BookPeople is staffed by readers as prolific as they are discerning. Here, we continue our week of mystery recommendations from our first floor Inventory Manager Raul Chapa, who reads more books than seems humanly possible.
The Devil’s Evidence by Simon Kurt Unsworth
When unexplained fires consume both humans and demons in Hell, Thomas Fool, now Commander of the Information Office of Hell, is unable to make any headway before he is ordered to accompany Hell’s Delegation to Heaven. Experiencing Heaven is disconcerting because everything is supposed to be perfect, but Fool begins to notice certain imperfections that the angels do not grasp, and he is tasked to investigate what the angels cannot acknowledge – that there could actually be murder in Heaven. Having to balance the threat of the demons sent with him as well as insolence of the angels, Fool is left to follow the clues wherever they may lead, for there are forces at work that would agitate both Hell and Heaven to further their own agenda and plunge both the Infernal and Holy Realms into war. Unless Fool discovers out the truth. Truly a literary gem that plays out as a great mystery series with a one of a kind anti-hero!
Once a Crooked Man by David McCallum
What a great tale of good intentions gone bad! When Harry Murphy, an life time actor and NY native, hears that a man’s life is in danger, he goes to London to intervene and warn the man. What follows is a raucous and hilarious story involving retiring mobsters, dirty money, and smuggling that is thrilling and taut paced. The various roles that Harry must assume as he zigzags between saving himself and his friend Lizzie, herself a whacked out special agent, make for absorbing reading. Mcallum provides great characterization that develops into fully rounded protagonists and he has a great twist toward the end that is pleasingly surprising and unexpected. Loads of fun!
The Watcher In The Wall by Owen Laukkanen
When Stevens and Windermere of the joint BCA-FBI violent crimes task force get wind of an online predator who seeks out lonely and forgotten teenagers to encourage them to commit suicide, they begin a tense and virtual investigation to find him. With nine possible victims, this serial killer must be stopped, but they find out the predator is using various aliases to hide in many chat rooms and already has a couple of prospects waiting to fall, but one is unlike the others. If she can keep her wits about her, she may actually survive. Laukkanen is the master of the overnight thriller and this book is a wonderful addition to the series – intelligent, emotive and full of action.
The Never Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
A work that embraces the lonely and creates a world for them all their own; Anderson’s novel evokes not only the struggle of ordinary people against unpredictable circumstances it illustrates the absolute beauty of the Utah desert. Ben, a down and out truck driver on a lonely stretch of highway, deals with people who do not like to stand out – he delivers what they order and he occasionally receives payment for his services: on his road there are people with hidden pasts that one does not inquire about out of respect. When he unexpectedly comes across a woman who is living where no one really is expected to be, his life will change forever. Anderson’s tale is a haunting story about how the horrors of the past can still bring a pristine and good future to those worthy of it. Anderson has an understanding of loneliness that he stirs up with some unique and eccentric characters.
Dodgers by Bill Beverly
When East, part of a crew of inner city gangsters, has the crack house he has watched over for two years overrun by police, he is sent on a cross country road trip to murder a key witness in the case. This journey is as unexpected as East’s reaction to experiencing a land he has never even imagined, and this is the true magic of this book – East begins to see another side to the world he has always known and its beauty and unknown wonders begin to fill his mind. Is there life outside of the Boxes? What does a real life consist of? Beverly’s masterful prose balances out the tension between the characters and the story is of a break neck pace that will keep your nose in this book until the surprising finale. This title is sure to be nominated for awards this year, and I already am ready for Beverly’s next book.
No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd
When four women are accused of trying to kill a man while boating, Rutledge is called to try to figure out the facts in the case. Following on the heels of another Inspector, Rutledge cannot find a single clue as to why the women would want the man dead, and here is where Charles Todd’s singular skills as a writer come into play because what seems to be a straight forward case veers into twists and turns as Rutledge begins looking for the details that make the most sense: Who is the mysterious person who is walking the edges of the village at night? Is there a connection to the visitors the village welcomes every summer? As time passes and other victims are counted, Rutledge may run out of time to clear the women’s names as the killer may have a motive that our Inspector has not considered and this may put his own life in dire jeopardy. Another beautifully written and meticulously plotted mystery that will keep you up all night.
Hour of the Wolf by Hakan Nesser
The Maardam CID has to take a case that, though sounding impossible to solve, they have to solve, for this time the murder hits too close to home. When a the body of a boy is found, there is little to connect him to a killer who strikes again and again to hide his secret. Van Veeteren, retired and on his own, must find some closure with the help of his police colleagues and contribute somewhat in the pursuit of the killer – but nothing will be the same again.
The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg
After the publication of his first novel, Christian Thydell is flush with success, but when it is revealed that he and three of his childhood friends have been receiving threatening letters, it seems his past will come to haunt him. When the threats lead to murder, the police become involved, but will they be in time to save him from his demons? Once again, Lackberg provides a harrowing mystery dealing with family, hidden secrets and madness that is compelling. She has a way of stringing the reader along – providing credible false leads, and her mesmerizing prose makes for absorbing reading. She has an uncanny way of illustrating several story lines that seem unconnected but actually reveal more about the mystery than the characters themselves realize – and this makes her stories brilliant.