Bill James, . . Countryman, $23.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-780-5
In British author James's darkly humorous 23rd police procedural featuring Asst. Chief Constable Desmond Iles and DCS Colin Harpur, a turf war between local thugs and the Albanian mafia over the drug trade leads to several murders and an intensification of the amiable cat-and-mouse game between Iles and Harpur—whose approach to ethical dilemmas is highly subjective—and sympathetic villains Mansel Shale and Ralph Ember. After ganglord Tirana is slain, Harpur's daughter's boyfriend becomes a suspect, adding a personal element to the inquiries, which naturally focus on his perennial adversaries. James's droll writing and well-hidden solutions will encourage newcomers to catch up on the previous books in the series. Those seeking a change of pace from more dour procedurals will find the time invested in this book amply rewarded.
Reviewed on: 08/20/2007