convincing ... The reader already knows \'what happened,\' thanks to a prologue that chronicles the grim episode in cinematic detail. But rather than dissipate suspense, this foreknowledge adds another level of interest as Gabriel seeks witnesses and documents to fill in the blanks about Wilson ... his stand-alone work reaches a new level of moral complexity and brings into stark relief the often contradictory nature of spycraft ... Mr. Vidich maintains the tension until the very last page—and then, in the book’s acknowledgments, gives his fiction a further twist by revealing its true-life origins in his own family history.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... a slim volume with the feel of a fable and the concision of a blues scale. Minor characters have marvelous names—Archibald Lawless, Dido Kazz, Mozelle Tot—and move with ageless grace. \'I felt a kinship to all of them,\' Leonid thinks. So do we.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"
Mr. Moore’s smartly constructed book examines the voracious nature of tabloid journalism, the elasticity of fact and the way the letter of the law conflicts with mercy, and its effective surprises continue even into its final chapter.\
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... moving ... Ms. Anappara, who was born in the southern Indian state of Kerala and won awards for her journalism before turning to fiction, brings Jai’s stressful world to life in all its camaraderie, prejudice and peril.
MixedThe Wall Street Journal... well written, though it pushes the genre envelope a bit too far, and its combination of unreliable narrator and ambitious culmination may bode ill for readers who like loose ends tied.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... delightful ... Mr. Weinberger writes as his hero detects, at a measured and thoughtful pace. Most of the book’s violence takes place offstage, leaving the detective to ponder and ruminate in contemplative fashion. And Amos himself proves pleasant company: a gruff mensch whose avowed atheism is balanced by a humanism that sees him tenderly caring at home for his dementia-prone wife. \'Everybody matters,\' he says at one point, and as we follow his quest to find out what happened to Rabbi Ezra, we know he means it.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Little’s witty book deftly skewers the movie-making world and the types who inhabit it ... with its mix of satire and action, is funny, fast-paced and a pleasure to read.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Ide is a remarkable writer, inhabiting the personae and rendering the back stories of a diverse assortment of characters ... “Hi Five more than earns its triumphant title.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe year is 2034 in Steven Pressfield’s dystopian thriller...and the world is taking a beating from climate change. Devastating super-storms are common, nighttime temperatures are in triple digits, and experts are predicting \'the end of human life on Earth within a generation.\' Meanwhile, crime marches on ... Mr. Pressfield keeps the revelations coming at an apocalyptic pace in this page-turner, where the planet’s fate comes to hang by the thread of a single human life.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalIn her books featuring Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury—the most recent of which is The Old Success...author Martha Grimes has created a type of mystery all her own. The stories have a cozy structure—but with windows into darker worlds ... The mechanics of three detectives (four, if we count Melrose Plant) working simultaneously on three murder puzzles...may at first seem convoluted. But the solution to these apparently separate mysteries proves much simpler than might be imagined—and who better to pave the way to that elusive truth than Ms. Grimes and Richard Jury, her brilliant creation?
Fuminori Nakamura, trans. by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates
RaveThe Wall Street JournalWe get all the way to page 53 of Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura\'s chilling existential thriller The Thief before we learn the name of its protagonist-narrator, a Tokyo pickpocket whose sense of purpose and pleasure in life comes mostly from the careful practice of his illicit craft. By then a reader may feel no special need to know what this nervy fellow is called, so well has Mr. Nakamura caused us to view the world through the thief\'s hyper-sensitive mind ... The Thief concludes with an either-or ending that robs readers of a clear-cut resolution—without making them feel in any way cheated.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe Accomplice is concerned with ethical quandaries and moral conundrums. Is Aaron serving the rule of law or simply seeking revenge? ... Such existential crises are countered by action sequences and plot twists that prove Aaron’s real-world mettle. When the chips are down, Aaron comes through like a veteran field op. \'Nice work, for a desk man,\' the Mossad agent compliments him at one point. But Aaron’s ultimate payoff proves bittersweet.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... is not unlike a vintage Ambler book, with its civilian hero suddenly pulled into a world of dangerous intrigue. But Mr. Furst is a much more romantic writer—lingering over Paris’s beauty, its resistance to oppression and its opportunities for \'love in time of war.\' Alan Furst’s books always satisfy; this one is a delight.
Gar Anthony Haywood
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Haywood—this is his seventh and best novel yet to feature Gunner—is a gifted writer with a flair for description ... The two dissimilar cases confronting Gunner test the detective’s confidence to the fullest. He sees himself, at his most insecure, as \'a black pretend-cop working from the back of a Watts barbershop.\' But an abundance of tenacity, courage and resourcefulness proves a lot more valuable to Gunner and his fortunate clients than a fancy office.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... a worthy follow-up to her delightful 2018 novel A Shot in the Dark ... Ms. Truss plants references to real and fictional Brighton legends throughout her dark entertainment ... Her work’s madcap manner evokes other British artistic touchstones from Shakespeare to The Goon Show. And once Twitten begins to shed some of his moral scruples in pursuit of the truth, one looks forward with glee to the novel’s culmination—and to this quick-learning constable’s future adventures.
