By John Sandford.
Apr. 2017. 416p. Putnam, $29 (9780399184574).
Garvin Poole is a shooter and a thief. Sturgill Darling is a spotter. He tracks big-dollar
opportunities that a guy like Garvin can
exploit, and he’s spotted a score in Biloxi,
Mississippi. A South American drug cartel is
moving bales of cash out of a Biloxi shipyard
that was ruined by Hurricane Katrina, but the
cartel’s soldiers have grown careless. When
Gar and Sturgill strike, five lie dead along
with one child. The take is millions. Lucas
Davenport has used his political connections
to secure a job with the U.S. Marshals. With
a blank check, he can do what he does best:
hunt—in this case, for Gar and Sturgill. But
he has competition: two cartel thugs, Luis
Soto and Charlene Kort. Luis is a stone-cold killer, but Charlene is something else:
she likes working with power tools to get
relatives to talk. When someone’s sawing off
your leg with a Black and Decker, one tends
to say whatever is needed to make it stop.
The twenty-ninth Prey novel is a very good,
straightforward chase thriller, laced with gallows humor throughout. — Wes Lukowsky
By Leonardo Padura.
Mar. 2017. 544p. illus. Farrar, $27 (9780374168858);
e-book, $14.99 (9780374714284).
This is a large, very complicated, but readable
and entertaining novel by a highly regarded Cuban novelist, author of the Havana
ried by his grandparents to Havana, that has
now turned up for auction in London. The
tale also moves further back to the time of
Rembrandt living in Holland. The novel is
presented in separate sections, divided in
time, but ultimately they all coalesce brilliantly. This is much less of a mainstream
crime novel than the earlier Mario Conde
tales, but the detective does eventually solve
the mystery, though the solution is shrouded
in ambiguity. Padura deftly handles complex
issues of Jewish identity in Cuba, as well as
Cuban identity on the island before and
after Batista and in Miami; ultimately, he
encompasses the whole richness of modern
Cuban and Jewish history. This is a major
novel and a testament to Padura’s stature as
a writer. —Mark Levine
If We Were Villains.
By M. L. Rio.
Apr. 2017. 368p. Flatiron, $25.99 (9781250095282);
e-book, $12.99 (9781250095305).
Rio, a Shakespearean scholar, brings her
expertise to this debut novel, deftly weaving
passages both brief and lengthy from several
plays into a tale worthy of the Bard himself.
When Oliver Marks is released after spending
10 years in jail, his arresting officer is waiting
for him. Detective Colborne was never convinced of his guilt. Oliver and six other young
actors were studying Shakespeare at an elite
arts conservatory. Each was consistently cast in
roles that match their offstage identities—the
hero, the villain, the victim, and other dramatis
personae. When these roles were reversed in a
new production, and the secondary characters
were given lead roles, this order was disturbed,
with fatal consequences. When one of the
group is found dead, those remaining marshal
their considerable theatrical talents to baffle the
police, and Oliver ends up taking the blame.
And so, their breathtaking tale, full of sound
and fury, is finally told, ending in one final, astonishing twist. Recommended for readers with
refined literary tastes, and those looking for
“something like” Donna Tartt. —Jane Murphy
Into the Water.
By Paula Hawkins.
May 2017. 400p. Riverhead, $28 (9780735211209).
Nel Abbott obsessed over the drowning pool,
a spot in the river behind her family’s Beckford,
England, home where several women had lost
their lives, as far back as her estranged sister,
Jules, can remember. Nel was
writing the dead women’s
stories, in fact, before her
own body was discovered in
the pool, prompting Jules’
return to Beckford to care
for Nel’s prickly teenage
daughter, Lena. As Nel’s apparent suicide is investigated,
past events surface—and some of them are
barely past. Just months ago, Lena’s best friend
walked into the river with a weighted backpack, and the girl’s grieving family blames Nel
for glorifying the drowned women. Needless
to say, nothing is quite as it appears, but those
who know more have reasons to keep quiet. In
her second thriller, Hawkins (The Girl on the
Train, 2015) returns to the rotating-narration
style of her breakout debut, giving voice to an
even broader cast this time, and readers will
see shades of Girl’s Rachel in Jules. Hawkins’
creepy small-town setting is a draw, too. As
a called-in investigator notes of Beckford, “it
seems like whichever way you turn, in whatever direction you go, somehow you always end
up back at the river.” —Annie Bostrom
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Have you
heard of The Girl on the Train Sure you
have—along with everyone else. Order by
YA: Characters their own age (who’ve
gotten up to more than a bit of trouble)
will be an immediate draw for teens. AB.
Love & Death in Burgundy.
By Susan C. Shea.
May 2017. 288p. Minotaur, $24.99 (9781250113009).
Expat artist Katherine Goff is desperate to
be accepted by the residents of Reigny-sur-Canne, located in the Burgundy region of
France. Her husband, Michael, still nursing
an old grudge against his former bandmates,
is now working with an American singing
star and her producer husband, which may
lead to the success he craves. The quiet town
is thrown into an uproar when the unlikable
Albert Bellegarde is found dead on a steep
staircase in his chateau. Was it an accident
or murder? If the latter, there is no shortage
of suspects: men from his checkered past,
his daughter’s former suitor, an American
record producer, and even Nazis or gypsies.
Listening to the village gossips, Katherine
forms her theory, while also trying to save
her young friend, Jeannette, a sly teen, from
a thieving family. This leisurely paced story
channels a Miss Marple–like investigation
and immerses the reader in the life of an
American woman trying to fit into an insular
French village. —Sue O’Brien
By Jesse James Kennedy.
Apr. 2017. 270p. Perfect Crime, paper, $15
The McCray family has a sweet operation
going in southeast Missouri, growing and
selling an especially fine strain of marijuana.
They’re so successful that a Mexican cartel
wants to kill the McCrays and take their
crop and customers. The FBI would like to
eliminate the McCrays, too, and so enters
into a corrupt alliance with the Mexicans.
Their bollixed attempts to put away these
country boys form the plotline of this fast-moving, wildly violent novel. Their problem?
The McCrays have lived and hunted these
backwoods all their lives, and they “know
every tree and trail.” So there aren’t enough
body bags to handle the corpses that pile
up as the raids go wrong. Kennedy’s novel
is vivid and rich in character, but he does
adhere to one genre convention: the McCrays are smart and funny, while those out
to kill them are dumb. Readers should know
that some of the carnage gets really specific,
as when an exposed brain is stabbed with
a hunting knife. Still, this is strong, well-realized country noir, much in the manner
of Daniel Woodrell’s Give Us a Kiss (1996).
Murder in a Cornish Alehouse.
By Kathy Lynn Emerson.
Apr. 2017. 224p. Severn, $28.99 (9780727886767);
Mistress Rosamond Jaffrey returns in
another gripping historical mystery set in
sixteenth-century England. Rosamond is
shocked when she learns that her stepfather,
Sir Walter Pendennis, has died in an accident. Rosamond and her husband, Rob, set
off for Sir Walter’s estate in Cornwall. When