Review by New York Times Review
HO-HO-??, kiddies. Here comes Bad Santa with another gift sack filled with mysteries, crime stories and body parts. Ugh, what's that gooey red stuff dripping out of Santa's bag? Not to worry, just some melted candy canes. Now, on to this year's rundown of the best Good Books for Bad Grown-Ups. MOST ORIGINAL MURDER method: For lashing a guy to his wheelchair, sealing his mouth with superglue and tossing him into a river, a Christmas angel goes to Ken Bruen's IN THE GALWAY SILENCE (Mysterious Press, $26). Better double the angels, though, because there are two victims - twins, no less. SOFTEST HARD-BOILED PRIVATE EYE: That would be Isaiah (IQ) Quintabe, Joe Ide's brainy P.I. from Los Angeles, who is paid for his services in casseroles, cookies and reindeer sweaters. In WRECKED (Mulholland, $27), the detective accepts a painting from a beautiful client who hires him to find her mother. But this modest missingpersons case leads to a vengeance drama involving an electric cattle prod with enough volts "to knock a steer sideways." MOST UNPRINTABLE DIALOGUE: Lots of competition here, but the angel goes to John Sandford's madly entertaining Virgil Flowers mystery HOLY GHOST (Putnam, $29). Virgil, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, brings a wry sense of humor to the miraculous when the Blessed Virgin pays a visit to a church in Wheatfield, making a bundle of dough for the tiny town. CREEPIEST SETTING: No contest! Anne Perry wins that one with her latest Victorian mystery, DARK TIDE RISING (Ballantine, $28). William Monk, commander of the Thames River Police, takes us to Jacob's Island, a place "like death," where rotting houses are slowly sinking into a "thick, viscous mud that sucked anything of weight into itself, like quicksand." MOST CUTTING WIT: Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski walks away with this angel. In SHELL GAME (Morrow, $27.99), the Chicago P.I. slips into an office after hours by posing as a maid, reasoning that "anyone who's cleaning up after you is part of your furniture, not a person." Needing a foreign language to hide behind, she improvises with the lyrics to "Vissi d'arte." TOUGHEST PUZZLE: I dare you to match wits with Keigo Higashino. Giles Murray's translation of NEWCOMER (Minotaur, $27.99) presents Higashino's fabled Tokyo Metropolitan Police detective, Kyoichiro Kaga (he of the "razor-sharp mind and bloodhound nature"), with a series of minor enigmas wrapped around a brainbusting central mystery: Who murdered a woman with no enemies? PRETTIEST LANGUAGE: That makes two angels for Ken Bruen, whose Irish roughneck, Jack Taylor, talks like an angel himself - only dirtier. IN THE GALWAY SILENCE (Mysterious Press, $26) gives this hotheaded detective good cause for rage, being a fictional treatment of, among other things, a notorious case of systemic fetal death and infanticide in Irish convents. BEST MILEAGE FROM A ROLLING STONE: There's no moss on Jack Reacher. In PAST TENSE (Delacorte, $28.99), Lee Child's peripatetic hero wanders with a purpose, all the way to his father's birthplace in Laconia, N.H. Reacher's search for his roots in this sad old mill town ("a horrific tableau of clouds of smoke and raging fires") is surprisingly sentimental, but brace yourself for the subplot. BEST CHARACTERS OUT OF THEIR DEPTH: What better definition of George Pelecanos's great guys, so human and so doomed? In the man who came uptown (Mulholland/Little, Brown, $27), Michael Hudson emerges from prison a bona fide bibliophile, thanks to the librarian who turned him away from crime and onto books. But this can't last when bad friends realize they need a good guy to drive a getaway car. BEST NATURE STUDY, RED IN TOOTH & CLAW: Delia Owens speaks softly in WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (Putnam, $26), a tenderly told first novel that begins in 1969, when two boys on bikes come upon a body half submerged in a swamp. The rest of the story reveals how the corpse got there and why we might wish it had never been found. MOST COLORFUL CHARACTER NAMESJames Lee Burke is rightly admired for his lush Louisiana bayou crimescapes. But ROBICHEAUX (Simon & Schuster, $27.99) reminds us of his talent for naming locals like Baby Cakes Babineau and Pookie the Possum Domingue, along with a contract killer called Chester Wimple. ("Sometimes people call me Smiley.") LOUDEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Half the members of the Los Angeles Police Department's bomb squad are blown to smithereens in Thomas Perry's THE BOMB MAKER (Mysterious Press, $26). "Bombs were acts of murder," Perry allows, but "they were also jokes on you, riddles the bomber hoped were too tough for you." WEEPIEST WEEPER: Wounded World War I veterans and grieving widows make up much of the shrunken population of the town of Wolfpit, encountered by Inspector Ian Rutledge in THE GATEKEEPER (Morrow, $26.99). Charles Todd's hero, himself a victim of shell shock, is one of the moodiest detectives in the genre. COOLEST DEBUT: By their taste in music shall ye know them. Joe King Oliver, a New York private eye who makes his debut in Walter Mosley's new crime novel, DOWN THE RIVER UNTO THE SEA (Mulholland/ Little, Brown, $27), went into prison with a love of classic jazz masters like Fats Waller. He emerged with a taste for the tormented sounds of Thelonious Monk. MOST SIMPÁTICO DETECTIVE: Donna Leon's Venetian policeman, Commissario Guido Brunetti, bares his bleeding heart in THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS (Atlantic Monthly, $26) when he aids a woman whose 15-year-old son is taking drugs. He advises her to cook dinner for her children, "to show them you're all right and life is normal." CRUELEST MURDERER: Jeffery Deaver indulges his singular flair for ghastly irony in THE CUTTING EDGE (Grand Central, $28). HIS killer unkindly murders couples at their happiest moments - when, say, they're buying an engagement ring or picking out a bridal gown. Don't plan your wedding until you've read this one. NASTIEST TWIST: The F.B.I. agent in Michael Koryta's HOW IT HAPPENED (Little, Brown, $27) is double-crossed by a fiend who leads him to a false dumping ground of murder victims. "The