32 Booklist December 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
richer or send them to the poorhouse, and
nobody is free of suspicion. Not even his
wife. Readers may find credulity stretched a
bit, as when the judge sneaks gun parts into
the courthouse under his robe, and legal
matters are resolved with gunfire. But we’re
here for the action, too, and Parks comes
through. —Don Crinklaw
By Tom Rosenstiel.
Feb. 2017. 368p. Ecco, $26.99 (9780062475367); e-book,
Rosenstiel is out to write a roof-rattling
thriller, and he’s brought it off in doubles.
Peter Rena is a Washington, D.C., operator
whose special skill is making problems disappear. This time his client is the president
of the U.S., no less, and the problem is the
background of the chief executive’s potential
Supreme Court nominee. Could he be too
radical? He did, after all, protest the Vietnam
War. As Rena digs into the past of this man,
“who looks like a wholesome Peter O’Toole,”
a serial killer goes to work, and we discover,
as Rena does, that everything is connected.
What’s really fun here is watching old-hand
Washington observer Rosenstiel drop insights about the Kabuki world of the nation’s
capital. A restaurant hostess doesn’t take
drink orders—it’s a status thing. To keep an
interview subject ignorant of your agenda,
“make him mad at you.” The thriller plot returns, hammer and tongs, for a fine action
finale, but what we remember most is characters like the vice president. He’s taken on a
gaunt look from attending too many funerals. Give this one to fans of the late, great
Ross Thomas. —Don Crinklaw
The Shivering Turn.
By Sally Spencer.
Feb. 2017. 224p. Severn, $28.99 (9780727886675);
Following the success of her Woodend and
Paniatowski novels, the multitalented Spencer
introduces a new series starring Jennie Redhead, whose name and hair match. Jennie
is a curious, clever woman who, despite her
working-class background, won a place at Oxford and went on to join the police. But that
didn’t work out when she blew the whistle
on her boss, so she resigned and set up her
own detective agency. Her latest case involves
the disappearance of teenager Linda Corbet,
whose mother is sure she is dead and whose
father claims she’s run away. At first, Jennie
takes the case lightly, suspecting that Mr. Corbet is right, since hundreds of young women
run away from home every year. But, as the
case progresses, Jennie finds herself drawn in.
What could have happened to a young woman who by all accounts was smart, popular,
and hard-working, and why would she have
left home when she was so loved by her parents? Spencer scores another top-notch hit
with this new series, which features her usual
skillful writing, clever plotting, and intriguing
characters. —Emily Melton
The Trapped Girl.
By Robert Dugoni.
Jan. 2017. 410p. Amazon/Thomas & Mercer, paper,
The opening of Dugoni’s new Detective
Tracy Crosswhite procedural is at once ordinary and gripping. A young man retrieving
crab pots from the chill waters of Puget Sound
wonders why this one is so heavy. “Then,”
the author understates, “he saw the hand.”
Detective Crosswhite wastes no time finding
a name for the corpse, aided by the numbers
on the dead woman’s surgical implants. Then
Dugoni interrupts the narrative for an italicized interior monologue by . . . whom? The
victim? The killer? Whatever, we’re witness to
a woman’s life going wrong as the Galahad she
married is revealed as a loser who’s after her
trust fund. Meanwhile, Crosswhite’s investigation proceeds through levels of deceit, just
as the corpse’s identity grows cloudier rather
than clearer. About halfway through, Dugoni
introduces a long sequence we could do without. Good cops, bad cops, jerk bosses, cop turf
wars, even a marriage proposal in a lighthouse,
briefly diminishing the narrative energy, but
hold on, it soon comes roaring back in the form
of chases, double-crosses, and shoot-outs. Is the
reader’s likely guess about the dead girl’s identity right? Well, yes. Sort of. —Don Crinklaw
What You Break.
By Reed Farrel Coleman.
Feb. 2017. 368p. Putnam, $27 (9780399173042).
