Defective Detective Departments

What happens when cranky, poorly motivated or seemingly-incompetent individuals are all sidelined together into a single work unit? They end up solving the mysteries that no one else could, of course. Or, at least, in fiction they do. These books are all the first in series that find professional pariahs taking care of business.

The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Chief Detective Carl Morck has always been difficult to get along with, but he was tolerated because he was good at his job. Sidelined after a shooting left him injured and his partner paralyzed, Carl finds himself dubiously in charge of Department Q, responsible for cold cases. With just a lackluster assistant, Assad, Carl starts investigating the 5-year-old disappearance of politician Merete Lynggaard. The reader knows Lynggaard is still alive; can Carl and Assad find her? While darkly humorous, this novel shares elements with other Scandinavian Noir mysteries such as Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, including some violence and a more somber undertone. Continue reading “Defective Detective Departments”

Australian mysteries

Australia has long produced some great mystery writers: Peter Temple, writing the Jack Irish series about a lawyer and gambler turned PI, as well as a number of standalone crime novels; Kerry Greenwood’s post-World War I series featuring private detective Phryne Fisher, to name just two. But in just the last year, authors from Down Under have delivered two new excellent mystery series.

The Dry by Jane Harper
Federal Agent Aaron Falk left his tiny hometown of Kiewarra 20 years ago after the suspicious death of a friend. Now he gets word that another friend from that time, Luke, and Luke’s family have all been killed. Luke’s dad sends Aaron a letter that simply says “Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.” And so he returns home to try to figure out what happened, and to try and come to terms with the death of his friend two decades before. This has a great cast of characters, two interesting mysteries split across 20 years, and Harper writes so realistically of the drought-stricken Outback that you can practically feel the hot wind coming off the sheep farms.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
A year ago, Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey pulled over on the side of a rural road to adjust his fishing equipment; a girl at the bus stop nearby went missing at nearly the same time, and was found days later assaulted and left for dead. Ted was accused but not convicted of the crime, released from jail with no job, no family or friends, and no prospects. He fled north, to the steamy, swampy, crocodile-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake. At loose ends, struggling for money, his lawyer connects him with private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself convicted of murder when she was a teenager. Ted and Amanda make uneasy partners, but jump in together on the case of a very successful local author who has gone missing. Fox weaves together an interesting current mystery (is murder-by-crocodile possible?), while also teasing aspects of Amanda and Ted’s pasts in a way that will leave you impatient for the sequel.

~ posted by Andrea G.

Rio Reads

Today begins the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Watching televised coverage of the Games, you will surely see glimpses of life in Rio in the background. If you want to round out your sports viewing with a more robust and nuanced view of life in Rio and in the rest of Brazil, here are some books and authors to pique your interest. (You’ll find even more on this list).

Novels set in Brazil

Continue reading “Rio Reads”

If You Like Daniel Silva… (he’s coming to the Library!)

Come see #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva in conversation with Warren Etheredge at the Central Library’s Microsoft Auditorium, at 7 p.m., Monday, July 23.

Daniel SilvaI love July for the warmth and light to read a good book in the evening on the porch, and the sure and certain knowledge that I’ll have another installment of Daniel Silva’s superlative series featuring Israeli spy and assassin cum art restorer Gabriel Allon. (This July The Fallen Angel takes us all inside the walls of the Vatican, where I expect a much more interesting and realistic experience than my last literary visit there – sorry Dan Brown). Whether he’s ferreting out art treasures stolen by the Nazis, facing off against Russian arms dealers, or infiltrating jihadist terrorists, Allon never fails to provide a convincing and compelling focus for beguiling and complex tales of international intrigue. Silva manages to combine all the fun of a series hero with the style and thought-provoking moral complexity that readers expect from literary fiction.

If you’ve never tried Silva, you’re in for a treat. If you have, and grow wearing of waiting for Allon’s next adventure, here are some other authors of stylish and complex espionage that may help you through the other ten months of the year.

  • A Very Private Gentleman, by Martin Booth. He dreams of retirement, collecting butterflies and finding love in a small Italian town. The deadly assassins who are his clients have another plan.
  • A Spy by Nature, by Charles Cummings. Promising young marketing consultant Alec Milius finds a novel way up the corporate ladder, by becoming a private sector spy.
  • Requiem for an Assassin, by Barry Eisler. John Rain is a seasoned professional assassin, but don’t think he doesn’t have his doubts. This is Rain’s sixth adventure: will it be his last?
  • The Good Son, by Michael Gruber. When a group of pacifists is kidnapped in Pakistan, psychologist Sonia tries to connect with her captors, while her son attempts to rescue her from without.
  • Bloodmoney, by David Ignatius. This look at private sector spies infiltrating Pakistani terrorists has Ignatius’ hallmark: authentic detail and complex real world intrigue.
  • Istanbul Passage, by Joseph Kanon. As World War II comes to a close, Leon Bauer is given one last job by the allies, to smuggle a refugee to safety. But is he a Nazi war criminal?
  • The Silent Oligarch, by Chris Morgan Jones. As the man who launders the money for a corrupt Russian minister, Richard Lock likes to keep out of sight, but lately he’s started to attract attention.
  • Timebomb, by Gerald Seymour. In Russia, everything’s for sale, so who was the highest bidder for a newly discovered suitcase nuke buried since the Cold War?

You’ll find more suggested titles right here in our catalog. Come join us on July 23 for Silva’s live interview with Warren Etheredge. Books will be for sale, and Silva will be signing. Oh, and here are some reading suggestions from Daniel Silva himself:

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Crime: Evil under the Rising Sun.

Watching the cherry blossoms burst forth and fade always makes me think of Japan. But my Japan is not a place of samurai, ninja and serene Zen temples. The Japan I think of is lit by neon rather than a rising sun. A place of tailored suits, leather jackets, discos and hostess bars, a place where the eternal human game of life and death, cops and robbers, is played with a unique style. Here are some favorite titles – fiction and non-fiction – Tokyo Vice, by Jake Adelsteinabout this Japanese underworld (and here they are in our library catalog).

Jake Adelstien did not intend to become a crime reporter for Yomiuri Shinbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers but this was Tokyo in the 90’s and he needed a job. Jake was soon rubbing elbows with police detectives and senior yakuza figures. Adelstein uses his status as an outsider supplemented with sometimes insane courage to take the reader deep inside the Japanese criminal world. Tokyo Vice, by Jake Adelstein.

Another outsider to penetrate the darker places of Japan was British journalist, Richard Lloyd Parry. His investigation following the disappearance of Lucie Blackman while she was working in a hostess bar takes the reader along a convoluted path stretching from London to Tokyo’s Roppongi district, from the oceanside cave where her body was found through the long and complex trial of her accused attacker. People Who Eat  Darkness, by Richard Lloyd Perry.

Yakuza Moon, by Shoko TendoShoko Tendo was born inside this darker world. In her revealing and sometimes harrowing memoir she shows us the unadorned life of someone raised inside the yakuza. This is an unblinking look at the rare joys and frequent despairs of a criminal life where women are considered accessories or chattel, if they are considered at all. Ms. Tendo’s path leads through drugs, loan sharks and violence until she creates her own way out and in so doing transforms the traditional yakuza tattoo into a symbol of strength. Yakuza Moon, by Shoko Tendo.

Turning to fiction, Natsuo Kirino’s Out details the story of a group of women working the night shift in a Tokyo factory that produces bento lunches. An accidental murder soon has the group tangling with the yakuza and the police. However do not Continue reading “Crime: Evil under the Rising Sun.”