Five great new thrillers and mysteries for your 2022 TBR pile
Looking for a diversion from the pandemic and other midwinter doldrums and meshugas? Here are five exceptionally smart, entertaining mysteries and thrillers that might do the trick.
All of these books were released on Tuesday, but "One Step Too Far" will be published this coming Tuesday.
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"50 Years of Dave Brandstetter: Fadeout, Death Claims, Troublemaker," by Joseph Hansen
In an auspicious event for mystery readers, Syndicate is reprinting all 12 of Joseph Hansen's pioneering Dave Brandstetter novels over 12 months. "Fadeout," the first in the series featuring the comfortably gay World War II vet and L.A. insurance investigator, was published in 1970.
As Michael Nava points out in his insightful new introduction, that's when gay sex was a criminal act in 49 of the 50 states. Through grit and sheer talent, Hansen found a wide audience. Nava writes, "It is his art, ultimately, and not simply his subject matter, that makes Joseph Hansen one of the great masters of California noir."
Crime fiction fans who don't know Hansen's work are in for a treat.
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"Find Me," by Alafair Burke
At the center Burke's latest novel is a young woman called Hope Miller who might have murdered a man before losing her memory in a car accident.
Fifteen years later, Miller disappears, setting off a wide-ranging search that involves a serial killer, a senator's campaign and NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher.
Some readers might find Burke's twisty tale a bit too — in the Oscar Wilde phraseology — "crowded with incident," but the novel has a nice Hitchcockian feel to it as it glides from New Jersey to East Hampton (where Burke lives) to Wichita.
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"A Flicker in the Dark," by Stacy Willingham
In Stacy Willingham's debut thriller, Chloe Davis is a Baton Rouge psychologist who is a psychological mess herself. Among her worries: Davis thinks she sees a connection between the disappearance of several local teens and her father, who has been in prison for killing six young girls 20 years earlier.
Already a nervous wreck from planning her upcoming wedding with sexy drug salesman Daniel Briggs — her brother Cooper warns her, "He doesn't know you, Chloe. And you don't know him" — Davis relies on her secret Xanax stash to function at all.
Willingham's tremulous narrative voice might have some readers reaching for a calming agent, too, but her denouement is both surprising and plausible.
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"One Step Too Far," by Lisa Gardner
The appeal of Lisa Gardner's second Frankie Elkin mystery lies mainly with the meticulously researched science and lore on surviving in the wilderness — and with the endearingly strange Frankie herself.
Daughter of "the world's most affable drunk," Frankie relies on her own recovering-alcoholic discipline and focus to crack missing-persons cold cases.
When she hooks up with a moody group with murky motives searching for any trace of a young man who vanished on a drunken bachelor party camping weekend five years earlier, the term "survival skills" takes on multiple dark meanings.
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"Something to Hide," by Elizabeth George
It's a bit of a slog to get through Elizabeth George's 687-page container ship of a police procedural, but it's worth it.
The 21st Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley novel has the melancholy widower struggling with a bumpy romance as he investigates the bludgeoning death of a Black female officer who had been trying to shut down a secret "clinic" specializing in female genital mutilation.
Too many beside-the-point subplots don't detract from George's forthright handling of the novel's main threads, which involve incendiary issues of class, culture and racism.
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