Aberdeen sleuths’ col­league dies... again

Winnipeg Free Press - - BOOKS I FICTION - NICK MARTIN

TIME to start sleuthing for un­ortho­dox Aberdeen cop­pers Lo­gan McRae and Roberta Steele when a col­league — thought to have com­mit­ted sui­cide two years prior — ends up mur­dered in a wrecked car on their patch.

In Stu­art McBride’s The Blood Road (Harper­Collins, 488 pages, $22), very young chil­dren are con­cur­rently go­ing miss­ing, amid per­sis­tent ur­ban leg­end ru­mours of a gang sell­ing them to pe­dophiles.

It’s one of McBride’s best, but the plot is so hor­rific that you hope the au­thor isn’t putting ideas in any­one’s head.

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Burn­ing cars are light­ing up the English coun­try­side, wip­ing out DNA traces of the per­son killing the mur­dered women in­side — women who went alone to wed­dings and met a nice, lonely guy into old-fash­ioned court­ing.

The mur­derer knows how to avoid closed-cir­cuit TV and leave no trace in Val McDer­mid’s In­sid­i­ous In­tent (At­lantic Monthly Press, 424 pages, $39), chal­leng­ing ace de­tec­tive Carol Jor­dan and psy­chol­o­gist Tony Hill in their new quasi-FBI in­ves­tiga­tive unit.

Given that Jor­dan and Hill are so per­son­ally messed up, read­ers will ask if this se­ries is bril­liant or com­pletely off the rails.

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New Jersey cop­per Nap Du­mas is im­mersed in sor­row, high school deaths 15 years ago hav­ing ru­ined so many lives and as­pi­ra­tions.

Then, a mur­der of a cop in Penn­syl­va­nia brings up those mem­o­ries and leads to new tragedies — and who are those gov­ern­ment agents skulk­ing about, tram­pling the con­sti­tu­tion? And those leg­ends about an aban­doned mis­sile base…?

Har­lan Coben’s Don’t Let Go (Dut­ton, 400 pages, $13) is an ab­so­lutely su­perb thriller. Coben has been sin­gled out by Stephen King as one of the best Amer­i­can writ­ers. Great call, Big Steve.

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It’s 1995 in Belfast, and the ten­u­ous peace process is in con­stant jeop­ardy in what Nova Sco­tia mys­tery writer Anne Emery de­picts as a fas­cist state ruled by Bri­tish mil­i­tary and their po­lice min­ions, that could lit­er­ally blow up in sec­tar­ian ha­tred any sec­ond.

Heav­ens Fall (ECW, 480 pages, $30) is the 10th novel fea­tur­ing Nova Sco­tia lawyer cou­ple Monty Collins and Maura McNeil, with close friend Fa­ther Bren­nan Burke, flash­ing back to The Trou­bles. It’s an episodic, ram­bling tale of the three liv­ing among Catholic and IRA Belfast fam­i­lies while try­ing to sort out sev­eral atroc­i­ties and in­jus­tices in North­ern Ire­land.

Bleak yet en­gag­ing all the while, the book sud­denly twists late to go even bleaker, aban­don­ing most of its char­ac­ters and sub­plots.

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Au­thor Steve Berry’s sup­posed book­seller/lawyer Cot­ton Malone gets an ori­gin story, look­ing back to 2000 when he first be­came a black ops agent for un­named forces within the U.S. gov­ern­ment, as­signed to sleuth whether the FBI con­spired to mur­der Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The mile-a-minute breath­less ac­tion in Bishop’s Pawn (Rain­coast, 352 pages, $36) is lu­di­crous right from the start, an ap­palling loss of life and fre­quent deadly vi­o­lence cal­lously pushed aside in the rush to the next shootout and dar­ing es­cape. We have cor­rupt FBI agents — still loyal to the dead, despotic J. Edgar Hoover — mur­der­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and even each other in g-man evil dreamed of only in cer­tain X-Files episodes and Trump tweets.

What will ul­ti­mately make Bishop’s Pawn so re­pug­nant to some read­ers is a white guy neg­a­tively re­defin­ing Dr. King’s char­ac­ter, mo­tives and the civil rights move­ment to suit what’s pretty much an out­line for a screen­play.

Trick­ster Drift

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