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Posts Tagged ‘Duncan Whitehead’

poppetThis time last year Mo Hayder’s Gone picked up the Edgar award for best novel. Now comes the sixth in the Jack Caffery series, Poppet (Grove/Atlantic, digital galley), and it’s another winner — chilling, twisted, and oh-so-creepy. Caffery and the Bristol major crime unit are still searching for missing Misty Kitson when a series of patient suicides at the psychiatric hospital Beechwood arouses the suspicions of nurse supervisor AJ LeGrande. The deaths, several incidents of self-harming, and rumors of a terrifying apparition known as “the Maude” unsettle the staff and residents, and the hysteria extends to the community when a patient who killed his parents is mistakenly discharged. Hayder doesn’t spare graphic, gruesome details, but her demon-haunted characters, especially Caffery and diving expert Sgt. Flea Marley, drive the story.

toothCaffery’s turf isn’t far from the historic city of Bath, where Peter Lovesey’s astute, abrasive copper Peter Diamond gets a crash course in classical music in The Tooth Tattoo (Soho Press, digital galley). The body of a young Asian woman found in a Bath canal leads to a string quartet in residence. One of its former members mysteriously disappeared in Budapest four years ago, and the new violist is still adapting to his colleagues’ eccentricities when he is drawn into the police investigation of superfandom. Diamond may not know one note from another, but Lovesey obviously does, and the clever plot is enriched by the passions of its players.

perfectghostThe title of Linda Barnes’ adroit stand-alone The Perfect Ghost (St. Martin’s, digital galley) refers not to a supernatural phantom but to Em More, one-half of the successful ghost-writing team of T.E. Blakemore. When the other half, charismatic Teddy Blake, dies in a car wreck, timid-mouse Em fights her agarophobia to finish their current project, the “autobiography” of famous director Garrett Malcom. She braves Malcolm in his Cape Cod home where he is working on a new version of Hamlet, and soon falls for her charming subject even as she suspects he is harboring secrets. Replete with clever Shakespearean references, the narrative’s as tense as a tight-rope when Barnes gives it a sudden, head-spinning twist. Em’s a little bit Ophelia, a bit more Jane Eyre, and very much  herself.

fearFamous mystery writer Josephine Tey and famous movie director Alfred Hitchcock meet in Nicola Upson’s Fear in the Sunlight (HarperCollins, digital galley), the fourth in this excellent series featuring Tey as sleuth. In 1953, an American visitor’s surprise announcement forces former Chief Inspector detective Archie Penrose to recall the strange events of the summer of 1936 when Tey and her theatrical friends gathered at a resort in Wales to celebrate Tey’s 40th birthday. Hitchcock and his wife Alma arrange to meet Tey in hopes she’ll agree to a film of “A Shilling for Candles.” But Hitchcock, who delights in unsettling pranks, is upstaged by the real-life murder of a Hollywood actress in a nearby cemetery, and Penrose and Tey are left to sort out a bevy of suspects and motives. Upson neatly meshes fact and fiction, and her characterizations of Hitch and Alma appear delightfully spot-on. 

parrotsCrime briefs:  The animals, including a profane parrot, a talkative tabby and a rebellious raccoon, steal the show in Clea Simon’s entertaining new Pet Noir mystery, Parrots Prove Deadly (Poisoned Pen Press, ARC), as Pru Marlowe detects misdeeds involving a nursing home, a shady doctor and horrible heirs.

                             gordonston                                                                                                                                          I would have liked to see more of the pampered pets in Duncan Whitehead’s The Gordonston Ladies’ Dogwalking Club (Dog Ear Publishing, digital galley), in which Savannah neighbors meet for afternoon cocktails and gossip. When one of their own, Thelma Miller, dies (bless her heart), the friends hone in on the widower, and jealousies, secrets and lies lead to an unmarked grave and an overheated mystery.

TuesdaygoneNicci French follows up Blue Monday with the twisty Tuesday’s Gone (Pamela Dorman/Viking, digital galley), another tale with an off-putting beginning. But psychotherapist Frieda Klein only seems detached when she agrees to help the police investigate the case of a mentally ill woman living with an unidentified corpse. 

killowenThere are two bodies buried in the bog in Erin Hart’s layered The Book of Killowen (Scribner, digital galley). One is a well-preserved corpse from the ninth-century, the second that of a recently gone-missing TV personality with controversial views. Both present quite the puzzle for archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin, who are bunking at at nearby artists’ colony.

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