John Le Carre
RaveThe Wall Street JournalSuperb writing, precise portraiture, clever tricks of tradecraft—all Mr. le Carré’s hallmarks are present in this swift, surprising, bittersweet story.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Paul, a veteran rancher as well as an author, writes fine action scenes, and his descriptions of nature and animals can seem just as thrilling.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalWith evocative flair Ms. Perry conjures the mixed emotions and misplaced optimism of a period when many Establishment figures were desperate to avoid another world war ... is reminiscent of works by Eric Ambler and Graham Greene. Cameo appearances by historical figures including Winston Churchill and Joseph Goebbels enhance this thrilling work whose heroine proves fully up to the sort of hair-raising challenges formerly met by her illustrious grandparent.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... suspenseful and satirical ... Mr. Barclay’s books are distinguished by wit and startling twists. In Elevator Pitch, he surpasses himself with a premise suited for the big screen, a plot filled with stunning surprises—and an ending that leaves the reader greatly satisfied.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Johnson’s affecting story is a winning combination of suspense, situational comedy and cosmic awe. We greatly admire the author’s hero, who never wavers, even when faced with the seemingly implausible. As Longmire knows: \'Strange things happen on the mountain.\'
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Steiner brings this frightening period to life through well-drawn characters we come to care about. In documenting the theft of a nation’s soul, he tells a human story. The Good Cop is a humdinger.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... atmospheric ... Ms. Locke, a canny storyteller, ties up enough strands to satisfy readers, while leaving enough loose ends to make us eager for Ranger Mathews’s next adventure in the Lone Star State.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn David Lagercrantz ’s The Girl Who Lived Twice, Swedish IT wizard Lisbeth Salander is paired, as usual, in a mutually advantageous partnership with investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist ... it’s a murder mystery inside an espionage conspiracy wrapped in an action thriller—a unique concoction that should leave Salander’s legion of followers clamoring for more.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... ambitious, accomplished and remarkably compelling ... Ms. Cha is a terrific writer with a keen eye for social settings ... propelled by scenes that surprise but still ring true, and the book’s two-tiered time-frame is full of revelations concerning who knew what when and who did what and why ... Such are the queries posed by this impressive work, rich with incident and detail—a book with the courage to leave the answers to its most daunting questions up to the reader.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Crais unspools this tense and involving saga—which races all over the Los Angeles area, from the fading allure of the \'Miracle Mile\' to the sun-blasted San Fernando Valley to the shores of Malibu—with dashes of wit, lots of local color, many bursts of sudden action and some 300 pages of relentless suspense.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalOver the past 14 years, Ms. Penny has written a saga in which both hero and author have grown in ability and assurance. A Better Man, with its mix of meteorological suspense, psychological insight and criminal pursuit, is arguably the best book yet in an outstanding, original oeuvre. We look forward to additional encounters with the dignified, inspirational Armand Gamache.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalPlay With Fire does a first-rate job of evoking its period, a time when generations seemed at war with one another ... we admire the detective’s clinging to his own moral principles.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Lovesey’s book seems like a combination of Romeo and Juliet and The Day of the Jackal ... Mr. Lovesey has been writing his Peter Diamond series for nearly three decades, and it’s a pleasure to note no discernible flagging of energy in author or detective. And how refreshing to hear the inimitable Diamond erupt in righteous expletive: \'F— forensics. . . . We’re detectives. . . . We investigate.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThough Mr. Coleman’s book sounds echoes of Raymond Chandler and Kem Nunn, The Churchgoer marks the debut of a strong and original voice in the California noir tradition.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalNever Have I Ever becomes a tale of moral suspense in addition to a psychological thriller. Its several plot twists are surprising and effective, and there are gripping sequences involving Amy’s work as a deep-sea diver woven logically into the narrative. Many books claim to be the perfect beach read. This one doesn’t, but it certainly fits the bill.
J. Todd Scott
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Scott, as it happens, has been a federal agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration for more than 20 years, which surely contributes to the authenticity of this convincing saga ... Mr. Scott demonstrates the Texas-size writing talents to which his protagonist aspires.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... arguably the best entry yet in the author’s outstanding series ... a number of memorable, well-drawn characters—the good, the bad and the ugly—go about their business in a well-engineered narrative that alternates between at least a dozen points of view ... The moral conundrums in Knife are Dostoevskian, the surprises are breathtaking, the one-liners are amusing and the suspense is unrelenting. This is that rare lengthy book that one wouldn’t want shortened by even a single page.
M. T. Edvardsson
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... involving, sharply written ... Stella transforms the novel’s events, and then her mother, herself a lawyer, gives this surprise-filled saga its final turn. Mr. Edvardsson, whose Swedish is translated here by Rachel Willson-Broyles, is a fine stylist. A Nearly Normal Family, the author’s first book to be published in this country, is a compulsively readable tour de force.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThere’s plenty of social commentary in Lori Roy’s gripping Gone Too Long ... Ms. Roy excels at depicting scenes of consummate tension involving a heroine whose courage has long lain dormant.
Soji Shimada, trans. by Louise Heal Kawai
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... reminiscent of Agatha Christie, is a strange brew—one with a taste that certain adventurous readers may be well pleased to savor.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe author, writing under a pen name, relates ominous events and spooky developments with skill, adding an element of social commentary and a surprise twist ending—elevating this exercise in terror above the ordinary shocker.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThere are violent turns of plot in this semi-gothic novel, and less exotic emotional crises too, as Dorothea—caught between the titled suitor her father wants her to marry and the penurious policeman she much prefers—begins to scrutinize her own life, and her own mother’s early death, in keener fashion ... [a] well-wrought chiller.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalLady in the Lake is a newspaper novel as well as a neo-noir thriller. Ms. Lippman, a reporter for 20 years before she turned to fiction full-time, writes with authority about the varied types found at a daily newspaper in decades past. She also evokes the condescension and obstruction Maddie encounters in pursuing her chosen calling ... Ms. Lippman’s book is revelatory, too, in showing the personal and professional costs to others—friends, loved ones, sources, witnesses—of Maddie’s single-minded quest for achievement and recognition.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn Scottish author Denise Mina’s Conviction...Anna McDonald of Glasgow has gone to great lengths to keep her shocking back story secret... Ms. Mina has long been an outstanding writer, but in Conviction she combines all her gifts—for suspense, humor, menace, sentiment—in spectacular fashion.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalRain is falling over Los Angeles throughout James Ellroy’s breathtakingly complex historical police procedural This Storm, a torrential saga of violence, corruption, lust, radical politics and greed ... beneath the conspiracies, double-crosses, killings, lies and alibis snakes an interlocking and comprehensible tale to be discerned—one either told in public or once more hushed up for the greater good ... Mr. Ellroy...extends his grand and grotesque yet idealistic vision even farther backward. The author has created an ongoing Balzacian jigsaw puzzle that will surely attract, repel, outrage and seduce readers for years to come.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalBig Sky\'s large, colorful cast have lots of explaining to do: not just about homicide, it develops, but about other crimes, including child abuse and sex-trafficking. Such grimness is leavened by a text brimming with wit, unpredictable events and vivid characters. From the shocking to the comic to the poignant, Ms. Atkinson does it all with breathtaking panache.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] worthy sequel ... a book filled with unforgettable characters and a tension that heightens with every chapter.
