Wish You Were Here.
By Renée Carlino.
Aug. 2017. 320p. Atria, paper, $16 (9781501105821).
Charlotte is a bit of a rolling stone—she
doesn’t like to stay very long in her jobs or her
relationships. So far, that’s worked fine. When
she meets sensitive artist Adam, though, the
one magical night they spend together has
her questioning everything. Why does it feel
as though they are meant to be? What’s so
special about him, anyway? And why does he
completely change his tune the morning after? Feeling blue, Charlotte is on the verge of
getting serious about her new boyfriend, Seth,
but can’t get Adam out of her mind. But perhaps this is just her way of self-sabotaging yet
another relationship—at least, that’s what her
best friend, Helen, keeps telling her. Carlino’s
latest millennial women’s fiction has almost all
the makings of a solid contemporary romance
as well. Readers will enjoy meeting Charlotte’s
family, be charmed by Charlotte and Helen’s
friendship, and will be eager to uncover just
what’s going on between Charlotte and the
mysterious Adam—all while swooning over
the sexy parts. —Rebecca Vnuk
By Stuart Woods and Parnell Hall.
Aug. 2017. 368p. Putnam, $28 (9780735217232).
Lawyer Herbie Fisher is getting squeezed on
all sides. Years after winning a $3 million lottery and being mentored by multimillionaire
lawyer Stone Barrington, he’s turned his life
around and become the youngest-ever senior
partner at a prestigious Manhattan law firm. Now Herbie
has loan-shark Mario Payday after him for a $90,000
marker, a debt he paid but
neglected to get the supporting paperwork, and mobster
Tommy Taperelli demanding
that Herbie negotiate a plea
deal in a drug charge against a councilman’s
son, a case just tossed to Herbie by a colleague
on the lam. And Herbie’s fiancée, Yvette Walker, is actually a hooker working a con devised by
her lowlife criminal boyfriend. Payday’s goons
hang Herbie by his heels out an eighth-floor
window for a start, while Taperelli’s henchmen
take to kidnapping to make their point. And
although Barrington and Police Commissioner
Dino Bacchetti have Herbie’s back, Herbie is
known to go rogue. In their second collaboration, after Smooth Operator (2016), Woods and
Hall have crafted a fast-moving tale with a light
touch, its trail of bad-guy bodies aside. Crime
fiction doesn’t get much more entertaining
than this. —Michele Leber
By Adam Sternbergh.
Aug. 2017. 304p. Ecco, $26.99 (9780062661340); e-book, $12.99 (9780062661364).
Sternbergh’s new stand-alone thriller doesn’t
feel much like his bravura Spademan novels.
It’s much smaller in its frame and much more
focused in its story, but it
does bear what has become
this very talented novelist’s
signature: a knack for find-
ing humanity and passion
in otherwise flattened, soul-
killing landscapes. Here that
landscape is very different
than the dystopian, post–
dirty bomb New York of the Spademan series.
The Blinds is a dusty, one-horse Texas town
far off the grid, sleepy on the surface but roil-
ing underneath. The town is the creation of a
mad scientist able to remove specific parts of an
individual’s memory. This technique replaces
witness protection as a way of luring heinous
criminals to testify against their bosses: their
memories will be cleansed of the evil they have
done, and they will be relocated to the Blinds,
where they will spend the rest of their lives
doing . . . well, nothing, but doing it without
fear of reprisal. Until now. Two murders in the
Blinds have Sheriff Calvin Cooper worried that
the town’s delicate balance is seriously out of
plumb. Boy, is he right—in ways we don’t see
coming. Cleverly improvising on the chord
changes common to classic westerns (especially
High Noon) and evoking the locked-room hor-
ror of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway, Sternbergh
shows again why he is one of the most inventive
thriller writers working today. —Bill Ott
The Blood Card.
By Elly Griffiths.
Sept. 2017. 384p. HMH, $25 (9780544750302).
