Meet Keller. He’s a hitman who has built a new identity for himself. So why does he accept one last job? Because it promises a chance to play private eye for a bit. Keller is tasked with taking out the lover of a cheating wife, but it’s up to him to find out just who is schtupping the wife. Keller’s back…but does he still have what it takes to get the job done?
Lawrence Block resurrects Keller after three years away, adding a wrinkle to the man’s life by making his new case a mystery. It allows Block to dive headfirst into all the noir trappings he so enjoys, from the classic fedora to an old-school investigation straight out of the ’30s.
One of Block’s greatest strengths is his ability to imbue those little twists and turns that keep the story interesting with a real-world feeling. The bad luck isn’t contrived, it’s convincing, and you never feel like he’s rigging the game in favor of his characters. That’s rarer than you’d expect, and it adds tension and style to Keller’s mission. (Though, admittedly, the ending feels a bit tidy.)
Keller’s Fedora is all too short but fun while it lasts.
In the Shadow of Lies
Oliver Wright a homicide detective returns home to Richmond, California, upon his fathers insistence to try and keep his brother Peter out of trouble. Peter Wright is an Assistant District Attorney and insists on investigating the case of two children whom have died in a fire in the woods near their home, sparked by the burning of a cross, most likely the work of the Ku Klux Klan though hard to prove, because no one is willing to speak up, and anyone who tries doesnt seem to live long enough to actually do so.
Life in Richmond during the 1940s is difficult for just about everyone. There isnt a soul in town who isnt experiencing loss, fear, or heartache of some kind. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, anyone of Japanese descent is labeled an enemy of the state, rounded up, and sent to internment camps. The Italians are still on the wrong side of the war, and, thus, they are deemed suspicious and deprived of their fishing boats, homes, and livelihoods. Although African-American men are allowed to enlist in the army, they are treated as second-class citizens, forced to cook and clean after the white recruits, even when they are willing to fight and die for their country. To make matters worse, a serial rapist is on the loose, striking fear among the colored women of Richmond, while shipyard workers are also being beaten to death, with little more than relative apathy as a response from the police force.
Oliver is caught in the midst of all this chaos trying to appease his father, attempting to keep his brother safe, and searching for the truth in a town overcome with fear, yet he is unable to put his mind at ease until he can solve these seemingly unrelated cases plaguing his hometown even after he reenlists in the Army and returns to solve a new crime.
M.A. Adler weaves this taunting mystery through a series of intriguing clues, tragic deaths, awful crimes, and troubled characters. And, although these unusual crimes draw the reader in, begging for a connection and resolution against a backdrop of darkness, hatred, and bigotry, there is a lightness and all-encompassing feeling of hopefulness and camaraderie among the downtrodden folks of Richmond. Whether it is Olivers determination to find the truth, Mrs. Forgiones welcoming nature at Café Avellino, or Roans love for his dog Emma and Peters children, every character is forged out of difficult experiences, unfathomable loss, intricate family relationships, and an ardent desire for a better future and the end of the war. In the Shadow of Lies proves to be a skillfully written mystery taking place during a very distressing period in American history, yet confirms that hope and kindness can triumph over intolerance in the darkest of times.
My first thought upon finishing Missing Mona was that it is well-tailored novel for those enthusiasts of crime drama novels. Readers outside of this genre may find themselves bored with the density of the book at times, but the story is nothing, if not engrossing. The bones of the plot were set up well: Tommy Cuda is a protagonist with almost nothing to lose, who goes out to rediscover himself, and the adventure he gets is a result of accidentally stumbling into an opportunity that was the consequence of being in the right place at the wrong time. Its the classic story of the inexperienced average Joe who gets swept up in a mystery more grand than he ever could have imagined. When Tommy decides to leave behind what he knows and heads toward Chicago, he picks up an attractive hitchhiker on the way who goes by the name of Mona, and she hires him as a private investigator in order to find someone for her. But theres a twist. When he wakes the next morning in the motel room where they had stayed for the night, all he has is a photograph of Mona with a message on the back that reads: Find Me Tommy M”.
A seemingly simple mystery, Missing Mona rather quickly turns into a complicated plot with strong political and monetary motives. Particularly as the unanswered questions start tying in together to paint the bigger picture of Tommy Cudas mysterious hitchhiker. The story gets convoluted at times, and I found that the overall timeline was not the easiest to follow. I lost track of how many days Tommy Cuda was actually in Chicago, and I think it was in reality a much shorter time frame than it felt while reading. That being said, the action was well-paced, which made for some exciting moments. I was definitely invested enough to want to find out where Klingler was driving this novel. And aside from a few minute inconsistencies, all major questions were addressed making the novel feel concluded.
Klinglers Chicago made me want to visit the city in Tommy Cudas world. It was exciting and gritty, and set up to be the perfect type of place for our protagonist to find some adventure. I think the character was able to live the life that epitomizes the notion of finding oneself. Tommy Cuda had beautiful girls, great music, an old car on the open road, and an enticing unsolvable mystery. I dont think he could have sought out a more drastic change from the monotony of the life he had.
