Adam Woog rounds up new crime fiction, including Anthony Horowitz’s take on James Bond, a gritty N.Y.C. mystery and the best mystery stories of 2015.
The equinox has come and gone. It’s time to put the last of the summer crop of mysteries away — and to break out some good new stuff.
Readers who can’t get enough of James Bond at his coolest and suave-est could do worse than Anthony Horowitz’s“Trigger Mortis”(Harper, 320 pp., $28.99), the latest in a series sanctioned by Ian Fleming’s estate.
(Horowitz is an old hand at this channeling of dead authors thing: He’s written a couple of fine Sherlock Holmes novels authorized by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle.)
In the Bond book it’s 1957, and the USSR wants to score a PR coup by winning (through cheating) an international Grand Prix in Germany. This gives Bond a chance to go undercover and drive really, really fast.
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The race is only the Soviets’ opening gambit in a larger game, which puts Bond at his classic best: he’s still addicted to luxury, sometimes cruel, luckier than Frank Sinatra and able to foil the bad guys with almost casual ease (here it’s a fiendish North Korean millionaire). It’s all pretty silly, but great fun.
Bonus attraction: Pussy Galore is back!
“A Fool for a Client”(Pegasus, 336 pp., $25.95) finds Stanley Hastings, the sad-sack private detective at the center of Parnell Hall’s sly, laconic series, helping out his employer, ace defense attorney Richard Rosenberg — but not in the usual way.
This time, Rosenberg is the client, accused of murdering his girlfriend. And the circumstantial evidence makes it look pretty bad.
Rosenberg chooses to be his own lawyer, thus becoming the person referred to in the book’s title. This seems crazy, but crazy like a fox.
With Hastings’ smarter wife, Alice, egging him on, the detective starts pounding the streets of New York to dig up anything to help his boss.
The plot is slight, but it’s sheer pleasure to listen to Hall’s characters talk the talk. Be careful: Trying to follow the tart, funny, quintessentially New York rat-a-tat of the dialogue might give you whiplash.
“The Best American Mystery Stories 2015”(Mariner, 432 pp., $15.95 paperback original) offers a bumper crop of, well, American mystery stories. This year’s editor is James Patterson, taking a break from turning out his monthly best-sellers in collaboration with other writers.
He’s chosen a broad sampling, giving generous space to lesser-known writers. Some of the names will be familiar, including Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, and Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane (working as a team). A couple of “serious” lit figures are also present: Thomas McGuane and Joyce Carol Oates.
But most of the stories are by people whose work is not well known — but may deserve to be. One excellent example is Tomiko Breland’s “Rosalee Carrasco,” a compact, punchy and startling little tale about school bullying.
On the local front: Edmonds writer Steve Monroe specializes in using his former home of Chicago as a backdrop, and “Pursuit”(Open Road, 266 pp., $13.99 paperback original) continues in that tradition.
A double murder in the suburbs pulls police detective Wally Greer into the fallout of a mob-related FBI operation gone wrong. Around the city and through its diverse neighborhoods, Greer chases the killer, an aging mobster, as the bodies pile up.
The gritty story is told over the course of five days. Monroe’s use of brief, tense chapters that are marked by short time increments (9:45 p.m., 10 p.m., etc.) adds to the urgency. The large cast of characters might confuse some readers, but there’s generally a reason for their presence in this tightly constructed story.