Wednesday, June 28, 2017

COLD EARTH Continues Shetland Mystery Series

Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves is the latest book in the mystery series set in the Shetland Islands off the east coast of Scotland. The novels, which were adapted into a popular PBS TV series, feature Inspector Jimmy Perez, head of the small island police force.

Cold Earth opens with a sudden natural disaster. Heavy winter rains on Shetland cause the land to give way on a saturated hillside. The resulting landslide sweeps downward, crushing an isolated house in its path. When the mud-filled wreckage is searched later, a woman's dead body is found inside.

The victim is unidentified. No one seems to know who was staying in the rental house. As Jimmy Perez tries to identify her, an unexpected new issue arises. An autopsy reveals the woman was murdered, strangled before the landslide ever destroyed the house.

The woman's name is eventually learned. She appears to have been having an affair with someone local, but who? Perez has a list of possible male suspects, one of whom is a killer. The answer comes in a chilling climax that gives prophetic meaning to the novel's title. For fans of the Shetland series, Cold Earth is a worthy new entry.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

John Grisham Hits the Beach in CAMINO ISLAND

Summer is beach reading time and John Grisham offers some entertaining vacation fare with his new novel Camino Island. The story is set on an island off the Florida Atlantic coast, a popular tourist destination.

The novel opens with a daring heist of rare original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from a vault at Princeton University. The manuscripts could be worth millions on the black market, if they can be secretly handled and sold. After the theft, the manuscripts have disappeared, hidden somewhere for the time being.

The insurer of the Fitzgerald works is on the hook for a gigantic payout if the stolen property isn't recovered. But they have a potential suspect in sight --- Bruce Cable, a local bookstore owner on Camino Island, who deals in rare book sales. What the insurer needs is someone undercover who can get close to Cable and look for info on the stolen manuscripts.

The insurer recruits Mercer Mann, a struggling novelist with a childhood connection to Camino Island. As Mercer returns to live again on the island, she joins the local literary circle and begins her tricky effort to learn the truth about suspected criminal dealer Bruce Cable. Is he really in possession of the stolen Fitzgerald works or not?

Camino Island is not a thriller, but instead a leisurely, rambling crime tale with a scenic locale, colorful characters, and amusing insight into the business world of book sellers and writers. John Grisham fans should enjoy their vacation reading with this one.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

THE THIRST by Jo Nesbo a Hunt For Vampirist Killer

The Thirst by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo is the latest crime novel in the series that features Oslo police detective Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo-leh). Harry is a police legend for his past hunting down of fiendish serial killers, portrayed in previous Nesbo novels such as The Snowman and The Leopard.

Harry Hole is now a lecturer at the police college, no longer an active detective. But he is brought back onto an elite team trying to stop a new serial killer called the Vampirist. This sadistic killer has stalked and killed several female victims using a diabolical weapon --- a set of metal dentures which he uses to bite the victims, causing massive blood loss.

Harry obsessively pursues the killer, facing his own darkest inner demons as he does so. A suspect is identified, but the case takes unexpected twists as it appears that the Vampirist is not acting alone in his murder spree.

  The Thirst is a heavy read at 450 pages that sometimes bogs down in too much discussion of criminal psychology and motivation. The murder scenes are grisly and unpleasant. The plot is overly complicated and finally reaches a climax that seems somewhat contrived. That said, Jo Nesbo fans will enjoy seeing iconic character Harry Hole on the case again.