Book list *Starred Review* Piet Hoffman is a devoted husband and the father of two young sons. He's also an ex-con who has been working undercover for the Stockholm police for nine years. Code named Paula, Piet has risen through the ranks of the Polish mafia and is chosen to lead the Poles' effort to control the supply of amphetamines in Sweden's prisons. To do that, Paula must get himself arrested and sent to a maximum security prison, wipe out the existing supplier, and keep himself alive until he has all the information needed for the police to move on the gang. Roslund, a former journalist, and Hellstrom, a former criminal, have concocted a brilliant thriller that posits a nearly literal invasion of Sweden by East European criminals allied with former state security agents. Combine that with a morally compromised police and Ministry of Justice effort to combat the invasion, and you have a genuine crisis. Piet's growing fear of discovery or betrayal and his angst at his beloved wife's ignorance of his work ratchet up the story's tension page by page and make the novel extremely difficult to put down. Named the Swedish Crime Novel of the Year in 2009, Three Seconds puts Roslund and Hellstrom in the company of Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. Crime fiction rarely gets as good as this.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly Ex-con Piet Hoffmann, who for the past nine years has led a double life as a family man and a police snitch infiltrating the Stockholm drug world, takes on his most dangerous assignment yet in Roslund and Hellstrom's thrilling follow-up to Box 21. Hoffmann must go undercover at AspsAs, a maximum security prison, and take control of the methamphetamine sales so the police can dismantle the spread of drugs from the inside out. The murder of a man during one of Hoffmann's preliminary meetings with the members of Wojtek, the local Polish mafia, threatens the entire plan and puts Det. Supt. Ewert Grens, the returning hero from Box, on the case. Once Hoffmann steps inside the prison walls all hell breaks loose, and he's forced to fend for himself when it appears that everyone on either side of the law wants him dead. The authors ratchet the suspense beautifully right up to the final, inevitable confrontation. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Twelve-year-old Steven's hardscrabble life in tiny Shipcolt, England, on the edge of Exmoor has a predictable monotony: he spends most of his free time with his best friend, Lewis, dodging the local bullies and trying to garner the favor of his mother, Lettie, and his Nan (grandmother), who seem to disapprove of his every move. The two women exist in a state of emotional limbo, still mourning the death of his Uncle Billy, who was abducted and murdered as an 11 year old by a serial killer serving time in a nearby prison. Steven enters into a bold plan-to find his uncle's killer and thus win the affection of his mother and grandmother. But once he begins a secret correspondence with the killer, Steven starts down a treacherous path that could endanger his own life. VERDICT In her debut, self-described dishwasher-bookmaker-journalist-turned-novelist Bauer offers a compelling, fast-paced, and suspenseful drama that will keep readers engaged from the first page. Fans of Ruth Rendell will likely be drawn to Bauer's work. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]-Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Book list *Starred Review* Bauer, whose intent was to write a small story about a boy and his grandmother, didn't quite succeed. Yes, there's a grandmother and her 12-year-old grandson, but Bauer's debut is hardly a small (read simple and uncomplicated) story. It's an unsettling novel, with the sort of devastating emotional content that makes it both difficult to read and difficult to forget. Steven Lamb wants nothing more than to find the body of his uncle, taken as young boy (and presumably murdered) by pedophile Arnold Avery, who is now in prison. It's Steven's desperate wish that by finding the body, he'll heal his dysfunctional family and repair his grandmother's broken heart. Digging holes in the nearby moor (the blacklands), where many of Avery's victims were found, has revealed nothing, leaving the pedophile himself as Steven's only hope for ending his family's pain. Thus begins a carefully orchestrated mail correspondence just a few words here and there passed between the two in letters that the recipients must puzzle out. Unfortunately for Steven, Avery quickly gains control of the conversation, which allows him to live in glorious memory of his killings. If the turn of events isn't totally unexpected, it's a riveting journey nonetheless, with Bauer remaining fully invested in her troubled characters: one a clever, vicious manipulator; the other an unappreciated, bullied 12-year-old, desperate for love.--Zvirin, Stephanie Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly British author Bauer's solid debut focuses on Steven Lamb, an unhappy 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother, grandmother, and five-year-old brother in Shipcolt, Somerset. Steven's grandmother is still haunted by the disappearance and suspected murder of her 11-year-old son, Billy, 19 years earlier. The authorities assume Billy was killed by pedophile Arnold Avery, who was convicted of six counts of murder and is serving a life sentence in Longmoor prison. Determined to find Billy's remains, Steven has been methodically digging up the moor near his house. Frustrated by his lack of progress, he writes a letter to Avery asking for information, and so begins a cat-and-mouse game that will have dire consequences. Bauer creates believable tension within the Lamb household as her characters shoulder enormous psychological burdens, though a somewhat far-fetched climax dilutes the quiet power of the preceding story. (Jan.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal Detective Joe Cashin had hoped for a little peace when he accepted a posting in his quiet South Australia hometown. But no such luck; he's in the midst of a murder investigation, with three aboriginal boys as the main suspects. Reading group guide. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Book list Thanks largely to Hollywood, Americans tend to picture Australians as genial, sunburned rednecks who enjoy beer, barbecue, and bare-knuckle brawling. Without countering all of those stereotypes--the only touching Temple's men do is with their fists-- The Broken Shore offers a cold-weather vision of the continent that, despite its rural setting, is more Ian Rankin than Crocodile Dundee. Melbourne homicide detective Joe Cashin has been temporarily assigned to his hometown, dinky Port Monro. Rehabilitating (with aspirin and whiskey, mostly) from injuries only slowly explained, he broods over family history and mistakes made. But when a local eminence is assaulted--and an attempt to detain the suspect goes fatally wrong--Cashin finds that small-town crimes offer complications worthy of the big city. Though the dense slang will be unfamiliar to U.S. readers (a glossary is provided), what's striking is how easily South Australia anagrams to the American West. Substitute Indians for Aborigines, and land-use issues for land-use issues (Australia has lots of coastline, but waterfront property is waterfront property), and you have a familiarly troubling tale of race and class conflict--with an even darker crime at the heart of it all. Temple's novel racked up the awards in Australia, and it's easy to see why: this deeply intelligent thriller starts slowly, builds inexorably, and ends unforgettably. --Keir Graff Copyright 2007 Booklist
Publishers Weekly In Temple's beautifully written eighth crime novel, Joe Cashin, a city homicide cop recovering from an injury, returns to the quiet coastal area of South Australia where he grew up. There he investigates the beating death of elderly millionaire Charles Bourgoyne. After three aboriginal teens try to sell Bourgoyne's missing watch, the cops ambush the boys, killing two. When the department closes the case, Joe, a melancholy, combative cynic sympathetic to underdogs, decides to find the truth on his own. His unauthorized inquiry, which takes him both back in time and sideways into a netherworld of child pornography and sexual abuse, leads to a shocking conclusion. Temple (An Iron Rose), who has won five Ned Kelly Awards, examines Australian political and social divisions underlying the deceptively simple murder case. Many characters, especially the police, exhibit the vicious racism that still pervades the country's white society. Byzantine plot twists and incisively drawn characters combine with stunning descriptions of the wild, lush, menacing Australian landscape to make this an unforgettable read. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal Despite our common Anglo-Saxon heritage, Australian mysteries have never done well in this country. Perhaps they aren't exotic enough for readers who prefer their murders set in the chilly climes of Scandinavia or the sultry heat of Italy. But if this superb novel by one of Oz's finest crime writers breaks out here, pop open a can of Fosters beer and get ready for an Aussie crime wave. Melbourne homicide detective Joe Cashin, reassigned temporarily to his hometown on the south Australian coast after an incident that left him severely injured and a partner dead, is called to investigate the brutal attack on Charles Burgoyne, a prominent and wealthy local citizen. Suspicion soon falls on three Aboriginal teenagers; two are killed in a botched stakeout, and the third drowns himself in the Kettle, a jagged piece of coastline also known as the Broken Shore. Case closed, but Joe, who has Aboriginal cousins, probes further and uncovers far darker crimes. Temple's (Identity Theory) eighth novel deservedly won the Ned Kelly Award, Australia's highest crime fiction prize; in prose that is poetic in its lean spareness, though not without laconic humor (a character has the "clotting power of a lobster"), it offers a haunting portrait of racial and class conflicts, police corruption, and strained yet unbreakable family ties. A helpful glossary defines such colorful Down Under terms as "stickybeak." Highly recommended. [See Pre-pub Alert, LJ 2/15/07.