Detective and mystery stories
The Next Life Might Be Kinder, by Howard Norman, has one of those great first lines: “After my wife, Elizabeth Church, was murdered by the bellman Alphonse Padgett in the Essex Hotel, she did not leave me.”
There are a few authors whose new books I anxiously await. Tana French is one of those authors, and her newest book, The Secret Place, did not disappoint.
Still Life, Louise Penny’s debut novel and the first book in a series, introduces readers to Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec. The mystery opens with Jane Neal, a 76-year-old woman living in the village of Three Pines, being found dead on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Martha Grimes’ Vertigo 42 unfolds with Detective Superintendent Richard Jury meeting with a man who wants him to look into the long-ago death of his wife Tess. At the time, it was ruled an accident, but he has always wondered, and Jury agrees to help him. In the course of his investigations, another death takes place—that of a young woman beautifully dressed and found at the bottom of a tower. Piece by piece, the plot evolves, and the two separate cases become one. In fact, they both turn out to be linked to a still earlier case, a child’s death at a party given by Tess. Was that an accident, too?
Grave Sight, by Charlaine Harris, is an unusual and inventive twist on the classic genre of whodunit mysteries. The story follows Harper Connelly, a woman who has developed a unique ability after being struck by lightning as a child. Now, no matter where the bodies are, how old they are, or how well they are hidden, Harper can find them—and see how they died.
Sylvie and her sister live far away from everybody else in an abandoned subdivision. Sylvie kind of likes it that way because of the gossip. There was even gossip before their parents were murdered, especially after the book came out about their ghost-busting ways. The stuff they kept in the basement. The exorcisms. The tell-all Help for the Haunted was full of way-too-personal details.
She’s Leaving Home is William Shaw’s debut novel. Set in 1960s London, a young woman’s body is found on a residential street, near the Beatles’ recording studio on Abbey Road. Detective Cahal Breen needs to solve this case to prove he is still up to the task of being a detective, following what appears to have been an act of cowardice. Teaming up with Helen Tozer, a new policewoman, Breen begins to focus on the many young fans who congregate outside the Beatles’ studio.
They were only going to be there a week on the deserted Icelandic island. It sounded like it could be a great adventure, even without electricity. The three of them, husband and wife Garðar and Katrin along with beautiful, spoiled Lif, had decided to renovate an old cottage. The place in summer was amazing, teeming with tourists so the house is a potential rental gold mine. Yet in the winter, not a living soul is to be found. I Remember You, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, begins with only a hint of the chilling disasters to follow.
Welcome to Oregon Hill, a hardscrabble neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, where people may move away but they never really leave. Willie Black, a 49-year-old crime reporter with the only major newspaper in town, is such a one.
Willie is an old-time journalist, maybe a relic, who watches the decline of the traditional press with many a rueful sigh and stubbed-out cigarette. He’s seen a lot in his years, but the gruesome murder of a pretty, young girl found by the South Anna River does manage to unnerve him and kindles within a fire to find out the truth—a truth that doubles back and leads home to Oregon Hill.
Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a war hero and rising star in the MGB--Stalin’s state security force, is proud of his country. Yes, he has to do some unpleasant things, such as supervising the torture of suspected persons—and there are many suspected persons, the list growing daily. But all of that is surely necessary to protect post-World War II’s Russia in Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44.