24 Booklist February 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
may include selling recreational substances.
The story becomes personal when Joya learns
from her family in North Dakota that a
teenager is dead and another in a coma after
using Ecstasy that may have come from one
of Sammy’s dealers. This compelling story
provides a fascinating look at both small-town life and big-city crime. A good choice
for readers who enjoy Hank Phillippi Ryan’s
Jane Ryland series. —Barbara Bibel
Gold of Our Fathers.
By Kwei Quartey.
Apr. 2016. 368p. Soho, $26.95 (9781616956301);
e-book, $14.99 (9781616956318).
This is the fourth in Quartey’s Inspector
Darko Dawson series, set in contemporary
Ghana. Dawson, based in the capital city of
Accra with a greatly loved wife and family,
wants nothing more than to stay in Accra.
But a promotion to chief inspector in the
Ghana Police Service comes with a sting—
a reassignment to Obuasi in the Ashanti
region, where gold mines scar the land and
illegal mining by foreigners exploits the
Ghanaian people. The Chinese manager of
one of the gold mines is discovered dead and
buried in gold ore. Dawson has to rely heavily on interviewing rather than forensics here,
since the victim’s family moved the body
from the crime scene and washed it before
any analysis could be done. But Dawson is
a formidable interviewer and psychologist.
He uncovers another murder, an especially
chilling one, performed by the victim shortly
before his golden burial. Quartey presents a
good-hearted policeman in a noir world of
exploitation and corruption. Fans of this series will also want to check out Malla Nunn’s
South African mysteries. —Connie Fletcher
Hard Cold Winter.
By Glen Erik Hamilton.
Mar. 2016. 320p. Morrow, $25.99 (9780062344588);
e-book, $12.99 (9780062344601).
Van Shaw is easily bored. He seeks the thrill
of dangerous action the way gamblers hunger for “the rush.” As a teenager, he helped
steal a roomful of optical lenses and spent an
exquisite few minutes hanging from the side
of a building, hoping the cops wouldn’t spot
him. Later, as an Army ranger in Afghanistan, he almost shocks himself when he has a
fine time charging an enemy ambush. Now,
back home in Seattle, Shaw agrees to help
out a friend of his late grandfather’s and finds
himself on a trek to the Olympic Mountains,
investigating a double murder. This is where
the novel runs on rails, making all the predictable stops: the warning from ape-necked
thugs; the lying client; the bomb tossed
through the door; the involvement of the
rich guy. Some readers won’t mind this reliance on formula, especially since Hamilton
stages the scenes with understated skill. Others will want to know more about Shaw than
just his love of fistfights and flying bullets.
As his buddy observes when the mayhem be-
gins, “You’re happier than I’ve seen you in
weeks.” As is, it’s a fine ride for action lovers.
I Don’t Like Where This Is Going.
By John Dufresne.
Apr. 2016. 256p. Norton, $25.95 (9780393244687).
Therapist-in-exile Wylie “Coyote” Melville
(No Regrets, Coyote, 2013) and his illusionist/
poker-playing pal, Bay, have vacated South
Florida for “a city of gleefully appalling
desolation,” Las Vegas. There, Bay can play
Texas Hold’em while a Florida “
blood-bath” involving crooked cops, mobsters,
lawyers, and lobbyists winds down. Wylie
reads, downs cocktails, and volunteers in
the city’s very busy crisis center. While enjoying drinks at the Luxor casino, Wylie
sees a young woman plunge 30 stories to
her death, and he quickly intuits that she
was murdered. But the death is completely
ignored by the news media, and Wylie feels
compelled to investigate. Soon he’s menaced
by all manner of Vegas villains. What begins
as a comic look at Las Vegas converges, very
darkly, with human trafficking of female
Florida agricultural workers to Nevada’s
brothels. Throughout, Dufresne introduces
an amazing array of incidental characters,
e.g., a former nun who attempts to explain
to Wylie the sublime mathematical beauty of
Leonhard Euler’s identity equation. This is
a strange brew with strange charms, tailor-made for those who favor offbeat crime fiction.