British science-fiction writer Arthur C.
Clarke’s third law dictates that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
from magic.” Television? What’s a master magician to do? Adapt? In 1953 London, Max
Mephisto is about to make his TV debut on
a variety show being planned to follow Queen
Elizabeth’s coronation. The small screen has
come to represent the wonder of the new Elizabethan age. While threats of violence loom
over the royal event, DI Edgar Stephens is in
Brighton investigating the death of a local fortune teller. He then flies to New York after the
murder of the commanding officer of Max and
Edgar’s WWII unit, called the Magic Men.
The author skillfully connects these incongruous elements, and both men end up racing
the clock together to prevent a national catastrophe. This third Magic Men mystery from
the award-winning Griffiths (after Smoke and
Mirrors, 2016) is amusing, atmospheric, and
thoroughly engaging, providing an insightful
look at vaudeville and the art of legerdemain.
Perfect for fans of the eccentric (and often
endearing) characters created by Simon Brett
and Christopher Fowler. —Jane Murphy
By Attica Locke.
Sept. 2017. 336p. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26
(9780316363297); e-book, $13.99 (9780316363266).
The deaths of a black man from Chicago and
a local white woman in Lark, a one-stoplight
East Texas town, within days of each other,
just have to be related events. The trouble
is, no one in local law enforcement wants to
connect the crimes. Then, when Darren Mat-
thews, a black Texas Ranger, shows up to
conduct a more thorough investigation, Aryan
Brotherhood–fueled bitterness erupts. Darren’s
passion for justice is heightened by a promise
he makes to the first victim’s widow, a gut feel-
ing about the husband of victim number two,
tenderness toward the black woman who runs
the local café, and his own complicated fam-
ily history. As Darren flirts with the bourbon
bottle and Randie, he taps into his small-
town Texas heritage and firsthand knowledge
of racism to unearth buried memories of the
town’s long history of racially and romanti-
cally motivated crimes. A producer and writer
for the acclaimed TV series Empire as well as
an award-winning crime-fiction writer, Locke
(Pleasantville, 2015) brings a cinematic pol-
ish to her tale of sordid violence bubbling in a
Texas bayou backwater. —Carol Haggas
The Cuban Affair.
By Nelson DeMille.
Sept. 2017. 464p. Simon & Schuster, $28
(9781501101724); e-book, $14.99 (9781501101748).
DeMille visited Cuba in 2015. He took a
binderful of notes and displays them through-
out this story of a Key West charter-boat owner
who accepts a dangerous but well-paying job:
he’s to help Cuban expatriates recover millions
of dollars stashed when they fled the island as
Castro was coming to power. This is powerful,
mythic stuff, like Confederate gold and Nazi
treasure, and readers may wish DeMille had
focused on it rather than emptying that bind-
er. Some of the peripheral stuff is fascinating,
like the dead woman whose body didn’t de-
compose, so the Cubans made a shrine of her
tomb. But too much reads like a tourist guide
to the best hotels and restaurants. It slows and
pads the narrative. But wait. As the true na-
ture of the charter-boat owner’s job becomes
clear and the betrayals begin, DeMille mounts
a long, magnificent sequence with boat chases,
helicopter rescues, and tracer fire. They’re all
described in that visceral style the author has
mastered. This is the DeMille of Plum Island
(1997) and Night Fall (2004) and the one we
want more of. —Don Crinklaw
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Whether at
the top of his game or off stride just a bit,
as he is here, DeMille has a built-in audience
of eager readers, as his long run on various
best-seller lists testifies.
Dead, to Begin With.
By Bill Crider.
Aug. 2017. 272p. Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, $25.99
(9781250078537); e-book, $12.99 (9781466890831).
Jake Marley may be the wealthiest citizen
of tiny Clearview, Texas. He’s also the most
reclusive—or had been until recently emerging from the family mansion to purchase the
long-abandoned Clearview Opera House
and supervise its renovation for a small-town