Monday, September 7, 2020

A Reporter Tracks a Killer in FAIR WARNING

 Author Michael Connelly brings back crime reporter Jack McEvoy in a new thriller, Fair Warning. McEvoy appeared previously in the best selling novels The Poet and The Scarecrow, where his reporting helped hunt down diabolical serial killers. 

Jack lost his prior newspaper job and is now reporting for a small investigative website magazine called Fair Warning. But when a woman he knew briefly is murdered by an unknown killer, it leads Jack to look into her death. He uncovers a pattern of similar murders of other female victims, all having their necks broken in an identical manner. McEvoy reaches the chilling answer that a serial predator is at work.

The killer is called The Shrike. Jack finds the link between the scattered victims. All of them had sent their DNA samples to an ancestry analysis service. The Shrike used that same service to find his next targets.

The LAPD is also investigating and they don't want McEvoy interfering in the case. But the police don't know about the serial killer pattern yet. Jack is way ahead of the cops and he wants to be the first to publish a story on The Shrike. But the killer is already watching what McEvoy is doing.

Fair Warning is another addictive read from Michael Connelly. The novel follows the methodical work of a crime reporter as it builds toward a wrenching final reckoning for Jack McEvoy.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Hurricane and Murder in CAMINO WINDS

John Grisham returns to the setting of his previous crime novel, Camino Island, in an entertaining new mystery, Camino Winds.

The main character from the first book is back again--- Bruce Cable, the owner of Bay Books, a popular literary hangout on the resort island off the Florida coast. Bruce is enjoying the pleasant tropical life he leads amidst a circle of local writers, when the sudden forecast of a dangerous hurricane headed for the island changes everything.

Panic ensues as the island undergoes emergency evacuation. Bruce Cable is one of a handful of locals who stay behind to ride out the storm. The arrival of Hurricane Leo is quite exciting as the savage winds smash across Camino Island.

Cable survives the storm, with heavy damage to his bookstore. As the locals emerge to survey the destruction, Bruce notices that one friend, writer Nelson Kerr, is missing. When they look for him, Kerr is found dead at his condo. But the storm didn't kill him. Someone else on the island did.

From there, the novel settles into a search for who killed Kerr, and why. Clues point to a new crime novel that Kerr had just finished about criminal abuse at a large chain of nursing homes. But the novel may have been an expose of crimes happening at a real company, and a book that someone powerful didn't want to see published.

Camino Winds is a pleasantly readable mystery that moves along at a leisurely pace. For fans of the author, it's another satisfying entry to add to the John Grisham shelf. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

MASKED PREY a New John Sanford Crime Thriller

U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport is back in Masked Prey, a new crime thriller in the popular series by author John Sandford.

A sinister website appears on the internet. Created by an unknown party, the site shows photos of children of prominent political leaders in various normal daily scenes. Posted along with the photos are an array of extremist articles advocating violent political opposition to the U.S. government. A threat to take some kind of action against the kids in the photos is clearly implied.

The website looks dangerous. Concerned senators bring in Lucas Davenport to investigate who is behind the site. Lucas has personal experience with website programming. Working with the FBI, he begins by looking into already established militant political groups. He runs into some angry, surly misfits, but nobody who seems to fit the suspect he's looking for.

Lucas worries he's after the hardest prey to catch --- a ruthless, lone wolf type with no ties to any militant group. Then the worst happens. A kid gets shot and killed by a hidden sniper. Lucas and his team get a lead and race onto the trail of the shooter.

Masked Prey opens slowly, with much material on the threat of dangerous internet websites. It takes a while for the plot to get moving, but the action soon speeds up to finish in the trademark breakneck style of author John Sanford.

Monday, July 13, 2020

LONG RANGE a New Wyoming Crime Thriller for Summer Reading

Wyoming state game warden Joe Pickett returns in Long Range, a new crime thriller from C.J. Box. The popular series is set against a rugged Western landscape as Joe Pickett finds himself involved in often dangerous criminal situations.

An unknown sniper tries to shoot a local judge through the window of his dining room. The rifle shot comes from what seems like an impossible distance, a wooded hillside over a mile away. The shooter uses a high-tech weapon with a computerized sighting system. The trajectory is perfect, finding the window target exactly, but when the judge bends just before the bullet arrives, it strikes his wife instead, grievously wounding her.

Joe Pickett joins the local authorities in the search for the unknown marksman. The arrogant new sheriff doesn't want Joe's help, so Joe follows his own leads. But the trail twists toward hidden motives and surprising suspects in the small town that Pickett would never have believed could be involved in trying to kill a judge. As Joe and a posse close in on the killer in a dangerous mountain hunt, the shooter is already sighting in on Joe himself.

