By Maia Chance.
June 2017. 304p. Crooked Lane, $25.99
(9781683311676); e-book (9781683311683).
Agnes Blythe, back in her hometown
of Naneda, New York, is, in short order
dumped by her fiancé for a Pilates instructor, kicked out of the apartment they were
to share, and forced to move back in with
her father. With no employment offers
on the horizon, Agnes agrees to help her
Great-Aunt Effie, an eccentric former
model, renovate a condemned inn before it
is torn down. When local resident Kathleen
Todd, the woman pushing the demolition, is
found dead at the inn, both Agnes and Effie are considered suspects in the murder.
To clear themselves, the two investigate
numerous suspects while tooling around
in Effie’s stolen Cadillac. Quirky characters
and plenty of humor distinguish this entertaining cozy. —Sue O’Brien
By Marc Elsberg. Tr. by Marshall
June 2017. 320p. Sourcebooks/Landmark, $26.99
Someone is taking down power grids
across Europe. Italian hacker Piero Man-zano may be the only person who can
figure out how the systems have been
breached and who is behind the attacks.
Short chapters introducing characters in different countries take some time, but, once
the players are defined, the book kicks into
high gear. Scenarios detailing the havoc a
large-scale power outage would wreak are
terrifying in their specificity, from lack of
access to lifesaving technology to the wails
of engorged cows who can’t all be milked
without the machines farmers rely on. Part
Dan Brown–style chase and part eco-thriller,
this debut—a best-seller in Germany—will
get people talking. —Karen Keefe
By John Altman.
May 2017. 364p. Blackstone, $26.99
The line between duty and belief tears
apart several people in Altman’s new thriller.
Jana is an Israeli operative who has a mis-
sion that will cost American lives, but the
blame will fall on Iran. To her, the ends jus-
tify the means. Dalia was born in Israel but
now teaches at Princeton and believes that
violence never solves anything. She will be
forced into a world she doesn’t want any
part of if she wants to save lives, including
her son’s. This is a compelling thriller awash
in the ambiguity of international politics,
and it pairs nicely with Alex Berenson’s
similar Twelve Days (2015). —Jeff Ayers
By John Gilstrap.
July 2017. 512p. Kensington, $26 (9781496712691);
paper, $9.99 (9780786039784).
In the ninth Jonathan Grave thriller, the
covert agent specializing in hostage rescue
is in Mexico, where he and his partner,
Brian “Boxers” Van de Muelebroeke, are
hoping to extricate a DEA agent from the
clutches of a drug cartel. The rescue goes
off relatively smoothly, but everything goes
downhill from there: their tactical support
vanishes, their chopper flies off without
them, and the cartel seems to know exactly where they’re hiding. Soon Grave and
Boxers are pursued not only by the revenge-seeking drug lord but also by the American
government itself. The writing is clumsy, at
times, but the book is fast paced and well
plotted and should go down well with fans
looking mainly for action. —David Pitt
By L. J. Sellers.
June 2017. 260p. Amazon/Thomas & Mercer, paper,
Former CIA agent Roxanne MacFarlane
now works as an “extractor”—removing
people from environments their families
believe are dangerous. Her current case
involves getting Emma Carson away from a
group called Sister Love, a cult that recruits
young women who are vulnerable due to
guilt and suicidal thoughts. Rox relies on
her stepfather, a retired cop, to provide
backup, and her boyfriend, a Portland, Oregon, cop, to keep her posted on a serial
killer who is also targeting young women.
Some readers may be particularly intrigued
by Rox’s recent decision to get transcranial
magnetic stimulation (TMS) to mitigate
some of the effects of her autism spectrum
disorder. An unusual protagonist and plenty
of action drive appeal here. —Karen Keefe
Land of Wolves.
By TJ Turner.
May 2017. 336p. Oceanview, $26.95
(9781608092024); e-book (9781608092031).
The author’s second novel, after Lincoln’s
Bodyguard (2015), continues the story
of Joseph Foster, who saved Abraham
Lincoln’s life at Ford’s Theatre (he killed
John Wilkes Booth before Booth could
murder the president). The story is set in
the mid-1870s; the Consortium, a group
of powerful industrial barons who secretly
run the country, have murdered Joseph’s
mother and daughter. Joseph and his wife,
Molly, vow revenge. Their plan is to relieve
the Consortium of all its money via a daring heist. The novel’s alternate version of
the U.S. circa 1875 is clever and plausibly
designed, its characters are engaging and,
in some cases, entertainingly over the top,
and the story is almost cinematic in its
construction and execution. Terrific fun and
perfect reading for fans of alternate-history
adventures. —David Pitt
Love like Blood.
By Mark Billingham.
June 2017. 432p. Atlantic Monthly, $26
(9780802126535); e-book, $26 (9780802189547).
Billingham brings Detective Inspector
Tom Thorne back (after Time of Death,
2015) for the fourteenth time in a team-up with DI Nicola Tanner from last year’s
stand-alone, Die of Shame. Tanner is on
compassionate leave after the brutal murder of her partner, Susan. She fears the
death sentence was actually meant for her
because of her involvement in the Honour Crimes Unit. Determined to continue
her investigations unofficially, she enlists
Thorne’s assistance. He finds his humanity
sorely tested by the total lack of “honour”
involved. Billingham’s skillful plotting is
everywhere in evidence here, and Thorne
remains a compelling character, comparable to Connolly’s Bosch and Rankin’s
Rebus. —Jane Murphy
A Nest of Vipers.
By Andrea Camilleri. Tr. by Stephen
Aug. 2017. 272p. Penguin, paper, $16
This twenty-first Inspector Montalbano
novel to appear in the U.S. falls squarely
into the series’ comfort zone: a tantalizing
murder, not at all what it seems; a plethora
of romantic issues for the beleaguered
Montalbano to sort, most, but never all,