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April 8, 2010 / C.T. Henry

Recent Acquisitions

I can’t wait to read these authors, all of which are new to me except Pelecanos and Hart.  I’m also very excited about the last three.  You can can’t go anywhere in Europe without hearing about Philip Kerr, Dan Fesperman, and Fred Vargas.

HARD-BOILED CRIME

Fifty Grand – Adrain McKinty (2009)
Synopsis: A man is killed in a hit-and-run on a frozen mountain road in the town of Fairview, Colorado. He is an illegal immigrant in a rich Hollywood resort community not unlike Telluride. No one is prosecuted for his death and his case is quietly forgotten.

Six months later another illegal makes a treacherous run across the border. Barely escaping with her life and sanity intact, she finds work as a maid with one of the employment agencies in Fairview. Secretly, she begins to investigate the shadowy collision that left her father dead.

The maid isn’t a maid. And she’s not Mexican, either. She’s Detective Mercado, a police officer from Havana, and she’s looking for answers: Who killed her father? Was it one of the smooth- talking Hollywood types? Was it a minion of the terrifying county sheriff? And why was her father, a celebrated defector to the United States, hiding in Colorado as the town ratcatcher?

The Way Home – George Pelecanos (2009)
Synopsis: Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father’s company, he’s seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father’s eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past.

One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back.

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Starvation Lake – Bryan Gruley (2009)
Synopsis: In the dead of a Michigan winter, pieces of a snowmobile wash up near the crumbling, small town of Starvation Lake — the same snowmobile that went down with Starvation’s legendary hockey coach years earlier. But everybody knows Coach Blackburn’s accident happened five miles away on a different lake. As rumors buzz about mysterious underground tunnels, the evidence from the snowmobile says one thing: murder.

Gus Carpenter, editor of the local newspaper, has recently returned to Starvation after a failed attempt to make it big at the Detroit Times. In his youth, Gus was the goalie who let a state championship get away, crushing Coach’s dreams and earning the town’s enmity. Now he’s investigating the murder of his former coach. But even more unsettling to Gus are the holes in the town’s past and the gnawing suspicion that those holes may conceal some dark and disturbing secrets secrets that some of the people closest to him may have killed to keep.

Beat the Reaper – Josh Bazell (2008)
Synopsis: Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at Manhattan’s worst hospital, with a talent for medicine, a shift from hell, and a past he’d prefer to keep hidden. Whether it’s a blocked circumflex artery or a plan to land a massive malpractice suit, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Pietro “Bearclaw” Brnwna is a hitman for the mob, with a genius for violence, a well-earned fear of sharks, and an overly close relationship with the Federal Witness Relocation Program. More likely to leave a trail of dead gangsters than a molecule of evidence, he’s the last person you want to see in your hospital room.

Nicholas LoBrutto, aka Eddy Squillante, is Dr. Brown’s new patient, with three months to live and a very strange idea: that Peter Brown and Pietro Brnwa might-just might-be the same person …

Now, with the mob, the government, and death itself descending on the hospital, Peter has to buy time and do whatever it takes to keep his patients, himself, and his last shot at redemption alive. To get through the next eight hours-and somehow beat the reaper.

THRILLERS

Switch – Grant McKenzie (2009)
Synopsis: How far would you go to save the ones you love? Would you run five traffic lights in a row? Would you rob a store at gunpoint? Would you commit murder? Security guard Sam White’s life falls apart when he arrives home to find his house a burnt-out shell with the bodies of his wife and daughter inside. Then he receives a phone call from a man who claims that his wife and child are alive and Sam can still save them. But first, he must complete a few simple tasks. Sam joins forces with Zack Parker whose life has also been ripped apart by the same sadistic kidnapper. Together they plunge into the dark, labyrinthine underworld of Portland, Oregon. And into a race against time to discover the identity of the kidnapper and save their families before it’s too late.

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The Last Child – John Hart (2009)
Synopsis: Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he’d been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is—confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing . . .

Undeterred by Hunt’s threats or his mother’s pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.

LEGAL THRILLERS

Old City Hall – Robert Rotenberg (2009)
Synopsis: The murder of a Toronto radio host’s wife engulfs the lives of cops, lawyers, and a journalist in this sprawling legal thriller.