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly In Indridason's excellent second mystery (after 2005's Jar City), a skeleton, buried for more than 50 years, is uncovered at a building site on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Who is it? How did he or she die? And was it murder? The police wonder, chief among them the tortured, introspective Inspector Erlendur, introduced in Jar City. While an archeologist excavates the burial site, several other narratives unfold: a horrifying story of domestic abuse set during WWII, a search for missing persons that unearths almost-forgotten family secrets involving some of the city's most prominent citizens, and Erlendur's own painful family story (his estranged, drug-addicted daughter is in a coma, after miscarrying her child). All these strands are compelling, but it's the story of the physical and psychological battering of a young mother of three by her husband that resonates most. And the denouement of this astonishingly vivid and subtle novel is unexpected and immensely satisfying. Indridason has won the CWA Golden Dagger Award. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Book list Icelandic mysteries hit the U.S. ground running last year with the appearance of Indridason's outstanding Jar City. This equally fine follow-up returns to the theme of buried pain, with the action centering on the discovery of a human bone at a construction site near Reykjavik. Inspector Erlendur Sveinnson is on the case, but the trail, which leads back to World War II, has gone very cold indeed. Erlendur (Icelanders use first names) has a very personal reason for his abiding interest in missing persons, and that--combined with the fact that his drug-abusing daughter is in the hospital in a coma--opens the door for plenty of backstory regarding the detective's troubled history. With a narrative that jumps between the 1940s and the present--without giving away whodunit--the novel generates a sort of emotional claustrophobia, its characters trapped in a world where the pain of the past, though often submerged, is always with us. Indridason has definitely vaulted onto the A-list of Scandinavian crime authors. --Bill Ott Copyright 2006 Booklist
Library Journal A skeleton is unearthed in Reykjavik, Iceland, while Inspector Erlendur uncovers a troubled tale of violence and family shame in the award-winning follow-up to his American debut, Jar City, which won the Nordic Crime Novel Award. Indridason lives in Iceland. Author tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal Led by Sweden's Henning Mankell (see below) and Norway's Karin Fossum, Scandinavian mystery writers have become increasingly popular in this country. In the second of an Icelandic series to be translated into English (the first was Jar City), Reykjavik detective Erlendur begins investigating the elderly inhabitants of an area after children find an old human skeleton partially uncovered at a building site. Concurrently, the author tells the story of a woman, horribly abused by her sadistic husband, and her three children living in fear of the father. Yet a third theme involves Erlendur's estranged daughter, drug-addicted and now pregnant, who thrusts herself back into his life. Like the long, cold Scandinavian winters, this novel features much darkness, yet as in the Icelandic sagas the author has studied, there is some hope amidst much pain and suffering. Ably translated, this title won the 2005 British Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger, a controversial choice that forced the CWA to create a separate category for mysteries in translation. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/06.]-Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Book list Frank Elder had been a detective inspector with the Nottinghamshire police when his marriage fell apart. Now retired and relocated to distant Cornwall, he fights nightmares from an unresolved missing-person case 15 years earlier. Did the two men convicted of a similar abduction-murder also kill the still-missing teenager? When the younger of the two perps is granted early release from prison, Elder is prompted to resume his search for the missing girl. Harvey, who retired his acclaimed 10-volume Charlie Resnick series five years ago, returns to the mean streets of Nottinghamshire, focusing on another copper who feels the pain of those he encounters on the job and takes that pain home with him. But Elder is a different character than Resnick (who makes a cameo here), and those differences (Elder's relationship with his daughter, especially) give this novel a life of its own despite sharing a setting with the earlier series. (Like K. C. Constantine, who retired Mario Balzic but continued his Rocksburg series by focusing on other cops, Harvey wisely spurns the too-common strategy of starting a purportedly new series in a different setting that, in fact, recycles the same characters under new names.) What this novel shares with the Resnick series, however, is Harvey's unmatched ability to get inside the minds and hearts of his criminals and the environments that produce them. Evil is a presence in Harvey's world, but it is never an unexplained presence, and those who commit evil acts always wear tragically human faces. Harvey remains a sensitive but never sentimental chronicler of the underclass, and it's great to have him back where he belongs. --Bill Ott Copyright 2004 Booklist
Publishers Weekly Acclaimed for his Charlie Resnick series (Lonely Hearts, etc.), British author John Harvey introduces a new detective hero, Frank Elder, in Flesh and Blood, a competent if plodding story of an old unsolved case and a teenage girl's disappearance. While the dogged Elder shares many habits with Resnick, from a prodigious appetite for common food to a difficulty with maintaining relationships, he lacks his predecessor's zest for life. Agent, Kimberly Witherspoon at Witherspoon Associates. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal After 30 years in the Nottinghamshire police, Frank Elder has retired to escape hassles and an unfaithful wife. Yet even fleeing to Land's End at the southwest tip of England can't prevent his being dogged by memories of the unsolved disappearance of a teenage girl. Soon Elder is drawn into helping the police investigate several violent crimes similar to those done by a man he helped catch 15 years ago. Past seems to merge with present, especially when Elder's own 16-year-old daughter is kidnapped. After ten highly acclaimed Charlie Resnick novels and a standalone (In a True Light), Harvey returns to the procedural (Elder even meets Resnick very briefly) for which he is so rightly praised. Tight plotting, gritty dialog, sympathetic characters and a lot of gray areas are the trademarks of a master still in great form. Highly recommended. Harvey lives in London. [See Mystery Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/04.]-Roland Person, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly In a highly original and literary approach to crime fiction, Spanish writer Somoza's gripping English-language debut interweaves text from an ancient Greek manuscript with an account of the growing anxieties of its modern translator. In the Greek text, Heracles Pontor, Decipherer of Enigmas, is called upon to solve the grisly killings of young men at Plato's Academy of Philosophy. Athenian tutor Diagoras, a sort of Watson to Pontor's Holmes, comes to ask the sage's help after the corpse of a handsome ephebe (adolescent) is discovered. It is thought at first that he was attacked by wolves, but neither of the ancient sleuths accepts this explanation, and their investigations lead to interviews with family members, mistresses and schoolmates of a mounting number of victims. Insidiously, the translator himself becomes a murder target in the unfolding plot. As he looks for secret messages in the story (left in accordance with a Greek literary technique called eidesis), he begins to notice inexplicable allusions to himself in the text: Someone is reading the scroll right now, deciphering our thoughts and actions.... Such references become more threatening near the suspenseful buildup to the final chapter, especially when he identifies a statue of himself in the studio of a rapacious sculptor rumored to be part of a sacrificial cult terrifying the city. Somoza relies on lengthy footnotes to convey his translator's insights and growing fears, sometimes causing the modern and the ancient narratives to trip over each another, but generally moving the tale along smoothly. Underlying the text are homoerotic and pagan themes, giving an unvarnished and compelling view of Greek life in 400 B.C. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal In his U.S. debut, ambitious Spanish novelist Somoza parallels a murder at Plato's Academy and the predicament of a contemporary translator, who finds that a text about the murder speaks to him in a direct and frightening way. