British Crime Writers' Assoc
2016
The Truth and Other Lies:
Book Jacket   Sascha Arango
2016
The Great Swindle
Book Jacket   Pierre Lemaitre
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The battlefields of World War I give birth to two different, but related, schemes to swindle grieving French families out of their money. It's November 1918, and word is that an armistice is nigh: French soldiers on the battlefield are keenly aware that they may be going home. Thus it's with great dismay that Albert Maillard finds himself back in the fight following the shooting of two soldiers, "an old man and a kid," who were sent on a reconnaissance mission by Lt. Henri d'Aulney-Pradelle. When Albert comes across their bodies in the ensuing battle, he realizes the officer shot his own men in the back to restart the fighting, but before he can tell anyone, he finds himself buried alive after d'Aulney-Pradelle pushes him into a shell crater that then collapses on him. That's when he meets fellow soldier Edouard Pericourt, who digs him out and resuscitates him and who is then wounded himself when he catches a piece of shrapnel in the face. The shrapnel wound is terribleit "ripped away his lower jaw; below his nose is a gaping void"but Edouard, the artistic son of a rich man, refuses to allow any type of reconstructive surgery. He lets his family think he's dead so they won't have to see him with his terrible injury. Albert keeps him alive and, when he's released from the hospital, stays with him out of a sense of duty. Together, the two men concoct a scam to support themselves by selling war memorials they don't intend to build, while d'Aulney-Pradelle, who has married Edouard's sister, Madeleine, becomes involved in another scam to rebury French soldiers in undersized coffins. Lemaitre's tale is carefully researched, and most of the story's value lies in its historical authenticity. The book is much too long and often repetitive, and the character of Edouard is both bizarre and unsympathetic: Lemaitre never establishes a reason why he would refuse further medical intervention. The battlefield and hospital scenes convey Lemaitre's mastery of imagery, but his charactersEdouard in particularfail to arouse much empathy in readers. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Icarus
 Deon Meyer
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Sex, lies, and a lot of alcohol are the key elements in Meyer's (Cobra, 2014, etc.) latest thriller featuring Detective Captain Benny Griessel of the leading South African investigative team known as the Hawks. Griessel himself is incapacitated for most of the story: after two years as a recovering alcoholic, he's been shaken by a murder/suicide involving a colleague and has fallen off the wagon. While Griessel struggles to keep his life from falling apart, Ernst Richter, owner of the notorious website Alibi, turns up strangled. True to its name, Alibi promises airtight excuses for clients cheating on their spouses, but it seems that Richter hasn't honored his promise to keep his clients' identities secret. In a parallel storyline, Cape Town winemaker Francois de Toit outlines his troubled family history during a government investigation, a story that includes growing up with a psychopathic brother. De Toit has his own secret: he's become involved in a fraud scheme, in which his bottles of South African wine are sold internationally as high-priced Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The connection between these two stories won't become clear until Griessel can get his head out of the Jack Daniels. Complicating matters further, investigators in each of the cases find themselves falling in love with the possible suspects they're interviewing. Unlike previous Griessel volumes, this one makes only passing references to the political and racial climate of post-apartheid South Africa. But the surprising plot twists and the wealth of juicy subplots make this a standout entry in a superior series. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Murderer in Ruins
 Cay Rademacher
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2016
Six Four:
Book Jacket   Hideo Yokoyama
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A bestselling Japanese crime novelist makes his American debut with a pensive but overlong whodunit that sheds light on power relations in his native country.It's 1989, the final year of Emperor Hirohito's reign, a time of portent, and a young girl has gone missing. A kidnapper calls, the police flail about, and parents and child never reunite. Time goes by, and now, in 2003, Yoshinobu Mikami is still thinking about the case, for, in a plot convenience that demands ample suspension of disbelief, his own daughter has gone missing. As Yokoyama's grim tale opens, Mikami and his wife are in the morgue, hoping against hope that the teenager lying on the table is not their daughter. "This wasn't their first time," writes Yokoyama, "in the last three months they had already viewed two bodies of Ayumi's age." Mikami is able to take a synoptic view because he had been an investigator in the earlier case, and now, reviewing the files, he sees something he had not noticed before. It's not really his place to be poking around, though, since he has been transferred to the press relations office of the police department, a job that he fears is a subtle, politically motivated demotion and a move that has soured any enthusiasm he had for being a cop. The jaded investigator is an old trope in crime fiction, but Yokoyama steals a page from Stieg Larsson by using the mystery to probe the ways the powers that be work in an apparently orderly society that masks a great undercurrent of evil and wrongdoing, much of it committed by the powerful and well-connected. So it is in this story, which takes leisurely twists into the well-kept offices of Japan's elite while providing a kind of informal sociological treatise on crime and punishment in Japanese society, to say nothing of an inside view of the police and their testy relationship with the media. Elaborate but worth the effort. Think Jo Nesb by way of Haruki Murakami, and with a most satisfying payoff. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Free Falling As If in a Dream:
