Before I launch into the Lit Lunchbox Countdown for the MWA Edgar nominees for Best Novel, I wanted to give a quick wrap-up of some books that I’ve recently read and enjoyed… some more, some less, but all worth the time depending upon your personal preferences.
Michael Robotham’s Life or Death is a departure from his usual suspense thriller (a subgenre he does extremely well). Life or Death features Audie Palmer, who is on the run after breaking out of prison just one day before he was due to be released, having done ten years for bank robbery. Audie’s a decent guy who managed to earn the respect of his fellow cons and even made a close friend or two. We’re at his side as he struggles to stay alive as cops and criminals dog his heels. Special Agent Desiree Furness is the FBI agent who suspects that there’s more to Audie’s story. Robotham does a great job of revealing Audie’s backstory, his reason for pleading guilty to a crime he didn’t commit, and how he manages to come through in the end, although there is some heartbreaking collateral damage along the way. Not as big a nail-biter as some of his books, but still a big thumbs up.
Jonathan Kellerman is an author I used to read without fail, but then a series of clunky books made me think he was phoning it in, and he fell of my “must buy” list and onto my “from the library, maybe” list. The latest library read is Motive, featuring psychologist Alex Delaware and his cop pal, Milo Sturgis, and a criminal who kills, then stages the scene with a meal appropriate to the victim. As usual, there’s lots of potential perpetrators to be ruled out leading to plenty of Alex:Milo discussions before the case is solved, and I didn’t see the bad guy coming. Kellerman still seems to be on cruise control, but fans will like Motive.
Elizabeth Corley’s Requiem Mass is the first book in a new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Fenwick. If you’re a fan of British police procedurals, this entry is for you. This is a well-plotted tale of revenge for a crime 20 years in the past, with a surprisingly evil twist. Fenwick’s an engaging protagonist and not above achieving justice by other means, if arrest and conviction is not available. I’m looking forward to more from Corley. The good news is that her series was published first in the UK, so there’s quite a few available!
Last but not least is Sandra Block’s Little Black Lies. This dark mystery features psychiatric resident Dr. Zoe Caldwell, who is haunted by her own troubled past. Zoe was adopted at the age of 4 after her mother was killed in a house fire, but her memories of that day don’t align well with what she’s been told over the years, and her Alzheimer’s- affected adoptive mother is an unreliable source of information. As she explores her past, she also cares for patients on the psychiatric ward, including the lovely Sofia Vallano. At the age of 14, Sofia killed her own mother and gravely injured her brother, but doctors now believe she may be cured of her mental illness and ready for release. Both stories are more complicated than you’d expect, and Block does a great job resolving them. The book has a strong personal voice and is a compulsive page-turner.