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The Forgotten Addiction

Michael Lion. New Pulp (www.newpulppress.com), $14.95 trade paper (302p) ISBN 978-0-9899323-6-3

In Lion’s workmanlike follow-up to 2009’s The Butcher’s Granddaughter, Joseph Saroque hires the fixer Bird—not a PI, not a cop, not quite a crook, but very much a gumshoe in the Philip Marlowe mold—to find his missing 21-year-old daughter, Allison, a student at UCLA Bird roams through recognizable L.A. landmarks, from Sam Johnson’s Bookshop in Venice Beach to the Hollywood Strip, as Lion shoehorns in every scenario imaginable: beatings, college kids and roofies, a suspicious shrink named Braudel, a mob payoff, police forensics, a blackmail scheme plucked from ’50s noir, an interview with a maniac in an insane asylum. Soon Bird finds himself waist deep in victims sleeping the big sleep. While the explanation for Allison’s disappearance lacks the necessary pop (“It’s not Chinatown, Jake”), the streets are real, the going fun, the final showdown tightly written. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story

J. Jefferson Farjeon. British Library (Univ. of Chicago, dist.), $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-7123-5770-8

Age has not diminished this wintry tale, originally published in 1937, from British crime novelist Farjeon (1883–1955), whose Number 17 was the basis of the Hitchcock film of the same name. A train leaving London’s Euston Station is stalled indefinitely by heavy snow. The occupants of a third-class train compartment opt to strike out on foot for nearby Hemmersby. Edward Maltby, of the Royal Psychical Society, goes first, followed by a group of four comprised of David and Lydia Carrington (brother and sister), clerk Robert Thomson, and chorus girl Jessie Noyes. Leaving singly are elderly bore Hopkins and a cockney calling himself Mr. Smith. They find a house unlocked and unoccupied but obviously ready for company. The house holds many secrets that will be revealed only at a high price. By the time the storm ends, four people will have been murdered, and the survivors, not the police, will deliver justice in the satisfying ending. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Indelible: A Chris Honeysett Mystery

Peter Helton. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8423-7

In Helton’s suspenseful, well-plotted sixth Chris Honeysett mystery (after 2013’s Worthless Remains), the painter and PI reluctantly agrees to take on a temporary job as tutor at the Bath Art Academy after the school’s head, John Birtwhistle, dies of a heart attack at the wheel of his car. Between mentoring students, contacting previous instructors, and arranging an exhibition of works by the school’s past faculty and present students, Honeysett hardly has time to track down the culprit who has vandalized one exhibitor’s studio and sabotaged Birtwhistle’s memorial service with a giant mechanical spider. When another exhibitor is murdered, the police view Honeysett as the leading suspect. Despite a couple of twisty subplots, the pace never falters, and Honeysett’s good-humored, unpretentious narration takes the edge off the violence. The “collection of nutters” associated with the art school come across as credible individuals. Those interested in the contemporary English art scene will have a lot of fun. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Black Stiletto: Endings & Beginnings: The Fifth Diary—1962

Raymond Benson. Oceanview (Midpoint, dist.), $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60809-103-4

Old grudges and fresh starts set the tone in Benson’s engaging fifth and final Black Stiletto novel (after The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies) as Judy Cooper’s son, Martin Talbot, reads her last diary from her hidden life as a masked crime fighter. His daughter, Gina, means to know more about her superhero grandmother before Alzheimer’s and old age win out, but the two have opened doors into the past that lead to deadly consequences. The Black Stiletto spent years in the world of private eyes and mobsters; the latter are not going to let her die in peace while there are still scores to settle. Gangster Leo Kelly already betrayed her, but his sister, Christina Kelly, proves to be truly vicious in the relentless hunt for revenge and for a diamond stolen years ago. Multiple points of view help enliven this daring woman’s tale, leaving readers wishing for more. Agent: Peter Miller, Global Lion. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Deeper Than the Grave: A Tai Randolph Mystery

Tina Whittle. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0264-3

Whittle skillfully intertwines Civil War relics with modern-day re-enactors and the Darknet, “like the Internet, only without the safeguards,” in her intricate fourth mystery featuring Atlanta gun shop operator Tai Randolph (after 2013’s Blood, Ash, and Bone). Tai’s late Uncle Dexter becomes a person of interest when Tai unearths the skull of Lucius Dufrene, a man whose demise Dexter had perfect motive, means, and opportunity to execute. Trusted boyfriend Trey Seaver has installed a cache of safety and electronic surveillance equipment in her gun shop, but feisty Tai still manages to get in harm’s way. Suspects abound. Is it Richard, caretaker of the wealthy Amberdecker family grounds? Or is it some unseen mafia-type, an upstart re-enactor linked to the Darknet, or even an esteemed Amberdecker? Tai and Trey have their work cut out if they’re going to exonerate Dexter and live long enough to take their relationship to the next level. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Forty Days Without Shadow: An Arctic Thriller

