Meg Gardiner has proven to be a writer who delivers. She gives thriller fans everything they want, in character, pace, and world building, presenting it all in a fresh way. This is especially true of her latest, The Dark Corners Of Night.
It is the third book in her UNSUB series, featuring FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix. Her latest case takes her to L.A., putting her up against a chilling adversary dubbed The Midnight Man. The killer attacks families in their homes, murdering the parents and leaving the children to tell the tale. With the help of a girl who thwarted the Midnight Man from breaking in, Cailtin and team begin their hunt.
Gardiner builds the suspense and chills, chapter by chapter. She delves into criminal profiling, portraying it as much art as science when Caitlin goes against the grain of the standard theory, believing it is not the usual suspect. The book gives a great reveal in the identity of The Midnight Man, then cranks up the tension for an intense showdown.
The Dark Corners Of The Night is Meg Gardiner at her finest. She gives us a flawed heroine you can’t help but root for, a villain both complex and undeniably evil, and a plot that constantly puts you on the edge. If she ups her game any more, we might not be able to survive.
The Dark Corners of the Night is available for pre-order now. And don’t miss your chance to meet Meg Gardiner and have your book signed when she’s in-store on Saturday, February 22nd at 5PM.
For the past few years, I had been meaning to read one of Joe Ide’s I.Q. novels. Friends and writers I admire have been raving about this series that follows Isaiah “I.Q.” Quintabe, a young, black man who services his East Long Beach area as an unlicensed detective with Sherlock-level skills. When I got the opportunity to read his latest, Hi Five, I became hooked.
The book gives us a great premise that immediately puts I.Q. in a tight spot. Angus Burns, a white supremacist gun dealer, comes to him. His daughter Christiana is the main suspect in the murder of his right hand man. I.Q. has to clear her name or Angus will break the hands of his violinist girlfriend, Stella. Christiana witnessed the killing, but suffers from multiple personality disorder. I.Q. must bring out each of them and piece together what each of them saw. If that’s not enough, we also have a power struggle in the illegal arms centered around a modern Gatling gun.
As great as the plot is, it’s the human elements that pull you into the book. Ide’s East Long Beach community is as rich and holds as many many human beings with heart as Craig Johnson’s Absaroka County and Louis Penny’s Three Pines, with I.Q. as it’s protector, who sees it as something worth protecting. His friendships and relationships have both a messiness and deep emotion to them that make them feel real and flow instead of
remaining static. This is very much with his buddy Cahill who knows I.Q. needs to have someone watching his back even though he doesn’t always understand where he’s going. The danger he puts Stella in has I.Q. wondering if he should be with her. It’s a relationship that gets further tested when his old flame returns.
Ide put me in tune with this world and these people so well, I felt like I had read all the previous books. That said, I look forward to reading the others. Hi Five is one of those fine genre novels that work on so many different levels. Most of all, it has beautifully rendered people dealing with their place in life and connection to others, something you need to be smarter than I.Q. to figure out.
About the author: Joe Ide grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where his favorite books were the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. He held a variety of different jobs — including Hollywood screenwriter — before writing IQ, his debut novel, which went on to win the Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus awards. Joe lives in Santa Monica, CA.
You can pre-order Hi-Fivenow and catch up on the IQ series now by ordering online or shopping with us in-store.
No genre can tap into melancholy like the private eye novel. From Marlowe and Archer, to Matt Scudder and Moe Prager, there is a poetic sadness the detective can wear as easily as a trenchcoat and fedora. One of the best sad sack eyes of late is Matt Coyle’s Rick Cahill, and in Lost Tomorrows, he is delivered to an emotionally messy past.
When hearing the death of his former partner, Krista Laudingham, Cahill returns to his old police beat in San Diego after leaving the force when accused of killing his wife. Her sister, Leah, doesn’t believe her death was accidental and hires Rick to look into it. Now Rick finds himself in the place of his darkest past, up against cops who think he is a killer and some who could be the killer.
