cover image Blackbird


Tom Wright. Europa/World Noir (Penguin, dist.), $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-60945-270-4

Set in the tristate area of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, Wright’s expertly crafted second novel updates the careers of Jim Bonham and Jim’s only cousin, Lee Ann Rowe, who were adolescents in Wright’s CWA Dagger Award–finalist debut, What Dies in Summer. Now a police lieutenant, Jim leads the investigation into the crucifixion and mutilation murder of psychologist Deborah Gold. Jim discovers that the victim was involved in a small group of S&M and cocaine enthusiasts. Soon after this grisly crime, the corpse of another group member, Benjamin Frix, is found in Frix’s burnt-out house. Lee Ann, now a therapist, assists the police team with her insight while providing Jim with perspective and support. Wright has a gift for creating distinct and intriguing characters, none more so than Jim, a fully rounded person with friends and family who works closely with his fellow police officers—a refreshing change from the typical hard-bitten rogue cop so popular in the genre today. Jim’s “touch of the Sight,” a rare, unpredictable form of clairvoyance, adds a bit of paranormal spice to this accomplished crime thriller. Agent: Victoria Hobbs, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (June)