It should be an open–and–shut case. Canada’s leading radio-show host, Kevin Brace, has confessed to killing his young wife. The trouble is, after muttering his last incriminating wordes –“I killed her”– he now refuses to talk to anyone, including his own lawyer.
With the discovery of strange fingerprints at the crime scene, and a revealing courtroom cross-examination, the seemingly simple case begins to take on all the complexities of a hotly contested murder trial.
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The Legal Limit – Martin Clark (2008)
Synopsis: While Gates Hunt chose to fight his abusive father head-on, his younger brother, Mason, eventually escaped their bitter, impoverished circumstances by earning a free ride to college and law school. And while Gates became an intransigent, compulsive felon, Mason met and married the love of his life, had a spitfire daughter, and returned to his rural hometown as the commonwealth’s attorney.

But Mason’s idyll is abruptly pierced by a wicked tragedy, and soon afterward his life further unravels when Gates, convinced that his brother’s legal influence should spring him from prison, attempts to force his cooperation by means of a secret they’d both sworn to take with them to the grave. And with his closest friend and staunch ally suddenly threatened by secrets of his own, Mason ultimately finds himself facing complete ruin and desperately defending everything and everyone he holds dear.

HISTORICAL/ EUROPEAN MYSTERIES

The Small Boat of Great Sorrows – Dan Fesperman (2003)
Synopsis: Vlado Petric, a former homicide detective in Sarajevo, is now living in exile, and making a meagre living working at a Berlin construction site, when an American investigator for the International War Crimes Tribunal recruits him to return home on a mission. The assignment sounds simple enough. He is to help capture an aging Nazi collaborator who has become a war profiteer. But nothing is simple in the Balkans: Petric is also being used as bait to lure his quarry into the open, and when the operation goes sour he is drawn across Europe into a dangerous labyrinth of secret identities, stolen gold, and horrifying discoveries about his own family’s past.

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A Quiet Flame – Philip Kerr (2009)
Synopsis: A Quiet Flame opens in 1950. Falsely fingered a war criminal, Bernie Gunther has booked passage to Buenos Aires, lured, like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, by promises of a new life and a clean passport from the Perón government. But Bernie doesn’t have the luxury of settling into his new home and lying low. He is soon pressured by the local police into taking on a case in which a girl has turned up dead, gruesomely mutilated, and another—the daughter of a wealthy German banker—has gone missing. Both crimes seem to connect to an unsolved case Bernie worked on back in Berlin in 1932. It’s not so far-fetched that the cases might be linked: after all, the scum of the earth has been washing up on Argentine shores—state-licensed murderers and torturers—so why couldn’t a serial killer be among them?

But Argentina, just like Germany, holds terrible secrets within its corrupt halls of power. When beautiful Anna Yagubsky seeks Gunther out, desperate for help, to find out what happened to her Jewish aunt and uncle who have disappeared, he is drawn into a horror story that rivals everything he has tried so hard to leave behind half a world away.

The Chalk Circle Man – Fred Vargas (2009)
Synopsis: Fred Vargas ‘s Commissaire Adamsberg mysteries are a sensation in France, consistently praised for their intelligence, wit, and macabre imagination. This first novel in the series introduces the unorthodox detective Commissaire Adamsberg-one of the most engaging characters in contemporary crime fiction.

When blue chalk circles begin to appear on the pavement in neighborhoods around Paris, Adamsberg is alone in thinking that they are far from amusing. As he studies each new circle and the increasingly bizarre objects they contain-empty beer cans, four trombones, a pigeon’s foot, a doll’s head-he senses the cruelty that lies within whoever is responsible. And when a circle is discovered with decidedly less banal contents-a woman with her throat slashed-Adamsberg knows that this is just the beginning.

Read about any of these authors?  Any advice on which one I should tackle first?

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One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Meredith / Apr 9 2010 4:27 pm

    I’m not familiar with any of the books or authors, but I did just finish the Pelecanos book. I enjoyed it quite a lot, although I can’t compare it to his other work since it was my first Pelecanos read.

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