Criminal Reads

Several crime writers have recently released new additions to their various series, here is a quick round up (click on the titles to get a blurb about the actual plot)….

Make Me, by Lee Child, is the 20th outing for righter of wrongs, the wandering Jack Reacher. It was very good, better than the last, Personal, I thought, and I quite liked that one. Over 20 books, some are not going to be as good as others, and some are going to be fantastic. In conversation with customers in the shop (when Reacher fans meet we are always surprised by the unliklihood of the other person liking Reacher, so we tend to rave a bit), people have really enjoyed the plot, the wrongs that have been righted, and particularly the opaqueness of the plot and what those wrongs might be. This sounds odd but it means that you experience the same puzzlement as Reacher about quite what is wrong, why things are slightly off with the people of the small town of Mothers Rest.  The further development of Reacher who is, like us all, aging, and is slightly more vulnerable than in the first 10 or 12 books is also interesting, and the female characters are as always strong, capable and kick-ass, only sidekicks to Reacher ‘cos everyone is a sidekick to Reacher.

Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny is another great addition to her Quebec-set Chief Inspector Gamache series. This series is clever, thoughtful and devastatingly psychologically acute. Penny has won almost every crime writing award available, deservedly. They are not psycho thrillers or full of gore but fascinating mysteries with a recurring cast of characters in a small village in the Quebec woods, this is number eleven. The motivations, fears and virtues of the villagers create the mysteries and aid in solving them. Penny, through Gamache, seems to be searching for the switch that  flicks, the straw that breaks, the point where one person feels they have to kill another. The francophone/anglophone aspects of life in Quebec is fascinating for outsiders and I would suggest taking the trouble to read them in order…

Splinter the Silence by Val McDermid is a return to her Tony Hill series. Hill is a profiler who is sort off hopeless at life in many ways and he’s worked with DCI Carol Jordan, who has her own foibles, over eight previous books. McDermid is a clever writer and always throws in some interesting personal and professional ethical twists alongside the mystery proper. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next…

Speaking in Bones, by Kathy Reichs, is the 18th in her series about forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan. As always there is lots of scientific and medico-legal detail, which is very interesting, and we are told more about Tempe’s relationship with her mother. The Canadian detective Ryan, the on-off lover, is back and I’ve got to the point where I could care less about the two of them, although I am always happy to hear about Birdie the cat. This just felt a little bit too samey…

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