Sep 12, 2014

Stone Wife, Peter Lovesey

A bungled robbery that turns into murder gives Superintendent Peter Diamond and his team a case that is positively Byzantine. 

The murder victim was a Chaucer scholar and the piece he was bidding for ‘the stone wife of bath’ has taken up residence in Diamond’s office and Diamond isn’t enjoying her company. 

While he is chasing up suspects and weighing motives, DS Ingeborg Smith volunteers to go under-cover to finger the likely gun supplier. A risky operation, made riskier by the actions of one of her impulsive colleagues.

Hold The Dark, William Giraldi

Keelut, Alaska: the present can’t seem to touch the town. It is insular and otherworldly and the wolves are taking its children. Three so far. Medora Sloan, mother of the latest victim brings Russell Core, a wolf expert to her tiny town. She asks him to kill the wolf that took her son while her husband Vernon fights insurgents in the Afghan desert. 

Vernon, wounded in action returns to an empty home and a town that already knows Medora’s terrible secret. He goes after his missing wife,  leaving a trail of bodies across the tundra. Vernon is an army-trained killer. Core reasons if he finds his wife, Medora won’t live to see another sunrise and Core has reasons of his own for pursuing Vernon Sloan. Dark, spare and best devoured in one sitting.

The Secret Place, Tana French

The Secret Place is a bulletin board at St Kilda’s School for Girls. Frank Mackey (The Likeness, Faithful Place) is reluctantly letting sixteen year old daughter Holly board there instead of living at home. Detective Stephen Moran (Faithful Place) hasn’t seen Holly since she was nine.

When she turns up outside his office, with a card she took from the school bulletin board Moran takes the information to Antoinette Conway who worked the original case, a year ago. Popular student Christopher Harper was found dead on the grounds of St Kilda’s and Holly’s photo shows a smiling Harper with the caption ‘I know who killed him’ on the back. At the time, Conway didn’t get past the cliques and the bleating of panicky rich parents and their lawyers. But in her opinion Harper was on a promise with one of the St Kilda’s girls, but why wait a year to dredge the whole thing up again. What changed?

Conway, reluctant to trust Moran, takes him with her to St Kilda’s waiting for him to screw up so that she can boot him from the investigation. Each needs something from the other, for Conway this is a chance to prove what she suspected all along. For Moran it’s an opportunity to join the murder squad, but throw Frank Mackey into the mix and everything gets skewed, especially when he’s thinking like a father not a detective. Conway and Moran have until the end of the school day to unmask a murderer.

The Button Man, Mark Pryor

Before Hugo Marston became head of security at the US embassy in Paris, he held the same position in London. He’s trying to convince his wife to leave Texas and come to London, and the negotiations are not going well. Now he’s been saddled with two Hollywood movie stars, Ginny Ferro and Dylan Harper who, while filming a movie in a rural English village, accidently ran over a local man but drove away, leaving him to die. 

The press and the public are baying for the couples’ blood, but they are not the only ones. A self-styled vigilante has them in his sights. Ferro is released first and promptly vanishes only to show up hours later, hanged in a graveyard. A grieving Dylan Harper gives Hugo the slip, sending the Texan on a star hunt, assisted and hindered by a star struck member of parliament, obstructive journalists and the lovely and resourceful Merlyn. As the bodies pile up and local law enforcement refuses to budge Hugo cuts through the red tape and goes it alone, which is just what the killer was waiting for him to do…

Summer of the Dead, Julia Keller

An old man is murdered yards from his home in Acker’s Gap and another meets the wrong end of a screwdriver in a seedy bar one county over. The townsfolk are still recovering from the explosion that destroyed the local diner the previous year and country prosecutor, Bell Elkins still can’t get her sister Shirley to open up to her. Even though Bell owes her so much she’s finding herself having to act more like the mother the girls never had to prevent Shirley violating her parole and being sent back to prison. 

Bell and the Sheriff are hunting a killer who moves like smoke and strikes without warning in a town full of hard luck stories and secrets hidden below the ground. It’s going to be a hot and deadly summer.

Dead Line, Chris Ewan

Respected hostage negotiator Daniel Trent lives in Marseille with his fiancĂ©e Aimee. Aimee vanishes, after keeping an appointment with shady businessman Jerome Moreau. Daniel is convinced he has harmed or is holding Aimee and plans to extract the information from Moreau somewhere quiet and private. 

Before Trent can execute his plan Moreau is kidnapped. Trent has to use all of his skills to save the life of the man who holds the key to Aimee’s disappearance whilst hiding his own more personal agenda. Can Daniel save Aimee, or has their time run out? 

A Deadly Wandering, Matt Richtel

In a poll 98 % of the population think that texting and driving is dangerous, yet 43% of those admit to doing that exact thing.

Richtel tells a story that hits close to home in many ways. In 2006, Reggie Shaw, a 19 year old from Tremonton Utah was driving to work when he hit and killed two rocket scientists on their way to their jobs at ATK. Reggie was texting his girlfriend and only took his eyes off the road for a second, but that’s all it takes. 

Richtel, whose reporting on the subject of distracted driving won him and the New York Times a Pulitzer prize, charts the course of Reggie’s trial, the neuroscience behind attention blindness and the landmark Utah law on texting and driving that resulted. 

My takeaway from the book is that smart phones can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol, each ping of an incoming text message or email sparks a little hit of dopamine. I never use my cellphone whilst driving, but I am welded to it at home. After reading this cautionary tale, I’m putting some distance between me and my smartphone.