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal Even Crumley's reliably sharp writing can't save this novel from its unlikable hero and convoluted plot. P.I. Milo Milodragovitch (Bordersnakes), usually a self-centered and reckless type, spends the entire novel trying to save a fugitive from being unfairly treated by the Texas justice system. Throughout, Crumley provides a steady stream of fighting, dull conversation, and shady but colorless characters. Milo's vices certainly make him a distinctive character in P.I. fiction, but they also make him difficult to care about. Not only is his sex-and-drug lifestyle unbelievable but it quickly becomes monotonous. This is certainly not one of Crumley's better efforts. Still, his wit, his descriptions of the Texas landscape, and the prose in general an excellent example of classic hard-boiled fiction make it worth consideration by public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/01.] Craig L. Shufelt, Lane P.L., Fairfield, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal In his first case since the national best seller Bordersnakes, Milo Milodragovitch investigates the rape and murder of his new lady love's sister. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Book list Milo Milodragovitch just won't go gently into that good night. After helping out his pal C. G. Sughrue in Bordersnakes (1996), Milo stayed on in Texas, forsaking his native Montana for the arms of the enigmatic Betty. But those arms have grown cold ("A man can make a happy woman sad, but he can't finally make a sad woman happy"), and Milo is left to amuse himself tracking bail jumpers and running a bar. Then he tangles with a tall black man who has just killed a drug dealer, and soon enough he's landed in the middle of another dope-and-booze-fueled adventure, following leads to nowhere and slipping ever deeper into the quicksand of a Chandleresque plot that makes less sense with every clue. Along the way, he's duped by a femme fatale, survives a gunfight on a golf course, and sets traps for a serial killer and a few corrupt politicians--all the while ingesting prodigious quantities of codeine, cocaine, and vodka. Unlike Bordersnakes, which celebrated two world-weary but still ornery roughnecks on their last hurrah, this time the tone is more melancholy, an elegy written in a decidedly minor key. It isn't just that the years are taking their toll on Milo, although, God knows, they are; it's also that Milo is finding the world less and less congenial. If the Matthew Arnold of "Dover Beach" had written a crime novel, it might read a lot like this one. Some of Crumley's fans might find the aging Milo a bit morose, like listening to Hank Williams sing "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" over and over; others will eagerly turn up the volume and pour another drink. --Bill Ott
Publishers Weekly PI Milo Milodragovich turns a very hammered 60 years old in this energetic, poetic, violent and extremely funny ride, which comes within a belly laugh or two of equaling Crumley's absolute masterpiece, The Last Good Kiss (1978). "The rumors of my near demise haven't been exaggerated," Milo says, "but unfortunately for my enemies, I'm not dead yet." After finally collecting his long-deferred family inheritance (plus a huge cache of loot from the bad guys) in Bordersnakes (1996), the author's previous novel, he seems ready to settle down in Texas, the state with "more handguns than cows." He has a woman he may love, and now owns a bar. Milo, however, just can't let go of investigative work. As he tracks down a wandering wife whose implants have made her the pool-playing terror of many roadhouse, he is on the scene as a gigantic black man named Enos Walker tears into a dive and kills a drug dealer. When Milo asks a couple of questions about Walker, bullets start coming his way, sending him on a cocaine-and alcohol fueled trip for answers that may be 20 years old, hidden behind deception and sex and death, going from Texas to Las Vegas and Montana. Plot twists and details seem loose and easy, yet every thread is sewn tight as a hardball. This is a brilliant achievement, with Crumley returned to his full powers, seeming to say with each assured sentence, Yeah, I'm an old dog, but I still wag the baddest bone. (Oct. 23). Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Yet another talented Scottish author makes a debut with this dark and twisty thriller, boasting a highly unusual hero and a compelling background that shows extensive inside knowledge. The protagonist ("hero" is not quite the word) is Rilke, a promiscuously gay auction dealer working for a struggling Glasgow firm. On an appraisal call one day at the house of Roddy McKindless, a wealthy and recently deceased citizen, he comes across an extensive library of pornography, which includes pictures suggesting a "snuff"-the slaughter of a woman for sexual purposes. Rilke finds himself, to his surprise, engaged in trying to find out who the girl in the picture was, and whether she was really killed. Using his seamy contacts in the city-a pornographer, a girl who poses nude for eager "cameramen," a shady bookseller-he sets out on his peculiar odyssey, pausing from time to time for a quick and wordless sexual encounter, and becoming engaged along the way in a plot with the glamorous and world-weary Rose, who runs his auction house, to abscond with the proceeds of a highly profitable sale. Rilke is hardly a likable character, but as Welsh presents him, he is so witty, self-aware and oddly vulnerable to the occasional decent instinct that he becomes disarming. The Glasgow color is expertly applied; Welsh obviously knows her auction business, and also how to keep an intriguing story moving. She is not good at action, however, and the actual climax, in which the mystery of McKindless's death is solved, is oddly muted and unconvincing. This is one of those books, however, in which the journey is infinitely more beguiling than the destination. (Apr.) Forecast: The enterprising Scottish publisher Canongate has produced a number of outstanding books, including The Scarlet Petal and the White, and this is one of the initial releases from its new U.S. outpost. Booksellers can confidently recommend it to admirers of another Scottish noir author, Denise Mina. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Told from the perspectives of both cop and criminal, Mankell's third Kurt Wallander mystery revolves around the veteran Swedish inspector's search for a savage serial killer who scalps his victims after delivering a fatal hatchet blow. The novel opens as Wallander is called to a farmer's field, where he helplessly witnesses a teenage girl's self-immolation. The suicide unsettles the inspector, who can't understand why someone so young would kill herself. As the police try to identify the young woman, the serial killer's first victim, a former justice minister, is discovered on a beach in a wealthy neighborhood. Three more people are found murdered and scalped, and other signs of violence suggest that the perpetrator is becoming increasingly agitated. Following standard procedure, Wallander and his crew try to link the four victims, all male, a difficult task because their lives never seem to have intersected. Using American profiling methods as well as his own intuition, Wallander struggles to make headway in the case. What he doesn't consider, and what readers know, is that the murderer isn't a man but a boy, who hopes to revive his catatonic sister by the ritual presentation of the scalps. Mankell's meticulously detailed descriptions of the inspector's investigationÄand his often lyrical portrayal of Wallander's struggle to rearrange his thought processes in order to catch the criminalÄare masterful. The author's treatment of modern themes such as juvenile killers and broken families adds richness to what is essentially a straightforward police procedural. But above all, the novel stands out for its nuanced evocation of even the peripheral characters. Winner of Sweden's 1997 Best Crime Novel of the Year, this is another terrific offering from the talented Mankell. (May)
Book list "The violence that previously was concentrated in the large cities had also reached his own police district. . . . The world had both shrunk and expanded at the same time." That mantra is being chanted by fictional cops all across Europe, but none with more insistence than Kurt Wallander of Ystad, Sweden. In this third Wallander adventure to be translated into English, the overworked inspector is confronted by a serial killer who slaughters and scalps his victims with a hatchet. Torn between the enormity of this case and his perpetual family problems, Wallander slogs on, using the very tedium of the investigative process to insulate himself from the horrors he faces. Mankell effectively contrasts Wallander's crisp attention to procedural detail with the all-pervading sense of melancholy that enshrouds his inner life. There is a sameness of tone to the Wallander novels that becomes a bit oppressive eventually, but they remain a quintessential example of the hard-boiled European procedural. (See "A Hard-Boiled Gazetteer to Europe in Asia" [BKL Ap 15 98].) --Bill Ott
Library Journal A young girl spends a day almost catatonic in an isolated farm field, then immolates herself. Sweden's retired minister of justiceÄa man with a pornographic interest in young girlsÄtakes his usual evening walk on the beach and meets a murderer's axe. With these possibly connected cases on his plate, series policeman Kurt Wallander (Faceless Killers, LJ 12/96) and his team interrupt their personal agendas to identify the girl, expose unsavory personal/political secrets, and deal with the subsequent connected murder of an art dealer. Full of emotion yet cleanly written, apparently straightforward yet fraught with intriguing revelations, Mankell's latest mystery is strongly recommended.