Book Jacket   Leif GW Persson
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Stark whodunit with a sharp political edge, examining the 1986 assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme of Sweden. Though the equivalent, in Swedish memory, of the assassination of JFK, Palme's killing has served mostly as backdrop in that country's superbly well-developed mystery fiction milieu. Persson (Another Time, Another Life, 2012, etc.), a criminologist in real life, places the killing at the forefront of this latest story, in which a CSI type named Lars Martin Johansson (familiar from other of Persson's procedurals) moves to center stage as, years after the fact, he opens the cold file. "I'm only the head of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, but I'm also an orderly person and extremely allergic to unsolved cases." Surrounded by a body of flatfoot cops and smart investigators, he finds his orderly tendencies thwarted by extremely messy trails of evidence, from subtly conflicting testimonies ("the perpetrator had...half run,' trotted,' lumbered,' or jogged' down Tunnelgatan in the direction of the stairs up to Malmskillnadsgatan") to leads that bring in a bewildering range of conspiratorial actors (one of them with a quite unmentionable name). Persson's tale is too long by a quarter, with plenty of longueurs that seem to put the case in real time, but it has plenty of virtues, not least in showing how police work is actually done and in how quirky interpersonal dynamics can affect every detail of a crime investigation. To say nothing of calling the whole lone gunman scenario into question. "It's a small country," Johansson grumbles. "Much too small." Yet there's plenty of room for mayhem. A worthy addition to the vast Swedish library devoted to such unpleasant things.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Camille:
 Pierre Lemaitre
  Book Jacket
2015
Cobra
 Deon Meyer
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A chase-themed thriller set in the tense political climate of post-apartheid South Africa.Detective Benny Griessel of Cape Town's elite Hawks is called in when renowned mathematician David Adair is kidnapped from a remote hideaway, his bodyguards shot dead. The crime is traced to the international assassin team known as Cobra, which is after a memory card containing information that could expose major worldwide financial corruption. Meanwhile, Tyrone Kleinbooi, a small-time pickpocket who steals to support his sister, inadvertently winds up with the card when he robs Adair's assistant and lover, Lillian Alvarez. Already running from the law, Tyrone witnesses a further shooting and now finds himself a Cobra target as well. Griessel's team spends the book's second half pursuing Tyrone, whose life would clearly be easier if he'd turn himself in. There's also a major implausibility when Tyrone's sister is shot point-blank by Cobras and survives with minor injuries. As the chase intensifies, recovering alcoholic Griessel struggles to stay sober and hold onto a new relationship. The story ends with a blast of violence that throws a sudden twist on a tidy ending and sets the stage for the next installment. As always, Meyer (Seven Days, 2012, etc.) writes with a strong sense of character and an eye on post-apartheid politics, though the plotting here is slower and less compelling than previous books in the Griessel series. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Arab Jazz
Book Jacket   Karim Miske
2015
The Invisible Guardian: A Novel
Book Jacket   Dolores Redondo
 
2015
Into a Raging Blaze
 Andreas Norman
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An oddly named but engaging spy thriller translated from the Swedish.Carina Dymek is a young, midlevel civil servant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm with the job of analyzing European Union security policies. After a meeting in Brussels, a stranger introduces himself as Jean and persuades her to accept a USB memory stick. On it, he explains, is secret information about a proposed European Intelligence Service that would create a European spy organization without the knowledge of elected public officials. Why give it to her? "You have a conscience," he explains, asking her to read the proposal and leak its contents to the right people. Soon her troubles begin. Her bosses quickly learn that she has the memory stick. They interrogate her about it, but she doesn't give it up, and they suspend her from her duties. She must locate the mysterious Jean to help clear her name, but that seems impossible. Meanwhile, Bente Jensen of the Swedish Security Service is investigating Carina and her Egyptian boyfriend, Jamal, who authorities believe are up to no good. Are they planning a major terrorist attack? Bente doesn't think so, but her colleagues do. They intercept an email with an Arabic poem that says, "Their fire will loom before you, kindling desire into a raging blaze." That sounds like a metaphor for an act of terror, and soon the chase is on to arrest Carina and Jamal. While the novel's title comes from that quote, it misleads the reader about what the book delivers. Still, there is tension and excitement, with a plot that builds steadily. Bente and Carina are strong and sympathetic women whose interests coincide when a conspiracy unfolds. Bente delivers the best line: "If you're going to lie then you have to do so truthfully." There's plenty to like in this plausible and well-written tale. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Strange Shores: An Inspector Erlendur Novel
