Books

Alone in the Minnesota Woods, Tracked by Killers

For some reason, William Kent Krueger’s work has always left me cold. I shied away even as the crime-writing world showered him with awards. But after reading FOX CREEK (Atria, 388 pp., $28), the 19th outing for the part-Irish, part-Ojibwe Minnesota detective Cork O’Connor, I’m at a loss to explain my earlier reticence.

A man calling himself Louis Morriseau approaches Cork for help, claiming that his wife, Dolores, has run away with someone named Henry Moleux. Must be a lover, Morriseau surmises, but Cork knows better: Henry, an Ojibwe elder and healer, is his wife’s uncle. He’s also over 100 years old, with a face “like the shell of a map turtle, etched with so many lines there could be one for every year of his existence.” Something else is going on. Soon Henry, Rainy — Cork’s wife — and Dolores disappear into the woods, tracked by despicable men with cross-border secrets.

This genuinely thrilling and atmospheric novel brims with characters who are easy to root for. The pacing isn’t perfect — I could have done with fewer chapters in the bad guys’ heads — but when Cork, Henry and the others faced mortal danger, my heart leaped into my throat. For those new to the series, “Fox Creek” is a strong entry point.

The field of contemporary psychological suspense has many practitioners, but one who gets surprisingly little attention these days is Joy Fielding, Canada’s answer to the late, great Mary Higgins Clark. I still remember gasping at the twists of “Kiss Mommy Goodbye” and “See Jane Run,” and I admire Fielding’s ability to write relentlessly paced novels.

That admiration extends, mostly, to her 30th outing, THE HOUSEKEEPER (Ballantine, 368 pp. $28). As the real estate agent Jodi Bishop will discover, introducing Elyse Woodley into her parents’ lives to help care for her mother, who has Parkinson’s, will have grave consequences — manipulation, seduction, betrayal, death.

“In the end, I have only myself to blame,” Jodi tells the reader. “I’m the one who let her in.” But Jodi’s inability to understand what was happening is related to the damage, casual and deliberate, inflicted by the men in her life (particularly her self-centered jerk of a husband, Harrison, a real piece of work whom Fielding clearly enjoys portraying in all his unctuous non-glory).

Even when I groaned at the repeated use of obvious foreshadowing (“but I’m getting ahead of myself” is a phrase to be forever struck from crime novels), I never put “The Housekeeper” down — I read it in a single sitting.

The British-born, Texas-based author Mark Pryor set an acclaimed contemporary series in Paris featuring Hugo Marston, the security chief at the United States Embassy. He returns to the City of Light, circa 1940, with DIE AROUND SUNDOWN (Minotaur, 310 pp., $27.99), which introduces a new series police detective, Henri Lefort.

The Nazi occupation and ongoing war make it exceedingly difficult for Lefort to fulfill his newest assignment: investigating the death of a high-ranking German military officer at the Louvre despite being barred from the scene (“the museum is off limits to all French citizens”). The Germans have given Lefort a mere seven days to solve the murder, which he’ll have to do with help from his great friend Nicola (and more famous figures like Marie Bonaparte and Pablo Picasso). “We would like the Führer, should he find out about this incident, to learn that a French policeman has solved the crime,” an SS officer tells him. “It will reassure him that things are as normal as possible here in Paris and that you are cooperating with us fully.”

Lefort is complex and unreliable enough to stoke intrigue without being so untrustworthy that he annoys the reader. Pryor’s immersion in World War II history feels a trifle shallow, and I wish the writing were more robust. But for those who miss the gallows humor and righteous anger of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther mysteries, “Die Around Sundown” credibly fills the void, and augurs well for future installments.

On a recent weekend when my mood refused to lighten, when it seemed as if the torrent of bad news might topple my defenses for good, what helped bring me out of it was TWO PARTS SUGAR, ONE PART MURDER (Kensington, 272 pp., paper, $16.95), the first in Valerie Burns’s captivating new series featuring a social media influencer turned bakeshop owner, Maddy Montgomery, and her stalwart crew of “Baker Street Irregulars.”

Shortly after being dumped during her wedding livestream, Maddy gets an unexpected bequest from her great-aunt Octavia, necessitating Maddy’s move to northern Michigan to take over the bakery, Octavia’s battered old house and a 200-pound mastiff, Baby. Oh — and solve a murder or two with the help of all her new friends.

Figuring out who did it is perhaps too easy but no matter — the charm is watching Maddy shed her glamorous passivity for down-to-earth action. Snappy dialogue, a well-drawn supporting cast and an irresistible canine companion all add delicious flavor. Gulp this book down or savor it, but consuming it will guarantee a sustained sugar high.

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

In this week’s roundup, Salman Rushdie ponders his literary work and his life, a historian revisits the Mexican drug trade and a Belgian artist vigorously renders her life in charcoal and ink in a touching graphic memoir.

Here are six new paperbacks we recommend →

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

LANGUAGES OF TRUTH: Essays 2003-2020, by Salman Rushdie.

Rushdie’s collection gathers nearly two decades of writings on literature and life, including a defense of the (often criticized) magical elements of his novels, remembrances of friends such as Carrie Fisher and Christopher Hitchens, and his experience contracting Covid-19 in 2020.

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

ALL THE FREQUENT TROUBLES OF OUR DAYS: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler, by Rebecca Donner.

Donner’s biography of Mildred Harnack, who was executed by the Nazis in 1943, uses archives, interviews, diaries and other sources to present a textured account of her life as a resister.

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

CHOUETTE, by Claire Oshetsky.

This debut novel tells the story of a professional cellist in Sacramento who has an affair with an owl and gives birth to a humanoid owl-baby, forcing her to grapple with the dual responsibilities of mother and artist while staving off pressure to make her daughter conform to societal expectations.

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

PRETENDING IS LYING, by Dominique Goblet. Translated by Sophie Yanow.

Goblet, a Belgian painter and sculptor, employs charcoal, pencil, ink and splotches of oil to render layered memories of trauma, pleasure and dark humor in this graphic memoir. Our reviewer, Sheila Heti, called it “tender, affecting and complete.”

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

THE DOPE: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade, by Benjamin T. Smith.

Smith’s sweeping history of the drug trade opens with the 1908 arrest of a marijuana wholesaler in Mexico City and chronicles the violence, corruption and greed on both sides of the border that helped fuel the industry’s rise.

6 New Paperbacks to Read This Week

Miguel Salazar📚 Reading in Boston

OUT, by Natsuo Kirino. Translated by Stephen B. Snyder.

This reissued 1997 Japanese crime novel follows a woman who, after being fired from her last job for demanding equal rights with male coworkers, starts working nights at a boxed lunch factory, where she becomes an accomplice to the murder of a colleague’s abusive husband.

Published on August 19.

Read more books news:



Source: Read Full Article