26 Booklist July2017 www.booklistreader.com
Texas version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
But Jake (yes, Jacob Marley) will not see the
debut. While in the theater, apparently by
himself, he fell from the scaffolding and broke
his neck. Suicide, accident, or murder? Sheriff Dan Rhodes leans toward murder. Was
the play, commissioned by Marley, designed
to reveal a long-ago secret? It takes a lot of
digging, but Rhodes eventually learns that all
four of the play’s leads were friends of Marley’s late sister, Gwen, who died years before
in a one-car accident. The twenty-fourth Dan
Rhodes mystery reprises the series’ best qualities: sharp plotting, an omnipresent sense of
humor, and a wry, self-aware protagonist.
Rhodes understands people, small-town folks
most of all. Insults and love affairs are never
forgotten, just buried in very shallow graves.
— Wes Lukowsky
By Linda Fairstein.
July 2017. 400p. Dutton, $28 (9781101984048).
Manhattan Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper
is no stranger to death, but never before has
she held it in her arms as she does when DA
Paul Battaglia, once her idol, falls on top of her
after being shot on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Still on leave after escaping
kidnappers weeks earlier, Alex is traumatized
again as she finds herself a person of extreme
interest. Why did Battaglia, with whom she’d
fallen out of favor of late, send her three increasingly urgent messages about needing to see
her that night? Could she have been “deadfall,”
the prey to set him up for assassination? With
her lover, NYPD homicide detective Mike
Chapman, Alexandra tries to find answers, facing increasing danger as she learns about the
lucrative smuggling of animal parts. Known
for her knowledge of New York City, Fairstein
here explores the Bronx Zoological Park (don’t
call it a zoo!) and makes a strong case for protecting endangered animals. Fans will welcome
this nineteenth Cooper outing with Alex getting back on her feet and facing a tantalizing
prospect for the future. —Michele Leber
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fairstein
is one of those brand-name mystery authors
whose works long ago crossed over from
genre favorites to mainstream best-sellers
and who shows no signs of losing that status
any time soon.
By James R. Benn.
Sept. 2017. 320p. Soho, $26.95 (9781616957735).
When we last saw Billy Boyle, special inves-
tigator assigned to General Eisenhower’s staff,
he was in Normandy on the day before D-Day
(Blue Madonna, 2016). For fans hoping Billy’s
next case would find him accompanying the
Allies as they fought their way through the
hedgerows, no such luck. Billy and his fellow
investigator, Kaz, are in Bern, at first investi-
gating the murder of a Swiss banker with ties
to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), but
then helping OSS chief Allen Dulles launch
Operation Safehaven, designed to contain and
control the riches stolen by the Nazis from the
citizens of the occupied countries and then
deposited in Switzerland. This subject, while
thoroughly appalling (much of the Nazis’ loot-
ed wealth came from gold fillings “harvested”
from the teeth of gassed Jews), does not lend
itself to a wartime thriller plot quite as easily
as have the historical frames used in previous
series entries. Still, Benn molds an entertaining
story out of Billy and his cohorts’ encounters
with odious Swiss bankers and a cadre of Ge-
stapo agents stationed in Bern to protect the
loot. Great history here, but next time we’d like
to see Billy back in action. —Bill Ott
Dog Dish of Doom.
By E. J. Copperman.
Aug. 2017. 304p. Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, $24.99
(9781250084279); e-book (9781250084286).
Kay Powell is a theatrical agent specializing
in animal actors, and her new client, Bruno,
is about to get his big break—replacing the
dog currently playing Sandy in the Broadway
musical Annie. However, director Les McMaster only agrees to cast Bruno if his rather
obnoxious owner, Trent Barclay, is not present during rehearsals and shows, angering
Barclay. When Barclay is found stabbed to
death, with his face in Bruno’s water bowl, the
show must go on, so with his widow Louise’s
permission, Kay brings Bruno to the theater.
