Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

Brigid Quinn, now retired and living in Tucson with her new husband, Carlos, regrets the way her career ended with the FBI.  When a man is apprehended by the police and he seems like he could be a suspect in the unsolved Route 66 murders, Brigid gets involved--albeit unofficially--because it was a case she worked on.  A young fellow FBI agent, Jessica Robertson, was actually the last victim of the killer years ago, and Brigid holds herself responsible for her disappearance. The suspect, Floyd Lynch, knows a lot about the Route 66 murders and has information that was never released to the public, but is he the real killer?  Brigid, trying to keep her violent past secret from her husband, finds herself caught between wanting to solve the case and exposing secrets which could cost her her marriage. Brigid reminds me of an edgier Kinsey Millhone and the story itself is more graphic than Grafton's mysteries.  But what a joy to find a new suspense novel to recommend.  It really is a complete package. The book will be published next month.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

In Binchy's final novel, the reader is introduced to a variety of characters who either work at or are visiting Stone House, a new bed and breakfast on the west coast of Ireland. There's owner Chicky, who decides to refurbish the old home upon returning to her hometown after a failed relationship in New York.  Rigger is also finding a new start in Stoneybridge, having strayed down the wrong path as a teenager. In addition, Chicky's niece, Orla, proves indispensable in setting up the property.  The guests, at least most of them, in typical Binchy style, find that a visit to Stone House solves whatever problems or issues they are facing.  Regular readers of Binchy's novels will enjoy the fact that characters and places from previous books such as Whitethorn Woods and Quentins are mentioned.  It's so sad that this is her last novel.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

In her first case as a DCI, Gemma James is called to a seedy hotel room in Crystal Palace, where a man has been discovered dead in what looks like a sex game gone wrong. The victim, Vincent Arnott, was a barrister who liked to play around with women, even though he was married. While investigating Arnott's movements on the night he died, Gemma and DS Melody Talbot discover that he had an altercation with guitarist Andy Monahan at a pub. Andy grew up in Crystal Palace and pretty much raised himself, since his mother was an alcoholic. When Melody meets Andy, they feel a connection, but it's awkward, since Andy seems connected to Arnott's murder (even though he's not a suspect). Gemma's husband, Duncan, meanwhile, has been on personal leave from the force, taking care of their foster daughter, Charlotte. He's trying to find a school in their Notting Hill neighborhood that would be a good fit for her. He's assimilated to the routine of stay-at-home dad, but does wonder when he'll be able to go back to work. In this latest book in the James/Kincaid mystery series, Crombie gives the reader a very interesting sense of place in the London neighborhood of Crystal Palace, an ever-evolving set of characters that you care about, and a mystery that you wonder about until the very end. Well done!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Six Years by Harlan Coben

Six years ago political science professor Jake Fisher watched the love of his life, Natalie, marry someone else.  Natalie made Jake promise then that he would leave her alone--and he has.  But when he sees an obituary with a photo that resembles Natalie's husband, Todd, he decides to go to the funeral.  He is stunned when he meets the dead man's family and his wife is not Natalie, but another woman.  Jake realizes that he is not going to be able to keep his promise to Natalie and vows to get to the bottom of what happened to her, despite the cost.  In Six Years, Coben has written a page turner that's extremely hard to put down.  It's wonderful that he's able to come up with a story so compelling after all these years of writing thrillers.  It will be published next month.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

When an old university friend calls Ruth Galloway to inform her that one of their group has died in a fire, her student days come rushing back in her mind.  The victim, Dan Golding, was gorgeous and smart, and Ruth is surprised that he ended up as an archaeology professor like her.  Dan taught at Pendle University, near Blackpool in the north of England.  Thinking of Dan and wishing that they hadn't lost touch, Ruth is stunned to receive a letter from him, in which he asks for Ruth's help with something that he's unearthed on a dig--and confesses that he's afraid.  Spooked by the letter, Ruth asks DCI Harry Nelson to inquire into Dan's death.  When he tells her that Dan was locked in his home from the outside and that the police are speculating that he was murdered, Ruth dwells on him all the more. Soon, the head of the history department at Pendle asks Ruth to come and look at Dan's discovery. She can't resist, despite getting threatening text messages urging her to stay away.  With friend Cathbad along to look after her young daughter Kate, Ruth travels north to uncover what Dan was working on--and maybe even reveal a murderer.  A Dying Fall is the fifth book in the Ruth Galloway series and one of the best.  For readers who enjoy Gail Bowen, because of both authors' attention to the daily lives of the main female character, her family and friends. It will be published next month.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In the Darkness by Karin Fossum

Eva Magnus and her young daughter, Emma, are out walking by the river when they find a man's body floating in it.  Eva tells Emma that she has called the police, but the reader knows that she called her father instead about nothing important.  Why did she lie?  Meanwhile, someone else does notify the authorities and Inspector Konrad Sejer is placed in charge of the case.  The dead man turns out to be Egil Einarsson, who has been missing for six months.  He disappeared at about the same time a woman named Maja Durban was murdered. Sejer and his colleagues wonder if there's a connection.  Sejer also believes that Eva is not being truthful about her relationships to both of the cases, but will he be able to outwit her to get to the bottom of what actually happened?  In the Darkness is the first book in the Konrad Sejer series, and has finally been translated into English. Eight of the other books in the series have been translated previously, so it's nice to see where the series started.  In the first half of the mystery, the reader gets details about Sejer and his team, unlike the most recent books in the series, which focus more on the characters involved in the crime.  The second half of the book focuses on Eva and her role.  I really enjoyed seeing the story and the mystery unfold. It will be published in the U.S. this summer under the title Eva's Eye.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Best of Youth by Michael Dahlie

Henry Lang finds himself at loose ends when he inherits $15 million dollars from his parents' estate after they die in an accident. Living in Brooklyn and having feelings for his fourth cousin, Abby, Henry writes short stories and puts up the money to start a literary magazine called Suckerhead.  Henry is kind and intellectual, yet he's a hapless fellow who finds it hard to fit in with other people his age.  Still, Abby and new acquaintance Whitney prove to be real friends to him, which is what he needs, since, after agreeing to ghostwrite a young adult novel for a famous actor, he slowly realizes it might be a decision that leads to his undoing. The Best of Youth is the second novel by Michael Dahlie and is similar to The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  I thoroughly enjoy Dahlie's writing style--his vivid characterizations and the lightly humorous situations he puts Henry in signal such an unique voice.  Is there any way to arrange it so it's not another four and a half years between novels?