24 Booklist March 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
they arrive, they are greeted by Rosamond’s
imperious, contentious mother, Eleanor,
who is convinced Sir Walter was murdered
and she demands that Rosamond and Rob
track down his killer. As the pair launch their
inquiries, Rosamond is stunned to learn that
Sir Walter was a spy working for the Queen’s
spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, someone
Rosamond has also worked for in the past.
This gives a much darker and more dangerous aspect to the case. As they sort through
motives and suspects—including papists,
pirates, spies, and possible traitors—Rob
and Rosamond know they’re getting close
to finding the killer when their own lives
are put in great danger. This meticulously
researched, cleverly plotted story has plenty
of twists and wonderfully colorful characters
and will appeal to all historical-mystery fans.
Of Books and Bagpipes.
By Paige Shelton.
Apr. 2017. 304p. Minotaur, $25.99 (9781250057495);
e-book, $12.99 (9781466861220).
American Delaney Nichols works in an
Edinburgh bookstore, Cracked Spine, which
sells old books, rare manuscripts, and artifacts.
Her boss, Edwin MacAlister, asks her to go to
Castle Doune to pick up a comic book. When
she and her landlord, Elias, get to the battlements where the meeting is supposed to take
place, they find their contact, Billy Armstrong,
dressed as William Wallace and quite dead.
Edwin is stunned by the murder, and Delaney
becomes involved in the investigation when she
realizes that Edwin is not telling her the truth,
or at least not the whole truth, about events
that occurred in the distant past that may be
connected to Armstrong’s murder. Interviewing Edwin’s former friends as well as a group
of William Wallace reenactors, and with help
from her boyfriend’s father, a librarian, Delaney
ferrets out the truth while endangering her life.
The Edinburgh and greater Scotland settings
are lovingly woven through the story, which
includes details of literature and Scottish history. In this first-person account, Delaney is a
bright, sympathetic figure surrounded by well-drawn secondary characters. —Sue O’Brien
Perish the Day.
By John Farrow.
May 2017. 304p. Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, $25.99
(9781250153654); e-book (9781250112361).
Retired Montreal police detective Émile
Cinq-Mars really ought to check the weather
forecast before taking a trip—this is the Storm
Murders series, after all, so if there’s a storm
coming to the hero’s destination, murder is
certain to follow. Sure enough, Cinq-Mars’
trip to New Hampshire is timed to a torrential
rainstorm, and, inevitably, three murders turn
up in the storm’s wake, all taking place on a
college campus near where Cinq-Mars and
his wife, Sandra, are ensconced, awaiting the
death of Sandra’s mother. Just as inevitably,
Cinq-Mars is drawn into the investigation,
as one of the victims, a coed, was a friend of
his niece. What evolves is a fairly standard
academia-set procedural, with Cinq-Mars
working uneasily but eventually in tandem
with two grumpy but savvy local cops. Farrow
once again showcases his hero’s sensitivity to
subtleties of character, though this time the
solution to the elaborate murder scheme ap-
pears a bit too suddenly. Still, this is a strong
series starring an intellectual investigator and
remains the perfect read-alike for Louise Pen-
ny’s Armand Gamache novels. —Bill Ott
The Run-Out Groove.
By Andrew Cartmel.
May 2017. 416p. Titan, paper, $14.95 (9781783297696).
When last we saw the jazz-loving Vinyl Detective (Written in Dead Wax, 2016), he was
doing what he does best: finding rare LPs—
vinyl only, of course. That case came with an
attendant mystery involving the circumstances
surrounding the recording of a jazz pianist’s lost
album, but this time everything is backward:
the rare album has already been found, and it
kicks off the case, a missing person this time,
not a missing record. And it’s rock, not jazz.
The cult rock star Valerian killed herself shortly
after her last album was released, and after her
death, her baby vanished. But was Valerian
really murdered, and what happened to the
child? The Vinyl Detective is hired to find the
answers, despite his protestations that he finds
records not people. So begins another goofy,
thoroughly endearing hipster romp, starring a
just-zany-enough cast of vintage-loving Lon-
doners: the hero, of course, and his even more
obsessed cohort Tinkler, crave vinyl; his girlfriend, the fetching Nevada, goes for vintage
clothes; and let’s not forget their cab-driver pal,
the equally fetching Clean Head, who gets all
tingly over rare Penguin Classics. Great premise, great fun. Keep ’em coming. —Bill Ott
By Alan Drew.
May 2017. 368p. Random, $27 (9781400067800); e-book
Drew’s debut psychological thriller succeeds
admirably. There are three hearts of human
darkness within, and it is for the reader to de-
cide which character is the true “shadow man.”
Detective Ben Wade quit the LAPD and re-
turned to his California hometown of Rancho
Santa Elena in the hope of mending his mar-
riage. It didn’t quite work out. The shadows
from his past won’t allow it.
The novel is set against the
massive basin development
boom of the 1980s, and the
sounds of bulldozers mingle
with some truly awful ’80s
rock lyrics. Migrant workers
toil endlessly and take shelter
in their cardboard housing
just beyond the well-trimmed borders of new
condominium complexes and golf courses. The
town suddenly finds itself at the mercy of the
Night Prowler, a serial killer who slips quietly
through windows and screen doors, murdering
with astonishing regularity. His shadows come
from a merciless boyhood right out of Dave Pel-
zer’s A Child Called It (1995). When a teenage
migrant worker is found dead, Ben spins out
of control, but he remains a likable character,
mainly due to the author’s sensitive narrative,
which remains steady as the tension escalates.
The Steinbeck-like passages about the vanish-
ing cowboy landscape contribute to the novel’s
power. Recommend this one to fans of Michael
Connolly, Tana French, and Dennis Lehane,
who treat young victims and troubled investi-
gators with the same sensitivity. —Jane Murphy
Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of
By James Runcie.
May 2017. 368p. Bloomsbury, $27 (9781632867940);
paper, $17 (9781632867957).
Love is at the center of each of these six
episodes, spanning five and a half years in
the 1970s, as Archdeacon Sidney Chambers
continues pastoral duties as well as sleuthing.
This side activity, most often undertaken with
his close friend, Inspector Geordie Keating,
leaves Chambers’ wife, Hildegard, to develop
a strong friendship with a fellow German,
musician Rolfe von Arnim, a relationship that
leaves the archdeacon jealous despite it paralleling his friendship with former flame Amanda
Richmond. In the course of this fourth in the
series, Chambers solves two murders that were
motivated by love, tracks down his runaway
teen nephew, supports Amanda in a dicey art
scheme, stays at the side of another woman
friend who makes a rape charge, and untangles
the theft of a priceless Bible. But it’s the final
chapter, with its depth of emotion and compassion, that resonates most. Have tissues at
the ready, because a stunning surprise signals
a change in the archdeacon’s life and a shaking
of his faith that will leave readers longing for
Runcie’s next entry. —Michele Leber
By Karin Salvalaggio.
May 2017. 336p. Minotaur, $26.99 (9781250078933);
e-book, $12.99 (9781466891487).
Grace Adams took a new surname and
moved to a new town after what happened to
A lot of thrillers boast twisty plots, but Lehane plies his corkscrew on
more than the story line. The mood and pace of the novel change directions, too, jumping from thoughtful character study to full-on suspense
thriller, like a car careening down San Francisco’s Lombard Street, cautiously at one moment, hell-bent at another.
—Bill Ott, on Since We Fell