Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access feature articles from our print edition. To view, subscribe or log in.
Site license users can log in here.

Get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to Publishers Weekly for only $15/month.

Instant access includes exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Slough House

Mick Herron. Soho Crime, $27.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-64129-236-8

British author Herron’s superb seventh Slough House novel (after 2019’s Joe Country) opens with an unidentified woman’s assassination whose significance gradually becomes clear in this darkly satiric update on the “slow horses,” spies who have each made a colossal mistake and have been assigned to MI5’s Slough House, a kind of purgatory where they’ll spend “the rest of forever in a mist of thwarted ambition.” A taut, complex plot unfolds through a host of perspectives, including that of team leader Jackson Lamb, who’s callous, politically incorrect, but loyal to his “joes.” The slow horses are being tailed. Sid Baker, a former team member believed to be dead, reappears. Peter Judd, a highly unscrupulous political figure, tries to insinuate the private sector into MI5. And Putin’s Russia has “declared war on the British secret service.” Herron does a magnificent job keeping the assorted narrative balls aloft in a story that’s often gripping and even more often hilarious. This entry should garner him a slew of new American readers. Agent: Juliet Burton, Juliet Burton Literary. (U.K.) (Feb.)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
The First Day of Spring

Nancy Tucker. Riverhead, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-19156-9

British author Tucker (The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope) makes a spectacular fiction debut with this gripping novel about childhood pain and healing. Eight-year-old Chrissie Banks’s father rarely comes home, while her mother dislikes her. Chrissie lies, steals, brags, and bullies other children in her working-class neighborhood to get the food and attention she craves. One day, she strangles a two-year-old boy, and no one suspects her of the crime. She loves the power her secret gives her, but as the police ignore her and interest in the boy’s death fades, her desire to hurt another child mounts. Two decades later, Chrissie has become a single mother after her release from a detention home. Obsessed with caring for her five-year-old daughter, Molly, she panics when the social worker who supervises her parenting asks to see her after an accident results in a broken wrist for Molly. Terrified that Molly will be taken away, she considers flight and reckons anew with her past. The taut, meticulously observed narration, which alternates between Chrissie’s youthful and adult perspectives, mines the dangers that childhood trauma causes both its victims and those around them. Fans of Lisa Jewell and smart psychological suspense will eagerly await Tucker’s next. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Easter Confession

Charles Monagan. Kindle Direct, $15.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 979-8-657306-25-5

On Easter eve 1955, a stranger enters the confession booth of Fr. Hugh Osgood, the protagonist of this superior whodunit from Monagan (Carrie Welton), and confides that he believes he has committed a crime that may be both “too big” for forgiveness and “too dangerous” for the priest to know about, but leaves without saying more. A few days later, the self-described criminal approaches Osgood on the street and adds that he’s connected with the spectacular theft of four paintings by major Impressionist artists from a mansion belonging to a leading Waterbury, Conn., family. After Osgood tells the man that a confession has to be done at the proper time and in the proper place, the thief promises to visit the rectory, but dies, apparently of natural causes, before keeping that appointment. Ethical questions arise as Osgood wonders what information, if any, he can share with the authorities. The puzzle deepens when the stolen paintings start to be returned. This intelligent character study will please fans of Julia Spencer-Fleming. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Five Ways to Disappear: B.C. Blues Crime

R.M. Greenaway. Dundurn, $16.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-4597-4156-0

In Greenaway’s brisk sixth B.C. Blues Crime novel (after 2020’s River of Lies), the officers of the North Vancouver RCMP, including lead investigator David Leith, are called early one morning to the home of Lawrence Follick, a brewery employee and hobbyist metal worker. Follick’s body lies in his front yard, the spike of a lawn ornament thrust in his throat. Soon afterward, a unicycle-riding clown is killed in a local park. The deceased is later identified as the CEO of the Vancouver branch of Global Health, a pharmaceutical company. This leaves the police looking for his killer—and in a quandary about why the man was wearing such a bizarre costume. Since the reader is privy to the identities of the murderers, the suspense lies in seeing how or whether Leith and his colleagues, who often interpret clues and motives differently, will figure out who’s guilty. These and other crimes are skillfully entwined into a satisfying skein of serendipitous coincidences. Those who prefer character-driven police procedurals will be rewarded. Agent: Carolyn Swayze, Carolyn Swayze Literary (Canada). (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Saint Oswald

Jay Bonansinga. Burns and Lea, $9.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-73398-066-1

This delightful series launch from Thriller Award finalist Bonansinga (Shattered) introduces Oswald Means, a small-time Chicago hit man, who’s strung out on booze and pills, haunted by the ghosts of his former kills, and no longer trusted by his mob employers. When his dying wife, the only person he’s ever loved, extracts from him a deathbed promise to redeem his soul by saving as many lives as he’s taken before the next full moon, Oswald agrees. With the aid of his confidant, Laura “Gerbil” Goldstein, Oswald races to meet the deadline. An attempt to stop a would-be suicide becomes a farce involving the state police, the FBI, a truckload of chickens, and a victim who doesn’t want to be saved. Similar efforts to prevent the murder of a pair of adulterous lovers also go unexpectedly off the rails. When Oswald and Gerbil start saving the targets of intended mob hits, the mob retaliates, leading to an extended climax on a runaway Amtrak superliner and an ending that may be too sentimental for some. Still, this darkly comic crime novel will be a treat for most readers. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Siren

