By Adrian McKinty
Petit Brun, 384 pages, $38
For years the talented Belfast detective novelist Adrian McKinty has written some terrific police procedurals which, despite their high quality, have not achieved regular success. Then in 2019, he changed gears and, with “The Chain”, he made a conventional but brilliantly crafted commercial thriller. It was a smash hit, selling in 30 languages and, as he says in the “Acknowledgements” of his new book, saved him from a career as an Uber driver. Now, no model, he wrote a second thriller in the same genre as “The Chain”. This one tells the sweaty adventure story of an American family of four who, as tourists to Australia, fall victim to Australia’s equivalent of the ruthless hillbillies. The action is frenetic and relentless, barely the literary equivalent of McKinty’s early books, but entirely satisfying if you’re looking for a reliable nightmare or two.
By Linwood Barclay
William Morrow, 368 pages, $34.99
Everyone in the Connecticut town, including the chief cop on the case, Detective Marissa Hardy, thinks Andrew ran over his wife Brie. It’s not that Hardy, an officer with tunnel vision, found a body. But Brie has been missing for six years now, and her family is pushing so hard for a murder charge against Andrew that the city pretty much agrees on him as the culprit – despite the lack of evidence against him. Andrew, an entrepreneur by trade, gets along as best he can and even moves in with a new girlfriend. Then, a few new developments in perhaps Linwood Barclay’s most complex and unsettling work to date tip the case toward resolution. Naturally, this is nothing that readers could have foreseen.
The rule of murder
By Dervla McTiernan
William Morrow, 304 pages, $34.99
Readers know from the start that Hannah, the law student, is working on a secret program. She worked her way to an elite team of lawyers in Virginia on the Innocence Project, a group whose goal is to get out of prison a man who was convicted eleven years earlier for a murder than him and the project insist that he did not commit. It soon becomes apparent that Hannah has ties to the murder that take her beyond legal ties. All of this is handled with maximum impact by Dervla McTiernan with the minor reservation that her Australian background and sensibility sometimes pushes her into steps that don’t quite ring true in an American setting.
cold canadian crime
Edited by Taija Morgan
Crime Writers of Canada, 330 pages, $18.99
There’s no mistaking this annual collection of 21 crime stories written by members of Crime Writers of Canada. Nor is it at all surprising that of the 21 stories, all but three are written by women, who have dominated the Canadian detective genre in recent years. Consistent throughout, whether the writers are short-form veterans or newcomers, it’s a consistently smart and assured approach to the plot. Whenever a character seems to have misplaced a clue or dropped a freebie line, the offending writer regroups. The book is full of these intelligent reworkings, proof that in this collection, the authors insistently remain one step ahead of us readers.
Jack Batten is a Toronto-based writer and freelance contributor to the Star