Red Flags

Tammy Kaehler’s mystery series features racecar driver Kate Reilly, an up-and-coming hotshot who plies her trade in the fictional Sports Car Championship (SCC), but she’s looking to move up into IndyCar and even a potential start in the Indy 500. In Kaehler’s fourth book, RED FLAGS, Reilly comes with her SCC team to the Long Beach Grand Prix, one of IndyCar’s premier events that will feature the SCC race as a support race.

For those who are not attuned, Long Beach, California has been host to both Formula One and IndyCar races since 1976. It’s a beautiful, difficult, technical course run directly on the streets of the city along the waterfront. It’s a glorious track that encourages brilliant racing and with its southern Californian locale and usually great weather, the race weekend becomes more of a spectacular event than a single race.

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Nearly Nero: The Adventures of Claudius Lyon, the Man Who Would Be Wolfe

Prolific crime and western novelist Loren D. Estleman owes his love of mysteries to his discovery as a young reader of the works of Rex Stout; especially the stories of Stout’s most famous character, Nero Wolfe, as relayed by Wolfe’s legman Archie Goodwin. And, like many authors of his generation, Estleman was moved to pay homage to Stout by writing stories in the popular and enduring tradition of Nero Wolfe.

But rather than produce pastiches of “lost adventures” – like the countless Sherlock Holmes tributes – Estleman created a character so enamored with Wolfe that he reinvents himself, as nearly as he can, in the image of his hero. Thus we have Claudius Lyon and the nine gently satiric and wonderfully humorous stories gathered together for the first time in Estleman’s latest title, NEARLY NERO.

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The Murder of Mary Russell

I wonder if I’m getting to be a bit Sherlock-ed. After collecting Sherlockiana for 20 years, then running through multiple video reboots, some very welcome (Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch), some not so much (Robert Downey Jr.), and then reading re-inventions or reinterpretations of the canon from some very fine writers (Laurie R. King) and some not so fine (John Gardner), I wonder if it’s all become just a bit too much.

It was my first thought on reading the new-in-paperback THE MURDER OF MARY RUSSELL, Laurie R. King’s 14th novel featuring Sherlock Holmes as having been married to one Mary Russell. In this installment, Holmes doesn’t even show up until around page 130 and that’s in an extensive flashback. For this book primarily is less about Holmes or even Russell, and more about the very colorful past of one Mrs. Hudson.

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Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly

Adrian McKinty continues his series featuring Irish detective Sean Duffy with his latest novel, POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON’T LOOK FRIENDLY. Like previous series titles, this one takes place in the mid-1980s, when Ireland was in the midst of “The Troubles” – that is, the ongoing and often violent tension between Catholics and Protestants.

The setting is Belfast, 1988. A man is found dead, killed by a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. Detective Sean Duffy of the Carrick Police Force is called away from his holiday and assigned the case. Duffy immediately recognizes the dead man as a known drug dealer.

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The Night Bird

In THE NIGHT BIRD, his latest stand-alone mystery, Brian Freeman again probes the psychological themes found in most of his previous works. Here, however, a psychologist and her unusual therapy technique are one of the main characters.

San Francisco Homicide Detective Frost Easton is investigating a series of bizarre deaths. The fact that the victims, all women, reportedly suffered psychotic breakdowns just before their deaths causes Easton to look for other possibilities connections between the victims.

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The Killing Bay

Wow. I’d never read a mystery set within the Faroe Islands, but after Chris Ould’s THE KILLING BAY, I want to go back and read his first (THE BLOOD STRAND) and will eagerly await what I presume to be the third in the series (THE FIRE PIT, due February 2018).

He brilliantly describes the Faroe countryside (very evocative, and with a handy map and place name pronunciation guide) and the Faroe culture (such as the grind, a whale hunt in which all the islanders take a share of the meat and blubber from the dead animal).

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The Dark Room

Jonathan Moore’s latest novel, THE DARK ROOM, combines an unexpectedly complex plot with equally unexpected character empathy. Call it a thriller if you like, but certain plot elements and the character intimacy especially make it an engaging and thoroughly contemporary mystery.

Gavin Cain, a homicide inspector for the San Francisco Police Department, is supervising an exhumation at a cemetery just outside of town as the novel opens. Suddenly his phone rings, and Cain is told that a helicopter is on it way to bring him to the mayor’s office. The exhumed casket – central to a cold case Cain has worked on for several weeks – will have to wait.

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The Trapped Girl

I had never come across Robert Dugoni’s mystery series featuring Seattle Detective Tracy Crosswhite, but I will now actively look for them. There are four full-length novels starting with MY SISTER’S GRAVE, HER FINAL BREATH, IN THE CLEARING and culminating with the book under review, THE TRAPPED GIRL.

He also has a five-book series starring Attorney David Sloane and a couple of one-offs including a non-fiction book. If they are anything like THE TRAPPED GIRL, then all his books will be eminently readable and exciting.

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Bryant & May: Strange Tide

strangetideChristopher Fowler is here to brighten our winter season with BRYANT & MAY: STRANGE TIDE, the latest Peculiar Crime Unit mystery featuring lead senior detectives Arthur Bryant and John May. Like previous titles in this series the mystery is enhanced with esoteric facts about London, the Unit’s home base. And, like previous titles, it is an unyielding joy to read.

A woman is found drowned in the Thames River after being chained to a concrete pillar at low tide. But only one set of footprints lead to where the woman was found. The odd nature of the death is brought to the Peculiar Crime Unit (PCU), who immediately researches the dead woman’s background to determine if the single set of footprints indicate suicide.

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The Hollow Men

hollowmenTHE HOLLOW MEN is a powerful and exciting debut novel from Rob McCarthy, and it starts what promises to be a series of riveting police procedurals. It’s not just a police procedural however, it’s also a medical procedural because McCarthy’s protagonist, Dr. Harry Kent, is a police surgeon for the London Metropolitan Police. The opening hundred or so pages seamlessly weaves together the worlds of coppers and medicos, the specialized language and details of the job peculiar to both, along with all the violence and the blood.

The book opens with a young down-and-out man who has taken a number of hostages in a fast-food restaurant. He’s coughing spasmodically and Dr. Kent is called to treat him while the cops are trying to negotiate during the standoff. If the doctor can help the boy, he will release some of the hostages.

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