March's Top Pick in Mystery, Leighton Gage's Perfect Hatred, is "hands down the first 'do not miss' mystery of 2013!"
In Brazil-set Perfect Hatred, Chief Inspector Mario Silva faces a daunting assassination investigation immediately after a "particularly nasty" suicide bombing. Things get even more intense when a criminal seeking revenge against Silva is released from prison.
The Mario Silva series is "a perennial personal favorite" for Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney, so we chatted with Gage in a 7 questions interview about Silva's "dogged persistence," the Brazilian setting and much more. His answer to my question, "Would you make a good cop?" is proof that Gage is a born storyteller, as he shares a story to illustrate the emotional toll of being a cop:
By way of illustration, here’s a story I got from one detective’s wife:
Her husband was assigned to investigate a double murder. A 17-year-old girl claimed she’d returned home from a date to find her parents bludgeoned to death in their bed. But the cop’s instincts told him the girl was lying. Ultimately, she confessed that she and her boyfriend had committed the crime. Not because she’d hated her parents, not because they’d abused her, but because they’d objected to her continuing relationship with the thug who helped kill them. She showed no remorse for what she’d done. She didn’t shed a single tear during the entire interrogation. Her only concern was that she’d been caught.
But the cop was so shocked that he went home, sank into a chair, wrapped his 7-year-old daughter in his arms and bawled like a baby. “Seventeen years old,” he kept saying, over and over again. “Seventeen years old.”
His wife felt helpless. She couldn’t find a way to comfort him.
Our November Top Pick in Mystery stars a serial killer with a truly fascinating (and ironic) mark: the sole survivors of devastating tragedies. In The Dark Winter, Scottish cop Aector McAvoy is the only guy for the job.
Check out our 7 questions interview with author David Mark, where we talked great books (Beloved) and bad habits (whiskey and cheese). He shares how, as a former crime reporter, he has unique insight not only into police procedure but also the emotional state of a victim's families and witnesses:
"I interviewed a lot of grieving families, right when they were at their most raw, and the characters I write about tend to exist in those moments. I know how the room tastes in that particular situation."
Is David Mark on your thriller radar?
Maybe you've been a loyal Jo Nesbø fan since his first book, The Bat, came out in 1997 (kudos on knowing Norwegian). Maybe you picked up The Redbreast when our whodunit columnist introduced us to police detective Harry Hole. Maybe you checked out Nemesis when it was nominated for the Edgar Award.
Or maybe you don't read him at all—though, chances are, you'll come around eventually.
Jo Nesbø and his Harry Hole thrillers have been climbing bestseller lists across the globe for quite some time, and this month, the Top Pick in Mystery is his newest, Phantom.
But before reading on, know this:
"[Harry Hole] is back in Oslo after a three-year absence, only to discover that everything is new—and yet everything is somehow disturbingly the same. . . . He is still persona non grata with most of his former police associates. His one-time lover Rakel is an unknown quantity, and her son Oleg seems to have changed markedly for the worse, a casualty of “violin,” the powerful new synthetic opiate that has taken Norway’s youth by storm. . . . Easily the most troubling and heartfelt of this excellent series, Phantom is one of the finest suspense novels to come out of Scandinavia to date."
"Be the psychopath. You have to be able to identify with a character, similar to how an actor works. It might be scary sometimes, but that's what you have to do. Humans are complex; you'll be able to find most things within yourself. Just use your imagination."
Our June Mystery of the Month is Daniel Friedman's brilliant debut Don't Ever Get Old. Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney classifies it as "Geezer Noir" and says it "is one of the most original and entertaining tales I have read in many a moon."
Don't Ever Get Old stars retired cop Buck Schatz, an 80-something WWII vet on the hunt for a fugitive Nazi officer and the gold he stole from concentration camp internees.
Based on the crotchety protagonist in Don't Ever Get Old, I expected Friedman's answers to our 7 questions interview to be short, funny and snarky. I was surprised to find his answers to be touching, enlightening and my favorites ever to a 7 Q. Here's part of his answer to the question, "When you're in your 80s, what do you hope to be doing?":
". . . Being young is about hope and about expectation. Tomorrow you're going to run faster or lift more weight. Next year you're going to find true love. Within five years, you'll have that promotion, and you'll make more money. But at a certain age, the expectation that things will get better reverses on you. That's what Buck is facing in Don't Ever Get Old.
They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but it isn't true. Invasive surgeries don't make you stronger. Hypertension doesn't make you stronger. Arthritis doesn't make you stronger. Buck Schatz is a war veteran and a retired police detective. His identity and his idea of virtue is based on being tough and self-reliant. A big part of the story is about how he struggles to cope with becoming increasingly frail and dependent on others. And a lot of older people are having to deal with the same kind of circumstances."