It would be a crime to miss these books

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - By John Sul­li­van

TIME to re­cap some of the best mys­ter­ies and crime nov­els of 2013, a truly sus­pense­ful year. Top of the pops is a dou­ble dose of Harry Hole from the best in the biz, Nor­way’s Jo Nesbø: the be­dev­iled Oslo cop’s sec­ond ap­pear­ance in 1998’s Cock­roaches (Ran­dom House, 400 pages, $25), new to English trans­la­tion, and Po­lice (Ran­dom House, 528 pages, $25), his lat­est out­ing. In the ear­lier, for­ma­tive tale, a 30-some­thing Harry, just dis­cov­er­ing the depth of hu­man degra­da­tion, nasty po­lice pol­i­tics and per­sonal loss, lands in Thai­land af­ter the body of Nor­way’s am­bas­sador is found in a seedy Bangkok mo­tel. Though a bit too clever with its ar­ray of who- and how­dunit plot de­tails, Cock­roaches nicely fore­shad­ows Harry’s fu­ture tribu­la­tions. Fast-for­ward to Oslo in the near-present for Po­lice, which sees a much more bat­tered and world-weary Harry drawn from semi-re­tire­ment to pur­sue a se­rial killer stalk­ing cops in­volved in pre­vi­ously un­solved mur­ders. While Nesbø ratch­ets up the sus­pense on mul­ti­ple fronts, this is a more con­ven­tional cop pro­ce­dural than usual, with fewer night­mar­ish stream-of-con­scious­ness in­ter­ludes and less Harry-es­que in­tro­spec­tion. Seven for a Se­cret, by Lyn­d­say Faye (Amy Einhorn/Put­nam, 464 pages, $29): Like 2012’s The Gods of Gotham, a re­mark­able evo­ca­tion of 1840s New York and its fledg­ling po­lice force. Firescarred, over-cu­ri­ous “cop­per star” Ti­mothy Wilde and his “three-quar­ters de­spi­ca­ble” brother Valen­tine pur­sue “black­bird­ers,” slave-catch­ers who prey on free blacks as well as ru­n­away slaves. A Con­spir­acy of Faith, by Jussi Adler-Ol­son (Dut­ton, 512 pages, $29): Den­mark’s top-sell­ing crime writer wraps so­cial com­men­tary in wrench­ing psy­cho-thrillers, this time tack­ling the hypocrisies of fun­da­men­tal­ist re­li­gious cul­tures. While this third tale star­ring dis­af­fected Copen­hagen de­tec­tive Carl Mørck is as twisty, com­plex and sus­pense­ful as its pre­de­ces­sors, the au­thor’s true forte is his raw and em­pathic por­trai­ture of vic­tims and vil­lains alike. The Ghost Rid­ers of Orde­bec, by Fred Var­gas (Harvill Secker, 362 pages, $23): A woman’s vi­sions of a phan­tom me­dieval army scoop­ing up lo­cal vil­lains draws Jean-Bap­tiste Adams­berg to a Nor­mandy vil­lage. This ethe­real Parisian flic is a true Euro­pean orig­i­nal. Lex­i­con, by Max Barry (Pen­guin, 400 pages, $29): This scary-plau­si­ble brain-twister posits a shad­owy or­ga­ni­za­tion of “po­ets” that de­vel­ops the art of per­sua­sion into a sci­ence of co­er­cion. Funny, fran­tic and fas­ci­nat­ing. Let It Burn, by Steve Hamil­ton (Mino­taur, 288 pages, $30): This is a tale of two sum­mers, decades apart, and sec­ond chances — for re­tired, bul­letrid­den Detroit cop Alex McKnight, the black kid he helped nail for the murder of a white woman, the fam­i­lies of both vic­tim and perp... and, wist­fully, for Mo­town it­self. Gun Ma­chine, by Warren El­lis (Mul­hol­land, 320 pages, $29): A burned-out, unloved NYPD de­tec­tive stum­bles on a locked-down apart­ment full of guns — all ar­ranged in a metic­u­lous pat­tern, all used in un­solved homi­cides over two decades. Snow White Must Die, by Nele Neuhaus (Mino­taur, 384 pages, $29). Ger­man star Neuhaus crafts a de­li­ciously tan­gled vil­lage who­dunit in this fourth pair­ing of Frank­furt de­tec­tives Pia Kirch­hoff and Oliver von Bo­den­stein. San­drine’s Case, by Thomas H. Cook (Mys­te­ri­ous Press, 352 pages, $29): A riv­et­ing lit­er­ary para­ble of love lived, lost and re­gained, all con­veyed through the jolt­ing mem­o­ries, re­flec­tions and rev­e­la­tions of a small-town col­lege pro­fes­sor as he is tried for mur­der­ing his bril­liant wife. Count­down City, Ben H. Win­ters (Quirk, 320 pages, $15): There are just 77 days be­fore an as­ter­oid smashes into In­done­sia, but for­mer New Hamp­shire cop Hank Palace is doggedly try­ing to find a friend’s miss­ing hus­band. Win­ters won an Edgar Award for The Last Po­lice­man, the first of a sci-fi/mys­tery tril­ogy, and this quixotic se­quel mir­rors that hu­mane, melan­choly ex­cel­lence. A Nasty Piece of Work, by Robert Lit­tell (Thomas Dunne, 272 pages, $29): Part-time New Mex­ico PI and full-time wise guy Le­muel Gunn tracks a bail-jump­ing mob­ster who’s blown FBI wit­nesspro­tec­tion. Gunn is a keeper. As­so­ciate Edi­tor John Sul­li­van runs the Free Press Au­tos, Homes and Travel sec­tions and spe­cialty


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