Monday, May 23, 2022

#16: The Berlin Exchange by Joseph Kanon

In the 1960s, an American who had spied for the Russians is traded in a prisoner swap to East Berlin, where he learns his wife and son have found new lives, in Joseph Kanon's The Berlin Exchange.

The man immediately sets about trying to get his family back, even though his wife is now married to a high-level government official and--perhaps more alarmingly--his son is starring in a television sitcom promoting government views.

Kanon writes a vivid, tense thriller of this Cold War period, where everyone is at least double-crossing or triple-crossing everyone else, with a particularly melancholy but fitting coda.

Kanon is a popular writer of spy fiction, but this is the first of his I have dipped into; I will definitely seek out more.

I listened to this in a good audiobook reading on loan from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

#15: Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun

A beautiful teenager is killed, with the two primary suspects a rich kid with an attitude and a poor delivery boy; but the murder remains unsolved, and ripples through the lives of many of those involved, in Kwon Yeo-Sun's Lemon.

Lemon is a dense, baroque murder mystery in which a lot of the characters' motivations, and much of the critical action, is hidden from the reader.  Little bits float to the surface through chapters that jump from various narrators in different time periods, and the reader is relied on to piece it together themselves.

I honestly read a lot of reviews after to see if others had puzzled the mystery out, but I still remained unsure what exactly happened.  Still, an offbeat read and recommended for mystery fans looking for something different.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Friday, May 20, 2022

#14: The Midnight Witness by Sara Blaedel

A rookie homicide detective and her best friend, a hard-driving crime reporter, work two cases following parallel lines; a strangled young woman and a reporter whose death is originally reported as an accident.  They tackle them alongside each other, and at odds as well, leading to an explosive conclusion in Sara Blaedel's The Midnight Witness.

Blaedel is a popular Danish author, and I thought this book hit solid, but familiar, crime beats.  The best parts are the Copenhagen setting with its cultural aspects, as well as the main characters and their friendship.

This was a good outing in her long-running series and of interest to fans of international police procedurals.

I listened to this on audiobook on loan from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Friday, May 6, 2022

#13: The April Dead by Alan Parks

It's Glasgow in the down-and-dirty 70s, and mostly honest cop Harry McCoy is trying to solve a series of bombings, even as his childhood best friend (a murderous crime boss) tries to shore up his empire in Alan Parks' The April Dead.

Parks has become one of my favorite contemporary crime writers, and although this one is not a favorite in the series it still has a lot going for it.  Not as downbeat as some of its predecessors until a fairly graphic and gory third act.

These are bracingly good, tough reads laced with inky-black humor.  This one is not as free-standing as some of the previous novels, so best enjoyed if you go back to Bloody January and work forward.  Which I would recommend any crime reader do.

I checked this out from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.