Katherine St. John. Grand Central, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3368-4

St. John delivers on the promise of her 2020 debut, The Lion’s Den, with this superb tale of revenge and unbridled ego. Actor Cole Power, who at 49 is still considered by many to be one of the sexiest men in Hollywood, is financing a film titled The Siren that was written by his son, a recent film school graduate, who will also direct. Cole’s ex-wife, Stella Rivers, who’s counting on the movie to revive her flagging career, will star opposite Cole. Taylor Wasserman, the producer, is also desperate for a hit after being fired from her previous job amid rumors of embezzlement. Also involved are Felicity Fox, Stella’s beautiful new assistant who seems too good to be true, and social media influencer Madison Kasabian, whose vanity knows no bounds. The troupe assembles on the Caribbean island of Saint Genesius, and the scene is set for action, intrigue, murder, and heart-stopping adventure. St. John keeps readers deliciously off-balance with each new revelation about the characters and their motives, as revealed through the alternating viewpoints of Stella, Felicity, and Taylor. This is pure, riveting entertainment. Agent: Sarah Bedingfield, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Saboteurs: An Isaac Bell Adventure

Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul. Putnam, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-19122-4

It’s 1914, and bestseller Cussler’s top-notch 12th Isaac Bell adventure (after 2019’s The Titanic Secret, also coauthored with Du Brul) finds detective Bell and his wife, Marion, in Panama after foiling an attempt on the life of a U.S. senator in San Diego, Calif., by a Panamanian insurgent group. Meanwhile, Teddy Roosevelt is on his way to Panama to view the Panama Canal, which is still under construction, and a German industrialist, who was behind an earlier effort to assassinate the former American president, is going to try again. In short order, Bell is buried alive, loses his memory, and is thrown into jail. On top of all that, Marion is kidnapped. After Bell escapes and his memory is restored, he sets out to rescue Marion. Along the way, he untangles a complex plot that aims to destroy the canal. Against a colorful backdrop of Panama Canal lore, the action builds to a classic scene of hand-to-hand combat aboard a dirigible that could explode at any moment. Cussler fans will be well satisfied. Agent: Peter Lampack, Peter Lampack Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Against the Law: A Joe the Bouncer Novel

David Gordon. Mysterious, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61316-226-2

Edgar finalist Gordon’s audacious third novel featuring strip club bouncer Joe Brody (after 2019’s The Hard Stuff) takes Brody to Afghanistan, where he once suffered mental and physical trauma while serving as a U.S. Special Forces operative. In Helmand Province, Brody awaits a heroin deal to be completed so that he can gun down the person he expects will steal the drugs, Zahir the Shadow, who has been hijacking narcotics and using them to fund terror attacks. Zahir’s identity proves a surprise, but that reveal is merely the prologue to a race to avert a mass casualty event in Manhattan, which again partners Brody with attractive FBI agent Donna Zamora, who’s emotionally entangled with him. Some readers may not care for Brody’s insouciant attitude. “Now assassinating drug lords with terrorist ties was more like a hobby, something he did part-time when he wasn’t busy with his regular gig, as a bouncer at a strip club in Queens.” This one’s for those who don’t require realism in their thrillers. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Phase Six

Jim Shepard. Knopf, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-65545-9

In this disappointing apocalyptic thriller from Shepard (The Book of Aron), a pandemic—exponentially more lethal than Covid-19—originates in a remote Greenland village and spreads worldwide, infecting millions within weeks. Eleven-year old Aleq, one of the only survivors of the initial outbreak, may hold the key to finding a way to stop the seemingly uncontainable contagion. The CDC tasks two investigators, epidemiologist Jeannie Dziri and lab wonk Danice Torrone, to inspect the decimated village in hopes of finding clues to head off a looming global disaster. While Dziri tries to find insights in the emotionally battered boy’s memories, Torrone crunches data in a race against time as more people become sick and die horrific deaths. The author has clearly done some impressive research into infectious diseases, but some readers may have a visceral reaction—not so much because of the heartbreaking similarities to the coronavirus and the millions who have died because of it, but because of the plot’s predictability and the lack of an ending. Shepard has done better. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Final Twist

Jeffery Deaver. Putnam, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-525-53913-1

Part one of MWA Grand Master Deaver’s subpar third thriller featuring professional reward-seeker Colter Shaw (after 2020’s The Goodbye Man), titled “The Mission,” includes the statement: “Time until the family dies: fifty-two hours.” The explanation for this countdown comes out gradually. At a house in San Francisco, Shaw is looking for evidence his murdered father left behind about BlackBridge Corporate Solutions, whose machinations include flooding select neighborhoods with cheap drugs to drive down the price of real estate for predatory developers. His search almost proves fatal, and he narrowly escapes death from BlackBridge operatives when his estranged older brother, Russell, intervenes. A bad guy Russell kills carries a note indicating that a “kill order” has been placed on someone with the initials SP and SP’s entire family. Neither the race to save those targeted within 52 hours nor the Shaw brothers’ campaign to take down BlackBridge is as creative as the plots of Deaver’s best work. The result is more familiar than surprising. Agent: Deborah Schneider, Gelfman Schneider Literary. (May)

Reviewed on 03/19/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.