Publishers Weekly This brooding tale of a search for a serial killer in rural Ontario takes its title from the often-quoted fact that Eskimos have 40 words for snow. "What people really need is forty words for sorrow," thinks Det. John Cardinal, whose glum outlook aptly mirrors the mood of Blunt's atmospheric thriller. The story begins when the frozen body of 13-year-old Chippewa Katie Pine is discovered on one of the Manitou Islands near Algonquin Bay, Ontario. Cardinal, whose obsessive search for the missing girl when she first disappeared six months earlier got him kicked off the case, ends up back in the good graces of his superiors. Or so he thinks. But his new partner, Lisa Delorme, fresh from the Office of Special Investigations (think Internal Affairs), has been paired with Cardinal so she can covertly investigate him at the same time. Dogging Cardinal's record is his connection with drug dealer Kyle Corbett. Each time the police tried to bust Corbett, he was warned by someone on the inside; Cardinal, who is burdened with a guilty secret and a wife who's in and out of mental institutions, is the prime suspect. Focusing initially on Cardinal, Blunt (author of the praised Cold Eye) opens up the plot by chronicling what happens to the next potential victim of what the newspapers are calling the Windigo Killer. While the plot is formulaic (combining both a least-likely-suspect twist and a you-may-think-it's-over-but-it's-not finale), the plangent atmosphere gradually and effectively permeates the reader's consciousness. The characters achieve dimension slowly, like figures in a developing Polaroid, and then become vivid. Sorrow is palpable, and readers making their way through the book will feel like they're walking hunched over against a steady, chilling wind but the final destination, like Cardinal's final redemption, is well earned and well worth the trip. Agent, Helen Heller. (June 25) Forecast: Glowing advance praise from the likes of Jonathan Kellerman, Tony Hillerman and Lee Child augurs well for this deserving, intelligent thriller. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Book list Canada has an extremely low homicide rate, so when the tiny town of Algonquin Bay in northern Ontario is visited by a serial killer whose prey is pre-adolescent children, shock waves are amplified. Blunt's handling of procedure (involving both local and regional police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) is masterful, and his treatment of character is especially intriguing, as he shows us believable protagonists, caught up in the confusion of their own lives yet called to respond to an overarching menace. Detective John Cardinal, lonely, depressed, and isolated from his colleagues because of their suspicion that he's on the take, must work with a female cop, Lise Delerme, who has her own problems, not the least of which is her uncertainty over whether Cardinal knows that she's investigating him. Their challenge is to come out of the miasma of personal and professional problems to outwit a serial killer. A completely absorbing series debut and another fine example of the Canadian mystery (see Farrow's Ice Lake, reviewed on p.1626). --Connie Fletcher
Library Journal In recent years, our literary neighbors to the north have produced a wide array of fine fiction. Now comes Canadian Blunt's intelligent second novel (after Cold Eye). Set in the dead of winter in the small northern Ontario town of Algonquin Bay, it opens with the discovery in an abandoned mineshaft of the badly decomposed body of Katie Pine, a 13-year-old Chippewa girl who had disappeared several months before. Detective John Cardinal, demoted for insisting that Katie had not run away, is reinstated to work on the reopened case. In studying reports of other missing children, he begins to find a pattern that hints at a serial killer or killers. At the same time, Cardinal's new partner, French Canadian Lise Delorme, is secretly investigating him for possibly taking bribes from a drug runner. While an exciting crime story, the book is also a novel of place (the chilly isolation of a rural community is vividly portrayed) and a meditation on sorrow for the murdered children, for the emotionally damaged killers, and for Carpenter's mentally ill wife. "Eskimos, it is said, have forty different words for snow. Never mind about snow, Cardinal mused, what people really need is forty words for sorrow. Grief. Heartbreak. Desolation. There were not enough." The only false note is a scene involving a librarian (no surprise there). Still, this is strongly recommended for patrons who want some substance in their mysteries. Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal Though this small gem of a first novel revolves around a murder and is being billed as a psychological suspense, it defies ready categorization. Ten years after leaving her native Yorkshire for Tokyo, Lucy Fly, who uses her fluency in Japanese to translate technical documents, is arrested for killing her friend and countrywoman Lily Bridges, with whom she was seen arguing shortly before Lily disappeared. Lucy's story unfolds as neatly as origami, from her dysfunctional upbringing, including the death of a brother, through her sensuous love affair with Teiji, consummated shortly after their eyes meet for the first time. In concise prose perfectly suited to its setting, Jones reveals how Lucy loses both friend and lover and is at risk of losing even more. Jones, who worked as a teacher and radio script editor in Japan, captures the sense of a foreign country and culture and creates an unusually provocative protagonist. Word-of-mouth and book group interest alone would likely propel this to success. Recommended for public library fiction collections. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly "If Lily had never met me she would be alive now," says Lucy Fly, the narrator of Jones's intriguing debut. She is being interrogated by Tokyo police for her friend Lily's murder. Making matters worse, Lucy's lover, Teiji, has also gone missing. Ten years ago, Lucy left behind an unhappy life in Yorkshire, England, to lose herself in the exotic, anonymous bustle of a faraway city. Now in her 30s, she is content with her job as a translator and her otherwise Spartan existence, fixating on Teiji, a photographer and loner rather like herself. Then she meets Lily, who also comes from Yorkshire and is on the lam from her stalker boyfriend. At first Lucy resents this reminder of her past, but she soon grows attached to the lonely, insecure girl. Lucy is full of contradictions: though once sexually promiscuous, she is jealous of Teiji's ex-lover, a mysterious woman who only seems to exist in his photographs. Jones's pacing is skillful and deliberate as she replays the troubling moments from Lucy's past distant and recent that seem to point to her guilt (for instance, Lily is not the first person of her acquaintance to have met an unfortunate end). The descriptions of Japan's landscapes, language, people and customs are delivered with fluency and intimacy, yet with the slightly detached clarity of an expat. Some readers may find Jones's intermingling of first- and third-person narration self-conscious and distracting "What I had chosen to share with him was my very first sexual encounter, Lucy's first crunch into the apple" and the hazy ending raises more questions than it answers. But this is less a whodunit than an examination of the slippery nature of truth and memory, obsessions and betrayals, all of which Jones handles with confidence and skill. National print advertising. (Sept. 17) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Book list A brief but moving first novel about love, alienation, and murder, set in Tokyo. The story begins as Lucy, a young British woman working as an English translator, is hauled from her office by police officers investigating the murder of her friend fellow Brit, Lily. Lucy has somehow become the chief suspect in the case, but she refuses to cooperate with the police. As she sits silently and evades their questions, her mind drifts back to her childhood, her arrival in Japan, her encounter and subsequent strange relationship with a man named Teiji, and her rocky friendship with Lily. Lucy is a somewhat prickly character, hard to get to know, but by the time she reveals the betrayal at the heart of her story, readers will be surprised to find that they care about her. Despite confusing and unnecessary switches between first-and third-person narration, this is a suspenseful and absorbing story of a stranger in a strange land as well as an interesting glimpse into contemporary Japanese culture. --Carrie Bissey
Book list Here's a detective story with a unique twist: the narrator-protagonist, Lionel Essrog, out to solve the murder of his boss and mentor, suffers from Tourette's syndrome. Lethem's latest novel is a seriocomic takeoff on the genre that breaks down barriers by getting inside Lionel's head. It also tosses Zen Buddhism and the Mafia into the mix, treating both with a serious irreverence that other writers often shy away from. The plot's a simple one: someone has set up Frank Minna, the shady owner of a Brooklyn car service cum detective agency, for a hit. Years earlier, Minna had plucked four misfit teenagers from St. Vincent's Orphanage and chose them to be his errand boys. Now, as grown men, they work, or rather worked, for Minna as drivers/detectives. (Minna Men, declares Lionel.) One night, Lionel and another of the four, Gilbert Coney, stake out a Zen center on New York's Upper East Side while Minna, wearing a wire, goes in for a conversation. The upshot is that they screw up and Minna is "taken for a ride" and murdered in Brooklyn. Who ordered the hit? Was it the Zen abbot or perhaps two ancient Brooklyn godfathers who may or may not be homosexual lovers? Lionel's description of the investigation--complete with Tourette tics and observations--is a tour de force of language. The descriptions of the buildups to the tics are masterful, and the tics themselves, especially the verbal ones, are in the best tradition of the Zen non sequitur--thus neatly, and securely, tying the narrative and the plot. But the interesting thing is the subtle way in which the verbal outbursts work upon the reader: at first you are stunned, but in time, as with his colleagues, Lionel's strange behavior and outbursts merely extend the boundary of normal behavior. --Frank Caso
