Monday, May 2, 2016

EXTREME PREY a New Crime Thriller by John Sandford

Extreme Prey by John Sandford is the newest entry in the crime thriller series that features Minnesota State Police investigator Lucas Davenport.

The Iowa Presidential campaign trail is the background for the novel. A threat has been made against a candidate. Lucas is on indefinite leave from police work, but he agrees to look into the threat as a free lance consultant.

What Lucas finds increasingly worries him. Evidence develops that indicates the threat is not only real, but clearly dangerous. But the threat comes from an unlikely source: a bitter and resentful farm family following near-psychotic political motives. The race to stop an assassination plan crisscrosses the rustic Iowa landscape.

Extreme Prey has a crackerjack plot and is written in such a slick, fast paced style that the novel practically reads itself. Once again, John Sandford shows why he is one of the best crime thriller authors working today.

An outstanding read. Highly recommended. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

OFF THE GRID a Western Crime Thriller

Off the Grid by C.J. Box is the latest novel in the series that features Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett. The Pickett novels are noted for fast moving plots, with raw boned action, set against a rugged western landscape. This newest entry doesn't disappoint.

The storyline shifts between Joe Pickett and his friend Nate Romanowski, a former special forces soldier and now a renegade outlaw wanted by the Feds. Nate has been hiding out in the wilderness off the grid. But the Feds finally locate him and recruit him for a job. In return, Nate's record will be fully cleared.

The Feds want Nate to infiltrate a suspected terrorist cell training in the remote, desolate Red desert region of Wyoming. Meanwhile, the state governor sends Joe Pickett into the same area to find out what the Feds are up to on state lands.

Joe and Nate are working separate missions, but they both run up against the same ruthless enemies in the middle of a barren nowhereWhen it becomes clear what kind of disaster the terrorists plan to cause, the book's title takes on a whole new meaning. 

Off the Grid is a riveting read that again shows why C.J. Box is one of the most popular authors in the crime thriller genre.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

MIDNIGHT SUN by Jo Nesbo a Fateful Crime Tale


Midnight Sun is a new short novel from Norwegian crime author Jo Nesbo, who is widely acclaimed for his popular series featuring Oslo homicide detective Harry Hole.

The main character of Midnight Sun is a former crime gang member who calls himself Ulf. He was supposed to kill someone for his boss, the Fisherman, but instead Ulf took money to let his intended victim go free. Now Ulf himself is on the run from the Fisherman's hit men. Hiding out in an isolated village in the far north of Norway near the Arctic Circle, Ulf hopes they won't find him there. But in his heart, he knows they will be coming sooner or later.

Ulf is a practical man with no illusions about the dead end situation he is in, a pitiless prospect as bleak as the barren landscape around him and the relentless, hanging sun that never sets. A fatalistic undertone of the consequences of one's decisions runs throughout the story.

Midnight Sun is a grim crime tale that moves implacably toward an unexpected finish. It's another solid read from Jo Nesbo.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A New Murder Mystery For Inspector Rebus

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin is the latest novel in the series that features Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh, Scotland police.

Now retired, the irascible Rebus is brought in as civilian consultant on a new murder investigation. A former high court prosecutor is found beaten to death in his home. Rebus is teamed with his old partner, Siobhan Clarke, and an old nemesis, Malcolm Fox, once an Internal Affairs cop who tried to nail John Rebus.

At the same time, someone has taken a shot at a notorious local mobster, Gerald Cafferty, a long time acquaintance of Rebus. The shooting may be the prelude to a looming war for control among the city's mobsters. As Rebus is drawn into that situation as well, a startling link emerges between the prosecutor's murder and the attempt against the mobster Cafferty.

What could be the connection between the two cases? That's the puzzle that Rebus and his colleagues must solve, even as a third victim suddenly turns up.

Even Dogs in the Wild  is another entertaining entry in this popular series that Inspector Rebus fans should thoroughly enjoy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

TWIN PEAKS Series Return Will Be Epic Event

It was surprising when the news came that the Nineties cult classic TV series Twin Peaks would return in a new limited series production after twenty-five years. As of now, 18 new episodes will be made, to debut in early 2017 on Showtime network.

The original Twin Peaks appeared in 1990-91 and ran for 30 episodes. Created by iconic film director David Lynch and screenwriter Mark Frost, the setting was a quirky logging town deep within the looming Pacific Northwest woods.

