Review by New York Times Review
WELCOME TO DEVIL'S POCKET, "a small neighborhood of 70 or so families pleated into the eastern bank of the river, a crimp of peeling clapboard rowhouses, asphalt playgrounds, small corner stores and brown brick buildings as old as the city of Philadelphia itself." Richard Montanari's elegiac tone takes the curse off shutter man (Mulholland/Little, Brown, $26), a blood-drenched thriller about a group of imperfectly domesticated boys who came from the same blighted neighborhood and grew up to become criminals and killers - and cops. Back in the day, a beloved local child was murdered, "and the world would never be the same" in Devil's Pocket. Less than a week later, Desmond Farren, the pitiable oldest son in the notoriously vicious Farren clan, was found dead, "shot once in the back of the head." Jump now to the present day and find out how those long-ago crimes still haunt the grown men whose lives were shaped by them. And pay special mind to Detective Kevin Byrne, the ethically conflicted hero of Montanari's gripping police procedurals. As one of those wild boys from the old neighborhood, Byrne would seem to have an advantage after new evidence turns up in Desmond's still unsolved murder. But when he's presented with this evidence, his impulse is to run for the hills. Meanwhile, Byrne is the lead detective on a confounding case of grotesque and seemingly random killings. From the outset, the reader knows these atrocities are actually being committed by "Billy the Wolf," one of Desmond's brothers, who has a neurological disorder that makes him unable to recognize faces. (He uses photographs to identify his targets.) While Billy sounds like a monster, he's also to be pitied. In fact, there's a lot of flawed humanity in Devil's Pocket, from that sourpuss Old Man Flagg, who owns the variety store where kids shoplift, to Angelica Leary, an exhausted, fastidious home-care nurse who "would buy breath mints before she'd buy food." Living side by side, they create a place you might call home. Or hell. WHAT'S THIS? A female cop who doesn't look like a runway model and doesn't go mano a mano with psychotic killers? Trudy Nan Boyce may be a first-time author, but she was in law enforcement for more than 30 years, which should explain why the stationhouse personnel and forensic details in OUT OF THE BLUES (Putnam, $27) feel so authentic. Her rookie homicide detective, Sarah Alt, who goes by the name of S. Alt, or Salt, is tasked with proving that Tall John, a notorious Atlanta drug dealer, sold a young bluesman named Michael Anderson the hot shot of heroin that killed him. Atlanta being a great music town, and Salt being a blues and roots fan, the narrative finds its voice when the musicians who played with Anderson in Bailey (Boss of the Blues) Brown's Old Smoke Band come to town. Like a true fan, Boyce takes us into clubs and bootleg juke joints like Sam's Chicken Shack and Blue Room and lets the music speak for itself. That high slumps when the band leaves town, but Boyce's downto-earth characters are still good company. Sadly, one of the best of them was the murdered musician, who revered the old Atlanta bluesmen and "loved, loved, loved the music." CHARLES TODD'S post-World War I mystery, no shred of evidence (Morrow/HarperCollins, $25.99), is very much about assigning blame. Who's responsible when a banker's son is severely injured in what appears to be a boating accident? A farmer who had a hand in the rescue operation accuses the four well-born young ladies in a boating party of deliberately trying to drown him. When Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard comes down to Cornwall to investigate the charge, he finds no obvious villain - and no obvious reason for the townspeople's sense of injustice when it comes to their own personal grievances. "The war" is Rutledge's first thought when the miscreant is finally revealed. "Blame the war if you must." That makes sad sense when you consider the state of the village after its young men failed to return from France, or came back so ruined in mind and body they were unable to marry their sweethearts, tend to their farms or carry on the family business. It's that melancholy tone, the legacy of the trenches, that gives Todd's polite rural mystery such uncommon depth. AMERICANS WERE FAR from welcome in Iceland in 1979, when a young Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson was still getting the hang of homicide work. Arnaldur Indridason's introspective detective testifies to that in into OBLIVION (Thomas Dunne/Minotaur, $25.99), when he tells a colleague he disapproves of the giant military installation maintained by the United States Navy. "It doesn't belong here" is his concise verdict. But an investigation into the murder of a civilian flight mechanic takes him inside this unfriendly military zone, where as many as 6,000 Americans engaged in "hardship" duty live with their families in isolation from the rest of the country. "Isolation" proves a relative term, however, once Erlendur uncovers certain clandestine relationships, from love affairs to drug smuggling, linking servicemen and civilians. Although Indridason's descriptive scenes of Iceland's forbidding landscape are daunting, the big chill comes from the bad feelings between people who don't know one another, and don't want to.