Library Journal The short and shady life of Frank Minna ends in murder, shocking the four young men employed by his dysfunctional Brooklyn detective agency/limo service. The "Minna Men" have centered their lives around Frank, ever since he selected them as errand boys from the orphaned teen population at St. Vincent's Home. Most grateful is narrator Lionel. While not exactly well treatedÄhis nickname is "Freakshow"ÄTourette's-afflicted Lionel has found security as a Minna Man and is shattered by Frank's death. Lionel determines to become a genuine sleuth and find the killer. The ensuing plot twists are marked by clever wordplay, fast-paced dialog, and nonstop irony. The novel pays amusing homage to, and plays with the conventions of, classic hard-boiled detective tales and movies while standing on its own as a convincing whole. The author has applied his trademark genre-bending style to fine effect. Already well known among critics for his literary gifts, Lethem should gain a wider readership with this appealing book's debut. Recommended for most fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/99.]ÄStarr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Hard-boiled crime fiction has never seen the likes of Lionel Essrog, the barking, grunting, spasmodically twitching hero of Lethem's gonzo detective novel that unfolds amidst the detritus of contemporary Brooklyn. As he did in his convention-smashing last novel, Girl in Landscape, Lethem uses a blueprint from genre fiction as a springboard for something entirely different, a story of betrayal and lost innocence that in both novels centers on an orphan struggling to make sense of an alien world. Raised in a boys home that straddles an off-ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge, Lionel is a misfit among misfits: an intellectually sensitive loner with a bad case of Tourette's syndrome, bristling with odd habits and compulsions, his mind continuously revolting against him in lurid outbursts of strange verbiage. When the novel opens, Lionel has long since been rescued from the orphanage by a small-time wiseguy, Frank Minna, who hired Lionel and three other maladjusted boys to do odd jobs and to staff a dubious limo service/detective agency on a Brooklyn main drag, creating a ragtag surrogate family for the four outcasts, each fiercely loyal to Minna. When Minna is abducted during a stakeout in uptown Manhattan and turns up stabbed to death in a dumpster, Lionel resolves to find his killer. It's a quest that leads him from a meditation center in Manhattan to a dusty Brooklyn townhouse owned by a couple of aging mobsters who just might be gay, to a zen retreat and sea urchin harvesting operation in Maine run by a nefarious Japanese corporation, and into the clutches of a Polish giant with a fondness for kumquats. In the process, Lionel finds that his compulsions actually make him a better detective, as he obsessively teases out plots within plots and clues within clues. Lethem's title suggests a dense urban panorama, but this novel is more cartoonish and less startlingly original than his last. Lethem's sixth sense for the secret enchantments of language and the psyche nevertheless make this heady adventure well worth the ride. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal Lethem follows up the successful Girl in Landscape with another on-the-edge tale: hero Lionel Essrog, a victim of Tourette's syndrome (which has been showing up a lot in fiction lately), comes under the protection of a local tough named Frank Minna and then must investigate Minna's mysterious death. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Strung-out on junk and tattooed with the dates of helter-skelter-style deaths they've caused, the kids who walk "The Left-Handed Path" talk Satanic talk and spread terror through the very Christian Southern California town of Clay. This tautly paced and harrowing debut thriller begins with the cult's murder of desk cop Bob Hightower's ex-wife and her husband, and the kidnapping of his 14-year-old daughter, Gabi. Desperate and driven, Hightower takes a leave of absence to look for the abducted girl. Fresh out of leads?his search has been stymied by a fellow policeman who's in league with the cult?Hightower meets Case, a 29-year-old, severely traumatized ex-heroin addict who is unable to forget her horrifying experiences as the sexual slave of the demonic Cyrus, who heads the bloodthirsty self-styled "tribe" that controls the local drug trade from a remote desert outpost. With Case's help, Hightower goes undercover and infiltrates the group. Though some of the book's early passages seem melodramatic, the tale becomes riveting as the unlikely duo follow Cyrus and his gang to hell and back. Teran does a fine job of contrasting Case's struggle to overcome Cyrus's pervasive presence in her mind with Hightower's ethical dilemma at taking orders from a junkie. The moral twists and turns of the searing narrative are jolting; the pair are even forced to commit murder for Cyrus before a climactic showdown in the desert. Cynical and DeLillo-like in its observations, paced with present-tense immediacy, Teran's hard-boiled prose does not belittle the tragedy at this novel's core. Not for the faint-hearted, the book is as addictive as illegal substances. Agent, David Hale Smith. (Apr.)
Book list This is a testosterone-pumped novel of violence and revenge, with a little redemption mixed in. It takes place in a territory of horrific contradictions--the Southern California of Charles Manson's Helter Skelter and Christian fanatics, Las Vegas, and south into Mexico, an area one character calls "Little Armaggedon." Bob Hightower, a demoralized, desk-bound cop doesn't see a ritual good-night light flicker from the bedroom of his teenage daughter, Gabi, who lives with her mother and stepfather. When he goes to investigate, Bob finds his ex-wife and her husband savagely murdered, and his daughter gone--kidnapped by a nihilistic cult. He teams up with Case, a burned-out ex-junkie and former cult member, in a search that tests his machismo and her determination to stay clean of drugs and cult influences. In her search for Gabi, Case expects to confront her own past of rape, forced drug addiction, and human degradation. Their target is Cyrus, a fiendish drug-addicted maniac with his own troubled past. Twenty-five years earlier, Cyrus triggered the current chaos when he shot an old black woman who had taken him in after he was abandoned by his parents. Whether the old woman died at his hands or those of Cyrus' compatriots, greedy real-estate developers lusting after the woman's land, remains at the murky center of the story. This is a fast-paced, stark narrative filled with unsavory characters--a white-man-wanna-be Indian bar owner and drug trafficker, a drugged-out black tattoo artist and resident desert wiseman, crooked cops and cultists--and incredibly violent acts. But the constant debate about good and evil and the meaning of life gives an undercurrent of self-examination to Teran's riveting first novel. --Vanessa Bush
Library Journal This first novel is pretty standard thriller fareÄcorrupt sheriff John Lee Bacon hires bad guy Cyrus to kill his wife's lover, Sam. But Cyrus also kills Sam's wife, Sarah, and kidnaps Gabi, Sarah's teenaged daughter from her first marriage to Bob. Bob just happens to be a cop working for Sheriff Bacon, and now Bob must rescue his daughter from Cyrus. This vicious circle is embedded in a dark cult world of drugs, pornography, and violenceÄCyrus is a Charles Manson-like guru with a band of drugged-out, bloodthirsty followers who pursue the satanic "Left-Handed Path." This gives Teran an excuse to focus on graphic violence, depraved sex, and gross obscenities, demonstrating his "toughness." But he often pushes a metaphor too hard (describing Bob's truck as a "tin-sided garden of agony cruising in second gear") and sounds ridiculous instead of hard-bitten. At once silly and distasteful; not recommended.ÄRebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN
Library Journal Klaus Felsen, a Berlin businessman forced into the SS against his will in 1941, has been assigned to Portugal. From there, he ships the Germans wolframDa mineral desperately needed by Hitler's war machineDand, near the end of the war, smuggles Nazi gold in the other direction, ultimately betraying the men who control him. Over 50 years later, Inspector Ze Coelho works to solve the murder of a young girl near Lisbon and in doing so unravels a tangled skein that ties the corruption of the past to the tragedy of the present. Wilson's fifth novel, winner of England's Golden Dagger for Best Crime Novel, richly deserves both the acclaim it has garnered overseas and a wide audience in this country. Using story lines that converge in time, Wilson skillfully weaves an engrossing and complex tale, characterized by an atmospheric evocation of past and present Portugal, fascinating characters of great psychological depth, a brilliant plot that grips the reader to the last word, and an immensely satisfying mastery of craft and language. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.DRonnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Book list This winner of Britain's Golden Dagger for best crime novel juggles two stories, both set in Lisbon. Klaus Felsen is a German businessman forced into the SS in 1941 and assigned the task of smuggling a crucial tungsten alloy from Portugal to Germany. In the late 1990s, a melancholy Lisbon cop, Inspector Ze Coelho, must investigate the shocking murder of a promiscuous teenager. Wilson moves effortlessly between the two seemingly unrelated plots, drawing them together finally when Coelho's investigative trail leads to a long-suppressed scandal involving Portugal's ties to the Nazis. Wilson's skill at interweaving narrative threads shines brightly, and Coelho and Felsen both emerge as compelling, multilayered characters who defy our expectations. Wilson is clearly a major talent, though the massive scope of his novel--the multiple story lines, converging time frames, and enormous cast--eventually drains some intensity, leaving us more impressed with the story's complexity than overwhelmed by its power. If Wilson's reach exceeds his grasp just a bit this time, he establishes himself as a writer to watch very closely. ^-Bill Ott