The plot centered around the murder of high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer. But the investigation became a postmodern metaphysical mystery that involved surrealistic dream sequences, the synchronistic connection of events, and the presence of transcendent evil. Nothing like it had ever been done on TV before.

The series had a visionary quality due in great part to the outrĂ© creative genius of David Lynch. In the original series, Lynch directed only six episodes and co-wrote only four. This time, the new production will be more completely his personal vision. Lynch will co-write and direct all of the new episodes.

The new storyline is shrouded in secrecy. Whether it will continue where the first series left off, we don't know. What we do know is that the actors who portrayed FBI Agent Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne will return to reprise their roles. A new cast addition will be Laura Dern. Sadly, the actress who played the Oracle-like Log lady has since died, which is a key loss.

When the new Twin Peaks does appear next year, it's certain to be a major media event. If the new production can recapture the same sinister, dreamy mind-twisting atmosphere of the of the original version, it will become an addictive, must-see experience.

Monday, January 4, 2016

GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB a Worthy Effort

The Girl in the Spider's Web is a continuation of the best selling trilogy that began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Sadly, Larsson died shortly after writing the last novel in the trilogy.

New author David Lagercrantz has now continued the original series with this latest novel. Set again in Stockholm, the novel brings back the striking character duo of investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist and tough hacker punk Lisbeth Salander.

The plot is a complex web involving cyber-espionage and the theft of valuable industrial secrets. The U.S. spy agency NSA may be involved, along with a team of ruthless killers, and an autistic savant boy who possesses key information.

The novel offers much of the same technical depth and sweeping storyline of the original Larsson books. The character of Mikael Blomkvist is a solidly familiar presence that anchors the story. Where new author Lagercrantz has trouble is in catching the enigmatic character of Lisbeth Salander.  She comes across coldly and remotely, never showing the same fiery, volatile intensity of the Larsson portrayal.

That said, The Girl in the Spider's Web is a worthy effort and an enjoyable read, if only a somewhat diminished echo of the vividly original Stieg Larsson works.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Best Mystery and Crime Novels of 2015

This year was another strong year for new books in the Mystery and Crime genre. These are the best novels, including two by one author, reviewed by this blog in 2015:

The Crossing by Michael Connelly - Former LAPD detective Harry Bosch returns in a new police procedural novel in this popular continuing series. Bosch is now retired and ends up reluctantly crossing over to the other side to help defend an accused criminal defendant. But as Bosch starts digging, too many things don't fit and it looks like someone inside the LAPD is behind it. A riveting, outstanding read.

Endangered by C.J. Box - New entry in the series that features Wyoming state game warden Joe Pickett. Joe's step-daughter, April, is found beaten and unconscious, and his friend, Nate is gunned down in a cold blooded ambush. As Joe investigates these attacks, he comes up against a roughneck, violent backwoods clan. A fast paced read set against a rugged western landscape.

Badlands by C.J. Box - Introduces main character Cassie Dewell, a Sheriff's Department investigator in her new job in a rowdy shale oil boomtown in North Dakota. Cassie soon finds herself dealing with violent drug gang murders and corruption in her own department. Set on the frigid plains, with a realistic and appealing character, it's a nice start for a new continuing series featuring Cassie Dewell.

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo - A short, stand alone novel by the popular Norwegian crime author. Main character Oleg is a "fixer," a contract killer for his boss. But when Oleg is ordered to kill the wife of his boss, it creates an impossible dilemma, because Oleg himself is in love with her. A philosophical, gripping crime tale that races to a harsh finish.

Gathering Prey by John Sandford - Latest in the crime thriller series that features Minnesota State Police investigator Lucas Davenport. Lucas gets onto the trail of a roving, rag-tag band led by a sociopathic guru name Pilate. These drifters move around the country, luring and killing random victims to suit their whims. Lucas follows the killers, along with a police posse, in a multi-state chase. A terrific thriller with a plot that moves at breakneck pace.

The Beat Goes On by Ian Rankin - This is the complete collection of Inspector Rebus short stories, featuring the cranky Edinburgh, Scotland detective. The stories are presented in chronological order, spanning the years as John Rebus moves from young Detective Constable to veteran Chief Inspector. An entertaining treat for fans of the Inspector Rebus novel series.