Saturday, March 15, 2014

2014 books, #21-25

Lost river, by Stephen Booth. London: Harper, 2011.

On May Bank Holiday afternoon, Ben Cooper pulls a dead child from a river; the incident is immediately traumatic, but there seems to be something more than accidental death involved and Cooper is led to investigate the girl's family. Meanwhile, Diana Fry is reliving trauma of her own - new DNA evidence has been found by West Midlands police, and the case is Diane's own rape, the event which sent her to Derbyshire in the first place.  This is a slightly disjointed book because of the two settings, and to me there are some slightly strained (and possibly stereotypical) elements - Fry's taking the law into her own hands to the extent she does doesn't seem in character; but the coming-together of the two very disparate plots into similar themes (won't say more, spoilers!) is so skilfully done that Booth's allowed the benefit of the doubt here!

Vengeance [Mystery Writers of America presents...]. Edited by Lee Child. London: Corvus, 2012. [Kindle edition.]

A volume of short stories around the theme of vengeance.  As ever with these anthologies, it's a mixed bag; but some of these stories are extraordinarily good.  Unfortunately, as I never seem to get around to blogging books from the Kindle, I can't really remember which were which!  There are some big names here, as you'd expect from a book with Child's pulling power - Child himself, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane and Karin Slaughter, but also some newer authors like Dreda Say Mitchell and Alafair Burke.  (And as far as I remember, it was a very good cheap offer on Kindle at the time!)

A fatal thaw, by Dana Stabenow. [Kate Shugak 2]. Kindle edition.

I got these for Kindle last autumn, but was waiting until it was a bit warmer to read them - they're set in Alaska and Stabenow is extremely good at showing us how cold it is!  Kate Shugak is caught up despite her will in another murder; nine of her neighbours have been killed by a man running amok with a hunting rifle. As investigations continue though, it seems that one of the dead was actually murdered with a different weapon, and just about everyone in the area had a potential motive. Kate and her motley crew of sidekicks including a part-wolf, part-Husky called Mutt and a disabled Vietnam veteran called Bobby take on the case, at some personal cost.

Dead in the water, by Dana Stabenow. [Kate Shugak 3]. Kindle edition.

This time, Kate is investigating the deaths of two crew members on a crab-boat in the Aleutian islands (yes, possibly even colder than the last book) by joining the crew. The work is extraordinarily hard but also pretty lucrative, but she suspects the captain and permanent crew members of having alternative sources of income. She also needs to protect her very young, very naïve roommate Andy from their colleagues, and while she has her usual backup from Jack Morgan on land, she's at sea on her own in every sense. As someone who's part-Aleut, she is also drawn to the people of the islands and their culture, which adds another element of interest.

Meet me in Malmö, by Torquil MacLeod. Kindle edition.

Ewan Strachan, a washed-up arts journalist from Newcastle, goes to Malmö to interview an old college friend, Mick Roslyn, now a successful film director with a film-star wife.  When he gets to Mick and Malin's flat, he finds Malin dead and no sign of Mick. Strachan is held in Malmö, filing despatches about the murder investigation and travel pieces, while inspector Anita Sunderstrom investigates. Meanwhile, we're finding out things about Strachan and Roslyn's relationship, which involves the suspicious death of a woman 25 years before. I wasn't massively convinced by this book; there are too many unconvincing twists and turns, and unlike with masters of these (like Deaver), you can see the mechanism too closely. The end also has a very unconvincing last bite in it.  Not necessarily recommended, although it starts off very well.

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