PanThe New York Times Book ReviewOver the course of her irresistible book, [Summerscale] takes on popular attitudes toward children and their place in society ... Summerscale proves a wonderful champion of these exciting adventure tales, which allowed young boys to dream of better things than a life of poverty.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] highly combustible procedural ... Although the dominant theme of his book is rampant police corruption, Mullen touches on fascinating topics like the rise of the Dixiecrats, the war between moonshiners and legitimate distributors, and the business end of local prostitution and gambling rackets. Change is in the wind, but it’ll be a long time coming.
Rise the DarkMichael Koryta
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewKoryta isn’t entirely successful in his attempt to merge these two plots into a cohesive whole, but each one has its distinct thrills.
I Shot the BuddhaColin Cotterill
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] dazzling if thoroughly dizzying new novel ... 'The Disneyland of animism,' in Siri’s wry opinion of the place, is easily the highlight of this mind-bending book.
The Glorious HeresiesLisa McInerney
PositiveThe New York TImes Book Review...[a] wonderfully offbeat voice ... McInerney’s characters aren’t what anyone would call saints, but they’re so richly drawn you have to respect the way they think and sympathize with their moral conflicts ... Not only is McInerney’s prose ripe with foul language and blasphemous curses delivered in the impenetrable local idiom, but her style is so flamboyantly colorful it can’t always be contained.
Hard Light: A Cass Neary Crime NovelElizabeth Hand
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThere’s intelligence and style, if not much shape, to the plot, which concerns stolen artifacts being traded on the black market. But Cass’s voice, as deep as a dungeon and as dark as a grave, is addictive.
Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins MysteryWalter Mosley
PositiveThe New York TimesThat’s why it’s such a joy to hang around with Easy, who is...easy. No furies in his brain, no fires in his gut, just an unquenchable curiosity about people and their personal dramas. Following the meandering plot is beside the point once Mosley starts bringing on his familiar characters for Easy to chat up.
Midnight SunJo Nesbo
PositiveThe New York TimesAlthough it follows too closely the plot of a previous book, Blood on Snow, this forcefully written story of personal defeat, despair and salvation, translated by Neil Smith, sends a man off to lose himself in the wilderness — where he finds himself instead. Introspective and sensitive, Hansen is the polar opposite of Harry Hole, Nesbo’s far more commanding series detective.
A Very English Scandal: Sex Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the EstablishmentJohn Preston
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPreston has written this page-turner like a political thriller, with urgent dialogue, well-staged scenes, escalating tension and plenty of cliffhangers, especially once the trial begins. But no matter how hard he tries to convince us of Thorpe’s 'magnetic personality,' his central character comes off as selfish, arrogant and manipulative.
His Bloody ProjectGraeme MaCrae Burnet
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewGraeme Macrae Burnet makes such masterly use of the narrative form that the horrifying tale he tells seems plucked straight out of Scotland’s sanguinary historical archives.
A Great ReckoningLouise Penny
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewPenny weaves their forgotten histories into her artful tale of a charismatic but despised instructor at the police academy who is found murdered in his quarters, perhaps at the hands of one of the cadets favored by Gamache, who, having cleansed the Sûreté of internal corruption, is now charged with sanitizing the academy. Despite the theme of defiled innocence that makes this such a mournful story, the immense charm of the Gamache series survives in the magical setting and feisty residents of Three Pines ... Like most of the yarns we’ve heard about Three Pines, this one honors the town elders and respects the rituals of their quiet existence. But in a broader sense, the novel reaches beyond the living to become the saddest kind of ghost story, a lament for all 'the phantom life that might have been.'
Rather Be the DevilIan Rankin
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewRankin is an expert at manipulating multiple plots. Here they involve touchy gang chieftains itching for war, equally quarrelsome police officials squabbling over jurisdiction and one especially 'ruthless, rapacious, hands-on, determined' banker trafficking in fishy offshore shell companies ... Along with his plotting prowess, Rankin has cultivated a fluid style that accommodates mordant cop talk, coarse gangster lingo and the occasional honest expression of compassion. So there’s a certain rough charm to the banter between Rebus and his well-drawn colleagues.
Behind Her EyesSarah Pinborough
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBy injecting a spritz of supernatural fizz into Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough shrewdly transforms a romantic suspense novel into an eerie thriller calculated to creep you out ... In brief chapters with alternating narrators, Pinborough keeps us guessing about just who’s manipulating whom — until the ending reveals that we’ve been wholly complicit in this terrifying mind game.
The Girl BeforeJP Delaney
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThere’s a distinct creepiness to this claustrophobic story, but in time common sense triumphs; what initially felt deliciously sinister eventually seems schematic and just plain sadistic.