Long Range  is another entertaining offering from author C.J. Box. The this one makes a perfect beach book that readers will gulp down with their iced teas.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Crime and Suspense Classics - The Essential Reading List

Coronavirus Reprint - This list was previously published by this Blog. If you can get hold of any of these titles, they make for great reading during the current virus shutdown.

Here's a list of classic novels that are essential reads in the Crime and Suspense genres. The list is roughly chronological, ranging from the 1930s to the current time. Note that the list does not include traditional Mystery novels, which is a separate genre.

The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett. Where the terse, hardboiled style all began.

The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler

Double Indemnity - James M. Cain. The classic Noir doomed crime plan.

The Getaway - Jim Thompson. The crime novel as a descent into Hell.

The Manchurian Candidate - Richard Condon. The paranoid conspiracy thriller and a monstrous maternal figure.

Psycho - Robert Bloch.

The Deep Blue Goodbye - John D. MacDonald

The Friends of Eddie Coyle - George V. Higgins. Gritty crime story told in pitch perfect street dialogue. Elmore Leonard learned from this author.

Death Wish - Brian Garfield. Unban crime problems and the novel of revenge.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John LeCarre. The perfect Cold War spy novel.

The Ipcress File - Len Deighton. The spy novel retold with working class cynicism.

Marathon Man - William Goldman. That shudder-grating torture scene in a dental chair.

Miami Blues - Charles Willeford. An under-appreciated gem of a crime author.

Killshot - Elmore Leonard.

The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy. Frantic, pitch black, and borderline insane, as only Ellroy can write.

Silence of the Lambs - Thomas Harris. The best serial killer novel ever written.

Heaven's Prisoners - James Lee Burke

Mystic River - Dennis Lehane.

No Country For Old Men - Cormac McCarthy. Noir fatalism in the new West.

City of Bones -  Michael Connelly. The police procedural at its best.

The Leopard - Jo Nesbo. Obsession, Nordic style.

Thriller Novel Classics - The Essential Reading List

Coronavirus Reprint - This list was previously published by this Blog. If you can get your hands on any of these classic titles, they make for great reading during the current virus shutdown.

Here's a list of classic novels that are essential reads in the Suspense Thriller genre. The list is generally chronological beginning with the modern day thriller advent in the 1960s. The Thriller genre is here defined as page-turner novels with strong action and suspense plot elements.

Fail Safe by Eugene Burdick - Nuclear War thriller envisioned, as a technical system failure brings the US and USSR to the brink of catastrophe.

Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel -  Political crisis thriller as the Joint Chiefs plot a coup to take over the American government.

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming - Best of the James Bond spy thriller series.

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean

Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth - Assassination thriller plot played out against an international canvas.

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - Biological contamination crisis at a secret Nevada desert scientific facility.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey - the Big Heist thriller set beneath the streets of New York City.

Black Sunday by Thomas Harris - Terrorist plot to hijack a blimp and pilot it into Super Bowl stadium crowd.

Marathon Man by William Goldman - Best ever interrogation scene shudderingly enacted in a dentist's chair.

The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin -  Nazi Conspiracy thriller with a new, chilling science fiction angle.

Jaws by Peter Benchley - Natural Environment thriller at a seacoast resort town menaced by a Great White shark.

The Towering Inferno by Richard Martin Stern - Disaster thriller scenario as an unstoppable fire rages inside a giant skyscraper.

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy -  Military thriller plays out as a Soviet nuclear sub crew attempts to defect to U.S.

Firefox by Craig Thomas -  Techno/Military mission as a U.S. agent tries to steal a high tech Soviet fighter plane and fly it out of Russia.

The Firm by John Grisham - Legal thriller sees a young lawyer join a law firm with secret organized crime connections.

True Crime by Andrew Klavan - Race against time thriller as a reporter tries to halt a wrongful execution.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Follows chain of historical puzzle clues to revelation of a sensational religious secret.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - Swedish government conspiracy thriller with a hacker/punk female lead character.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Matt Scudder Short Stories Now Collected Together

Matt Scudder is the New York detective created by Lawrence Block. Scudder appears in a long series of novels that follow him from his time as an NYPD cop to his later work as an unlicensed private investigator. The early novels see Scudder descend into serious alcoholism before joining AA and trying to stay permanently sober.

The Night and the Music includes all of the Scudder short stories collected together for the first time. Standout stories are "Out the Window" and "A Candle for the Bag Lady." All of the pieces are written in lean, hard boiled prose and narrated in the familiar dry cynical voice of Matt Scudder.

This is a great story collection for previous Lawrence Block fans and a nice introduction for new Matt Scudder readers.