John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books push the limits of the whodunit genre. They read like detective novels, but then they step over the line into Stephen King country, where apparitions dance at the periphery of the senses and where evil becomes palpable—and ever so believable. Connolly’s latest, The Wrath of Angels, finds the intrepid P.I. sitting in a bar, listening to a strange tale about a private airplane that went down in the dense woods of northern Maine. A pair of elderly hunters stumbled upon the scene long after the crash, and the plane gave up a couple—but only a couple—of its secrets: a seat with a handcuff attached (but no person or remains present) and a satchel full of money accompanied by a curious list of names and numbers. Both hunters are now dead, and their family members want some closure around the whole affair. In short order they will fervently wish that they had never stirred up those ghosts. This tale is spooky, macabre and deliciously entertaining from start to finish.
A COMPROMISING POSITION
Though I suppose murder could be committed in any number of ways, it is nonetheless unusual for modern-day cops to be investigating a homicide performed via crossbow. However, that is exactly what Chief Inspector Alan Banks is doing in Peter Robinson’s latest Yorkshire police procedural, Watching the Dark. The victim is one Bill Quinn, a decorated policeman and recent widower who was by all accounts devoted to his wife. That seems to be at odds with lurid photos found near the crime scene, however: photos of Quinn in flagrante delicto with a beautiful, perhaps underage, girl. Was he being blackmailed? And if so, was he murdered because the blackmailers had no real hold over him after his wife’s death? Banks is convinced that the murder is related to a case Quinn investigated six years back, when a girl went missing in Tallinn. So with many more questions than answers in hand, Banks sets off for Estonia in search of clues. Taut suspense, complex characters and deft storytelling combine in this whodunit tour-de-force.
Politics makes strange bedfellows—rarely so much as in postwar Ireland, where a number of Nazi collaborators were given sanctuary and set up with new identities. Fast forward to 1963, where Stuart Neville’s edgy political thriller, Ratlines, begins. John F. Kennedy is about to visit the Emerald Isle, the first world leader to pay a state visit to the newly formed republic. Shortly before Kennedy’s arrival, a German immigrant is murdered in an Irish resort town; this is potentially a devastating embarrassment for the government, as the dead man was a wanted Nazi war criminal, hiding in plain sight for some 18 years. For investigator Albert Ryan, his brief is short and sweet: Find the killer, keep the investigation on the down low, and bury it without a trace. This will be no easy feat for Ryan, who is caught between the conflicting mandates of his government handlers and the powerful Nazis they have shielded for so long. According to Neville’s prologue, the setup is real-life history and the rest is “just a story.” But what a story it is!
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
In the early days of “Law & Order,” the commercial spots advertising upcoming episodes began with the catchphrase, “Ripped from the headlines.” Now, Dick Wolf, the producer of the show, has turned his hand to writing—and once again, that lead-in is dead on, as evidenced by his debut thriller, The Intercept, a tale of modern-day terrorism set at what must surely be the epicenter of terror, Manhattan’s Ground Zero. A terrorist threat clouds the upcoming July 4th dedication of the new One World Trade Center project, and NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk is tasked with heading the investigation. The cost of failure is unthinkable, as the president and countless other luminaries will be on hand for the Independence Day festivities, and the gaze of the world will be fixed on the event. Fisk should be the perfect agent for the job: He is fluent in Arabic and versed in the nuances of the terrorist mind. Nonetheless, he cannot seem to catch a break; every lead either blows up in his face or proves to be a time-wasting red herring. And time is something Fisk can ill afford to waste.
In moving from the small screen to the printed page, Wolf has clearly lost not one iota of his ability to deliver first-rate suspense “ripped from the headlines.”Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Since Wolf is the creator and executive producer of the four Law and Order series, you can bet that anticipation for his debut thriller is running high. The book opens with a foiled hijacking just a few days before dedication of the new Freedom Tower built at Ground Zero. Everyone's cheering, but NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk, part of an antiterrorist unit modeled on the CIA, suspects that there's more afoot. With a one-day laydown on January 2 and a 250,000-copy first printing.[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Wolf, the master storyteller behind NBC's four Law and Order series, makes a spectacular fiction debut with this gripping thriller. Just three days before the dedication of the new Freedom Tower on July 4, five passengers and a flight attendant on an incoming transatlantic flight prevent Awaan Abdulraheem, a fellow passenger, from hijacking the plane. However, Jeremy Fisk, the leading detective from the NYPD's well-funded Intelligence Division, and his assistant, Kirsten Gersten, soon suspect that this lightweight Yemeni terrorist purposively diverted their attention from another passenger, Saudi art dealer Baada Bin-Hezam, who deplaned and disappeared into Manhattan to orchestrate a new attack. With only 36 hours remaining before the ceremony, Fisk and Gersten conduct a citywide manhunt. VERDICT A pulsating plotline. Clever characters. Dramatic dialog. Surprising twists. All make for an edge-of-your-seat read that will have thriller fans eagerly awaiting the next series installment. [See Prepub Alert, 7/16/12.]--Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge, MA[Page 73]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviewed by Bruce DeSilva. A lone al-Qaeda terrorist armed with a hard-to-detect obsidian knife tries to hijack a cross-Atlantic airliner and crash it into midtown Manhattan, but five passengers and a flight attendant wrestle him to the floor and subdue him. The Six, as they quickly become known, are celebrated as new American heroes. Lionized by the media, they are promptly folded into New York City's Fourth of July celebration and the upcoming dedication of the new World Trade Center tower. Enter Jeremy Fisk of the NYPD's Intelligence division. The veteran detective worries that the terrorist plot was foiled too easily--that the attempted hijacking could have been a diversion to conceal something much, much bigger. And with both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush due in town for the dedication, the stakes couldn't be higher. That is the premise of Dick Wolf's debut novel, The Intercept. Wolf is best known as the creator of NBC-TV's Law & Order, the longest-running drama in television history, but the stunning plot twists, graphic violence, and frantic pace of the novel are more reminiscent of a season of 24. Wolf spins his yarn in a voice that is clear and precise, but not particularly stylish--the kind of writing found in the best newspaper police reporting. Although the novel is billed as the first in a series featuring Jeremy Fisk, the main character is not well-drawn, coming off as a generic good-guy cop. Wolf does a better job with Fisk's partner and secret lover, Krina Gersten, a smart and vivacious woman who resents that she is assigned to babysit the Six while Fisk is on the street hunting terrorists. Several real people including Osama bin Laden, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the city's police commissioner, Ray Kelly, make cameo appearances.But the most vivid characters are the Six, each of whom reacts quite differently to the rush of celebrity. At one end of the spectrum is Colin Frank, a journalist who can't stop scheming to snag book and movie deals. At the other is Alain Nouvian, a cellist who wishes everyone would leave him alone. Wolf's take on the American media's obsession with celebrity, and the way these characters cope with it and with one another, provides some of the book's finest moments. The Intercept doesn't quite measure up to the best of the thriller genre--to the likes of John Sanford and Joseph Finder--but Wolf, an Emmy-winning screenwriter, director, and TV producer, is off to a promising start as a novelist. (Jan.) Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Edgar and Macavity awards, is the author of Cliff Walk and Rogue Island.[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC