Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Watchman by Robert Crais

The latest Robert Crais novel features Joe Pike, partner to Crais series regular Elvis Cole. A favor is called in and Pike is asked to protect LA rich girl, Larkin Barkley, whose life is in danger after seeing something she shouldn't have as the result of being in a car accident. Pike realizes he must go solo (sans the authorities) to keep Larkin alive, with help from his old friend, Cole, of course. Pike has to find who wants Larkin dead in order to save her. Regular Crais readers will love the fact that Joe Pike finally has his own book and that some of his background is revealed. In fact, because the book is Pike's, not Cole's, it's a thriller rather than a mystery. Pike's worldview (ex-LAPD, ex-Marine, ex-mercenary) and his tenaciousness and toughness make the pages fly by. Lee Child's Jack Reacher series is a great read-alike.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Looking Good Dead by Peter James

Mind your own business would have been good words of advice for Tom Bryce. Coming home from London on the train, Tom finds a cd-rom that another passenger has left behind. He decides to take it home and try and find out whose it is. When he opens it that evening, he sees what appears to be a woman being murdered. Tom then gets a message telling him not to contact the authorities. However, after discussing it with his wife, Kellie, he goes to the police. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is assigned to the case. Soon, it becomes clear that the killer meant business when he threatened the Bryce family. Will Grace be able to protect Tom's family and solve the murder? Dead Simple was the first book in the Roy Grace series and in Looking Good Dead, James gives us another suspenseful police procedural with details of Grace's personal life along with descriptions of Brighton. Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series set in Yorkshire is a lot like these mysteries.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

Joe Cashin used to be a policeman in Melbourne, but is now stationed on the South Australian coast where he grew up. He is called to the home of Charles Bourgoyne, a wealthy local benefactor. Bourgoyne has been badly beaten and is near death. Suspicion falls on three local aborignal youths who were in possession of Bourgoyne's watch. But the case is not that simple in an area where police corruption is rife and racial tensions are barely below the surface. Cashin struggles to solve the case even after he's been asked to take leave. To make matters worse, he is still traumatized over a case gone wrong back in Melbourne. Temple creates a mystery with a great sense of small-town contemporary Australia. I loved all the aussie slang and hope that the author writes another novel featuring the character of Joe Cashin. Note: this book will be published in May in the U.S.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Death of a Maid by M.C. Beaton

Policeman Hamish Macbeth wins the services of cleaning lady Mrs Gillespie in a church raffle. He knows she's a tremendous gossip, so he's a bit uneasy about having her clean his house. Soon, however, he finds her dead outside another client's home. Macbeth figures that many near the small town of Lochdubh wanted her dead, since it seems that Mrs Gillespie was blackmailing her customers--their houses are dirty yet they insist she did a wonderful job. Hamish starts to question the townspeople against his bosses' wishes and also has to deal with a returning ex-girlfriend, Elspeth Grant. Death of a Maid is a solid entry to this long running cozy series. Rhys Bowen's Evan Evans series set in Wales is very similar to Macbeth.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt

In Algonquin Bay, Ontario, police detective John Cardinal is devastated when his wife, Catherine, takes her own life. Soon, he gets letters taunting him in his grief. Cardinal starts to believe that maybe his wife was murdered and begins investigating her death even though his colleagues have decided on a verdict of suicide. Fellow cop, Lise Delorme, meanwhile, has been contacted by the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit to help them on a case of child pornography that they believe is occurring in Algonquin Bay. Soon, the investigations go in an shocking direction. Blunt writes a harder edged mystery series (this is the fourth) that should be wider known. Great cover...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie

I always eagerly await the next Deborah Crombie novel. Her book, Dreaming of the Bones, is one of my favorite mysteries ever. In the latest in the series, Gemma James (London Metropolitan Police) and Duncan Kincaid (New Scotland Yard), travel with their sons Kit and Toby to Duncan's parents in Cheshire for Christmas. Soon after they arrive, Duncan's sister, Juliet, finds a mummified infant's body in the wall of a building she's rehabbing. Family tensions are high because of the unravelling of Juliet's marriage and the unhappiness of her teenage daughter, Lally. The mystery deepens as we meet the boat dwellers who live along the historic canals near Nantwich. Regular readers of the series might be surprised that Gemma and Duncan are not the main detectives in the book, but the book was still satisfying. For people who enjoy Peter Robinson and Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Damage Control by Robert Dugoni

Dana Hill is feeling overwhelmed. She puts in a lot of hours at a top Seattle law firm, has a three year old daughter to raise, and is having trouble in her marriage. Then her brother, James, is murdered in his home in what the police think is a robbery gone wrong. Dana realizes that she must find out why her brother died in order to have some sense of closure. She finds an ally in Detective Michael Logan, especially when they both figure out that James' death was not accidental and that Dana is in danger because she has in her possession something that might be the key to finding her brother's killer. Will Dana find the truth before she shares his fate? Dugoni writes a page turner with interesting characters. For fans of David Baldacci.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Samantha Sweeting is on the verge on becoming a partner in high-powered law firm, Carter Spink, when she makes a disasterous financial mistake. In shock, she gets on a train in London with no idea what to do. She ends up in the Cotswolds employed as a maid even though she doesn't know how to cook or clean. Slowly, Samantha gets used to a quieter life that lets her enjoy some free time. She even falls for Nathaniel, the gardener. When the firm comes calling again, will she choose London or love? This novel is perfect for a plane ride or vacation. Time After Time by Sue Haasler has much in common with books by Sophie Kinsella.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Blood Spilt by Asa Larsson

Lawyer Rebecka Martinsson is still recovering from the trauma of shooting three men two years ago near Kiruna (detailed in Larsson's first mystery, Sun Storm). Her work duties have been reduced to sitting in on meetings and housesitting for one of the partners. She then joins a coworker in Kiruna to help sell the firm's services to a local church council. There she learns that a female priest was murdered a few months ago and she is enlisted by the parish priest to help move the victim's husband out of his home and to recover the keys to the dead priest's church locker. As she meets the local townpeople she finds herself involved more than she even realizes. Larsson creates a great sense of place in far north Sweden. The Blood Spilt reminds me of Arnaldur Indridason's Silence of the Grave more than the other Scandanvian authors I enjoy (Henning Mankell, Hakan Nesser, Helene Tursten, Ake Edwardson, Kjell Eriksson).