November Reads: Reviews of Michael Connelly, Mary Higgins Clark, and Patricia Cornwell
The days are darker and the nights are longer. In other words, it’s the perfect time to take a stack of books over to your favorite armchair by the fire. Here are five suggestions for your November reading list that will keep you turning the pages long into the night.
The Burning Room Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, November 3 )Harry Bosch returns in Connelly’s 19th installment of his popular series, and the veteran LAPD detective finds himself with a fresh body and an old crime. Ten years earlier, mariachi musician Orlando Merced was shot while performing with his band at an ex-mayor’s wedding, but it took him a decade to die (of blood poisoning, of all things). Bosch and his rookie partner, Lucia Soto, chase down leads—most of them nutty—after the former LA mayor offers a generous reward for information leading to Merced’s shooter. Soto makes the connection between the Merced case and an unsolved arson from years earlier, which she herself survived but nine others, most of them children, died. Bosch and his creator are wise to the ways of insider LA politics and, as always, this latest nail biter is the perfect mixture of social commentary and compelling whodunit.
For the Dead Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime, November 4)Hallinan returns to his popular Poke Rafferty series and in this sixth novel, the American reporter living in Bangkok is pulled into a murder investigation after his adopted daughter, Miaow, and her boyfriend buy a used iPhone that contains photographs of recently murdered police officers. A dirty cop, who’s already in the frame for a murder-for-hire ring, also pops up in the photographs and it’s soon clear that whoever is behind the slayings will do anything to keep a lid on the story. When Miaow, 13, is threatened, Rafferty reluctantly turns for help to his former friend, Lieutenant Colonel Arthit, a Thai police detective. Bent cops and layers upon layers of conspiracy make the case one of Rafferty’s most challenging yet, and readers who are familiar with the series will appreciate the return of the compelling hero, as well as the no-holds-barred depictions of the difficult lives of Bangkok street kids.
Flesh and Blood Patricia Cornwell (William Morrow, November 11)Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta matches wits with a sniper who terrorizes Boston and leaves a strange calling card for the intrepid doctor and her long-time team. It seems too good to be true when Scarpetta and her FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley, plan a Florida getaway for her birthday—and it is. A high school music teacher, who had his 15 minutes of fame when his name was erroneously placed on the terrorism watch list, is shot in his driveway, the victim of a nameless sniper. Scarpetta, with the help of Wesley, Detective Pete Marino, and her computer genius niece, Lucy, connects the shooting to a series of unsolved crimes in New Jersey. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that Scarpetta is dealing not only with a deadly foe but with a killer she’s met before. Cornwell’s firm grasp of all things forensic make this not only a thrilling read but an educational one.
Easy Death Daniel Boyd (Hard Case Crime, November 11)In this debut noir, set in 1951 small-town America, a crime boss sends out his lackeys to rob an armored car with wild, unforeseen consequences. Bud Sweeney, car dealer and certified thug, instructs his henchmen, WWII vets Eddie and Walter, to knock off the armored car in the midst of a blizzard. As in all good crime novels, plans go horribly awry and Eddie and Walter find themselves tangling with a female park ranger and her crazy boss, all in a 24-hour period. Boyd, the pseudonym for a former central Ohio police chief, keeps the story buzzing along by switching dizzyingly back and forth between events before and after the heist. The partnership of Eddie and Walter, a white man and a black man, also allows Boyd to examine the deep-seated racial prejudices of the era.
The Cinderella Murder Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke (Simon & Schuster, November 18)
Two killer names in suspense join forces for what is, we hope, the first of many installments of a thriller series centered on a TV show that reenacts recent crimes in the hopes of solving them. Under Suspicion, produced by Laurie Moran, tackles the titular “Cinderella Murder,” in which UCLA student Susan Dempsey was killed on the same day she was meant to audition for director Frank Parker’s latest film. Even though the slaying took place 20 years ago, Moran is hopeful that a reenactment will jog the public’s memory and help bring Susan’s killer to justice. She brings together Susan’s friends and family in an effort to uncover new evidence and close a frustrating cold case full of questions: why was Susan’s body found so far from her car? Did her potential role in up-and-comer Parker’s film get her killed? And, like the storybook character, what happened to her other shoe? Readers will relish the return of Moran, who was first introduced in 2014’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin, and the combined narrative power of Clark and Burke is sure to appeal to both authors’ fans as well as earning them new loyal followers.
Photo:Terrill Lee Lankford