And When She Was Good - Laura Lippman is fantastic at layering her characters with conflicting instincts and mysterious motivations, and her latest sounds just juicy as hell. Part time lobbyist, part time high-priced prostitute and full-time mom with a helluva list of secrets to keep. Throw in a ticking clock (a violent con she has a child by is getting out of prison) and this one's wound tight and ready to go.
Devil's Gate - F.J. Lennon gets into the underground music scene of L.A. and the underworld of souls in his second Kane Pryce outing, (after Soul Trapper). Some evil thing is enticing folks to end their lives by casting themselves from a particular bridge in Pasadena and former professional exorcist/ghostbuster Pryce is (perhaps permanently) sidetracked from his new gig fronting a band to get to the bottom of it. Something about the paranormal/rock-musician/detective thing puts a big ol' Buckaroo Banzai smile on my mug.
Old and Cold - For those prepared to enter the mouth of madness, Jim Nisbet will get out the floss, and put you to work. There's a sharp mind hiding inside an alcoholic fog tinged with schizophrenia and hideous personal hygiene stalking the streets and martini bars of San Francisco, and he's supplying the first-second-and-third-person narration in this brief, but densely rationalized discourse on twenty-first century America masquerading as a thriller. The narrator calculates endlessly how much time and money he has left in his life and the most efficient ways to spend both - the goal is to keep himself pickled in perfect martinis for the duration, and the best way (sometimes the only way) to make money to turn into icy bliss is to kill folks. For money. He may live under a bridge and talk aloud to himself in a disconcerting fashion, but he's no psycho, he's a professional, please keep that in mind. If you can't get enough Nisbet (and who can't?) I betcha didn't know that he also has a new-ish Martin Windrow blaaaaack mystery available now. Ulysses' Dog was released in July.
Port Vila Blues - Garry Disher's Wyatt Wareen capers pit his master thief anti-hero against the criminal underworld of Australia, and straight society alike. Cops, crooks, hot rocks and a partner in sharp mental decline pose problems for the perfect professional. Fans of Richard Stark's Parker books or Wallace Stroby's Crissa Stone titles would be well-advised to dig in.
The Prophet brings Michael Koryta back into the loving fold of crime fiction fans (after three supernatural thrillers in quick succession) in grand fashion. The tale of two brothers estranged by the twenty year old tragic circumstances of their sisters' murder, and the divergent paths their lives have taken from that defining moment, are drawn uncomfortably and unwillingly back together by another killing. Family history, personal demons and the burst stitching along the jagged scar-lines where the spilled contents of their lives were stuffed back inside are under the surface keeping this one snapping a staccato internal pulse to match and counter the plot's BPM. (You hear that Koryta's Lincoln Perry may have his own TV show soon? Here's hoping it's worthy.)
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