Meanwhile, Detective Alana Rodriguez of the
NYPD, who is investigating Barclay’s murder,
asks Kay to listen to the theater gossip and
share any pertinent information. Soon Louise
accuses Kay of dognapping, and Bruno disappears. Well-drawn characters, including a
heroine who talks directly to the reader, and
effectively framed with details of the theater
enhance this humorous cozy. —Sue O’Brien
By L. S. Hilton.
July 2017. 320p. Putnam, $27 (9780399184826); e-book,
The sequel to Hilton’s masterful Maestra
(2016) finds Judith Rashleigh living under
an assumed identity in Venice, where she
operates an art gallery. When strange things
begin happening (objects
in her home seem to move
from place to place when
she’s not there, for example), Judith is forced to
confront a terrifying truth:
someone knows who she
really is and what she has
done—the lies, the murders. She has only one chance to save her
new life: find a lost painting, one that most
experts agree never actually existed, and turn
the tables on her blackmailer. The second
part of a projected trilogy, the novel ends on
a seriously dark note, and, in fact, the book
is overall considerably darker than Maestra.
It’s also even more impossible to put down,
more twisted. The concluding installment in
the trilogy can’t come soon enough for fans
of psychological thrillers. —David Pitt
Everything We Lost.
By Valerie Geary.
Aug. 2017. 480p. HarperCollins, paper, $15.99
(9780062566423); e-book, $10.99 (9780062566430).
Geary’s first novel, Crooked River (2014),
was a finalist for the Ken Kesey Award and
an international success. This second effort
deals with “Star Beings” and UFOs. Both
books have at their heart a haunting story
of profound loss. Lucy Durant struggles
with debilitating confusion and sadness over
her brother Nolan’s mysterious disappear-
ance and is beset by eerie experiences. On
the tenth anniversary of the day Nolan van-
ished, she returns to their hometown, where
it happened. The story is told in Lucy’s and
Nolan’s alternating voices, past and present.
The author does a masterful job of keeping
the narrative balanced as she presents two
possible scenarios: Nolan was murdered, or
he was abducted by aliens along with his ap-
propriately named girlfriend, Celeste. Either
Nolan was a paranoid schizophrenic or he
was actually being followed by the Men in
Black, the latter rendered plausible by con-
stant manifestations of the Close Encounters
kind. The reader should trust no one and
question all. Perfect for fans of Joyce May-
nard and Jennifer McMahon. —Jane Murphy
YA: Teen fans of character-driven
fiction will appreciate this coming-of-age
abduction thriller with a bit of a twist.
By Ace Atkins.
July 2017. 368p. Putnam, $27 (9780399576713).
Atkins has had his hands full lately, jumping between novels starring Robert B. Parker’s
Spenser and his own, Edgar-nominated Quinn
Colson series. It’s back to Colson here for another well-constructed, character-rich story
featuring the Tibbehah County, Mississippi,
sheriff. This time, three superefficient bank
robbers are working their way from bank to
bank around the county (shades of the film
Hell or High Water). Former Army Ranger
Colson finds a Ranger-like precision in the
way the robbers work and wonders if they may
once have been Rangers, too. Meanwhile, the
sheriff is tracking a couple of vanished teens,
engaging in skirmishes with a Bible-thump-ing but thoroughly corrupt councilman, and
falling into a new relationship. What makes
this series so entertaining is its mix of country
noir and comedy, combined with Atkins’ ability to give us full-bodied characters on both
sides of the law, whether bank robbers, stylish
brothel owners, or aggrieved deputies. When
all these down-home folks get to talkin’, their
words pack a wallop—humorous, yes, but
with plenty of real pathos lurking behind the
wisecracks. —Bill Ott
By Zoë Sharp.
Aug. 2017. 400p. Pegasus, $25.95 (9781681774381).
Charlie Fox is on a mission that brings back
a painful episode in her past. Years earlier