RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] wonderfully written novel ... The author gets inside the minds and lives of her book’s socially disparate personalities with the grace of a novelist of manners, even as she pulls tight the strands of one of the most ambitious police procedurals of the year.
The Death of Rex NhongoC. B. George
PositiveWSJ...[a] gritty, suspenseful new novel ... Through the eyes of these well-rendered personalities in The Death of Rex Nhongo, the reader encounters an intimate panorama of life in a dangerous city ... [George] does a remarkable job placing a dozen or so interlocking personal stories within a larger context of greed, lust, sacrifice, hypocrisy and horror.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] suspenseful and finely written novel ... Ms. Lippman is good at bringing Lu’s small-town past to life ... [Wilde Lake] is as much a coming-of-age novel as it is an outstanding mystery.
The Midnight AssassinSkip Hollandsworth
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal[Hollandsworth] does a fine job of setting the crimes in the context of a growing metropolis in the midst of an economic boom. The crime scenes drew carnival-size crowds. Mule-driven streetcars delivered sightseers to the murder sites. Giant electric arc lamps were erected to illuminate main streets with (it was hoped) crime-deterring glare ... until the publication of this absorbing work, the Midnight Assassin achieved only obscurity. 'It was as if he had walked out of history altogether,' concludes Mr. Hollandsworth. 'It was as if he had never existed.'
High DiveJonathan Lee
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...a highly amusing and ultimately very moving novel...Mr. Lee draws the reader into his characters’ lives with such sympathy and affection—'the private moments history so rarely records but which make up the minutes in the hours'—that when that inevitable explosion occurs, its impact is all the more devastating.
All Things Cease to AppearElizabeth Brundage
RaveThe Wall Street JournalA book as lyrically written, frequently shocking and immensely moving as Elizabeth Brundage’s All Things Cease to Appear transcends categorization. Is the book a 'police procedural'? In part. A 'gothic mystery'? Incidentally. A novel of 'psychological suspense'? In spades. A chilling case-study of a serial soul-killer? A 'Spoon River'-style panorama of small-town life in upstate New York in the late 1970s? A parable of good and evil informed by the theological notions of the 18th-century Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg? Yes, yes and yes. It was, perhaps, for such extraordinary books that the term 'literary thriller' was coined.
What the Eye HearsBrian Seibert
RaveThe Wall Street JournalWhat the Eye Hears is much more than a roll-call of tap stars. Mr. Seibert also stages a challenge-dance with the big themes entwined in tap’s history—among much else, the semiotics of minstrelsy and the constant tussle between old folkways and the new. His critical footwork dazzles.
Every Man A MenacePatrick Hoffman
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...Criminal fools populate the drug-selling networks from San Francisco to Bangkok to Miami in Patrick Hoffman’s astonishing, violent novel ... filled with sharply drawn characters ... A mind-bending, attention-demanding narrative as full of shocks and surprises as an LSD party.”
His Bloody ProjectGraeme MaCrae Burnet
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThis trick of framing a novel as a supposed tale of a discovered manuscript is as old as the novel form itself, and the author’s sensitivity to literary forebears helps boost his book out of the realm of genre. His Bloody Project has the lineaments of the crime thriller but some of the sociology of a Thomas Hardy novel ... sane or mad, good or evil, honest or unreliable, this unfortunate young man, thanks to Mr. Burnet’s literary skill, makes a profound connection with the reader.
The Fall GuyJames Lasdun
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...[an] elegant and disturbing novel ... a thriller of manners, is written in third-person. But so adroit is Mr. Lasdun at allowing a reader access to Matthew’s past and present thoughts and feelings that it seems like a first-person narrative ... This simple-seeming novel, so graceful in its unfolding, proves dense with psychological detail and sly social observations.
Everything You Want Me to BeMindy Mejia
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] tantalizing novel ... Ms. Mejia displays the enviable ability and assurance of such contemporaries as Megan Abbott and Laura Lippman in convincingly charting inter-generational passion and angst. And she’s learned psychological truths from no less a noir master than the Bard himself, who showed that by 'our own natures, we are all inherently doomed.'”
Surrender New YorkCaleb Carr
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Carr conjures with admirable ease and verve all manner of vivid characters: the beautiful young blind woman who captures Dr. Jones’s heart; her obscenity-spewing young brother, whom Jones and Li use as their Baker Street Irregular; and dozens of allies, enemies, villains, relatives and victims. Skills and thrills are more abundant than plausibility. For maximum enjoyment: surrender, reader.
The DimeKathleen Kent
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[an] often exciting and sometimes moving police thriller ... she takes further advice and comfort from remembered conversations with her late Uncle Benny, a Brooklyn cop as wise as he was tough. One of his mottos: 'Don’t get stuck in the abyss of your own morass.' Benny appears in flashback-memories spaced throughout The Dime, the most effective of which turns into a surreal surprise revealing the meaning of this grisly but likable novel’s title.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalWhat happens to all these players is revealed in a kaleidoscope of flashbacks and flash-forwards that the author manipulates for maximum character development and suspense. Ms. Hoffman writes like a dream—a disturbing, emotionally charged dream that resolves into a surprisingly satisfying and redemptive vision.
Shining CityTom Rosenstiel
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...skillful and memorable ... Shining City has the excitement of a courtroom thriller. Its 24-hour attempt 'to solve murders three thousand miles and three months apart' delivers the excitement of a police procedural. And its sketches of a host of D.C. types have a nice satiric edge. Finally its hero’s ruminations on politics as the art of the possible give readers much to ponder.
The Long DropDenise Mina
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] taut and shrewdly written period novel ... Despite this being a fiction turning on a real verdict already foretold, our interest never flags, thanks to the author’s keen eye and canny tongue for the telling detail, the revealing gesture, the phrase that says it all.
Into the WaterPaula Hawkins
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe facts behind all these intrigues are teased out with impressive skill by Ms. Hawkins, who tells a complex narrative in mostly brief chapters through the eyes and voices of more than a dozen characters ... Keeping track of all these characters can at times be daunting. But the effort proves worthwhile in a chronicle whose final pages yield startling revelations—despite the puzzlement of the policeman in charge.
The Late ShowMichael Connelly
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThrough describing the detective’s step-by-step movements and dispensing information about her background only on a need-to-know basis, the author creates a bond between reader and protagonist akin to the one Renée shares with 'her' victims; and the excited satisfaction we feel at Ballard’s success seems as intense as the vindicating joy experienced by this intriguing new heroine.
The SmackRichard Lange
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe Smack is often riveting, thanks to its surreal action scenes, and gradually the path of Petty’s progress becomes ever twistier and more lethal. 'He felt a little noble,' Mr. Lange writes early on; 'he felt a little doomed.' Time will tell.
Magpie MurdersAnthony Horowitz
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal[Horowitz] has, like a magpie, taken themes, devices, techniques and shtick from the styles of at least half a dozen other writers (Agatha Christie to Sophie Hannah, E.C. Bentley to Robert Harris) in order to concoct an entertaining hall-of-mirrors work in which art imitates life and vice versa. As parody, pastiche or a whole new sort of puzzle, Magpie Murders holds one’s attention from first to last. Its echoes and allusions continue to tease the brain even after the book is closed.