Publishers Weekly The real star of this gripping and beautifully written mysteryDwhich won the British Crime Writers' Golden Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel last yearDis Portugal, whose history and people come to life on every page. Wilson tells two stories: the investigation into the brutal sex murder of a 15-year-girl in 1998, and the tangled, bloody saga of a financial enterprise that begins with the Nazis in 1941. Although the two stories seem unrelated, both are so strong and full of fascinating characters that readers' attentionDand their faith that they will eventually be connectedDshould never waver. The author creates three compelling protagonists: middle-aged detective Jose Coelho, better known as Ze; Ze's late British wife, whom he met while exiled in London with his military officer father during the anti-Salazar political uprisings of the 1970s; and Ze's wise, talented and sexually active 16-year-old daughter. The first part of the WWII story focuses on an ambitious, rough-edged but likeable Swabian businessman, Klaus Felsen, convinced by the Gestapo to go to Portugal and seize the lion's share of that country's supply of tungsten, vital to the Nazi war effort. Later, we meet Manuel Abrantes, a much darker and more dangerous character, who turns out to be the main link between the past and the present. As Ze sifts through the sordid circumstances surrounding the murder of the promiscuous daughter of a powerful, vindictive lawyer, Wilson shines a harsh light on contemporary Portuguese society. Then, in alternating chapters, he shows how and why that society developed. All this and a suspenseful mysteryDwho could ask for more? (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Though it contains little that's original, Mathews's debut futuristic thriller, which borrows its title from one of Johann Strauss's waltzes, contains much that is excellent. In Vienna late in 2026, Oskar Gewinnler (who writes a column under the penname Sharkey) is approached by that classic noir mystery character, the widow of a friend. She is Petra Detmers, and she thinks her dead husband, Leo, was murdered. Doing a favor for a lady, Sharkey rapidly discovers that Leo was neither the biological child of his putative parents nor the father of Petra's child, but was in fact something else entirely, as well as an accomplished computerized bank robber. The plot rapidly expands to include the future social scene (a wonderfully described costume party), the ongoing war of high technology against high pollution, labyrinthine but clearly depicted politics and the entire history of genetic research. The final revelation concerns a project to create a population with no genetic weaknesses, and therefore immune to the genetically tailored biological agents expected to be unleashed any day. The last third of the book feels rushed, but otherwise this is an admirable work. Major and minor characters resonant with life, thanks in part to fluent dialogue, and the crisp detailing of everything from computer technology to fast food results in a vivid depiction of a Europe many of us may live to see. Here's a debut that deserves an encore. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly After stepping into stand-alone territory with Cimmaron Rose (1997), Burke choreographs a masterful return to the lush and brooding world of volatile New Iberia Sheriff's Deputy Dave Robicheaux (Cadillac Jukebox, 1996). This tale's strength lies in breathtaking, moody descriptive passages and incisive vignettes that set time, place and character. Burke's major themes, that the past is key to the present and that money buys power, pervade this mystery. The narrative, with more twists and bounces than a fish fighting a hook, rises from the violent, unsolved murder 40 years ago of union organizer Jack Flynn. The story encompasses at least eight disparate but interlocking subplots: the crooked money behind a movie directed by Flynn's son Cisco; the hold that ex-con Swede Boxleiter has on Cisco's photojournalist sister, Megan; Willie "Cool Breeze" Broussard's theft of a mob warehouse; his wife Ida's suicide 20 years ago; the shooting of two white brothers who raped a black woman; alcoholic Lisa Terrebonne's haunted childhood; her wealthy, arrogant father's ties to Harpo Scruggs, a vicious murderer; the post-Civil War killing by freed slaves of a Terrebonne servant. Hired assassins, snitches, lawmen and FBI agents weave through the novel. Dave and his partner Detective Helen Soileau find the connections, but Dave knows that in the ongoing class war, the worst criminals wield too much influence to pay for their crimes. In rich, dense prose, Burke conjures up bizarre, believable characters who inhabit vivid, spellbinding scenes in a multifaceted, engrossing plot. $300,000 ad/promo; author tour. (June)
Library Journal Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux is back, as polite as ever, after sitting out Burke's Cimarron Rose (LJ 6/15/97). Accompanying Dave is his buddy Clete and a marvelous cast of charactersÄdowntrodden Cool Breeze Broussard, tortured Lila Terrebonne, slimy Harpo Scruggs, and photojournalist Megan Flynn, whose father, a labor organizer, was crucified on a barn wall 40 years ago. When Megan, still haunted by her father's unsolved murder, returns to New Iberia, she sets in motion a series of events that draws Dave into the dark, twisting relationships of these tortured characters, who are intertwined in a plot too convoluted to summarize but that bears all the hallmarks of a Burke mysteryÄbloody racial sins from the past mixed with violent, inbred kinships that haunt the present. Once again, with strong and graceful prose, Burke presents a tale as dark and rich as a cup of chicory coffee. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/98.]ÄRebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, IN
Publishers Weekly From its opening pages, this winner of the 1998 John Creasy Memorial Award for best first crime novel pulls readers inexorably into the tortured world of sexual abuse victims and their struggle to survive as whole people. Eight months after spending almost half a year in a Glasgow psychiatric hospital devoted to treating sex abuse victims, Maureen O'Donnell is desperately trying to hold together her shattered life. Bored with her job at a theater ticket office and depressed because her affair with one of the hospital's doctors, Douglas Brady, is over, Maureen and a friend get drunk. The next morning Maureen finds Brady's body in her living room, his throat cut. With bloody footprints matching Maureen's slippers at the scene, Detective Chief Inspector Joe McEwan sets out to prove the woman's guilt. He's not alone in thinking her the culprit: to Maureen's shock, both her alcoholic mum and Douglas's politician mother also think she's the killer. Convincing them that she isn't becomes her goal. She picks up a rumor about one of the hospital therapists having sex with a patient and learns that, before his death, Douglas gave formerly hospitalized victims large sums of money. Maureen begins to suspect Douglas's killing is connected to the hospital's clinic. Did a relative of a molested client kill Douglas? Or was the deceased about to turn in a colleague who raped patients? With sharp dialogue and painfully vulnerable characters, Mina brings Maureen's world of drug dealers, broken families, sanctimonious health-care workers and debilitated victims to startling life. Maureen's valiant struggle to act sane in an insane world will leave readers seeing sex abuse victims in a new light. (Apr.)
Book list Maureen O'Donnell wakes up hung over and finds her married boyfriend tied to a chair with his throat cut. Sexually abused as a child and unstable as an adult, Maureen, a prime suspect and on the verge of a second breakdown, isn't sure where to turn for support. Her mother is an alcoholic, and her brother peddles dope. Between sessions with the Glasgow police, off-the-wall friends, and dysfunctional relatives, she embarks on some desperate sleuthing of her own and uncovers frightening information about people she thought she knew and happenings at the psychiatric clinic where she'd been a patient. This debut novel from an author who has worked in health care and taught criminology and criminal law provides a fascinating look at the seamier side of life in Glasgow. It also provides insights into some who treat mental illness and some of the treated. --Budd Arthur
Book list In this excellent entry in the John Rebus series, the Edinburgh police detective has a lot on his plate: an oil-rig worker has been sadistically murdered (or has he?), a television news series has prompted an inquiry into one of Rebus' earlier cases, and--worst of all--a serial killer is on the loose. In the 1960s, a real-life killer called Bible John stalked Glasgow, and to this day, no one knows his true identity. (Rankin points out in the novel's afterword that there is no proof that Bible John is now dead, as many assume.) In the novel, it is 30 years later, and someone--dubbed "Johnny Bible" by the press--is re-creating those vicious crimes. And Rebus is obsessed not only with solving the case but also with finding out the identity of the real Bible John. Fans of the Rebus series will enjoy this gripping, unsettling tale, and readers of mysteries based on real events (e.g., Roderick Thorp's River , based on the Green River killings) will be especially happy: Rankin, who casts the real Bible John as a supporting character, provides a solution to the unsolved mystery that is chillingly plausible. A superior blending of crime fiction and true crime. --David Pitt
Publishers Weekly Rankin's Inspector John Rebus (Mortal Causes; Let It Bleed) is something of an outlaw cop, a hard-drinking, rock-and-roll-loving loner who tends to make his superiors see red. At the outset of his latest outing, he has been posted to one of Edinburgh's toughest precincts, where he is following the trail of Johnny Bible, a serial killer who seems to have taken over from Bible John, a real-life serial killer who terrorized Glasgow in the late 1960s. Rebus is also being investigated for allegedly colluding with a former colleague in planting evidence on a suspect who committed suicide. Although the last thing Rebus needs is a new case, he gets one when a North Sea oil rig worker on shore leave is pushed, or scared, out of a second-story window and onto iron railings below. This case leads Rebus to some crooked cops in Aberdeen, home base of the oilworkers; a Glasgow gangster and his bumbling son; and a pair of devious American club owners. The case also begins to tie in with Johnny Bible. Rankin's book is long and complex but rich in character and incident as Rebus dodges his investigators, follows his hunches into some violent confrontations, and explores the strange mid-ocean world of North Sea oil. Rankin's only misstep is introducing Bible John as a character seeking to catch and kill Johnny Bible: these passages lack the brooding authenticity that marks the rest of the book. Still, as Rankin notes in a fascinating afterword, nearly 30 years after his killing spree, Bible John remains at large.(Nov.)
