26 Booklist February 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
ence, doesn’t miss a storytelling beat in her
first novel as she blends atmospheric elements
of a Shirley Jackson–like haunting, a secret-laden murder tale featuring an ensemble cast,
and an eye-opening glimpse of the complex
choices transgender people face. This crime
debut is certain to attract a genre-blurring following, but recommendations to fans of Erin
Kelly’s The Poison Tree (2011) and Donna
Tartt’s The Secret History (1991) are sure bets.
Murder, Stage Left.
By Robert Goldsborough.
Mar. 2017. 250p. Open Road, paper, $14.99
(9781504041119); e-book (9781504041102).
A friend of Manhattan PI Nero Wolfe, who
shares the reclusive investigator’s passion for
orchids, asks Wolfe to meet Broadway producer Roy Breckenridge, who senses a cloud
of doom hovering over his current play. Wolfe
guards his time obsessively but agrees to see
Breckenridge in exchange for a very rare orchid
. . . or two. Wolfe’s legman, Archie Goodwin,
is then dispatched to interview the play’s key
actors and production hands, but nothing
suspicious presents itself—until Breckenridge
is found murdered. Wolfe takes umbrage and
decides he and Archie will solve the crime. In
classic Wolfe style, each member of the cast
and crew is summoned to Wolfe’s brownstone,
where multiple suspects emerge, including the
play’s bitter female lead, the leading man, and
a fetching ingénue with big plans. This is the
twelfth Wolfe mystery authored by Goldsborough, and, as usual, it’s a virtually perfect
homage to the Rex Stout originals, from the
orchids to the beer to the gourmet food and,
best of all, to Archie’s bemused, self-deprecating narration. Comfort food for fans of classic
mysteries. — Wes Lukowsky
No Easy Target.
By Iris Johansen.
Apr. 2017. 352p. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9781250075840);
Having escaped the clutches of demonic
drug lord Stan Nicos, animal whisperer Mar-
garet Douglas has worked hard to protect her
identity and stay under the radar, so when the
handsome and tenacious CIA operative Las-
siter tracks her down in San Diego, Margaret
tries to go to ground once more. Lassiter,
however, needs Margaret as a bargaining chip
in his own battle with Nicos, who is holding
one of Lassiter’s dearest friends in a torture
camp deep in the Colombian jungle. While
Margaret has learned to trust no one, her ul-
traempathic nature can’t help being moved by
Lassiter’s genuine concern for his friend, and
his romantic feelings for her. From the high
seas to the deepest rain forest, Margaret and
Lassiter form a reluctant but intrepid team as
they confront a mutual enemy. An important
but secondary character in Johansen’s (Night
and Day, 2016) popular Eve Duncan series,
Margaret comes into her own in this engross-
ing thriller. Loyal Johansen fans will welcome
yet another strong female hero to her prolific
body of work. —Carol Haggas
Oath of Honor.
By Matthew Betley.
Mar. 2017. 416p. Atria/Emily Bestler, $26
(9781476799254); e-book (9781476799285).
Betley’s follow-up to Overwatch (2016) continues the adventures of former marines Logan
West and John Quick, who now are members
of an FBI special task force. A research vessel in
the Gulf of Alaska is overrun by what appears
to be a Russian black-ops team, with West and
Quick sent to investigate. It becomes apparent
to them both that an effort to steal technology
from the U.S. is the motive behind the crime,
but they have no idea that every move they
make to stop the threat has already been anticipated, and that the main attack is soon to take
place. West and Quick team up with a CIA operative, and soon they are galloping around the
globe in an effort to save the world from catastrophe. Betley’s expertise with the marines and
the Department of Defense adds authenticity
to a high-energy tale that unfolds at a machine-gun pace. With only two novels to his credit,
Betley has become essential reading to fans of
the Brads (Taylor and Thor). —Jeff Ayers
Police at the Station and They
Don’t Look Friendly.
By Adrian McKinty.
Mar. 2017. 320p. Prometheus/Seventh Street,
paper, $15.95 (9781633882591); e-book, $11.99
The chronicles of Sean Duffy could not be
contained in McKinty’s Troubles trilogy, and
this is the sixth novel in the series (after Rain
Dogs, 2016). For readers who
have not shared in the rapture, there is no time like the
present to join. In Royal Ulster Constabulary Detective
Duffy, McKinty has created
a Chandleresque character
who walks the mean streets
of Belfast, “a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability.” He is a
somewhat conflicted man in a very conflicted
1980s Belfast, where warring factions both
demand protection money from drug dealers
and execute them under the auspices of the
Direct Action against Drugs (DAAD).
Duffy’s investigation into the death of a
pusher takes him down some dangerous roads,
always checking under his Beemer for a mercury tilt switch bomb before he careens off. Like
his literary hero, Jules Maigret, Duffy considers
himself “thoroughly existentially jaded.” But
he is also very much like his TV idol, Sonny
Crockett, from Miami Vice. They each operate
effectively in their own demimonde and are
supported by high-caliber high-caliber mutual
admiration. Driving it all is McKinty’s compelling style: Duffy’s first-person narrative and
internalized musing are lengthy at first, then
reduced intermittently to terse one-sentence
statements that move the story along at an astonishing pace. A must-read for fans of Stuart
Neville and Celtic noir. —Jane Murphy
By Timothy Friend.
Mar. 2017. 216p. 280 Steps, paper, $15.95
(9788283550207); e-book, $6.99 (9788283550214).
“There aren’t any good guys around these
parts,” someone observes near the end of this
fine little novel. Even main man Vic Ames, an
antihero if there ever was one, puts a bullet
in a fellow’s gut as a warning, then considerately tells him he should be able to get to
the hospital “before he bleeds out.” The plot
spins around Ames’ attempts to pass off stripper Betty Andrews as a dying gazillionaire’s
long-lost granddaughter. Betty is an example
of a new kind of no-nonsense femme fatale
turning up in noir these days, aikido expertise
replacing an irresistible sultry demeanor in
her arsenal of weaponry. It works: just ask the
goon who attacks her and winds up bloodied.
Vic and Betty veer dangerously close to morphing into “good guys” as the plot speeds to
its violent conclusion, but readers will likely
forgive this for a chance to enjoy a sharply
written thriller of just the right length. No
padding, not a word wasted. —Don Crinklaw
Racing the Devil.
By Charles Todd.
Feb. 2017. 352p. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062386212);
e-book, $12.99 (9780062386236).
During WWI, on the eve of the Battle of
the Somme, seven British officers promise to
reunite in Paris after the war to stage an informal road race to Nice. The surviving five
meet as planned, and, during their race, two
of them nearly die in what appear to be deliberate attempts to cause their cars to crash.
A year later, in England, a parish priest dies in
an automobile accident; oddly, but perhaps
not coincidentally, the car he was driving is
owned by one of the British officers. Scotland
Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is tasked with
finding out what’s going on; when his car is
tampered with, too, apparently with the intent of doing him serious harm, he becomes
determined to catch the culprit with all possible speed. The long-running Rutledge series
has developed a devoted audience over the
years, and this latest effort, boasting a clever
story with some interesting twists, will do
nothing to diminish readers’ enthusiasm for a
Debut-novelist Bell ramps up suspense with authority in this domestic
thriller, in which actions seem as inevitable as they are chilling. The
audience that made Gone Girl a publishing sensation is likely to take
to this one, too.
—Michele Leber, on A Simple Favor