What You Don't KnowJoAnn Chaney
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewGloria Seever never intended to share her life with a man who would murder 31 people and bury their remains in the crawl space under the house. She just wasn’t very observant ... In trying to understand Seever’s appeal to his imitator, Ralph Loren of the Denver Police Department adopts his fashion sense, hairstyle and mannerisms, which alters his looks but doesn’t do much for his deductive skills. But while that plot turn leads down a blind alley, Chaney has more success with her other, striking characters.
I See YouClare Mackintosh
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewI See you, a nasty little tale by the British author (and former police officer) Clare Mackintosh, articulates female riders’ secret fears of being stalked by some silent watcher on the London Underground ... Mackintosh supplies refreshingly realistic domestic scenes for the women in this slow-burning narrative, including Kelly Swift of the British Transport Police, who talks her way onto this case to get back in the big leagues. She’s a well-drawn character with a rich home life (another one of the author’s strengths) and good company on this case, which — with the exception of a forced and truly awful ending — really hits home for daily commuters with robotic schedules and vivid imaginations.
The Weight of This WorldDavid Joy
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewDavid Joy’s bleakly beautiful tales of the rapacious drug culture of the Appalachian mountain dwellers of Jackson County, N.C., have a dreadful consistency. Every day, it seems, there’s 'another story of another man killing another man in another godforsaken town.' In The Weight of This World, a boy like Aiden McCall knows that 'in time he would become his father' — a man who told his wife he loved her before shooting her in the head and killing himself. That alone should explain why Aiden would choose a brute like Thad Broom for his best friend, remaining loyal even when Thad returns from military service 'malformed and hardened by bitterness and anger.' Their friendship forms the spine of this gorgeously written but pitiless novel about a region blessed by nature but reduced to desolation and despair.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewSara Paretsky defies the old notion that regional detectives don’t travel well outside their home turf ... This is the kind of social consciousness we’ve come to expect from Paretsky, a committed political activist whose conscience informs everything she writes. She’s strong, she’s fierce, and she carries that chip on her shoulder with real pride.
The Long DropDenise Mina
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewMina has always been a close observer of the brutality drunkards can inflict on their wives and children. But she also feels for women like Manuel’s mother, Brigit, and the father of a murdered girl who describes her in the blandest of terms on the witness stand because he can’t bring himself to share his memories of the 'real daughter' the public knows only as a mangled corpse. Mina even holds out her hand to those inarticulate thugs whose violent acts are a perverse way of validating their own lives ... With one plotline continually hopscotching over the other, Mina manages to keep two narratives going at once: the farcical account of Watt and Manuel’s binge and the sober courtroom drama of dueling life-or-death stories when Manuel faces a jury. Despite the novel’s final reassurance that it’s 'just a story. Just a creepy story about a serial killer,' this one feels painfully real.
Pretty GirlsKarin Slaughter
MixedThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewA hell-raising thriller … Slaughter executes a number of tricky plot twists, some clever and others preposterous. (Would the F.B.I. really offer witness protection to someone who’s a ‘borderline psychopath’?) But all these sweaty maneuvers are in the service of a genuinely exciting narrative driven by strong-willed female characters who can’t wait around until the boys shake the lead out of their shoes.
The Thirst: A Harry Hole NovelJo Nesbø, trans. by Neil Smith
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...intricate plotting keeps the story shifting under our feet. Nesbo is a master at this narrative sleight of hand, and if you can stand the gory details and hang on during the switchback turns, the payoff is its own reward.
The SmackRichard Lange
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewEven inanimate objects come to life in Lange’s world ... The caper plot is tidier (and more violent) than Lange’s usual free-form efforts, with a solid back story about Army buddies conniving to retrieve the cash they made from stolen goods in Afghanistan. The book is most fun, though, when it focuses on Petty’s clever ruses to separate the rubes from their life’s savings ... Lange’s bread and butter are his quick studies of colorful characters, many of whom die here in unpleasant ways. So it’s only fitting when those who are still alive at the end raise their glasses on New Year’s Eve in a toast 'to the lucky and the unlucky, the swindlers and the swindled, the living and the dead.'
Love Like BloodMark Billingham
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewBillingham allows his plot to wander down some pretty dark alleys. A friend of Amaya’s is gang-raped, considered appropriate retribution for talking to the police. And it’s disconcerting to learn that in Pakistan some honor killings can be forgiven by the victim’s family, with no punishment for the murderers. But Billingham saves his real animus for the Metropolitan Police’s Honor Crimes Unit, which receives 3,000 incident reports a year but doesn’t have a website — or even a sign on the door.
The FallenAce Atkins
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewTibbehah has been an outlaw haven since bootlegging days, so it’s a professional insult when out-of-town robbers steal $192,000 from the First National Bank. But even that major crime is overshadowed when two local girls go missing and everyone fears the worst. What Atkins understands is that regional mysteries can go only so far when updating local crime patterns. It’s O.K. to rob the town bank, but you can’t burn it to the ground.