Coleman writes some of the best prose in
modern crime fiction, but it comes at a price.
As hero Gus Murphy, former cop and former family man, now hotel security and bar
bouncer, goes through his dangerous day, we
admire the beautifully crafted sentences, all the
while dodging those bullets. Taking cracks to
the jaw. Avoiding that car coming up behind
us too fast, guns at the windows. Murphy has
been hired to investigate a young girl’s murder.
Not who did it—the scumbag’s in jail—but
why. There is no apparent motive. Nearly 300
pages later, we, and Murphy, are still in the
dark. Instead of solutions, we get the company of a depressive given to reminding us that
“the world is cold” and wondering if there are
“things other than grief and pain to life.” Readers who long to take a Weedwacker to all these
neo-Hemingway musings are advised to hang
on. The novel ends with a series of stunning set
pieces that are sure to be echoed, just as they
echo The Godfather. “I will call on you one day,
Gus . . . .” —Don Crinklaw
Where I Can See You.
By Larry D. Sweazy.
Jan. 2017. 255p. Prometheus/Seventh Street,
paper, $15.95 (9781633882119); e-book, $9.99
A long time ago, when Hud Matthews was
The Whole Art of Detection: Lost
a little boy, his mom disappeared. Later on, he
left his little midwestern town to become a cop
in Detroit, but that went wrong, and now he’s
back home, starting a fresh law-enforcement
career. As soon as Hud walks in the door, the
bodies start piling up, but for the first half of the
book he has trouble keeping his mind on them.
He’d rather think about his mom. We’re not
surprised to learn that Mom’s vanishing is con-
nected to the current crimes. Readers’ reaction
will depend on their view of neo-noir, a form
spearheaded now by Reed Farrel Coleman and
Ace Atkins, among many others, and grounded
in the view that the world is rotten. Friends and
family offer no consolation because they’re out
to get you, too. Such pessimism is usually ac-
companied by lethargy, but, halfway through,
Sweazy brings off a thrilling boat chase, and the
finale is appropriately tense. Some fine writing,
too, in the service of a world that has “monsters
walking among us.” —Don Crinklaw
Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes.
By Lyndsay Faye.
Mar. 2017. 368p. Mysterious, $25 (9780802125927);
e-book, $25 (9780802189363).
Most attempts to imitate the Sherlock
Holmes stories go wide, often by making the
Great Detective a sarcastic snip and good Dr.
Watson a total boob. But
Faye’s wonderful collection
of pastiches is rooted in a
little-understood fact about
the Holmes canon: the stories are not about Holmes;
they’re about Watson observing Holmes. In the
originals, we sense Holmes
trying to direct his Boswell’s narrative and suspect there is more to the story. So does Faye’s
Watson, speculating that Holmes’ emotional
detachment—especially from women—is the
result of “some tragedy having befallen my
friend.” And isn’t Holmes really much funnier
than image-conscious Watson lets him be?
We have our answer in sequences penned by
Holmes, as when he parodies Watson’s fondness for lighting women from behind and
describing “‘the sweet ellipse of her mouth
parted in dismay.’ Or some such drivel.”
There are mysteries here and razzle-dazzle
deductions—Holmes privately calls some of
them “parlor tricks”—but the real attraction
is the power of these 15 stories to make the
originals glow even brighter. For Holmesians
to read, then treasure. —Don Crinklaw
By Mason Cross.
Feb. 2017. 416p. Pegasus, $25.95 (9781681773148).
“Sometimes you need a blackhat,” a U.S.
senator muses near the beginning of this
agreeable thriller. He’s talking about the
government hiring psychopathic killers for off-the-books wet work or black ops. But when
these nuts run out of enemies to kill, might
they not turn on anyone they see as in their
way? Or just anyone? Carter Blake was an
agent of the supersecret Winterlong, disposing
of people “the world was absolutely better off
without.” But then he observed his colleagues
cheerfully murdering bystanders. He got out,
agreeing to keep quiet about what he’d seen