4 crime novels with twists to entertain and intrigue

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Would I lie to you?

By Aliya Ali-Afzal

Grand Central, 470 pages, $14

Faiza, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, married into white London high society: a banker husband, a nice house in Wimbledon, fancy schools for the three children. Then the husband, Tom, loses his job. No worries, he says, the couple’s emergency fund will help them out. What he doesn’t know is that Faiza, who serves as the book’s panicked narrator, demolished the fund on frivolities such as Botox parties. Over the rest of the book, nail-biting to the end, the surprisingly likeable Faiza must simultaneously rebuild the fund and keep her husband in the dark. It calls for countless big and small financial crimes and brings a sleazy investment adviser deep into the plot. Ali-Afzal, a first-time novelist, possesses both a relaxed touch with her storytelling and an ability to keep readers involved in Faiza’s life on the financial edge.

The cage

By Bonnie Kistler

HarperCollins, 352 pages, $33.50

Shay Lambert is young, ambitious and a litigation attorney starting out as an in-house attorney at a major New York high fashion conglomerate. Right away, it becomes apparent to readers that someone is setting up Shay to suffer a bizarre death. The rest of the plot, tangled in the extreme, traces Shay’s efforts to maneuver around, through and over the wall of legislation and court rulings stacked against her. For readers, having a law degree would help them understand what’s going on – that’s how wickedly complex legal events become. Still, Bonnie Kistler has a crystal-clear writing style, and with a modicum of determination, it’s possible for readers to sort honorable lawyers from bad guys, people who have Shay’s best interests at heart from plotters who want her be victimized.

The Parisian apartment

By Lucy Foley

Tomorrow, 368 pages, $35.99

If you expect a captivating Parisian atmosphere and familiar landmarks, look elsewhere. If you want a mind-bending puzzle that could take place almost anywhere, read on. Jess, freshly fired from her job at a bar in England, arrives in Paris to stay with her half-brother Ben in his upscale Paris apartment. The immediate puzzle is that Ben seems to have disappeared. Jess solicits Ben’s neighbors in the building. Although they appear to have ties to Ben, they plead ignorance of his current location. But, haha, they seem like a dodgy bunch. Jess continues. It’s deep into the narrative, in fact well into spoiler territory, before anything resembling a hint appears. On the plus side, Jess creates an engaging company and the story, toned down as it is, unfolds at a pleasingly fast pace.

The harbor

By Katrine Engberg

Scout Press, 342 pages, $37.00

This time around, the two Danish detectives at the center of Katrine Engberg’s animated series seem at first distracted from their investigative duties. One of them, Jeppe Korner, is recently divorced and plans to move in with his new girlfriend. The other, Anette Werner, seems dazed by her roles as wife and mother. Are the two cops more concerned about domestic affairs than the case of the missing teenager? Presumably. But eventually, a murdered body turns up, and in the blink of an eye, the homicide investigation shifts from personal matters to police priorities. This is also where the plot takes on a new tension and the city of Copenhagen, mainly in the port area geographically speaking, gives a lot of suspicious details that bring tantalizing physical meaning to the story.

J.B.

Jack Batten is a Toronto-based writer and freelance contributor to the Star

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