More than 850 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘crime novel’

A terrific murder mystery set in Stalin’s Soviet Union

A review of The Holy Thief: A Novel (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev, #1), by William Ryan @@@@ (4 out of 5) With The Holy Thief, William Ryan joins Martin Cruz Smith (the Arkady Renko Series) and Tom Rob Smith (the Child 44 Trilogy), whose compelling crime novels have illuminated the dark recesses of the Soviet Union… Read More ›

A short crime novel about Boston’s lowlife by a master of the genre

A review of The Drop, by Dennis Lehane @@@@@ (5 out of 5) The Drop is peopled with the lowlife who used to be called “the criminal element” in Boston, Dennis Lehane’s favorite stomping ground. Bob, a bartender; his boss “Cousin Marv”; Eric, a brutal ex-con; Nadia, a woman with a suspicious scar on her neck; a long-dead scumbag named Richie; a Chechen… Read More ›

Hard-boiled crime fiction set in contemporary Chicago

A review of The Governor’s Wife (Michael Kelly Series #5), by Michael Harvey @@@@ (4 out of 5) You yearn for hard-boiled crime fiction that’s set in today’s reality? Read on. Marilyn Stasio covers books on crime for the New York Times Book Review. Though I sometimes disagree with her judgment, I’ve found interesting leads in her column… Read More ›

An unusual psychological thriller from Britain

A review of Disclaimer: A Novel, by Renee Knight @@@@ (4 out of 5) Mystery and thriller writers employ a wide variety of recognizable devices to create suspense and make their novels hard to put down. The most annoying of these are the clumsy clues sprinkled throughout whodunits and the deliberately misleading omission of facts… Read More ›

A thrilling police procedural

A review of Crash and Burn, by Lisa Gardner @@@@ (4 out of 5) Crash and Burn opens straightforwardly enough with an automobile tumbling down a hillside in northern New Hampshire, nearly killing Nicole Frank, the intoxicated woman driver. But as the story unfolds, it turns out to be anything but straightforward. Frank sets police off… Read More ›

Revisiting black humor (not Black humor)

Sneaky People, by Thomas Berger @@@@ (4 out of 5) Back in the 1960s, when I began reading in earnest beyond the boundaries of textbooks and science fiction, novels characterized by critics as “black humor” were popular, and I ate them up. (That’s black as in dark or cynical, gallows humor, not African-American.) This was… Read More ›

Dave Robicheaux tackles the mob

A review of Black Cherry Blues, by James Lee Burke @@@@ (4 out of 5) “What time it is?” “For how come you burn them leafs under my window, you?” “While I was driving your truck, me, somebody pass a nail under the wheel and give it a big flat.” This is Cajun English, in… Read More ›

The 18 best books of 2014

OK, I admit it. I haven’t read enough of the three million books published in English this year to claim that these are the year’s very best books. But neither has the staff of the New York Times Book Review, for that matter! All I can say is that I choose books to read very… Read More ›

Funny crime fiction

A review of Deadline, by John Sandford @@@@ (4 out of 5) It’s rare in my experience to come across funny crime fiction. Donald E. Westlake’s series about the master criminal John Dortmunder was a glaring exception and never failed to please. Carl Hiaasen’s novels about environmental crimes fit the bill, too. I’m sure there… Read More ›

A brilliant detective novel from Louise Penny

A review of How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, by Louise Penny @@@@ (4 out of 5) Since her first novel (Still Life) in 2005, Louise Penny has seen nearly all her books nominated for literary awards — and won most of them. How the Light Gets In is the tenth of… Read More ›