Alexander McCall Smith
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. McCall Smith’s engaging book teeters between comedy and pathos as the squad tussles with bizarre activity.
David R Dow
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Dow writes with authority about life on death row, where other inmates believe in Rafael’s innocence and offer emotional support ... Mr. Dow, a born writer if ever there was one, takes us where his narrator thinks he must go.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe author’s singular gifts for conveying the verbal, physical and moral textures of this vanished world are undiminished in Metropolis. The book offers similes worthy of Raymond Chandler. The cosmic ambivalence evoked by Philip Kerr can best be summed up in Gunther’s musing: \'Really there was just light and darkness and some life in between, and you made of it what you could.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalA group character study that offers realistic suspense. Ms. Ellis is an able guide inside the psyches of her subjects, especially that of Crisp, as he learns new ways to view himself \'in the context of his environment...through the lens of race and socioeconomics.\'
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Swanson unfolds this creepy story with the assurance and economy of a master. Surprises follow one another with inevitability, until the final electrifying jolt.
Boris Akunin, Trans. by Andrew Bromfield
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Akunin’s idiosyncratic page-turner is stuffed with action and laced with humor. In certain ways, it is reminiscent of discursive Russian novels of the 19th century and the social-satirical suspense classics of Wilkie Collins. But comparisons cannot suffice for an author who is a virtuoso in his own right.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"Mr. Winslow writes gripping action sequences and wields statistics like a crusading journalist. Grand in scope, audacious in its political portraits, convincing in its socio-economic arguments and humane to the core, The Border is not only a formidable thriller but an important and provocative work.\
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"Mr. Finder writes a tense and well-balanced novel that unfolds in the context of a suburban life full of other, more mundane challenges. The more we learn about Judge Brody and her family, the more we root for a merciful resolution to their travails.\
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...delightful ... The mysteries in Mr. Bradley’s books are engaging, but the real lure is Ms. de Luce, the irreverent youngster given to such pithy Flavia-isms as: \'Great music has much the same effect upon humans as cyanide. . . . It paralyzes the respiratory system.\'
Stephen Mack Jones
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Jones’s action-packed book has echoes of Raymond Chandler’s banter and bursts of Dashiell Hammett’s violence, with a tip of the porkpie hat to Walter Mosley ... delivers a bracing amount of rough humor and a whole lot of heart.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThrilling ... There’s a cinematic propulsion to No Exit that commands the reader’s attention, and Mr. Adams times his shocks with a sure hand. Narrative shifts reveal other characters’ histories, but Darby remains the principal player as she seeks an impossible-seeming resolution.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Perry, the author of more than 20 books, tells a story pulsing with suspense and dense with danger: a tale that escalates from a lone burglar to a criminal conspiracy full of double- and triple-crosses. The novel’s eponymous heroine rises to meet any challenge as she tries to make amends for the inadvertent harm she’s caused.
Un-Su Kim, Trans. by Sora Kim-Russell
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"The Plotters, rendered in English by Sora Kim-Russell, is an unusual book: a violent action-thriller that could also be a parable, a fable of good and evil stitched together with poignant threads. What Reseng is really trying to discover is whether it’s possible for a lost soul like himself to find a way into heaven. That said, readers may have to write that ending for themselves.\
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalRevenge, not absolution, is the goal chased by Dana Diaz, the standup comic narrating Amy Gentry’s unpredictable second novel ... The writing here is sharp, with contemporary social issues and moral twists that turn on a dime. Last Woman Standing unfolds like a master class in improvisational tragedy.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Winters has won major awards in both the mystery and speculative-fiction genres. The brain-teasing Golden State exists in a space where those two forms coexist. As a consequence, a sympathetic reader’s imaginings may persist long after the book’s puzzles have been solved.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSomber ... Everywhere the bonds of civilization seem to be weakening. All the more reason for would-be protectors like Superintendent Serrailler and his extended family to work harder than ever to maintain the fleeting comforts of home.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalA largely comic escapade whose tone evokes both the biting wit of Evelyn Waugh and the slapstickier shenanigans of P.G. Wodehouse. Bryant himself deems this country-house mystery \'rather like an Agatha Christie novel.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalA tough-as-rusty-nails police procedural ... Each environment seems spookier than the last in a narrative driven by lyrical anxiety.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"Ms. Truss has written a... comic mystery: one where criminal conspiracies lurk beneath life’s cozy surface and society’s most admired authority figures are clueless ... A Shot in the Dark couples suspense with dark hilarity in the manner of the 1955 British black comedy film The Ladykillers, thus delivering (just in time) the funniest crime novel of 2018.\
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe Silent Ones a superior work with interlocking elements of courtroom drama, psychological study and corruption exposé, might best be called a moral thriller ... an unpredictable work, by turns shocking, poignant, enlightening and inspired.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Barbas paces her terrific story well, and the book ends with her cogent analysis of Confidential’s larger significance. The magazine, which shuttered in 1978, \'precipitated a historic shift in American life fostering the jadedness, skepticism, and loss of innocence that would increasingly define the world in the 1960s and beyond.\' \'You couldn’t put out a magazine like Confidential again,\' Harrison told young journalist Tom Wolfe as early as 1964. \'You know why? Because all the movie stars have started writing books about themselves! . . . They tell all! No magazine can compete with that.\' Perhaps. But as today’s #MeToo movement shows, the powerful in Hollywood (and elsewhere) still like to keep their secrets.
