Sod good­will, give me crime

Graeme Blundell

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

ATIME for old mates, Christ­mas is a good rea­son to re­new ac­quain­tance with saved-up favourite genre au­thors, friends who can still pro­voke our at­ten­tion. Th­ese are the guys we know won’t let us down, their books tightly plot­ted with tough, lik­able char­ac­ters, some ro­mance and a bang at the end.

Take for ex­am­ple. Chas­ing Dark­ness ( Orion, $ 32.95), Crais’s lat­est in the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike pri­vate eye se­ries, has all the wit, mis­di­rec­tion, vi­o­lence and bru­tal­ity that fans en­joy so much, the per­fect Cal­i­for­nian pri­vate eye novel for the hol­i­day pile.

While do­ing the Los An­ge­les thing, pull out the new The Brass Ver­dict ( Allen & Un­win, $ 32.95), a Mickey Haller le­gal thriller with the mo­men­tum of a hard-boiled po­lice novel eas­ily leav­ing the one-di­men­sional John Gr­isham in the dust of Haller’s Lin­coln town car.

is al­ways handy, too, an­other doughty Christ­mas friend when there’s time for a long read with a glass in hand and every­one in your house is at the beach.

Swan Peak ( Orion, $ 32.99) has Burke’s quixotic Dave Ro­bicheaux and his ex-part­ner in the homi­cide squad, Clete Pur­cel, head­ing to Mon­tana to fish, qui­etly seek­ing a panacea, es­cap­ing the des­o­late mood of post-Ka­t­rina Louisiana. A per­verted se­rial killer is at work, an es­caped jail­bird and his sodomis­ing tor­men­tor are locked in a bizarre dance of bit­ter re­venge. Burke writes with his usual hyp­notic grace.

best-sell­ing US mas­ter of the spec­u­la­tive nar­ra­tive, con­trib­utes Hold Tight ( Orion, $ 32.99) to our beach-chair pile. It’s a fast read, one for that time be­tween lunch and the first bridg­ing wines to get you to din­ner.

No one does the ‘‘ what if this hap­pened to me?’’ nar­ra­tive with more en­ergy than Cor­ben. Here he ex­am­ines a child’s right to pri­vacy and a par­ent’s right to know. And when it comes to your chil­dren, is it pos­si­ble to know too much? Af­ter read­ing this, go in­side and pull apart your chil­dren’s com­put­ers, plant sur­veil­lance de­vices and bug their mo­biles.

And don’t for­get the block­buster you’ve been hoard­ing. bril­liant The Girl with the Dragon Tat­too ( Quer­cus, $ 32.95) is the book to build the rest of your read­ing around this hol­i­day. Pos­si­bly the crime novel of the year, this re­cently trans­lated Swedish epic is a se­ri­ously ad­dic­tive fu­sion of vi­o­lent po­lit­i­cal thriller, sin­is­ter fam­ily saga and am­bigu­ous love story.

It pos­sesses all those in­gre­di­ents crime ad­dicts love: a locked-room mys­tery at its heart, a ruth­less heroine, an un­likely team of sleuths, the

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