A mysterious man on a motorcycle weaves his way through the northernmost parts of Alaska, dropping packages along a determined route. A young boy finds one of the packages and claims it as his own as it looks similar to a toy. A coordinated set of explosions rips apart the Trans Alaska pipeline, shocking the foundation of Washington to its core, and setting off financial shock waves as well. Washington looks at a terrorist act while spinning an accident to calm fears in a pending election year. General Billy Williams is on an elevated career track, and is assigned to investigate, while his intuitive girlfriend, Corporal (and Sharpshooter) Claire Ferreti hitches a ride on the trail of a villain known as “Daemon.” Williams sees a connection between previous acts of terror. With the use of a canny informant, he believes he has led Daemon into an ambush, with Claire as lead executioner in a team of shooters. The execution of the plan goes flawlessly, until another explosion changes everything. That’s when this roller coaster ride of a narrative speeds up through the hallways of Washington, where the evolution of warfare is changing, and power plays are being made to China, where a game of survival involves ever changing rules. The story itself becomes a puzzle as everyone looks to find the hidden pieces that might uncover the truth.
Joe Klingler’s novel is an intelligent, non-stop page turner. The characters are well written and believable, the technology detailed always engrossing, the story moves along almost effortlessly. The ramifications of the evolving technology is explored, whether through drone use or Artificial Intelligence. Klingler knows his technology, but also knows how to bring out depth in characters, major or not. This author has a vast potential future that is waiting to be unleashed.
The Odd Fellows Society
The Odd Fellows Society is one book not to be missed. When left an urgent message by his friend and colleague, Jasper, Father Santiago Torres agrees to meet him, but is left stood up by his friend and the new owner of a chicken bestowed upon him by an insistent Chinese woman. It is only later that Santiago learns that his friend did not stand him up, but that Jasper has died of an apparent suicide. Grief-stricken by the death of his friend, Santiago feels that it was not a suicide that killed Jasper and that there is more to his death than meets the eye. When he begins receiving cryptic messages from The Odd Fellows Society, he is led on a scavenger hunt that takes him through the monuments and mysteries of Washington, DC. Santiago believes these clues are being sent to him so that he can find the final copy of Jaspers thesis that apparently holds valuable information. With the help of his friend Abigail, Santiago follows the clues given to him by The Odd Fellows Society and uncovers information that goes back centuries. He also uncovers another secret society, called the Stewards, that may or may not still exist. The more he learns on his hunt helps him on his quest, but also begins to put himself and those closest to him in danger. Reluctant to accept help or heed the warnings of many, including his brother Nico, who is in the FBI, Santiago continues to follow the messages from The Odd Fellows Society. Relentless in his search, even as his job and life are on the line, Santiago knows that he must solve the clues for his friend and the greater good. Whether he will be able to do this and end up alive is uncertain at every turn.
C.G. Barrett has created an amazing book that combines so many genres it should have one of its own. The Odd Fellows Society is a mystery, a thriller, a romance, a treasure hunt, an adventure, historical fiction, and full of suspense at every turn. Barretts ability to combine all of these genres creates a book that truly keeps you guessing until the very end. There are times that you think you have it figured out and then he throws a curve ball, leaving readers reeling as to what just happened. Not only is the storyline strong and consistent throughout the book, the characters are all very well thought-out and written. You can tell that each character has a purpose and, while you may not know what it is right away, you know you need to remember them.
This book was exciting and thoroughly enjoyable to read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a book that keeps you engaged.
A family is murdered in a dilapidated Minneapolis housing area, and Milo Krantzthe unpopular rental agent of the unitis pegged as the culprit. Fifty-two-year-old Detective Gunther Mulvaney senses that Milo is telling the truth when he initially pleads not guilty. Yet overnight, Milo’s court proceedings become a main public attraction, and it’s only at the sentencing stage! In addition, Milo not only suddenly changes his plea, but also refuses to say anything in his own defense. Gunther, wondering if Milo’s drastic indifference has something to do with the judge handling his trial, does his own sleuthing. It is a matter of time whether or not Gunther can collect enough evidence to prove Milo’s innocence before he is sent to prison.
Award-winning author, Patrick Garry, spins a mystery within a mystery in his recent novel. Key to Garry’s third person narrative is a complex cast. Garry features a handful of tainted charactersnamely Gunther Mulvaney, Milo Krantz, Judge Donna Davis, and her husband, Steven Davishiding behind facades . Surrounded by a supplemental yet foiled cast, each principal character (whether a professional or supposed lowlife like Milo) is a mixed bag of personalities laced with problems and/or deception. That said, Garry keeps readers scratching their heads and wishing that the real culprit would rise to the surface. Adding to the confusion, Garry’s characters also have their own set of convoluted circumstances that slowly intertwine in the body of plot.
Garry keeps his story moving by incorporating the aforementioned literary tools within chapters that alternate between character scenes as well as backstories. Amid a flurry of activity and red herrings, Garry also includes cliffhanging chapter endings that eventually (for the most part) get resolved in subsequent chapters. Replete with plenty of twists and turns and closing on an eerily open-ended note, Blind Spots is not only a top-of-the-line read for mystery aficionados and beyond, but also earmarked to be another award-winning book.