Dolores Redondo, Trans. by Michael Meigs
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...emotionally vivid ... All This I Will Give to You has much to reveal ... Ms. Redondo unfolds her lengthy saga at a steady pace, with an abundance of detail. The patient reader will be rewarded with revelations both dramatic and poignant.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalFascinating ... scant on dialogue, leaving room for the action sequences that have made Mr. Forsyth’s novels best sellers for decades. The author’s spooky scenarios are somehow soothing: How comforting to think that bad actors might be stopped by the teamwork of one \'anxious boy with spectacular gifts\' and \'an elderly Englishman who sat at the back and remained silent.\'
Graeme MacRae Burnet
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe surprises in The Accident on the A35...are droll and subtle ... the novel seems at first to be a familiar enough police-procedural, similar in style to Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret books. But police chief Georges Gorski—an ill-at-ease, heavy-drinking man with a fractured marriage...is no Maigret. He seems more like one of the put-upon characters in Simenon’s other works: an ordinary type susceptible to \'human nature,\' caught up in pathetic events ... The Accident on the A35 is wrapped between a foreword and afterword, each presenting the novel as a posthumously published manuscript by one \'Raymond Brunet,\' as translated and introduced by Mr. Burnet, the real-life author. The latter’s pocket-biography of Brunet suggests that the events of this work had roots in the fictional author’s own life—adding a layer of conceptual icing to this delectable pastiche.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalWrecked is full of violent action, hairbreadth escapes and poignant life lessons: an unpredictable book written by an author with wizard-like gifts.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalNeatly constructed, interspersing podcast transcriptions among third-person chapters that describe various characters’ past and present actions. The podcast device induces a surprising intimacy, while the other sections are full of sharp detail. In other words, Ms. Macmillan is one heck of a good writer.
Scott Von Doviak
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThis inventive chronicle...can seem like solving a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle in the mirror. But the challenge is a worthy one, and the finished product is immensely enjoyable ... Mr. Von Doviak finds the appropriate tone for every occasion in this unpredictable novel, whose moods range from hard-boiled to slapstick to gothic. Even the author’s afterword is entertaining, ending with the sentence: \'Please tell all your friends to buy this book.\' Consider it done.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...unfolds with the urgency of a vintage black-and-white movie from Warner Bros ... Mr. Gross’s direct style is full of sentiment but never maudlin and well-suited to scenes of violent action ... Button Man has plenty of zip—and a lot of moxie, too.
Robert J. Harris
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...Our hero is dispatched to Paris in 1940 on the brink of the city’s fall to Germany. His mission is to find an individual code-named Roland, who may have been captured by the Nazis. Hannay must track Roland down and spirit him back to London, along with certain information he possesses, upon which \'the whole future of the war could hang.\' ... The can-do spirit of Mr. Harris’s book evokes a time when it seemed the fate of the world might hinge on the acts of a handful of brave souls. The Thirty-One Kings is old-fashioned in many ways—which is what makes it such a reassuring pleasure to read.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalLethal White, the fourth Cormoran Strike mystery novel by Robert Galbraith—a pen name for J.K. Rowling—begins in the year 2012. England is making final preparations to host the Olympic Games, and the 37-year-old Strike, thanks to his recent capture of a killer known as \'the Shacklewell Ripper,\' is now \'the best-known private detective in London.\' ... Lethal White...amounts to a gripping thriller, which tussles not just with criminality but morality.
Robert Olen Butler
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalChristopher Marlowe Cobb, an American abroad in 1915, is the resourceful hero of Robert Olen Butler’s Paris in the Dark. The alienated son of a famous stage actress, Cobb plays several roles in his life. As \'Kit\' Cobb, he’s a foreign correspondent for a Chicago newspaper. But as Josef Wilhelm Jäger—and sometimes Joseph Hunter—he disguises himself as a writer for a syndicate of American German-language publications. Why the need to blur his identity? Because he’s also a secret agent working for the United States government ... One of the pleasures of Mr. Butler’s series lies in how the author brings an earlier era to such convincing life through details, attitudes and reactions at once realistic and surprising. Paris in the Dark, with its ironic twists.
T. Jefferson Parker
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalRoland Ford is a compelling hero: financially comfortable but not emotionally complacent, empathetic and equipped with the training and inclination to vanquish wickedness. Mr. Parker’s devotees should be well-pleased.
Martin Solares, Trans. by Heather Cleary
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"Extraordinary...Mr. Solares depicts the milieu that Treviño re-enters with scenes informed by magic realism, spooky folklore and Greek epic poetry. Without losing sight of its central narrative, the book on occasion ascends into the realm of surrealism and the fever dream ... Don’t Send Flowers is full of odd twists and strange surprises. And despite the treacherous efforts of multiple foes—including former colleagues on the La Eternidad police—the battered Treviño persists in his quest to rescue the kidnapped daughter, motivated by an unbreakable sense of karma along the way.\
Maurizio de Giovanni, Trans. by Antony Shugaar
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalNaples in the early 1930s is the setting for Maurizio de Giovanni’s Nameless Serenade...(translated impressively from the Italian by Antony Shugaar) whose intense opening chapters approach the operatic ... Ricciardi’s life is also thick with operatic complications: Livia, a divorced adventuress, is in love with the Commissario. But he pines in silence for his young neighbor Enrica, who yearns to wed the discreet policeman but fears that she should instead marry the German military man courting her, even as that Nazi is being ensnared by the spying Livia. These romantic, suspenseful and political strains interweave and resolve in superbly artful fashion.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"Questions of luck and social privilege, fate and free will, empathy and solipsism are woven throughout this discursive narrative whose detail-rich sequences lead to psychological insights and unexpected revelations.\
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...a revolutionary group called the Massive Brigade ... consists mostly of discontented young citizens with various social-issue agendas—all unified by feeling \'like aliens in their own country.\' Without warning or explanation, Bishop and his followers one day drop off the grid. Where have they gone? What are they planning? ... The Middleman, with its abundance of multidimensional characters and political viewpoints, is a thought-provoking novel that never ceases to excite as a thriller.