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [February 21, 2016]
Review by Booklist Review
Set in 1979, Indridason's latest Erlendur novel follows the series prequel, Reykjavik Nights (2015). Rookie detective Erlendur and his partner, respected detective Marion Briem, investigate when a body is found submerged in a lava spring. The unidentified man suffered injuries consistent with a great fall, but the man's death remains a mystery until a woman reports her mechanic brother, Kristvin, missing. Kristvin was a civilian employee at the nearby U.S. air base, a politically controversial outpost to thwart the USSR's Cold War initiatives. Unfortunately, the American military authorities are unhelpful, hampering Erlendur and Briem's efforts to interview base staff and inspect the hangars where Kristvin worked, forcing the pair to employ risky unorthodox methods to investigate. And, on his own time, introspective Erlendur continues his personal crusade to solve a college student's decades-old disappearance, which provides fascinating insight into Erlendur's pre-depression psyche. Indridason is a master at weaving big-picture commentary into taut, realistic police procedurals, and he scores another victory with this examination of the Cold War's impact in Iceland.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2016 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Set in Iceland in 1979, several years after the events of 2015's Reykjavík Nights, Indridason's elegantly crafted procedural traces two parallel cases: recently divorced Erlendur Sveinsson's private investigation of the disappearance of a school girl named Dagbjört a quarter-century earlier; and his professional probe, with his enigmatic mentor Marion Briem, of the mysterious death of Kristvin, an Icelandic mechanic who worked at Naval Air Station Keflavík, a large American military installation with an active black market between base personnel and locals. Erlendur can no more forget Dagbjört's case than he can the soul-scourging event of his own childhood, the loss of his younger brother in a raging upland snowstorm, and his near unbearable grief at the loss of his five-year-old daughter through divorce. Marion, who finds Erlendur's stubbornness endearing, also suffers the bitterest pangs of loss in this accomplished analysis of the painful price that people of honor pay in a world swiftly losing its humanity. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
An unidentified body found in a lagoon triggers dark memories for a veteran detective. A howling wind surrounds an enormous hangar near an Icelandic moor. A young woman, ravaged by psoriasis, is taking her customary solitary walk nearby when she sees a body floating in the water. Reykjavik Police Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson and detective Marion Briem investigate and question the skittish woman. Close to the area is a large Army base where many Americans are stationed. Cowboy boots and a leather jacket indicate that the victim might be American. Erlendur remembers a case from his early career involving a girl who disappeared close by. A call from Nanna, a distressed nursery school teacher, is the case's first solid lead. Thanks to her, the victim is identified as her missing brother, Kristvin, an air mechanic. Nanna can think of no reason why anyone would want to kill him. Even as he obsesses about the old case of the missing girl, Erlendur scolds himself for his failure to let it go. The two counterpointed cases show Erlendur's evolution from eager and emotional rookie to melancholy, world-weary chief inspector. Kristvin's American attire may be explained by his possible participation in a smuggling ring. An abandoned car and a peeping Tom figure in the unraveling of the complex crime. Meanwhile, the case of the missing girl never seems to fade. Indridason's quiet authority and moody prose are beautifully at play in Erlendur's 11th case (Reykjavik Nights, 2015, etc.), another pitch-perfect procedural from a master. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.