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Posted by on 12 Nov, 2022 in Bestseller, Canberra Weekly, Classic PI, Crime, Thriller | 0 comments



This week in the Canberra Weekly I reviewed three new American crime novels, which entertain while also casting a sharp eye at American society.

Livid by Patricia Cornwell (Sphere, 25 October 2022)

It has been over thirty years since Patricia Cornwell’s first award winning novel about Kay Scarpetta, Postmortem, appeared. Despite the passage of time, both Scarpetta and Cornwell seem to be doing well, and Livid (Sphere,
25 October 2022) is the twenty-sixth entry in the long running series.

Livid contains all the ingredients we have come to expect from Cornwell, a twisty interesting plot, plenty of gruesome forensic detail and smooth confident writing. The book bounds along at a good pace and there are enough surprising developments to keep even the most jaded reader happy. The characters could be more nuanced, but they are adequate for the story and Cornwell astutely uses them to help generate outrage about bias media, political patronage and institutional arrogance.

As always the technical forensic information is fascinating and few authors can convey complex medical detail as smoothly and as interestingly as Cornwell. Another highly entertaining tale.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Veteran thriller author Patricia Cornwell provides another engrossing entry in her series about Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta with her latest book Livid. A controversial murder trial is interrupted when news comes through that the judge’s sister has been found dead, the apparent victim of a home invasion. Scarpetta rushes to the scene to find an unexpected and worrying cause of death that re-opens old wounds and new dangers. Cornwell is a confident and fluid writer, and once again she delivers an intriguing plot, plenty of suspense and an abundance of interesting forensic detail. Her many fans will not be disappointed.”

Treasure State by C. J. Box (Head of Zeus, 29 September 2022)

C. J. Box’s rugged rural mysteries about game warden Joe Pickett have established him as one of the leading writers of regional crime novels in America today.

Box’s Treasure State (29 September 2022) is not about Pickett, although there is a link to the determined game warden, but instead it features his other popular character, Montana private detective Cassie Dewell. Once again this is a very enjoyable novel by Box, that quickly draws the reader in and keeps them interested. The plot has some original angles and the story moves briskly to an abrupt climax. Mixed in with the mystery and action, are some telling reflections on local politics and corruption in present day America. A very good read.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“C. J. Box is best known for his stellar series about game warden Joe Pickett, but in recent years he has been developing a second series about Montana private eye Cassie Dewell.  Treasure State is the fifth book to feature Cassie, and it finds the investigator caught up in two cases involving a slippery conman and a supposedly buried treasure. Cassie is an interesting and flawed character who goes about her business with a professional ease that is enjoyable to watch.  As always with a Box novel, the story unfolds smoothly and high interest is maintained all the way to the exciting conclusion.”

Here is a longer review of Treasure State I did earlier this month:

The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett ( Macmillan, November 2022)

Unlike Cornwell and Box, Lauren Nossett is just starting out on her crime writing career and her first book, The Resemblance (Macmillan, November 2022) raises serious issues about the influence of college fraternities, while also providing the suspense and mystery we expect from a good thriller. The pacing is a little uneven, but Lauren is a good writer and the college milieu is fascinating. An insightful and interesting read, with a good complex crime story at its core.

In the Canberra Weekly I said:

“Unlike Box and Cornwell, Lauren Nossett is just beginning her career, but her first novel, The Resemblance, shows plenty of promise.

Detective Marlitt Kaplan is the first on the scene when a student at the University of Georgia is killed in a bizarre hit and run. The daughter of a professor from the University, Marlitt becomes caught up in old secrets and the sordid world of US college fraternities as she tries to bring the perpetrator to justice. Battling pressure from the influential parents of the wealthy students, Marlitt comes to understand just how powerful the fraternity brotherhoods are. An impressive debut.”

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