Anne Holt, Trans. by Anne Bruce
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Holt’s mystery—ably translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce —offers more than a tricky plot. There is also fascination in seeing Ms. Holt enter the minds of characters troubled and admirable alike—and of seeing the admittedly conceited Hanne grow less self-centered and more generous in her treatment of Henrik, who himself comes more into his own and even discovers the fulcrum on which the two deaths turn. If In Dust and Ashes is indeed the last we’ll read of Hanne Wilhelmsen, maybe it will also mark the beginning of our deeper acquaintance with a more accomplished, self-confident Henrik Holme.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"Ms. Arsenault, in her earlier books, displayed impressive abilities and great charm. With this new work—its diverse supporting cast and mix of wry wit and psychological dread—she vaults to an even higher plateau of achievement. Intertwining strands of police-procedural and personal-confessional details set the reader up for one of the most surprising plot twists in recent memory.\
J L Butler
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalAt 37, Francine Day—the narrator of J.L. Butler’s well-crafted Mine, has a reputation as \'the best-value wig in London,\' a lawyer specializing in \'high-net-worth divorces.\' Fran knows well the codes of conduct governing her profession. Such rules go out the window, though, when she becomes romantically involved with her latest client, an investment banker whom she finds \'beautiful,\' with \'muscular and tanned forearms that were the very definition of manliness.\' ... But the client, Martin Joy, has a dark, aggressive side. And when his financially demanding wife goes missing amid the divorce proceedings, Martin becomes the police’s prime suspect.
But Fran has her doubts and her efforts to assist him...jeopardize her career, her freedom and her life itself.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSet in 1988, Mr. Osborne’s absorbing work presents a 72-year-old Marlowe living in a house in Baja California ... The semi-exotic, lushly described Only to Sleep ends with a whimper, not a bang—which seems a fine way to leave an old fictional friend, taking at last a well-earned rest in the sun after having given readers decades of pleasure.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe first half of The Last Time I Lied is sleekly written and involving. The second part seems to meander, then erupts in an abundance of physical action. Readers who persist to the novel’s truth-or-lie ending will be rewarded, though, with a startling, film-noir turn of fate.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalFor Those Who Know the Ending takes place in the criminal underworld of Glasgow. Crime bosses run the show in this faction-ridden locale, where foot soldiers commit murders so that \'someone else could make money.\' ... Into this grim environment enters Martin Sivok, a 31-year-old Czech hood-for-hire with a shaved head and a case of culture shock. He quickly teams up with a young Glasgow-born Pakistani, Usman Kassar. Together, the two rob a bookmaker’s business used to store gang money, which puts them in the bad graces of the criminals they’ve stolen from ... Soon, against his better judgment, Sivok finds himself caught in a downward spiral: \'More money, more risk, more violence.\'
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Thomas, an American who has studied in Turkey, does local color well and danger sequences even better. As Penny and Connor go off the grid and into the terrorist underground in search of Zach, Liar’s Candle blends the infinity-of-mirrors intrigue of an espionage page-turner with the thrills of an adventure movie. And who could resist the appeal of a determined heroine who, when challenged with \'The guards up there have semiautomatics. What have we got?\' answers: \'Nothing to lose.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Fesperman’s book is filled with intriguing twists and hairsbreadth escapes. And once past and present quests in Safe Houses are running in tandem, the book’s breakneck pace is exhilarating.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalBizarre coincidences and shocking revelations concerning former neighbors and Kate’s own family members, as well as the murder of the mother of another one of her patients, cause Kate to question her own hard-earned sanity. But she’ll need all her wits about her, and then some, to eventually do battle with one of the most memorable genre villains since Hannibal Lecter.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSatire supplements suspense in London Rules, Mick Herron’s latest volume in his amusing saga of Slough House ... Mr. Herron cleverly spins the templates of the spy thriller, and his style can bite with the wit of an Evelyn Waugh or Kingsley Amis.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalEven after 17 books, Ms. Black has intriguing corners of Paris to reveal—from an enclave of ateliers once home to the likes of Gauguin and Rodin to a crime-ridden neighborhood where \'no one wanted to be witnessed witnessing.\' And her heroine remains an unpredictable work in progress herself: a daughter faithful to the memory of a father she nonetheless fears may have collaborated with the Hand; a doting but still unmarried mother; enough of an existentialist to answer the question \'Who are you?\' with, \'In the scheme of life? To be determined.\'
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"Ms. Hummel captures characters in a single stroke: the art dealer with the \'tan, metallic look\' of \'prosthetic limbs, things that are made to look natural but are creepy instead\'; the careerist’s wife, \'a predictably pale blonde with a talent for smiling without seeming friendly at all.\' Having herself worked in a museum, she speaks with authority of that sealed world: \'The artist-dealer-collector triad is . . . soaked in cash. Most . . . transactions happen behind closed doors.\' Still Lives is both savvy and lyrical—the perfect beach read for either coast.\
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Horowitz continues his imaginative literary gamesmanship in his witty and suspenseful new work...an irresistible page turner in which he himself purports to be the narrator ... The Word Is Murder, with its dry tone and insider anecdotes about publishing and the movie business, is certainly one of the most entertaining mysteries of the year. It’s also one of the most stimulating, as it ponders such questions as: Which is of greater interest to the reader, the crime or the detective? And: Is the pencil truly mightier than the butcher knife?
You-Jeong Jeong, Translated by Chi-Young Kim
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe Good Son (who is anything but) is not so much a mystery story, then, as the case study of a psychopath, an unlikely thriller that we continue to read—thanks to Ms. Jeong’s controlled prose, as rendered into English by Chi-Young Kim —with a sickened sort of fascination. It’s a testament to the author’s skill and seriousness of purpose that she maintains suspense about her inhuman-seeming protagonist’s fate until the bitter end.
