Loren D. Estleman began his prolific career writing crime fiction back in 1976, and he’s written close to 100 books, all high in the excellence quotient. He’s considered to be a master of noir for both his PI Amos Walker series and his Westerns, most featuring U.S. Deputy Page Murdock. Estleman’s most recent series features a film detective named Valentino, who tracks lost films as an archivist at UCLA.
Becca, beautiful and brilliant, comes from an influential family with a predilection for law degrees. As a first-year law student at George Washington University, she feels the pressure from final exams—and from a weighted secret she’s been harboring. To get her head straight for exams, she heads to her parents’ summer home in the misty mountains of North Carolina, the perfect quiet place to collect her thoughts. She’s brutally assaulted and murdered before she ever gets the chance to take those exams.
Crime novelist Elmore Leonard once said writers should “try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” That’s advice Scott Frank clearly takes to heart in his debut novel, Shaker. Frank captures the underbelly of Los Angeles’ streets to perfection with sharply written prose and biting dialogue. There are no wasted words here, as right from the start things take an unexpected turn and the complications begin to multiply for main character Roy Cooper.
Vincent Zandri captures readers’ attention from the opening scene of his new suspense novel, Orchard Grove, and proceeds to careen through lust and lives. Lana, as a young girl, brutally slays her stepfather who has been sexually abusing her for months. In an unusual twist, Lana relishes the power she experiences when she kills him, and he becomes the first of many men she murers throughout her life.
Beneath the suspense-filled action of a homegrown terrorist plot, Nicholas Petrie’s debut novel, The Drifter, follows the compelling story of one former Marine’s struggle to reacclimate himself to civilian life while honoring his commitment to a fallen soldier. That alone is reason to keep reading, but Petrie amps up the stakes in surprising fashion, creating a story that is moving, thrilling and satisfying on every level.
Bestselling author Thomas Perry loves plans, escapes and perfect getaways. He also has a low-key, sardonic sense of humor and is a master at creating witty and likable thieves that we end up rooting for, often over the more straight-and-narrow option. All of these keystones are in place in Perry’s most recent standalone thriller, Forty Thieves—and there are at least that many iffy characters tumbling around in this winning novel.
There are precious few angels, burning or otherwise, in Tawni O’Dell’s intense psychological thriller Angels Burning, set in a bleak, backwoods Pennsylvania town where mining, money and good times have pretty much come and gone.
British author Charles Lambert’s latest, The Children’s Home, is like a strange dream in which you can’t quite tell if you’re awake. Morgan, its disfigured, 20-something protagonist, lives isolated in his powerful family’s sprawling home. His estranged sister sent a housekeeper to live with him, and soon after, children began arriving. They appear with no backstory—one, in fact, materializes out of thin air—and Morgan and the housekeeper, Engel, become parents of sorts. The resulting story is a weird, poignant journey reminiscent of Calvino that explores fear, power, revenge and redemption.
Readers who fancy top-notch crime procedurals need look no further than the latest by seasoned Brit author Ann Cleeves. Harbour Street is her sixth mystery featuring Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope and her Northumbrian detective team.
Read a page or three of Riot Most Uncouth and you may wonder why you’d want to stick around while young Lord Byron, author Daniel Friedman’s overwrought and outlandish protagonist, makes his eccentric, in-your-face debut. But stay on for a few more pages and you’ll find yourself intrigued and then committed to Friedman’s lavish, over-the-top plot and larger-than-life characters.