It shouldn't have even been Deputy Brynn McKenzie's call. She was off - duty, sitting down to supper, when she received notification of an aborted 911 call from remote Lake Mondac, deep in the Wisconsin wilderness. No big deal, probably; all in all, it would seem to be a fairly innocuous beginning to Jeffery Deaver's newest thriller, The Bodies Left Behind. However, the lakeside house turns out to be a scene of massive carnage. Two people lie dead, and the kitchen is painted with splattered blood. A major crime scene by any measure, but one factor makes it considerably worse - the killer has not left the premises. It is too large a risk for Brynn to call for backup: first, they could not possibly arrive in time, and second, the killer might well be able to locate her through the light or the sound of her phone. Quietly she steals back to her car, but not quietly enough, apparently; the shotgun blast takes her by surprise, shattering the car window and piercing her cheek, breaking a molar. The sudden intense pain causes her to lose control of the car, and it plunges into the freezing waters of Lake Mondac. Now, shivering and waterlogged, she crawls ashore. Her only hope is to make her escape into the dense forest. On the plus side, Brynn has some trailblazing experience; on the minus side, she has no GPS, no gun, no flashlight. And the woods are treacherous, with slippery fallen leaves and precipitous cliffs to navigate beneath a starless sky. The Bodies Left Behind proceeds at a methamphetamine - fueled pace as Brynn tries to stay one step ahead of one of the most cold - blooded killers in recent fiction.

CHASING A COVER-UP
Chicago P.I. Ray Dudgeon, leading man of Big City, Bad Blood, is back in Sean Chercover's latest thriller, Trigger City. At the outset, Dudgeon can't quite figure out why retired Army Intelligence Col. Isaac Richmond wants to hire him. The case is open - and - shut: Richmond's daughter was shot to death by a deranged co - worker, who then turned the murder weapon on himself. If there was any doubt in anyone's mind, it should have been addressed by the comprehensive note left by the killer. Still, something doesn't sit well with the elder Richmond, and he has the intelligence background to smell a cover - up. Also, he is offering Dudgeon enough money that maybe, just maybe, Dudgeon will not have to offload his beloved Shelby Mustang to be able to afford some long overdue shoulder surgery. Problem is, there are lots of folks who have a vested interest in keeping Ray Dudgeon a long way from the truth; failing that, they have no compunctions about removing him from the equation, or from the face of the Earth, if need be. Before he is done, he will have made enemies in the private security sector, the Department of Homeland Security and perhaps the FBI for good measure. Conspiracy fans, take note: the cover - ups depicted here mirror the headlines, and extend into the highest reaches of government.

A DANGEROUS IRISH IMPORT
Count on Irish author Ken Bruen to craft yet another thoroughly unforgettable protagonist in his disturbing new novel of police officers run amok, Once Were Cops. This time out, it is Michael O'Shea, an exchange officer from Ireland's famed Garda (Guards), on loan to New York's Finest. O'Shea is a rogue cop by any measure, but he closely guards a career - breaking secret: he likes nothing better than admiring women with long graceful necks - and then strangling them. Shortly after his arrival in the Big Apple, he is partnered with Kebar, a cop with a history of egregious violence and a career - breaking secret of his own: he has sold out to the mob as a means of paying the onerous hospital costs for his developmentally challenged sister. It would seem to be a marriage made anywhere but heaven, and it can only be a matter of time until the partners begin to suspect the existence of one another's dirty secrets. The catalyst is the brutal beating and rape of Kebar's sister, which sends the already violent cop into a simultaneous tailspin and vicious rampage, threatening to "out" both himself and his partner. Let's just say that what happens next is not a pretty sight. If you are a fan of expertly described violence, look no further, Ken Bruen is your man (the corollary, of course, is that this is no book for the faint of heart or weak of stomach).

MYSTERY OF THE MONTH
British suspense writer Reginald Hill returns with the eagerly awaited latest installment of the well - loved Pascoe/Dalziel series in The Price of Butcher's Meat, this month's Tip of the Ice Pick Award winner. When last we saw Yorkshire cop "Fat Andy" Dalziel, he was presumed dead, the victim of a storefront terrorist explosion. Happily, he is recovering nicely, whiling away his days in Sandytown, an English seaside convalescent hospital. His memory is not at 100 percent yet, nor is his physical prowess, much to his dismay, but his irascible character shines brightly through. All is not well in Sandytown, however, as the two major partners in the enterprise are in serious disagreement as to the treatment of indigent patients: one says that pro bono work should be an integral part of any medical undertaking; the other, the titled widow of a local pig farmer, has no such charitable instincts. Things come to a head when the Scrooge - ess of the pair is found skewered on a rotisserie, slowly turning on a large barbecue grill meant for a

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