D. B. John
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalHow these characters’ lives unpredictably intersect is told with drama and flair by Mr. John, a Londoner whose flexible style is equally at home describing a dictator’s luxury train or the psychic depths of an icy gulag. While CIA agent Jenna, with her seductive allure and her hand-to-hand combat skills, comes close at times to seeming like a female James Bond, Star of the North is saved from caricature by passages of the grimmest realism and welcome bursts of humanism and hope.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalCustomers go to Harriet \'Hal\' Westaway, a 21-year-old tarot-card reader with a booth on the Brighton Pier, in hopes of getting a peek into their futures. But it’s Hal’s own future that seems hexed: She’s in hock to a loan shark who has given her seven days to pay up—or else ... And at the end of Ms. Ware’s captivating and eerie page-turner, Hal finds herself saying \'the last thing she had intended. The truth.\'
Fuminori Nakamura, Trans. by Kalau Almony
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"...a hefty, sometimes lewd, sometimes metaphysical exploration of the meaning of life that is also a thriller about the terrorist conspiracies of a secretive, sex-obsessed religious group ... Cult X, translated into handsome, unadorned English by Kalau Almony, pushes the boundaries of the thriller genre to an extreme degree. Mr. Nakamura has written a daunting, challenging saga of good and evil on a Dostoevskian scale. Those who persevere to its finale may well feel the richer for it.\
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalTo Die but Once is told on a human scale, as Dobbs works to unearth a scheme of coercion, bribery, black marketeering and government fraud—all of which paint the boy’s death in a more sinister light. The wartime details (sandbags in front of shop fronts, blackout curtains, ambulance-driving classes) transport us with ease to a milieu where danger is omnipresent but—thanks to the presence of steadfast figures like Dobbs and her like-spirited colleagues—so is hope
Kirk Wallace Johnson
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSo it goes: an unending (it seems) struggle, Mr. Johnson writes, between \'humans bound across centuries by the faith-based belief that these birds were worth preserving\' and \'centuries of men and women who looted the skies and forests for wealth and status.\' Johnson has written a fascinating book about that struggle—the kind of intelligent reported account that alerts us to a threat and that, one hopes, will never itself be endangered.
Mario Vargas Llosa, Trans. by Edith Grossman
PositiveWall Street Journal\"The Peruvian journalists in Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa’s erotic and darkly comic The Neighborhood (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 244 pages, $26) are a seedy lot, tabloid types trafficking in scandal and blackmail ... The Neighborhood, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman, is set in the 1990s, during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori, whose government took extreme measures to eliminate subversive factions ... The power-elite types in this titillating thriller (by an author who is himself a former political candidate) manage to pursue their sybaritic pleasures throughout all crises, while less advantaged players struggle to exist in safety. But in Mr. Vargas Llosa’s telling, the good, the bad and the vulgar all get their just deserts in surprising and largely gratifying ways.\
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn chapters told in Alice’s and Lucy’s alternating voices, we learn that the women had a falling out, and the traumatic facts slowly emerge ... Ms. Mangan makes good use of her arid locale—which is oppressive for Alice but inspiring to Lucy ... But caveat lector: Tangerine, like its namesake fruit, can be both bracing and bitter.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalDespite its darker hues—including the fulfillment of Isaac’s prediction—The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is full of delight. Though Ms. Jacobs’s writing has echoes of Thomas Pynchon, Nathanael West and J.D. Salinger, her terrific book displays in abundance a magic all its own.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Bohjalian twists the tension tight and keeps the surprises startling. For a good half of The Flight Attendant, the reader is rooting for the story’s dubious protagonist. But Cassie in peril, like Cassie pre-Dubai, refuses to toe the line, ignoring the advice and disobeying the instructions of those trying to help. It’s a bit hard to maintain sympathy for a character so perversely inclined to remain, in the words of one deadly pursuer, 'either a wild card or something far worse.'
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"Oliver is inspired to link this new investigation with his own redemption: ‘If Man is innocent and I freed him, then it would be in some way, like freeing myself.’ That doubly daunting mission is made all the more awkward when Oliver must ferret out rotten apples from the police force he still feels part of … Like many of Mr. Mosley’s protagonists, Oliver seems to be as much on a spiritual quest as a crime-solving one. \
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMaggie Barnes, the 26-year-old mailroom worker in Mick Herron’s surprising This Is What Happened, seems little more than an anonymous face in the crowd ... Mr. Herron cleverly employs the tropes of spy fiction to construct a frightening psychological puzzle. He then transforms the conundrum into yet another unexpected story, one that leaves the reader hoping for a resolution that may or may not materialize.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Perry, in this first-rate thriller, proves as cagy as his criminal mastermind: The reader rarely anticipates his next move. He balances breathtaking suspense with romantic intrigue … Meanwhile, the bomber is pressured to work harder and faster by circumstances (and people) that even he can’t control. His murderous designs, combined with Stahl’s quest to stop him at all costs, ensure that Mr. Perry’s book will have a suitably explosive finale.
Melissa del Bosque
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...absorbing true story of how a Mexican drug lord became a major player in American quarter horse racing ... In Bloodlines, the author gives us both the engrossing drama of a police procedural — from seeming dead ends to panic-stricken emergencies — and a scrupulous journalistic account of a significant episode in the drug wars. The personal crises that her protagonists endure during their investigation enhance the reader’s involvement in the narrative, but, Ms. del Bosque says, she never took the liberty of inventing dialogue.
P. D. James
RaveThe Wall Street JournalEach of the book’s entries exemplifies the skill with which James drew upon her genre’s mid-20th-century conventions, first to lull readers into a sense of familiarity and then to subvert their expectations … The grayness of existence seen through the veil of repressed memory, the ways in which the unconscious reveals as well as conceals, the terrible manner in which the truth comes out—these are among the aspects of life that James was so skilled at depicting.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] fascinating thriller ... [Ignatious] supplies plenty of up-to-date technical information in the course of telling his involving and realistic-seeming story ... The Quantum Spy jets from Seattle to Singapore, from Mexico City to Amsterdam. There’s even the occasional touch of humor.