Olivier Truc, trans. from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie. Grand Central, $16 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4759-3

In French journalist Truc’s gripping debut, which has been shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger award, two Norwegian police officers who cover reindeer-related crime, Klemet Nango and Nina Nansen, have to deal with a routine complaint that animals from one herder’s stock have crossed the road and mingled with another herd. Shortly after the officers’ visit, someone fatally stabs the first herder, Mattis Labba, and also severs and removes his ears. Klemet speculates that Mattis may have been killed in revenge for a theft, since reindeer thieves often cut off the marked ears of the animals they steal to prevent identification. The killing coincides with the theft of a valuable Sami drum from a local museum. Fascinating details, including the rift between the snowmobile lobby and the reindeer herders, enhance the fast-moving plot. Truc brings an obscure part of the world to vivid life. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Color Blind

Colby Marshall. Berkley, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-27651-8

A shooting at an Orlando, Fla., theme park draws forensic psychologist Jenna Ramey away from her private practice and back into detective work with the FBI in this entertaining first in a new thriller series from Marshall (Chain of Command). After the shooting, gunman Isaac Keaton immediately surrenders himself. Jenna, who has grapheme-color synesthesia, or the ability to perceive color in relation to a subject’s emotional state, deduces that Isaac is one half of the Gemini, a pair of infamous serial killers who have been targeting the East Coast. During her mind games with Isaac, he hints that there’s another killer at large and that he might know something about Jenna’s mother, a sociopath who has threatened Jenna and her family before. In the battle to outsmart Isaac, Jenna proves clever enough without resorting to her synesthesia, which only reinforces conclusions she draws from more conventional clues. Readers will look forward to seeing more of this appealing heroine. Agent: Rachel Eckstrom, Irene Goodman Literary Agency. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Fear City—A Repairman Jack Novel: The Early Years Trilogy, Book Three

F. Paul Wilson. Tor, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3016-1

Set in 1993, the riveting final novel chronicling Repairman Jack’s early years (after 2013’s Dark City) finds the score-settling “fixer” living in Manhattan, straddling the boundary between both sides of the law. A brutal murder catalyzes the collision of several subplots developed in Jack’s two previous outings, notably the Ancient Septimus Fraternal Order’s backing of Muslim extremists, whose passion for bringing jihad to America sets them on course to bomb the World Trade Center. Jack loses several people dear to him in the destruction of the Twin Towers, and is witness to interrogations that come close to being torture porn, discovering just how cruelly the darkness inside him can express itself. Wilson skillfully cross-cuts between characters and their viewpoints as the clock ticks down to the exciting climax. If, as the author’s note suggests, this may be the last Repairman Jack adventure, Wilson has certainly sent the series off with a bang. Agent: Al Zuckerman, Writers House. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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A Deadly Measure of Brimstone: A Dandy Gilver Mystery

Catriona McPherson. Minotaur, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-05397-8

Set in 1929, McPherson’s solid eighth Dandy Gilver mystery (after 2013’s Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses) finds the British PI considering a stay at a medical facility for strength rebuilding purposes after she and other family members suffer a bout of flu. Coincidentally, prospective clients Herbert Addie and Mrs. James Bowie suspect that their mother, Enid, was murdered at just such a facility in the town of Moffat about a month earlier. Oddly, Enid died suddenly, despite being in overall good health, and the doctor who was treating her for an injured back didn’t sign her death certificate. Dandy uses the new case as an excuse to bring her entourage with her to Moffat, where the local sergeant tells her that Enid reported being frightened by a ghost shortly before she died. The plucky lead compensates for some heavy-handed foreshadowing and a windup that isn’t McPherson’s strongest. Lisa Moylett, Coombs Moylett Literary Agency. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Rita Mae Brown. Ballantine, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-553-39262-3

Bestseller Brown’s disappointing ninth “Sister” Jane Arnold mystery (after 2012’s Fox Tracks) takes the Master of Foxhounds of Virginia’s Jefferson Hunt to Kentucky for a joint meet with the Woodford Hounds. When repair workers discover a human skeleton interred in a grave in a local horse cemetery, Mercer Laprade, an equine bloodline expert, believes that the remains belong to his grandfather, who disappeared in 1921 after delivering the marker for the grave from Virginia. Sister suspects that the subsequent death of vet Penny Hinson, who was researching equine bloodlines, may be connected to the earlier killing of Mercer’s grandfather. As usual, Brown is at her best when relaying the animals’ quirks and conversations, and mischievous foxes are a delight. Pedantic foxhunting detail and tangential political diatribes make for cumbersome going, however. Series fans may enjoy catching up with Sister and her friends, but new readers and those interested in more than a cursory mystery plot might prefer to pass on this one. Agent: Wendy Weil, Wendy Weil Agency. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/12/2014 | Details & Permalink

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