Publishers Weekly Trenton, N.J., bounty hunter and former lingerie buyer Stephanie Plum (last seen in Two for the Dough) becomes persona non grata when she tracks down a neighborhood saint who has failed to show up for his court appearance. No one wants to help Stephanie, who works for her bail-bondsman cousin, Vinnie. While questioning admirers of the man nicknamed Uncle Mo, Stephanie is attacked and knocked out as she cases his candy store. She comes to next to the dead body of her attacker, who turns out to be a well-known drug dealer. Suddenly, she can't avoid stumbling across the bodies of dead drug dealers: one in a dumpster, one in a closet and four in the candy store basement. Stephanie suspects that mild-mannered Mo has become a vigilante and is cleaning up the streets in a one-man killing spree. But when she's repeatedly threatened by men wearing ski masks, she wonders if Mo has company and just might be in over his head. Despite her new clownish orange hair job, Stephanie muddles through another case full of snappy one-liners as well as corpses. By turns buttressed and hobbled by her charmingly clueless family and various cohorts (including streetwise co-worker Lulu, detective and heartthrob Morelli and professional bounty hunter Ranger), the redoubtable Stephanie is a character crying out for a screen debut. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild alternate; major ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal In the latest from a mystery writer whose first effort (One for the Money, LJ 7/94) won a slew of awards and got nominated for more, snazzy-looking P.I. Stephanie Plum is targeted by both vicious thugs and the Trenton police when she searches for an ice cream vendor who skipped out on his bond.
Book list Since getting the bounce from her job as the lingerie buyer at a major department store, Stephanie Plum has been working the streets of Trenton, New Jersey, as a bounty hunter. Stephanie likes to think it's a temporary gig until something better comes along, but she's not fooling anybody, least of all herself: she loves the rush, claiming that nothing puts a little bounce in a girl's step like a .38 and a pair of cuffs. Her latest job is to track down Moses "Uncle Mo" Besemier, a respectable old bachelor who jumped bail. Why did he skip when all he would have faced is a fine and an admonishment to behave himself? Stephanie realizes there's more to the case when, while seeking out one of Mo's pals, she's knocked out and wakes up next to a very dead guy. She also learns that a lot of local drug dealers have been meeting with deadly accidents, leaving town, or keeping very low profiles. Her job is further complicated by an ominous minister and an old flame from the police department. Stephanie Plum stands apart from the female series characters who are so popular in crime fiction. She's funnier, tougher, politically incorrect, and just loves her job to death. This may be the break-out entry in an already critically acclaimed series. Be prepared for significant demand. --Wes Lukowsky
Library Journal Hunting for a local candy-store owner who jumped bail, Trenton's most famous bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum (last seen in Two for the Dough, LJ 1/96) is knocked out on the job. She awakens beside a dead man who happens to be in violation of a bond agreement with her cousin Vinnie, so homicide wants to give her the third degree. More fast and funny action from a winning writer. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/96.]
Publishers Weekly This bleak, near-future hunt for a vicious serial killer won Britain's Creasy Award for best first novel and should capture admiring attention here as well. In the year 2020, Edinburgh is a virtual city-state (founded on the ideas of Plato's Republic) ruled by a benevolently despotic council riddled with corruption. This highly regimented society has lost most traces of individualism. Gone, too, are televisions, private cars, unsanctioned books and musicÄas well as most crime, at least until the reemergence of a serial killer known as the ENT (ear, nose and throat) man for his bizarre attentions to his victims. Shocked by the first murder in five years, the council is desperate enough to bring back disgraced private investigator Quintilian Dalrymple, a jazz-loving iconoclast with previous experience of the ENT man. Johnston's spare style doesn't hinder him from effectively limning a society drastically altered by desperate circumstances, and, at the same, spinning a thoroughly entertaining chase novel. Edinburgh's physical and spiritual transformation makes an intriguing backdrop, while Quint, a private eye of the classic mold contending with inept bureaucrats, corruption and a determined killer, makes a first-rate hero. Offbeat but on target, this is one exciting debut. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Book list Set after the biblical "Enlightenment" in Edinburgh in 2020, Johnson's utopian novel, which won Britain's John Creasey Award in 1997, tells the story of a former guardsman (police officer) who's trying to track down a serial killer before he or she strikes again. Johnston avoids the long, tedious descriptive passages that have sunk so many utopian novels by having his narrator, Quintilian Dalrymple, tell the story as though we were familiar with twenty-first-century Edinburgh--letting us figure out the difference, for instance, between an auxiliary and a citizen. Thus, while Quint figures out the identity of the killer, the reader has a swell time figuring out the world Quint lives in. At times, however, 2020 Edinburgh seems a tad out-of-focus. Parts of this fictional society are vividly drawn; others, merely hinted at, could have used a little more development. Still, this is a largely successful merging of mystery and science-fiction genres and should satisfy all but the most finicky readers. A natural for Blade Runner fans. --David Pitt
Book list In this slick comedy-cum-thriller, film-school grad Bruce Delamitri has hit the big time with his latest superviolent crime movie--he's won the Oscar for Best Director. The sick maniacs he features in his movies wear ultrastylish clothing and perform their mayhem set against witty soundtracks. But whenever pressed on the question of whether he's feeding the violent impulses of modern society, Delamitri refuses to take any responsibility, claiming that he's making art. Then two sick maniacs show up on his doorstep. Wayne and Scout aren't anything like the criminals portrayed in Bruce's movies. These tawdry trailer-park denizens can spout Bruce's movie dialogue word for word, but their sadistic executions don't evoke ironic distance, they induce a nauseating hysteria. With a lightning-quick pace, Elton sends up film directors like Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone while making cogent points about taking responsibility for our society's fascination with violence. Done with a very light, deft touch, this first novel is both entertaining and thought provoking. --Joanne Wilkinson
Library Journal This satire, in which a stylish Hollywood action/thriller director has an unfortunate encounter with the type of twisted men portrayed in his movies, was a best seller in England. Look for a movie version from Warner Bros.
Publishers Weekly Bruce Delamitri is hot. He makes hip, ultra-violent, post-postmodern movies that everybody wants to be in. Kids think he's cool, and critics think he's a genius. He's got a mansion in Hollywood. He's up for an Oscar. Essentially, he's a thinly veiled version of Quentin Tarantino. But all is not entirely well in La-La Land, as English novelist-playwright Elton goes on to show in this entertaining, action-packed satire. A pair of homicidal maniacs known as the Mall Murderers?aka muscle-bound Wayne and his gun moll, Scout?are ravaging the nation. They're claiming that Bruce's movies drove them to it, and they're on their way to California to confront him. Elton has written a fast and unusually funny Hollywood thriller with all the right elements: a Playboy centerfold-turned-actress, a wisecracking New York agent, a spoiled Beverly Hills princess and any number of empty-headed anchormen and -women. Elton's ear for American mediaspeak is good, if not perfect, and he gets off his share of nifty one-liners. Less successful are the extended parodies of Tarantino's screenplays and Elton's heavy-handed attempts to make a serious point about media culture, namely, that Americans are too quick to blame the media for social ills for which they should be taking responsibility. Elton is at his waspish, Waugh-ish best when he sticks to what he does best: popcorn. Film rights optioned by Joel Schumacher. (Nov.)