Alexander Söderberg, Trans. by Neil Smith
RaveThe Wall Street JournalSophie Brinkmann, the beautiful, dark-haired Stockholm nurse at the crux of Swedish author Alexander Soderberg's tense, accomplished debut novel... The Andalucian Friend has a populous international cast of shady Swedish cops, vicious Spanish, German and Russian crooks, and the 'ordinary' citizens caught in between ... swift, well-written and often grisly saga...comes to a conclusion of sorts, there are enough aspects left unresolved to look forward to at least two more books of deadly peril, with new danger at every turn.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[an] impressively written, page-turning second novel ... These dual quests are detailed in more or less alternating chapters, through multiple characters’ points of view. But are they taking place in the same time frame? And what might they have to do with each other, if anything at all? The reader follows a rich cast of villains and heroes through a multistate, bullet-riddled adventure involving street crime, turf wars and human trafficking, but in due course Mr. Ide provides plenty of satisfying answers—and in a satisfyingly clever fashion.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe English housing estate at the center of Joanna Cannon’s unique and unforgettable debut The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is a familiar-seeming 1970s suburb 'joined together by tedium and curiosity: passing other people’s misery around . . . like a parcel' ... Ms. Cannon’s craftily constructed puzzler moves between Grace’s first-person narrative and omniscient third-person observation of other citizens who prove emotionally stunted or morally weak ...a closed-community mystery not just in an Agatha Christie sense but in the more ambitious J.B. Priestley manner: a spiritual parable whose larger questions echo even after being answered.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalIn Southern California detective fiction, the Santa Ana winds portend dire events—as demonstrated once more in Alan Drew’s excellent, atmospheric Shadow Man... The Santa Ana in Mr. Drew’s superb police procedural is especially fierce... People come to this place to escape Los Angeles. One such person is police detective Ben Wade, raised in Rancho Santa Elena and now moved back after being shot in the line of LAPD duty ... Wade is but one of many sharply etched characters who help make Shadow Man a stellar achievement, a book that unspools like a dark-toned movie in the reader’s mind.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe murder of two Philadelphia policemen in 1965 resonates through the decades and into the present in Duane Swierczynski’s impressive, intricately constructed Revolver, a twist-filled saga of family loyalties and civic corruption ... What he discovers destroys his marriage and family life, if not his career, and turns him into 'an emotionless golem' ...is a generation-hopping story, told in alternating chapters that skip between the ’60s, the ’90s and now. This challenging structure is well sequenced to maximize suspense, as old and new cases coalesce in unexpected ways ...Mr. Swierczynski’s innovative, life-affirming novel also affords the traditional pleasures of a police procedural, including humor.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe Hippocratic command 'do no harm' is a golden rule for the 40-year-old, divorced physician who stars in Peter Spiegelman’s swift thriller Dr. Knox ... Adam Knox supplements his income as head of a clinic in a 'Skid Row-adjacent' L.A. neighborhood by making evening house calls as 'Dr. X,' a no-questions-asked medic for those eager to avoid press coverage or police reports ... Mr. Spiegelman has created a unique Southern California narrator-protagonist whose emergency-room crises are as exciting as car chases, whose martial arts skills are medically informed.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...the 12th title in an enduring and freshly relevant series by Martin Limón — takes us to South Korea in the early 1970s, where Sgts. George Sueño and Ernie Bascom of the 8th U.S. Army are helping enforce the law among American troops stationed in the Land of the Morning Calm ... Sueño and Bascom, of the Criminal Investigation Division, are tasked with locating three American GIs who have gone missing. They make for a disparate duo ... Mr. Limón, himself a former U.S. Army man who served 10 years in Korea, writes with knowledge of the travails and rewards of military life, and his heroes are savvy enough to know how best to avoid the former in pursuit of the latter.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalJulia Keller’s gritty series on overworked county prosecutor Bell Elkins introduced readers to the economically and emotionally depressed community of Acker’s Gap, W.Va ... Fast Falls the Night is peopled with other conflicted characters... The inhabitants of this day-in-the-life book experience unavoidable, existential change — as, it seems, did the book’s author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Midwestern writer who herself grew up in a small West Virginia community since ravaged by drug addiction.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMost books involving crime and foul play provide the consolation of some sort of resolution. But Mr. McGregor’s novel, which was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, shows how life, however unsettlingly, continues in the absence of such explanation. The everyday events of the village resume. Seasons come and go. The villagers’ illnesses, births, affairs, separations and gestures of kindness draw the omniscient attention of Mr. McGregor’s narrative. Readers note possible clues—a dog tussles with an old navy-blue body-warmer found in a copse of trees—of which the book’s characters remain oblivious. A plausible suspect—a creepy janitor with pornography on his computer—is allowed to go about his business. Hopes are dashed, genre expectations go unfulfilled. Yet Rebecca remains in the villagers’ collective memory years later, a recurring figure in sleeping and waking dreams.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMany a fictional police detective is so devoted to work that he (or she) becomes estranged from a spouse. Darren Mathews, the black Texas Ranger at the heart of Attica Locke’s fourth and perhaps best novel, Bluebird, Bluebird, is no exception ... The award-winning Ms. Locke is a wonderful stylist, able to conjure vivid impressions with a single phrase ... The author is just as good at indicating the nuances of her characters’ moral challenges.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Lagercrantz is doing a wonderful job. It would be hard to imagine a sequel more faithful to its work of origin than this one, which emulates the spirit and style of the initial trilogy—with its determinedly self-sufficient heroine and dogged journalistic investigator, its focus on abuse of power and its bracing explorations of evils old and new ... Salander emerges as the most dramatic, charismatic and effective investigator of them all: weak in social skills but unmatched in speaking blunt truth to corrupt power; wary of having friends but laden with admirers; adrift in an intellectual world all her own but unrelenting in defending underdogs; hellbent on binding her own physical and psychic wounds. 'Why was she not like other people?' frets the police inspector and would-be protector. But readers wouldn’t want her to change one bit.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleInterspersed here and there are pages from an unfinished World War II novel, a chapter of a rejected movie-town memoir and several scenes from a Midwestern community-theater play. Such a fractured storytelling system is uniquely suited to a story full of professional and amateur artists trying to grab hold of some mercurial truth and fix it to the page, the screen, the disc, the stage or the canvas … As soon as the sure-handed Jess Walter...sets one story segment in motion, he pulls the reader away to gaze at a different spinning wheel of plot. By this inventive method, heightening interest and maximizing suspense, the book brings several figures together in the fullness of time, all united in a quest for answers to a host of questions big and little, cosmic and personal.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe Smack is often riveting, thanks to its surreal action scenes, and gradually the path of Petty’s progress becomes ever twistier and more lethal. 