32 Booklist August2017 www.booklistreader.com
success in his new job, Bert is frustrated when
the investigation hits a series of dead ends.
Set in 1930s England, this latest in Eccles
entertaining historical mystery series (
following Heirs and Assigns, 2014) combines nicely
rendered period detail along with a complex
murder and a completely unexpected ending.
By Max Allan Collins.
Oct. 2017. 240p. Hard Case Crime, paper, $9.95
(9781785651809); e-book (9781785651816).
Chronology is always a little tricky in Collins’ Quarry series. Take this one. It’s a new
entry, but the story is set in the 1970s, when
the first Quarry thrillers were written. The
hit man with a heart of steel (and a skewed
sense of, well, just deserts) is working for
the Broker, a murder middleman who farms
out hired kills to his operatives. This time
it’s more complicated than usual: Quarry
and his partner, Boyd, must first dispatch
the hitters sent to eliminate the publisher of
the Memphis-based porn mag, Climax; then
determine who hired the hitters; and, finally,
get rid of them, too. All in a few days’ work
for the resourceful Quarry, of course, who
developed his killing chops as a Vietnam
sniper, but along the way Collins treats us to
a wonderfully vivid look at the pornography
industry in its heyday. From publishers to
centerfolds to strippers to feminist protesters,
he cuts through the stereotypes with quick
bits of subtle characterization (but, please,
don’t say you’re reading a book with Climax
in the title only for the characters). —Bill Ott
Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s
By Reed Farrel Coleman.
Sept. 2017. 368p. Putnam, $27 (9780399171444); e-book, $13.99 (9780698166615).
Since the death of his fiancée in a violent
shootout, Jesse Stone, police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, has crawled into the
bottle and rarely emerged.
He’s kept his job only because his loyal second, Molly
Crane, has covered for him.
Jesse is sober for the first
time in weeks because it’s
wedding day for his deputy,
“Suit” Simpson. As long as
he’s sober, Stone agrees to
meet with representatives of a group planning a seventy-fifth birthday celebration for
Terry Jester, a once-renowned folk singer
who has lived in seclusion for 40 years, since
the disappearance of the master tape of his
much-anticipated album The Hangman’s Sonnet. The event will take place at a tony local
resort and should bring the elite to Paradise.
Shortly after the meeting, a 90-year-old
widow is killed during a home invasion and
her home ransacked. It’s only the begin-
ning in a series of violent events that may
be connected to the reclusive singer and his
lost album. For help, Jesse reaches out to his
mobster friend Vinnie Morris and to a pri-
vate investigator named Spenser. Coleman’s
fourth Jesse Stone novel is easily his best.
It features a clever plot and finds Jesse con-
fronting some very real inner demons. Best
of all, it brings together three of Robert B.
Parker’s much-loved characters. Must read-
ing for Parker devotees who have made peace
with the idea of other writers carrying on his
name. — Wes Lukowsky
By Ann Cleeves.
Sept. 2017. 416p. Minotaur, $25.99 (9781250124869).
Vera Stanhope’s associates, though they
adore her, speak of her as “a nosy old bat,”
but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a detective inspector in the Northumbria police
to be. Cleeves is generous with eccentricities for her heroine. Stanhope hauls around
a shopping bag rather than a briefcase and
drinks beer to help “see things more clearly.”
But she does catch criminals, often by understanding the emotional bonds among the
residents of this cold, rain-soaked North Sea
community. The story begins when a bent
cop whom Vera helped put away tells her
where the corpse of his old partner in crime
is to be found. In return, she must check in
on the cop’s daughter. The girl’s heroin-ad-dicted mother is one of a number of shadowy
presences throughout the narrative. Readers
coming fresh to this celebrated series might
find the pace a bit lethargic, but eventually it
becomes clear that those slow-developing relationships are at the heart of the story. With
patience, perhaps—and a look at the popular
ITV spin-off series Vera—Stanhope will become the barmy-but-brilliant auntie we all
wish we had. —Don Crinklaw
By Allison Brennan.
Aug. 2017. 368p. Minotaur, $25.99 (9781250129277);
e-book, $12.99 (9781250129284).
A request for help from her old college
boyfriend has investigative reporter Maxine Revere teaming with FBI agent Lucy
Kincaid Rogan—protagonists in two separate Brennan series—to dig up decades-old
cold cases. When John Caldwell’s wife is
accused of killing their eight-year-old son,
John presents Max with three remarkably
similar unsolved murders going back almost
20 years; the victim in the first of the three
was Justin Stanton, son of San Diego DA
Andrew Stanton, whose marriage to Nelia
Kincaid ended after Justin’s death. Dredging up the past will be painful to the Kincaid
family, so Lucy insists on joining the case.
Max brings to the project resources and the
ability to operate outside the law, while Lucy
adds vital family and FBI connections. This
well-executed series crossover works as a
stand-alone or a series entry, with Brennan
displaying the strengths of Max and Lucy
while adding insights about both and hints
as to their futures. A must for fans of both
series. —Michele Leber
Sleep like a Baby.
By Charlaine Harris.
Sept. 2017. 272p. Minotaur, $25.99 (9781250090065);
e-book, $12.99 (9781250090089).
The latest in Harris’ popular Aurora Teagarden series finds her settling into the role
of a nursing mom, happily changing, feeding, and burping “the most beautiful baby in
the world.” Don’t be lulled. This is Charlaine
Harris, who is the equal of the legendary
Shirley Jackson in conveying the sinister
lurking beneath the everyday. Slyly, quietly,
she keeps the suspense building, dropping
details into scenes that appear about as dull
as dishwater. A noise in the next room, a
soft knock on the door. The flowers that arrive anonymously. Then come the discovery
of the body in the backyard and Aurora’s
missing babysitter. A neighbor swears he
saw Aurora’s husband at the murder scene.
Couldn’t be, could it? He was out of town,
wasn’t he? The tense, edgy undercurrents
persist as Aurora goes through the prose of
her life: a visit to her ailing stepfather, a clash
with the fussbudgets next door. Finally, we
witness the violence Harris has been preparing us for all along, and we learn what
4-foot- 11, ex-librarian Aurora is capable of
doing when the need arises. —Don Crinklaw
Sleeping in the Ground.
By Peter Robinson.
Aug. 2017. 336p. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062395078).
A wedding in a picture-perfect church in
the Yorkshire Dales is ripped apart by an
assault rifle, resulting in five people shot to
death, including the bride. In the twenty-fourth Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks
mystery, Robinson brings to bear his considerable knowledge of police procedure. But
this is no bloodless investigation; Robinson
is adept at showing the emotional toll of
working on a case in which one cop witnessed the horror, another was wounded,
and most of the victims, being locals, were
known to Banks and his team. A criminal
profiler (one of Banks’ former loves) returns
from Australia; her insights into the personality of the rampage killer (the most likely
type to have committed the crime) hold the
investigation together and are fascinating in
and of themselves. Ratcheting up the tension
is the question of whether this killer may
strike again. As usual with Robinson, deft
plotting is slowed down a bit by Banks’ musings. Robinson has won a clutch of awards,
including the Edgar, the Dagger in the Library Award (UK), and Sweden’s Martin
Beck Award. —Connie Fletcher
The Strange Disappearance of a
By Vaseem Khan.
Aug. 2017. 400p. Redhook, paper, $15.99
(9780316434515); e-book (9780316434508).
In this third installment in the wildly inventive Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation series,
Ganesha, a young elephant, and Inspector
Ashwin Chopra (retired), of the Mumbai