School Library Journal YAÄA unique novel that combines a thrilling story line with the thought-provoking question of society's responsibilities toward its various members. Oscar-winning director Bruce Delamitri makes popular movies containing senseless violence and murder. He feels nothing but disdain for the critics and "bleeding hearts" who condemn his work, for he believes that he is just giving the public what they want to see. On Oscar night, two psychopathic killers who have all of Bruce's movies memorized, and are emulating different scenes, invade the man's home, taking him captive, along with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, his daughter, and several other members of Hollywood society. As the police and media surround the house, the question that everyone is asking is, "Are Bruce Delamitri's movies to blame for the situation in which he now finds himself?" This novel often uses fairly sophisticated or graphic language that suits the theme and violent situations, but the plot is easy to follow. Fast-moving recreational reading or a springboard for discussions on the interrelationships of human beings and society.ÄAnita Short, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Library Journal First published in Great Britain in 1995, this title marks a clean break from McDermid's Kate Brannigan/Lindsay Gordon series. Here, criminologist Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan search for an arrogant serial killer who tortures his victims and leaves no clues. A safe bet.
Publishers Weekly McDermid (A Clean Break) enters new ground with a dark tale that is more complex, more carefully crafted and far more disturbing than her Kate Brannigan mysteries. By the time the police admit that Bradfield, a fictional city in northern England, has a serial killer, four men are already dead, each tortured in a different way and then abandoned outdoors in town. Baffled by a lack of physical evidence left by the meticulous sociopath, police bring in Tony Hill, a Home Office forensic psychologist who profiles criminals. Tony, who begins each day by ``selecting a persona,'' devours crime data with a fascination approaching admiration for the killer. The interest distracts him from obsessing over his own sexual impotence and over the ``exquisite torture'' of salacious phone calls he's been getting from a strange woman. DI Carol Jordan, a mercifully normal person who is Tony's liaison with the force, quickly grasps the profiling approach while keeping her policing instincts. Carol and Tony forge an uneasy relationship; but, as they pursue ``the Queer Killer,'' a cloddish policeman undermines them, a local reporter blows the case to get a byline and the murderer closes in on a new quarry. A warning: woven into this powerful story are journal entries in which the murder discusses torture in loving detail, an aspect that makes this graphic, psychologically terrifying tale almost as off-putting as it is impossible to put down. (Dec.) FYI: This novel won Britain's Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of 1995.
Book list McDermid's exciting, rapid-fire whodunit is set in the fictional Midlands city of Bradfield, where a serial killer is at large whose signature is the sexual torture of male victims. Stymied, the constables bring in Tony Hill, constructor of psychological profiles, a move resented by a crusty investigator who, jealous of Hill as an overeducated outsider, barges ahead with his own gumshoe method, posting undercover police in Bradfield's gay bars. This indeed produces a suspect, but Hill, in alliance and in dalliance with investigator Carol Jordan, is unpersuaded: his profile of a computer-literate stalker doesn't match the suspect. Meanwhile, at the interstices of the conflict between Hill/Jordan and the curmudgeonly policeman, the author inserts the killer's sadistic chronicle of the crimes, which forces readers to reevaluate possible candidates. This involving method cranks up a high-velocity, high-tension ending involving the stalker's next intended victim--Tony Hill--whose proclivity for phone sex has landed him in deep trouble. A satisfying descent into the territory of a twisted mind. --Gilbert Taylor
Book list Lovesey does it again with another clever story featuring large, lovable copper Peter Diamond, who has been unemployed for two years as the result of a scathing verbal outburst aimed at his superiors in the Bath CID. Reduced to working in a supermarket, he yearns wistfully for life on the beat. Nonetheless, he's surprised when the Bath CID calls him out of "retirement" to help with a sensitive and difficult case. A murderer named Mountjoy, whom Diamond sent up four years earlier, has escaped from prison and taken the daughter of Bath CID's assistant chief constable as his hostage. Diamond demands--and gets--an office, swank hotel accommodations, and the help of a smart, attractive young policewoman to help track Mountjoy and get the hostage released safely. Intrepid, eccentric, prickly, and unorthodox, Diamond triumphs brilliantly and impresses the cops enough to win his old job back. Lovesey provides a riveting and ingenious plot, clever characterizations, and splendid humor, plus--best of all--the unparalleled Peter Diamond. Rates a definite thumbs-up! --Emily Melton
Publishers Weekly A resourceful convict's escape from a prison dubbed ``the British Alcatraz'' launches Peter Diamond's third case (after Diamond Solitaire). Once out of Albany Prison, John Mountjoy kidnaps the Assistant Chief Constable's daughter in order to force the Bath police to reopen his case. His demand: that the detective who put him away for murder now find the real killer. What he doesn't know is that Diamond?fat, bald and brilliant?has resigned from the force in a huff and lives in London, where his odd jobs include ``collecting supermarket trolleys from a car park.'' But his old bosses need him desperately and, to his own astonishment, he begins to be pursuaded that he had indeed goofed the first time. But a race is on between Diamond (with one helper, Detective Inspector Julie Hargreaves) and a team of trigger-happy cops who are itching to run Mountjoy down. The chase leads to a ``crusty'' (hippy) encampment, a horse funeral, a battered husband, ``buskers'' (street entertainers) and a siege of a huge old empty luxury hotel. Except for one irritating device used to delay the denouement, the action proceeds logically, with solid plot construction, savvy dialogue and great good humor. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly First novels this funny and self-assured come along rarely; dialogue this astute and raunchy is equally unusual. The gutsy heroine introduced here is Stephanie Plum of Trenton, N.J., a recently laid-off lingerie buyer who has no job, no car and no furniture. She does have a hamster, a deranged grandmother, two caring parents and several pairs of biking shorts and sports bras. Finding work with her cousin Vinnie, she becomes a bond hunter and scrounges money enough to buy a gun, a Chevy Nova and some Mace. Her first assignment is to locate a cop accused of murder. Joe Morelli grew up in Stephanie's neighborhood. Possessed of legendary charm, he relieved Stephanie of her virginity when she was 16 (she later ran over him with a car). In her search, Stephanie catches her prey, loses him and grills a psychotic prizefighter, the employer of the man Morelli shot. She steals Morelli's car and then installs an alarm so he can't steal it back. Resourceful and tough, Stephanie has less difficulty finding her man than deciding what she wants to do with him once she's got him. While the link between the fighter and the cop isn't clear until too late in the plot, Evanovich's debut is a delightful romp and Stephanie flaunts a rough-edged appeal. Mystery Guild alternate; author tour; film rights optioned to Tri-Star. (Sept.)
Book list Evanovich's debut introduces one of the funniest, most appealing new heroines to stroll down the mean streets in a long while. Stephanie Plum, a New Jersey native, is a laid-off discount lingerie buyer. Desperate for bucks, she decides to pursue a career as an "apprehension agent," tracking down scofflaws for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie. Her first mission: to bring in Joe Morelli, a cop accused of murder. Apprehending Joe is worth $10,000--plus it offers sweet revenge for Stephanie, who first encountered Joe when he introduced her to sex behind the eclair case of the Trenton bakery where she worked in high school. But bringing in a fugitive is tougher than Stephanie thought--she's pursued by a psycho nutcase, her best informants are a couple of hookers, her borrowed car is bombed, and she shoots her expensive new handbag instead of blowing away bad guy Jimmy Alpha. Evanovich's writing is as smooth, clever, and laugh-aloud funny as Robert Parker at his best, her plot is ingenious and fresh, her dialogue is breezy, bright, and witty, and gutsy, impulsive Stephanie Plum . . . ooh-la-la! What a woman! Film rights to Tri-Star and Alternate Selection of the Mystery Guild status augur a winner in the making. ~--Emily MeltonNON-BOXED REVIEWS
Library Journal A wonderful sense of humor, an eye for detail, and a self-deprecating narrative endow Stephanie Plum with the easy-to-swallow believability that accounts for her appeal as heroine. Spontaneity and financial desperation push her into the life of a bounty hunter, a job that pits her inexperience against the charming wiles of her one-time high school seducer, who is now a purported murderer. Maneuvering around the scrappy environs of Trenton, New Jersey, Stephanie runs the gauntlet of recalcitrant criminals and puts up with a match-making Jewish mother to boot. A witty, well-written, and gutsy debut.