Sunday, July 21, 2019

#45: Bloody January by Alan Parks

In early 70s Glasgow, an only slightly crooked cop is assigned a seemingly open-and-shut murder-suicide; but when an influential family's secrets seem to be tied up with the case, the stakes run dangerously higher in Alan Parks' debut crime novel Bloody January.

Our tarnished protagonist, McCoy, ends up on the outs with his superiors, and has to rely on his oldest friend--who happens to be a crime boss and possible sociopath.  McCoy's adventures on both sides of the law ratchet up the tension throughout the story.

Glasgow's underbelly is on full display, as well as a large helping of retro vibes in setting and character.  

Overall an engaging start to a new detective series, and I look forward to the next one.

I was sent a review copy of this novel by World Noir and read it quickly.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#44: Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

A divorced woman newly moved to a new neighborhood is found dead, and it is up to a recently-arrived police detective to find out what happened, in Keigo Higashino's Newcomer.

This is an exceedingly clever police procedural, set in Tokyo, where the mild but very intuitive policeman begins to uncover all of her neighbor's secrets as the investigation unfolds, including embezzlement, a false medical certificate, a hidden love child, and more. 

The lead detective, Kaga, is really woven into the background of all of these stories and never in the forefront, an interesting device.

Even more interestingly, the plot hinges on the minutiae of things, including a child's wooden top, a pair of new kitchen scissors, and a box of sweets. 

I have read several crime novels by Higashino and find that he is incredibly versatile writer, with all of his novels varied in plot, characters, and themes.  I always enjoy finding him in translation when I can.

I checked this out on audiobook from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Friday, July 5, 2019

#43: Weeping Waters by Karin Brynard

A burned-out Johannesburg cop is re-assigned to a remote police station at the edge of a desert, and arrives just in time for a spate of bizarre farm murders, in Karen Brynard's debut thriller Weeping Waters.

The story follows both the detective, with his two rookie assistants, and a young woman whose estranged artist sister meets a grisly end.

Brynard is a former investigative reporter in South Africa turned crime writer, and her background lends itself to a writing style full of interesting details and characterizations. 

The unraveling of the crime itself was almost of secondary interest to me (and she spends the last chapter basically outlining how it all transpired, in a sort of anticlimax).  I found myself more caught up in the cultural and political aspects of contemporary South Africa.

The cover listed this as the first of the series, and the first translated into English, so I am looking forward to the next entry.  Recommended for police procedural fans interested in a different perspective.

This was sent to me by World Noir for review, and I read it quickly.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#42: The Force by Don Winslow

The Manhattan North Task Force rules the streets, applying the laws--or breaking them--as they see fit; but when they decide to take down a major drug lord, and make off with his profits, the dominoes begin to fall in Don Winslow's The Force.

This cynical, shaded-in-gray crime novel will remind contemporary readers of television shows like The Wire and The Shield but probably owes the most to Joseph Wambaugh and police novels like The Choirboys and The Glitter Dome.

This is an action-packed tale with few heroes and plenty of villains on a sliding scale of honor, leading to a fairly nihilistic ending.

This is my first book of Winslow's, although I believe he is well-regarded in this genre and has other books both standalone and in various series.  I will look for others by him.

I listened to a very good audiobook version read by Dion Graham, and because of the reader would recommend it in this format. 

Borrowed from the New Castle-Henry County Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.