Bureau rarely fires agents," a colleague pitilessly reassures the disgraced agent. "We just bury them." QUIRKIEST SLEUTH: Charlie Parker, John Connolly's private eye, is chronically depressed, which makes him both endearing and unpredictable: "If there's trouble, he'll find it. If there isn't trouble, he'll make some." That predilection suits his heroic role in the woman in the woods (Emily Bestier/Atria, $26.99) as the savior of battered women. MURDER MOST BESTIAL: Poachers are killing black bears in the Turk Mountain Preserve in rural Virginia, which riles Rice Moore, the nature-loving hero of James A. McLaughlin's BEARSKIN (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99), a loner who finds the "complex social network" of bears far more interesting than the human dynamics at the local bar. MARILYN STASIO has covered, crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [June 30, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review
Dick Stahl, owner of a private security company and former head of the LAPD Bomb Squad, is happy to be on his own, but that all changes when two bombs explode in a private house, killing 14 current bomb squad members. Summoned to take over the squad until the bomber is caught, Stahl quickly realizes that the man he faces is no ordinary garage bomb maker. Perry is in straight-ahead thriller mode here, constructing a gripping, clock-ticking plot, awash in fascinating details about bomb making and detection, but he takes his foot off the throttle just enough to give us glimpses into the personalities of the bomber, whose psyche is as unstable as the explosives he arms, and of Stahl, who has personal issues of his own, not the least of which is his dangerous decision to begin a relationship with one of the bomb squad members. Perry, known for his skill at balancing light and dark, comedy and tragedy, pretty much leaves the light side alone here, but readers won't have time to notice, so enveloping is the main story line.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
An unnamed bomber wreaks havoc in this exciting if frustrating thriller from bestseller Perry (The Old Man). When a large cache of explosives blows up under a Los Angeles house, killing the 14 members of the LAPD Bomb Squad at the scene, Dick Stahl, a former bomb squad captain, takes over the squad on a temporary basis. On his first day, Stahl and his team must deal with an intricate car bomb, which he leads them in disarming. That evening, Sgt. Diane Hines, who drove Stahl to the site of the car bomb, arrives at his condo, where the two begin a relationship that grows over the course of the book. The detailed descriptions of the bomb maker's devices and Stahl's methods to disarm them are fascinating, but Perry puts considerably less effort into developing his characters. Stahl is annoyingly perfect, and his subordinates, who never attain his expertise, suffer in their careers as a consequence. The motives of the bomb maker and his mysterious backers remain vague. Still, action junkies will be rewarded. Agent: Mel Berger, WME. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
When half of the entire LAPD bomb squad is killed in a booby-trapped house, it is clear that someone is targeting the group. The authorities call in Dick Stahl, former soldier, cop, and retired bomb squad leader, to train replacements and hunt the killer. He manages to defuse several devices, frustrating the bomber, who kills occasionally just to keep in practice. The culprit is financed by a shadowy terrorist group and is constantly devising new explosives and methods of delivery. Stahl gets involved with a female squad member and is forced to resign, but he continues as a consultant even as the bombmaker gets more desperate. Things naturally build to an explosive climax in this tale filled with extensive bomb details and nerve-wracking suspense. And while the terrorist element seems strained and the ending a bit melodramatic, Perry (The Old Man) is a pro, this action-filled novel certainly supporting his considerable reputation. VERDICT In -Perry's 25th thriller, the Edgar Award-winning author deftly and clearly explains topics unfamiliar to most readers while keeping the plot roaring along.-Roland Person, -formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The Explosive Ordnance Unit of the LAPD battles a methodical bomber whose principal target seems to be them.The first device in the unnamed title character's campaign is so successful that it takes out the commander of the EOS and half his bomb-disposal specialists in a blast that, in retrospect, was clearly designed to do exactly that. Cowed and humbled, Deputy Chief David Ogden, commander of the LAPD's Counterterrorism and Special Operations Bureau, goes hat in hand to Dick Stahl, ex-soldier and ex-cop, the former EOS chief who left to found No-Fail Security. Reluctantly reunited with his old unit, Stahl is certain from the beginning about his adversary's modus: "predicting what a trained bomb technician will do to render the device safe, and turn[ing] that action into a trigger." In a series of sequences expertly designed to keep you up long past your bedtime, he enjoys a good deal of success by resolutely refusing to do what his instincts demand. Stahl thinks his return will be only temporary, but his unexpected affair with EOS member Sgt. Diane Hines makes him so determined to protect her that he can't leave the squad. Meantime, awkward complications pile up. TV news reporter Gloria Hedlund gets wind of the forbidden romance and won't leave it alone. The bomber is approached by terrorists who'd really, really like him to design some devices for a big day they have in mindand, while they think of it, would like him to purchase them some AK-47's as well. And of course he keeps setting those bombs, some of which are detected and disarmed, others not.Perry (The Old Man, 2017, etc.) provides a hero worth caring about, a villain who stays one step ahead of him, and a supporting cast designed to keep up the nerve-shredding suspense. If the ending feels like a letdown, that's because this ultimate professional rivalry can't possibly continue forever. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.