 Arnaldur Indridason
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An Icelandic police detective probes a decades-old disappearance that resonates with a haunting incident from his own past. Inspector Erlendur ventures to Urdarklettur, near the remote fjords of his country, to investigate the probable murder of Matthildur, a young woman whose disappearance several decades earlier was at first clouded by a contemporary tragedy involving some British sailors. While Erlendur's bona fides are genuine, his timing and intent seem murky. Is this case official or personal? Indeed, he was remarkably absent from Indridason's previous series entry (Black Skies, 2013, etc.). Painful flashbacks to Erlendur's childhood fill in details about the disappearance of his brother Bergur in the middle of a blizzard, a tragedy that has continued to haunt him. The villagers think Matthildur was murdered by her husband, Jakob, who was never arrested. Erlendur's main source of information is Ezra, an elderly farmer who was close to both husband and wife. When Jakob and a companion were drowned during a gale not long after Matthildur's disappearance, almost nobody shed a tear. Ezra reveals layer upon layer of the real story to his new confidant Erlendur, beginning with Jakob's affair with Matthildur's sister Ingunn and her subsequent pregnancy. Remains will be unearthed and many more developments in the mystery peeled away like the layers of an onion. Perhaps more important, Erlendur also reaches a kind of peace concerning his brother. Not the tangled whodunit some readers might expect, but a beautifully written psychological thriller with a compelling Everyman at its core. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Irene:
Book Jacket   Pierre Lemaitre
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Though this isn't the first of Lemaitre's books to be translated into Englishthat would be Alex (2013)this was the first he wrote, and it introduces his unique and unforgettable police investigator, Commandant Camille Verhven. Verhven, the diminutive (4 foot 11 inch) head of the Paris homicide squad, has a terrible crime on his hands: Two women were found gruesomely murdered, one of their heads nailed to a wall, their fingers severed and arranged, their bodies gutted and splattered with blood and feces, the words "I AM BACK" written in blood. Verhven and his teamwhich includes his friend and sidekick, the wealthy and aristocratic Louisare stymied by the case. Although the dead women were found in an apartment in an otherwise abandoned industrial district, the man who rented out the apartment, Cottet, says that his tenant, Jean Haynal, disappeared after he took the place, and he remembers little, if anything, about the man. After the two women are identified as prostitutes velyne and Josiane and their investigation reaches a dead end, the team discovers a link to another disturbing killing, this time in Tremblay. In that case, the young woman's death reminds Verhven of something he's read, and soon he's putting the evidence into a context that is disturbing in its unpredictability. Making Verhven's job even more difficult is that information keeps leaking to the press, infuriating his superiors at a time when he can least afford to be distracted: He's about to become a first-time father with his beloved wife, Irne, who is more than ready to have her baby. Lemaitre's measured, intelligent approach to a police investigation rings of authenticity, and he manages to make even the mundane activities interesting. But the real genius of this novel are the twists Lemaitre incorporates into the storyline, lifting it above the genre and into a different category entirely. A book that no matter how fast the reader connects the dots still produces a bombshell that's both brilliant and diabolical. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Siege: A Novel
Book Jacket   Arturo Perez-Reverte
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Pirates; serial killings; steamy, unrequited love: Prez-Reverte (Pirates of the Levant, 2010, etc.) imbues the sensational with significance. It's 1811, and as Napoleon's army relentlessly shells the port of Cdiz, Spain, the city finds itself the target of a much more sinister presence. A shadowy figure is brutally murdering young women, and as amoral policeman Rogelio Tizn stalks this prey, he begins to realize that the murders and the French bombs are somehow intertwined. At the same time, the handsome Lolita Palma, upstanding owner of a shipping company, agrees to do business with corsair Pp Lobo and soon finds herself drawn to his rough charms. And a mysterious taxidermist sends a secret carrier pigeon to a French captain, adding one more pin to his map of bombs. As Napoleon's war rages on, the world finds itself in a vortex of change, with science competing against faith and tradition to help create a new world order. Prez-Reverte begins with several different strands of story and weaves them into a rather impressive web. The level of detail is meticulous but also beautiful; his descriptions of the town and people of Cdiz capture colors, smells and personalities, making the page come to life, and he balances these sensory passages with dense observations about history, metaphysics, science and human nature. Whether the brutality of the murderer, and in fact of the war, is a result of "the imagination [running] out of control" or "atmospheric conditions" doesn't ultimately matter to the story. Prez-Reverte presents a chessboard on which the epic battle of science and fate becomes the story. In the end, it's about "the dark chasms of the human mind," a timeless theme if ever there was one. A genre-bending literary thriller worth the time. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Forty Days Without Shadow: An Arctic Thriller