Coyle does a reverse on Rick’s usual dilemma. In many of the books, Cahill is dealing with the past to clear his name or his father’s of something they were innocent of. Here, the past comes at him with something he can not deny. He has to find forgiveness as well as justice, something that is difficult to get when the women he wronged are dead.
Cahill’s search for the killer and absolution are entwined in his relationship with Leah. They are two wounded people who could either heal or further hurt the other. The dance they have with each other throughout the book subtle, poignant, and even harrowing at times.
Cahill may solve the case at the end of Lost Tomorrows and may have found a path to mending his heart, though we know the journey is far from over. Someday, maybe he’ll walk alone down those mean streets, but be a little less lonely.
Lost Tomorrows is available to pre-order from BookPeople now.
Ken Bruen has described his latest Jack Taylor novel, Galway Girl, as a penultimate book with his anti-social, drink and drug addicted finder who drops further and further into the abyss. We definitely see him possibly finding a road to hope. That said, he will walk through fire to get there.
We pick up with Jack still in understandable anguish from events in The Galway Silence. He is pulled into duty when someone is bumping off guards, one he knew. The murders are connected to a trio of killers linked to his past. Jack, who has been more of a reluctant survivor, takes what he’s developed by in his hard life of being one and with the help of a bird he rescued comes at Jericho with a vengeance, resulting in one of the best crime fiction endings of the year.
Jack may be rising from the depths, but he’s not flying out of the ashes phoenix style. It is more like he hovers just above them, his flapping wings kicking up some of those ashes around him. With a second year of Trump and Brexit fallout playing in the background, he’s not just striking out at Jericho, but the entire mad world.
More and more with each Jack Taylor book, Ken Bruen works directly with his time. It has become an important part of the character’s fragility. We identify with the pressure and insanity these days have done to us. Despite his faults, like our own, we want him to make it and find peace. Maybe that’s why he hovers, Ken keeps him close to us.
You can grab your copy of Galway Girl from BookPeople in-store and online now at bookpeople.com
Jake Hinkson is an author deserving of more attention. A cross between Jim Thompson and Flannery O’Connor, his people do bad things while often negotiating their religious faith. Recently landing on the prestigious Pegasus imprint with one of his finest, Dry County, he may finally get his due.
The dilemma of Richard Weatherford, an upper-middle class teacher in the Arkansas Ozarks, drives the story. He is being blackmailed by Gary Doane, a parishioner he had an affair with, for twenty-thousand dollars. In an attempt to get the money, he tells Brian Harten, a local screw up who wants to open a liquor store, that he will move his vote on the town council on its dry law for the cash. In pursuit of his dream, Brian decides to rob his boss, who owns the bar outside the county line and has his fingers in a few questionable pies. All get caught up in a chain of violence and black comedy including the minister’s wife and Gary’s girlfriend, all over an Easter weekend, that leads leads to one of the best last lines this year.
Hinkson follows these characters at a perfect distance. We’re close enough to feel their desperation and understand their thought process, but never so intimate to completely stand with or predict them. It allows for the satire to never play broad. We are also able to easily switch sympathies when more is understood. Like a good Elmore Leonard character, you know them, but never know where they are going.
Not only does the story tie them together through plot, but through the idea of faith. Hinkson not only deals with religious faith faith, but faith in love, money, politics (it takes place during the 2016 Primaries) and family. Much of the characters’ actions are driven by their beliefs in at least one and the justifications they use when that faith is challenged.
Dry County will hopefully earn Jake Hinkson the fanbase he deserves. He’s subtle in his preciseness, revealing an evil that doesn’t seem so threatening at first glance. By the time we’ve reached that last line, we’ve stared straight in the eye, and maybe chuckled.
You can purchase Dry Countyat BookPeople in-store and online now.
The latest in Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire series, Land Of Wolves, rewards readers who have followed the big man with the bruised heart ever since his debut in The Cold Dish. It contains echoes of that book and several others as Walt finds himself at an uncertain place in his life, yet feeling a touch of deja’ vu as well. The events from the previous book, Depth Of Winter, have left him with physical and psychic wounds with a mystery that has him facing a mystery with possible international implications, a renegade wolf, and himself.
