Our Staff Favorites for May 2019
Here's another fresh set of staff favorites for Spring! This monthly selection of favorites (and a slew of other new mystery-related content) is available every month in our newsletter, which is available via subscription (email or print), as well as directly through our website. Signed books are available online (linked after each review). Unsigned books are available by calling our store at 212-587-1011. If you're looking to order both signed and unsigned books, you can call in your complete order anytime from 11 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Saturday! Here's hoping some of these titles pique your interests as they did ours!
Twists, turns, surprises, shocks—all things unexpected are the heart and soul of outstanding suspense novels and this brilliant thriller has them all in wave after wave. Feeney made her debut last year with Sometimes I Lie, which was absolutely captivating, in a class with Gone Girl and The Woman in the Window. This second novel also is in the top echelon of the great psychological suspense novels of recent years. It begins with the kidnapping of the protagonist as a six year-old girl and chapters alternate between those years and the present, when she has grown into a successful, beautiful, somewhat neurotic actress. She is loved, in a fashion, by the couple who stole her, but also kept as a tortured prisoner who desperately wants to please her new parents, partially to avoid punishment while hungrily seeking their love. In the present, Aimee comes home to find her husband Ben gone. His keys, phone, wallet—everything, including his shoes—in the living room but with no trace of him, nor any messages. Then she learns that her joint bank account has been drained and closed. And the bank claims it was Aimee who closed it. When she calls the police, a very smart young policewoman recognizes that parts of Aimee’s story are a bit off-center, including a claim that she has had a woman stalking her, though she never reported it. Aimee is holding secrets so tightly that she soon becomes the prime suspect in her husband’s murder, even though no body has been found. It is not only the ensuring twists that lift I Know Who You Are above most books in this sub-genre of mystery fiction, it is the unfailingly elegant prose, with virtually every page offering quotable lines. “We were virtual strangers when we met online. We were emotional strangers after two years of marriage.” “You can’t find a butterfly when you’re only looking for a caterpillar.” “Sorry is easier to say than to feel.” There is a bit of a kitchen sink element to the book, with almost too many surprises, almost too many over-the-top revelations, that in lesser hands might have been off-putting. But Alice Feeney can really write so just go with it and you will love this book as much as I do.
A new James Ellroy novel is always cause for celebration, but This Storm is a particularly impressive feat: an astounding epic of L.A. noir and World War II espionage sure to enthrall old fans and the newly converted alike. When Ellroy announced that he would return to the Los Angeles of The L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential etc.), though chronologically earlier starting in 1941, there was apprehension that it could be a creative step back after the wildly ambitious Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy (American Tabloid etc.). Others who found those books too stylistically challenging hoped for a return to his earlier style. Readers in both camps may have been reassured by the launch of this new series, Perfidia, but they will be ecstatic reading This Storm.
Attempting to describe the plot of an Ellroy novel in a few sentences is never an easy task, and This Storm is no exception. Suffice it to say that This Storm contains enough plot for ten novels: a long-unsolved gold heist, the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans, foreign spies and fifth column agents, love triangles, lust murders, and a cast of fantastically twisted characters, each more unhinged than the next. With returning characters like Dudley Smith clashing with equaling fascinating new creations in L.A., Mexico, and beyond, the breadth and depth of This Storm is truly something to behold. Always impressive, never boring, and sometimes utterly magical, James Ellroy may be the hardest working man in literature and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
British occupied Hamburg, Germany in 1947. The first of Rademacher's trilogy introduces Homicide Chief Insp. Frank Stave. Stave lost his wife in a British bombing raid, and his son is MIA, having fought on the Eastern Front. Amid the ruins the murdered body of an old man is found, and shortly after the bodies of two women, and a young child. Book 2, The Wolf Children, focuses on the youths who numbered in the thousands, left orphaned and homeless by the war in the East, who came to Hamburg fleeing the Russians. A young boy's corpse is found leaning against an unexploded bomb in the shipyard. Following Stave's questioning of friend's of the boy's two more deaths occur. As The Forger begins, Stave is recovering from a bullet wound and decides he's had enough of murder and transfers to the Black Market section. But when a corpse is found in a bombed out building laying next to artwork that would have been condemned by the Nazis, Stave is compelled to investigate, at the risk of antagonizing a superior officer and former Nazi. This is the period in 1948 when the Allies were about to introduce new currency into West Germany. New banknotes have appeared on the Black Market. And Stave becomes convinced the two cases are connected. And the series is brought to an exciting conclusion. A great combination of mystery and historical detail.
A tranquil Tokyo neighborhood is keeping a secret: a woman is found murdered in her own home. Clearly the victim knew the murderer, as there’s no sign of forced entry or any kind of a struggle. This neighborhood, unusually, contains several small shops, the kind rarely found today in a bustling city. A rice cracker shop. A china shop. A clock shop. A pastry shop. A handicraft shop. A cleaning service. What have they to do with one another? The woman of decease had some kind of contact with each, as Detective Kyochiro Kaga of the TPD searches for any lead he can find, sometimes asking seemingly baffling questions. In Keigo Higashino’s Newcomer, the author masterfully weaves the tale together from the various strands of evidence, the suspects good and bad, and the varying timelines, but as usual in a murder investigation, there are more questions than answers. Why did the victim, Mineko Mitsui, move to this neighborhood to live alone, after the breakup of her marriage? Why the estrangement between the whole family: Mineko, her ex-husband, and their son? Himself a newcomer to the area, Detective Kaga is momentarily flummoxed by the ever-growing list of suspects, and by the new facts coming to light about the ostensibly nondescript victim, whose simple life wasn’t so simple after all. Somewhere in all this is the one clue that will break the case; can Kaga find out what it is in time to trap the killer?