 Olivier Truc
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2014
Plan D
 Simon Urban
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2014
Dog Will Have His Day
Book Jacket   Fred Vargas
2014
The Ghost Riders of Ordebec
Book Jacket   Fred Vargas
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Commissaire Adamsberg ventures out of his Parisian jurisdiction to investigate a crime as offbeat as he is. During a heat wave, veteran police inspector Adamsberg (An Uncertain Place, 2011, etc.) uses his considerable deductive powers to nail an eerily calm widower for the murder of his wife, her body still cooling in the home they shared. Back at the station house, he's barely had a chance to rest on his laurels when a tiny but compelling woman arrives from Normandy to implore him for help. The widow Madame Vendermont, from the village of Ordebec, begins somewhat evasively reporting the disappearance of her neighbor Michel Herbier, who's vanished along with one of his favorite shotguns. He was "seized," the woman volunteers, by the infamous mounted quartet of Vargas' title. She knows this because of the legends and because her daughter Lina has seen it. Adamsberg is intrigued as much by the singular storyteller as her story, and after learning more of the lore surrounding this "Furious Army" from his tippling assistant, Danglard, he decides to investigate, with Danglard as wingman. The police pair from the city and the Ordebec oddballs, who give new meaning to the phrase "local color," seem equally bemused by one another. A series of bloody murders follows, linked to local fear of the riders. Adamsberg's brilliance and outsider's perspective prove invaluable in untangling the intricate puzzle, whose components include village history, sugar cubes and a running boar. Lively dialogue, well-defined characters and a sophisticated sense of humor add up to delightfully intelligent entertainment.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014 (Fiction)
Alex
 Pierre Lemaitre
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In this unpredictable, oddly delectable French thriller, an attractive young Parisian woman is abducted, chained in a crate and brutalized by an avenger--a crime that doesn't begin to hint at the gruesome killings to follow. The spoiler alert applies big-time to this book, the fourth of Lemaitre's novels featuring Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven and the first to be translated into English. The surprises, early and late, reboot the unusual narrative and redefine the case at hand. The quick-tempered, Danny DeVitoshort Camille is already feeling a bit shaky, having just returned to the force after four years. He suffered a breakdown following his wife Irene's murder--a crime for which his smooth, elegantly dressed sidekick, Louis, feels responsible. Though solving this new case ultimately helps Camille deal with his personal loss, he is dogged by his decision to return to work after Irene's death. But his guilt fades with each burst of intuition he has about the killings; the stranger the case becomes, the more he is drawn into it. A serial killer, deviant sexual behavior and hungry rats figure in the story. An eloquent thriller with a denouement that raises eyebrows as it speeds the pulse.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
The Missing File: A Novel
 D. A. Mishani
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A missing person case provides an unexpected challenge for a suburban Tel Aviv police inspector. Aside from terrorism, there's very little crime in Israel. That, explains Inspector Avraham Avraham, is why so few detective novels are written in Hebrew. So when Hannah Sharabi comes to the station to report that her son Ofer left their apartment in Holon for school that morning and never returned, Avraham assures her that the 16-year-old probably left on his own and will eventually return. But Ofer doesn't turn up, and after a day, Avraham is forced to open an investigation. Much to his chagrin, young hotshot Eyal Shrapstein is assigned to help him. Shrapstein undermines Avraham's fragile authority almost as much as his older colleague Eliyahu Ma'alul supports him. Avraham's superior, Ilana Lis, is also supportive, but as the investigation stalls, her patience wears thin. Should Avraham focus more on Ofer's father, a seaman who was headed to Trieste when his son disappeared? On neighbor Ze'ev Avni, a teacher whose poor sense of boundaries may have pushed Ofer toward the edge? On one of the anonymous phone calls that make Shrapstein's ears twitch? Even a weeklong business trip to Brussels can't shake the Sharabi case from the mind of Avraham, who struggles to separate the truth from a tangle of evasions, misperceptions and outright lies. Mishani gives his unfortunately named sleuth a compelling debut in a complex case aimed straight at the reader's heart.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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