By Lyndsay Faye.
Mar. 2016. 432p. Putnam, $26.95 (9780399169496).
At several points, the life of Jane Steele in
nineteenth-century England parallels that of
Jane Eyre, from the novel beloved by both
author Faye and her title character. The key
difference comes with Eyre’s famed declaration: “Reader, I married
him.” In this entertaining
riff on a classic, that line becomes, “Reader, I murdered
him.” The first crime occurs
when orphaned nine-year-old Jane pushes her
13-year-old cousin, who’s
trying to rape her, down
a ravine. Although accidental, this incident
inures her as she deals with evil men, from
a cruel headmaster to a threatening outlaw.
The last murder occurs at Highgate House,
Jane’s childhood home, which she was told
would someday be hers. She as governess to
young Sahjara Kaur, ward of estate owner
Charles Thornfield, but Jane’s real intent is
to reclaim her property. But Thornfield in-
trigues her: born in Lahore, he’s a veteran of
the Anglo-Sikh War and has a staff of Sikhs,
a mysterious cellar, and a backstory she longs
to know. Intrigue blossoms to something
more, of course, but the surprises keep com-
ing to an eminently satisfying ending. Faye’s
skill at historical mystery was evident in her
nineteenth-century New York trilogy, but
this slyly satiric stand-alone takes her prow-
ess to new levels. A must for Brontë devotees;
wickedly entertaining for all. —Michele Leber
YA: Plenty of teens love Jane Eyre, and
this satirical take on the classic will appeal
to Brontë fans in possession of a sharp
sense of humor. SH.
By Libby Fischer Hellmann.
Mar. 2016. 286p. Poisoned Pen, paper, $15.95
Hellmann’s writing sparkles in this latest
Ellie Foreman mystery (the first in a decade).
Ellie, a Chicago video producer, is humiliated when her presentation of a promotional
video for an aircraft company is rejected by
the company’s vice president, who seems to
have been frightened by the appearance of a
particular man in some shots. Ellie sets up a
meeting with that man, only to see him die
on the El tracks. She finds his jump drive
with encrypted data and has a friend try to
crack it. When the friend’s office is blown
up hours after she told an executive she had
the drive, Ellie realizes she is in over her
head. Drones, military secrets, and treason
all seem to be involved, but Ellie isn’t sure
how to connect the dots and winds up simply trying to keep herself and her daughter
out of danger. There is plenty of suspense in
this richly detailed thriller, but Hellmann’s
characteristic wit and warmth are evident,
too. A nice mix of action and character.
By Nina Sadowsky.
Mar. 2016. 304p. Ballantine, $26 (9780553394856).
This debut novel turns a marriage inside
out and upside down. Ellie and Rob are in
love when they get married, but that love is
not based on reality. When Rob reveals a life-changing secret on their wedding night, Ellie
is thrown for a loop—but she has her secrets,
too. Can two people who barely know one another make their marriage work? Their story
utilizes flashbacks via alternating chapters of
“now” and “then,” except the flashbacks are
not in any kind of order and can be confusing to follow. But despite all that, the tension
becomes almost unbearable as Ellie tries to
determine if she can save her husband and her
marriage. While these characters are not especially likable, the many plot strands are neatly
woven together as the story hurtles towards its
shocking, if not quite believable, ending. The
popularity of thrillers centered on an enigmatic husband and wife continues here, with
the inevitable but apt comparisons to The Girl
on the Train and Gone Girl. —Stacy Alesi
The Killing in the Cafe.
By Simon Brett.
Mar. 2016. 192p. Crème de la Crime, $28.95
(9781780290812); e-book (9781780107295).
This is a rare misfire for Brett, who was
awarded the Diamond Dagger by the UK-based Crime Writers’ Association in 2014