'He felt a little noble,' Mr. Lange writes early on; 'he felt a little doomed.' Time will tell.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThrough describing the detective’s step-by-step movements and dispensing information about her background only on a need-to-know basis, the author creates a bond between reader and protagonist akin to the one Renée shares with 'her' victims; and the excited satisfaction we feel at Ballard’s success seems as intense as the vindicating joy experienced by this intriguing new heroine.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal[Horowitz] has, like a magpie, taken themes, devices, techniques and shtick from the styles of at least half a dozen other writers (Agatha Christie to Sophie Hannah, E.C. Bentley to Robert Harris) in order to concoct an entertaining hall-of-mirrors work in which art imitates life and vice versa. As parody, pastiche or a whole new sort of puzzle, Magpie Murders holds one’s attention from first to last. Its echoes and allusions continue to tease the brain even after the book is closed.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] taut and shrewdly written period novel ... Despite this being a fiction turning on a real verdict already foretold, our interest never flags, thanks to the author’s keen eye and canny tongue for the telling detail, the revealing gesture, the phrase that says it all.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe facts behind all these intrigues are teased out with impressive skill by Ms. Hawkins, who tells a complex narrative in mostly brief chapters through the eyes and voices of more than a dozen characters ... Keeping track of all these characters can at times be daunting. But the effort proves worthwhile in a chronicle whose final pages yield startling revelations—despite the puzzlement of the policeman in charge.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...skillful and memorable ... Shining City has the excitement of a courtroom thriller. Its 24-hour attempt 'to solve murders three thousand miles and three months apart' delivers the excitement of a police procedural. And its sketches of a host of D.C. types have a nice satiric edge. Finally its hero’s ruminations on politics as the art of the possible give readers much to ponder.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalWhat happens to all these players is revealed in a kaleidoscope of flashbacks and flash-forwards that the author manipulates for maximum character development and suspense. Ms. Hoffman writes like a dream—a disturbing, emotionally charged dream that resolves into a surprisingly satisfying and redemptive vision.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\"...[an] often exciting and sometimes moving police thriller ... she takes further advice and comfort from remembered conversations with her late Uncle Benny, a Brooklyn cop as wise as he was tough. One of his mottos: \'Don’t get stuck in the abyss of your own morass.\' Benny appears in flashback-memories spaced throughout The Dime, the most effective of which turns into a surreal surprise revealing the meaning of this grisly but likable novel’s title.\
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] tantalizing novel ... Ms. Mejia displays the enviable ability and assurance of such contemporaries as Megan Abbott and Laura Lippman in convincingly charting inter-generational passion and angst. And she’s learned psychological truths from no less a noir master than the Bard himself, who showed that by 'our own natures, we are all inherently doomed.'”
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...Criminal fools populate the drug-selling networks from San Francisco to Bangkok to Miami in Patrick Hoffman’s astonishing, violent novel ... filled with sharply drawn characters ... A mind-bending, attention-demanding narrative as full of shocks and surprises as an LSD party.”
Graeme MaCrae Burnet
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThis trick of framing a novel as a supposed tale of a discovered manuscript is as old as the novel form itself, and the author’s sensitivity to literary forebears helps boost his book out of the realm of genre. His Bloody Project has the lineaments of the crime thriller but some of the sociology of a Thomas Hardy novel ... sane or mad, good or evil, honest or unreliable, this unfortunate young man, thanks to Mr. Burnet’s literary skill, makes a profound connection with the reader.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[an] elegant and disturbing novel ... a thriller of manners, is written in third-person. But so adroit is Mr. Lasdun at allowing a reader access to Matthew’s past and present thoughts and feelings that it seems like a first-person narrative ... This simple-seeming novel, so graceful in its unfolding, proves dense with psychological detail and sly social observations.
Alice Arlen and Michael J. Arlen
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe Huntress delivers exciting aerial sequences and intrigue worthy of a Hitchcock movie. The book’s psychological and dramatic elements combine for a powerful and satisfying finale. To paraphrase one of the characters, Ms. Quinn’s book is \'dynamite in print.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Carr conjures with admirable ease and verve all manner of vivid characters: the beautiful young blind woman who captures Dr. Jones’s heart; her obscenity-spewing young brother, whom Jones and Li use as their Baker Street Irregular; and dozens of allies, enemies, villains, relatives and victims. Skills and thrills are more abundant than plausibility. For maximum enjoyment: surrender, reader.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] wonderfully written novel ... The author gets inside the minds and lives of her book’s socially disparate personalities with the grace of a novelist of manners, even as she pulls tight the strands of one of the most ambitious police procedurals of the year.
C. B. George
PositiveWSJ...[a] gritty, suspenseful new novel ... Through the eyes of these well-rendered personalities in The Death of Rex Nhongo, the reader encounters an intimate panorama of life in a dangerous city ... [George] does a remarkable job placing a dozen or so interlocking personal stories within a larger context of greed, lust, sacrifice, hypocrisy and horror.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] suspenseful and finely written novel ... Ms. Lippman is good at bringing Lu’s small-town past to life ... [Wilde Lake] is as much a coming-of-age novel as it is an outstanding mystery.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal[Hollandsworth] does a fine job of setting the crimes in the context of a growing metropolis in the midst of an economic boom. The crime scenes drew carnival-size crowds. Mule-driven streetcars delivered sightseers to the murder sites. Giant electric arc lamps were erected to illuminate main streets with (it was hoped) crime-deterring glare ... until the publication of this absorbing work, the Midnight Assassin achieved only obscurity. 'It was as if he had walked out of history altogether,' concludes Mr. Hollandsworth. 'It was as if he had never existed.'
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...a highly amusing and ultimately very moving novel...Mr. Lee draws the reader into his characters’ lives with such sympathy and affection—'the private moments history so rarely records but which make up the minutes in the hours'—that when that inevitable explosion occurs, its impact is all the more devastating.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalA book as lyrically written, frequently shocking and immensely moving as Elizabeth Brundage’s All Things Cease to Appear transcends categorization. Is the book a 'police procedural'? In part. A 'gothic mystery'? Incidentally. A novel of 'psychological suspense'? In spades. A chilling case-study of a serial soul-killer? A 'Spoon River'-style panorama of small-town life in upstate New York in the late 1970s? A parable of good and evil informed by the theological notions of the 18th-century Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg? Yes, yes and yes. It was, perhaps, for such extraordinary books that the term 'literary thriller' was coined.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalWhat the Eye Hears is much more than a roll-call of tap stars. Mr. Seibert also stages a challenge-dance with the big themes entwined in tap’s history—among much else, the semiotics of minstrelsy and the constant tussle between old folkways and the new. His critical footwork dazzles.