Crime fiction: new books by Garry Disher, C.J. Box and Laura Lippman
August crime-fiction picks include "Wyatt," a new police procedural by Australian author Garry Disher; new books by C.J. Box and Laura Lippman; Martin Walker's "Black Diamond"; and Seattle author Boyd Morrison's "The Vault."
Special to The Seattle Times
Crime fiction |
An Australian caper, death in the backcountry of Yellowstone, long-hidden secrets in Baltimore, trouble in small-town France and a bomb on the Bremerton ferry — this month's crime fiction is all over the map.
Australian Garry Disher is known for his police procedurals starring detectives Hal Challis and Ellen Destry. But he's written much more, including a terse series about a guy you love to hate: professional thief Wyatt Wareen.
"Wyatt" (Soho, 320 pp., $25) is the first U.S. appearance of this series, and it's just brilliant. The thief's target here: valuable bearer bonds. The catch: He has to team with an unreliable former partner.
The similarities with another fictional thief — Richard Stark's antihero Parker — are many. (Stark was a pseudonym of the late Donald E. Westlake. Blink, and you'll miss a sly joke: Two of Disher's minor characters are called Stark and Parker.)
Both Wyatt and Parker are relentless, cool as cucumbers and utterly unsympathetic. Both are craftsmen who take pride in a job well done. And both always have to salvage messes when the score goes sour. A double-cross, someone's failure of nerve — it's always something.
Wyoming native C.J. Box is a gripping writer and a shrewd observer of his state's rugged wilderness.
"Back of Beyond" (Minotaur, 384 pp., $25.99) stars Cody Hoyt, a good cop — and a drunk. When his beloved AA sponsor is murdered, Hoyt ignores protocol in classic this-time-it's-personal fashion to chase the killer.
A slim clue leads to a firm that runs horseback pack trips into Yellowstone. As Hoyt tries to catch up to a tour in progress, we learn that it's hiding a killer. (In an improbable twist, Hoyt's estranged son is in the group.) Hoyt approaches and the body count mounts. Talk about blood on the saddle!
"The Most Dangerous Thing" (Morrow, 394 pp., $25.99) movingly explores one of Laura Lippman's enduring themes: childhood memories and their unsettling blend of joy, terror and secrets.
Gordon (Go-Go) Halloran, drunk and miserable, fatally crashes his car. His childhood playmates — long out of touch with each other — meet again in their tightly knit Baltimore neighborhood.
Gradually, a moment is revealed, when something terrible happened in the woods back then. The book's abrupt shifts in voice and time may be confusing, but perseverance is rewarded — Lippman seems incapable of writing badly.
At first, "Black Diamond" (Knopf, 320 pp., $24.95) seems to tread on Peter Mayle territory: charming French village, great food, eccentric characters and a mystery to nudge things along. However, author Martin Walker has other plans, not always pleasant, for his fictional town of St. Denis.
Bruno Courrèges, the village's brave, brainy and only policeman, has his hands full. Black truffles are the region's precious culinary exports, but someone's sneaking cheap Chinese versions on the market. Meanwhile, Asian thugs are terrorizing the region. There's bad blood between a local businessman and his eco-activist son. And Courrèges' friend and hunting partner, a former Army hero, is viciously murdered.
Bruno traces the links among these events, revealing unsavory secrets from France's colonial history. On the other hand, he eats some memorable meals — and they're savory indeed.
Seattleite Boyd Morrison once worked for Microsoft's Xbox group, and it shows — he knows a thing or two about pacing an exciting story. He used to work for NASA, too, so he's fluent in cool technology.
"The Vault" (Touchstone, 438 pp., $24.99) starts with a near-bomb experience on the Bremerton ferry. Disarming it brings together Tyler Locke, a former Army explosives expert, and Stacy Benedict, a scholar of classical languages.
A madman has choreographed the meeting, and he blackmails the pair into tackling the impossible: finding the lost gold of King Midas, guided by artifacts created by Archimedes himself. The plot stretches credulity to the breaking point, but "The Vault" is nonetheless great fun and a riveting adventure.
Adam Woog's column on crime and mystery fiction appears on the second Sunday of the month in The Seattle Times.
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