The book even begins with Walt and deputy Vic Moretti out in Wyoming back country discussing how they’ve been here before and wondering how that turned out. They’ve been brought in due to the disappearance of sheep; the investigation leads to a large wolf prowling the area, who Vic dubs Larry after Lon Chaney Jr.’s character in The Wolfman, and a shepherd hanging from a tree. The man, Miguel Hernandez, worked for the Extepares, a Basque sheep herding family who was responsible for blowing off the leg of Walt’s predecessor, Lucian Connally. Hernandez was also a political dissident in Chile with reasons and people at home and abroad to kill him.
Larry also plays a major part in the story. Much like his Universal Horror namesake, the town is after him. There are several questions about who he is and where he came from. Walt’s Cheyenne pal, Henry Standing Bear, believes the animal is connected to Virgil White Buffalo, the Vietnam veteran Crow Indian who has served as a spiritual guide for Walt in times past. Walt has doubts, but less than he usually does, yet wonders what he’s trying to say.
Walt is in one of his most fragile states. In Mexico, he pulled out a darker side he’s having difficulty contending with now. A fugue state has taken over him and he finds himself disconnected from those he loves, particularly his daughter Cady. He fears he is returning to that person who shut people off after his wife died and he doesn’t want to go back to to that. The title comes form the Basque proverb “A land of strangers is a land of wolves.” Walt has returned to a land of strangers he knows.
If this all sounds depressing, the book is far from it. Vic gets many great moments, particularly when being forced into the role as Walt’s life coach. Fans of Dog will be happy to see he gets a lot of attention on the page, including one with Walt trying to get him into the bullet that is both funny and poignant. There is also the subplot with Ruby and the deputy’s teaching him to use the desktop computer forced on him, something he fears will lead to a phone.
Land Of Wolves allows Craig Johnson to do what he does best. He is able to to take his time, take in Walt’s friendships and the lay of the land. The result is the reader taking in the life of a survivor and see the benefits and price of being one.
You can purchase Land of Wolves from BookPeople here now.
Matthew McBride is a crime fiction voice I always look forward to hearing. Not only is it fresh and unique, it carries a great range. His first book, Frank Sinatra In A Blender, was a satiric, ultra violent, stylized masterpiece while his follow up, A Red Swollen Sun delivered a brooding rural noir gem. His third, End Of The Ocean, gives us an introspective South Seas ballad with a perfect balance of humor and dread.
The tale plays on the interaction of three people. At the center is Sage, a hard luck guy, who has traveled to Bali to drink his wounds away from a rough divorce. He falls for Ratri, an island woman whose culture blocks them from being together. Sage also strikes up a friendship with Wayne, a questionable businessman plugged into the country. When Sage realizes the only way out of his dilemma requires a lot of cash, Wayne offers him a job. It involves a run to Thailand for him, a country where drug smuggling is punishable by death and that may be better than being thrown into their prisons.
McBride takes his time building these relationships and this seemingly simple plot in entertaining fashion. He wants us to know these people and the country they move through. We experience Bali and Ratri like Sage, with his romance unfolding for both in a heartfelt way only a damaged man can feel. Wayne’s point of view provides the initial plot and suspense as we watch him hustle and gather a network of people to work for him. He could be one of the Miami hustlers from an Elmore Leonard novel forced to leave the country. We never know how much is talk and how much is the real thing, however like Sage, we want to trust him even though we probably shouldn’t.
When Sage takes the risk, we are in and it’s tense. The plan has more than a few hiccups. One of them lands him in a jail we pray he gets out of. We are so invested in these characters, we cringe at every obstacle in Sage’s path. He then delivers an ending that dovetails beautifully with its theme to punch us in the gut.
End Of The Ocean continues Matthew McBride’s chain of stand out crime novels that demonstrate the breadth of the genre. Questioning the nature of love, it is also his most personal. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long to see what’s next from him.