SERIAL KILLERS, MOBSTERS, 1920s MELBOURNE AND A DROWNING PLANE: New Crime Fiction from T. J. Newman, Jo Nesbo, James Comey and Laraine Stephens
My late May reading has been very mixed, and has ranged from historical mystery to a serial killer thriller to a courtroom drama and an exciting rescue novel about a crashed plane.
Here are some quick reviews.
T. J. Newman’s Falling was one of the stand out debut thrillers of 2021 and her second novel, Drowning (Simon & Schuster, 1 June 2023) is just as good, if not better.
The story opens quickly and suspensefully with Flight 1421 plunging into the ocean off Hawaii six minutes after taking off. Frantically the survivors flee the barely floating aircraft, but the plane quickly begins to sink beneath the waves with twelve people still aboard. As the passengers and crew try to survive, an urgent rescue attempt is launched to save those trapped in the plane.
From this dramatic opening, the story proceeds at a brisk pace with plenty of suspense and emotional drama, as the interconnections between the passengers and the rescuers are revealed. Newman makes good use of the constantly shifting viewpoint between the survivors and the rescue team to generate maximum tension, and there is a frantic race to the conclusion.
Newman, a former flight attendant, brings a good degree of credibility to this gripping tale. The small details seem right and the characters are competently drawn and engaging. The complexity of the rescue is well described and the book grips your attention all the way to the end.
In all, a good slice of entertainment that makes for an enjoyable read, provided you are not going on a long flight!
Drowning seems to be released everywhere around 1 June 2023 (8 June in the United Kingdom).
Fans of Scandinavian serial killer thrillers will welcome Killing Moon, (Harvil Secker, 23 May 2023), the latest novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo.
Nesbo has gained international acclaim for series about brilliant, but troubled, detective Harry Hole, and his latest novel once more finds Harry in trouble and on the trail of a diabolical killer.
Two girls are missing. Strangers to each other, but last seen at the same party. When the body of one of them is found with fresh stitches along her hairline the hunt is on to find a murderer with some very particular tastes. Struck off the Norwegian police force and down and out in Los Angeles, Harry has no interest in returning to Oslo to help track down a killer, until a friend of his is threatened. Once back in Oslo, Harry quickly forms a team to find the killer and the other missing girl, but there is more to the case than meets the eye.
Killing Moon reminded me of earlier Harry Hole thrillers, with the reluctant detective battling his own demons and reluctantly being drawn into a case involving a brutal killer. Once underway it moves at a decent pace, although it is on the long side. Nesbo drags the reader down some familiar bloody, snowy alleyways, but there is enough new material to keep it interesting. As usual the violence is graphic and horrifying and it is not a read for those with weak stomachs.
A gripping and gruesome read!
Killing Moon was released in Australia on 23 May 2023, the United Kingdom on 25 May, and the United States on 30 May!
Former FBI director James Comey makes a solid entry into the world of crime fiction with his debut novel Central Park West, (Mysterious Press, 30 May 2023).
Kyra Burke is facing life imprisonment for the murder of her predator of a husband, disgraced, former New York Governor Antonio (Tony), Burke. The DA’s office think that they have a strong case against Kyra, but things are thrown off kilter when the concurrent federal case against a powerful mobster takes a strange turn.
Federal prosecutor Nora Carleton is looking forward to putting Dominic, “The Nose”, D’Amico away for good. The mobster, though, has other plans. After the convincing testimony from a federal witness concludes, a note is passed to the prosecution offering up information on the mob assassination of the former New York governor. Suddenly Nora finds herself caught up in two complex cases.
Central Park West is a really enjoyable read. The story flows smoothly and goes in some very unexpected directions. I enjoy courtroom dramas, and Central Park West has several really good courtroom scenes that really hold your attention and then deliver some neat twists at the end.
Presumably drawing on his many years in federal law enforcement, and as a mob prosecutor, Comey brings a good deal of interesting detail and credibility to the characters and the story, and the book bristles with authenticity.
I quite enjoyed the easy flow of Central Park West, but it does lack action and suspense. The resolutions to the various crimes are interesting, but there is never any white knuckle turning impetus to the plot. Nevertheless it is a good engaging read and I look forward to Comey’s next novel.
Central Park West is released in the United States on 30 May 2023. It is not clear if it is going to be released locally in Australia, but it can be purchased online from overseas.
Laraine Stephens continues her engaging historical series about flamboyant Melbourne crime reporter Reggie da Costa with the third book in the series, A Deadly Game (Level Best Books, 6 June 2023).
Set once more in 1920s Melbourne, A Deadly Game finds Reggie taking a break from investigating gangland crime to assist Ruby Rhodes, whose identical twin sister has died in mysterious circumstances. Together, they investigate how Katherine could afford a house, motorcar, expensive jewellery and a wardrobe of the latest fashions on the wages of a museum assistant. With Reggie’s assistance and protection, Ruby assumes her sister’s identity and infiltrates the illegal gambling dens and risqué social clubs of 1920s Melbourne to uncover the truth.
Canvassing the same historical period and mood as Kerry Greenwood’s delightful Phryne Fisher books, A Deadly Game is a wild ride from beginning to end. Full of exquisite historical detail, flashy real life characters and an engaging detective in the form of Reggie, it is an entertaining and very interesting historical mystery.
A good fun read!
A Deadly Game is available on Kindle in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States from 6 June 2023 for a very reasonable price!