This month's Whodunit column highlights a nightmarish thriller from Mo Hayder, Peter Robinson's finest police procedural and more.
There’s a stranger in Claudia Morgan-Brown’s house. The Birmingham, England, social worker has what should be an enviable life: Newly married to a wealthy naval officer, she lives in a palatial house and is step-parenting his adorable twin boys. And after a string of heartbreaking miscarriages with her ex, she’s finally expecting a baby girl of her own. But there’s a problem: the new live-in nanny, Zoe Harcomb.
In the latest novel by accomplished author Jean Hanff Korelitz (Admission, A Jury of Her Peers), which shares the title of its main character’s book, relationship challenges raise questions of how often we really know what’s best, whether living the life we’ve envisioned necessarily means we’re living it right, and how we overlook our instinctive responses to the people we meet.
“Cryptography involves one genius trying to work out what another genius has done—it results in the most appalling carnage,” observes one Decoded character. In this debut novel from Mai Jia, eccentric math prodigy Rong Jinzhen is plucked from his studies at N University and recruited to China’s top-secret Unit 701.
10 years after his acclaimed novel Tijuana Straits, author Kem Nunn—whom our columnist credits for the creation of the "Surf Noir" genre—returns with a compelling new psychological thriller, Chance. Set in the foggy Bay Area, the story follows Dr. Eldon Chance, a neuropsychiatrist caught up in a dangerous affair with one of his beautiful, fractured patients, Jaclyn. When her husband's jealousy grows to sinister extremes, Dr. Chance finds himself in the middle of some serious danger.
You'll never think of small-town life the same way again after reading Laura McHugh's chilling debut. Part "Twin Peaks," part Tana French, the novel opens just after the body of 18-year-old Cheri has been found stuffed into a tree trunk. Lucy Dane may have been the troubled Cheri's only friend, and after turning up some disturbing evidence she becomes determined to track down Cheri's killer—especially since her own mother's disappearance some 15 years before has still never been solved. As Lucy's quest proceeds, she begins to unearth some of the town's darkest secrets, some of which involve her own family.
This month's best new mysteries include a deadly oil spill, a charming francophile's mystery, the finale to Leif GW Persson's Story of a Crime Trilogy, plus an "ink-dark" psychological thriller from Kem Nunn.
Let’s get one thing straight: With The Weight of Blood, it’s clear that Laura McHugh is more than a pretender to the throne of the “rural noir” genre. If her dazzling and disturbing debut novel is anything to go by, she’s got her eye on the crown and has more than the necessary talent and skills to nab it for herself. Daniel Woodrell had better watch his back.
If you’re very observant and know a little something about the wilder shores of human genetics, then you may be able to figure out the big mystery of Carol Cassella’s new novel by, oh, page 260 or so. Oh yes, the title also gives one a hint as to what’s going on with one of the book’s well-drawn characters. But we should start at the beginning.
Failure and sin, redemption and healing form the backbone of these five novels, much as they do in the Bible that inspires writers of Christian fiction. From thrilling mystery and longed-for relationships to tests of will and heart, these works of fiction highlight God’s grace to man—who desperately needs it.