Dog days of a distanced summer got you down? Maybe some new crime fiction will help you chill.
There’s a deeply satisfying symmetry in Peter Lovesey’s “The Finisher” (Soho, $27.95), bringing the prolific and much-honored British writer’s 50-year career full circle by echoing his debut.
His witty, low-key police detective, D.S. Peter Diamond, is leading security for a charity race, the Other Half, in his home city of Bath, England. Meanwhile, we follow a schoolteacher in training for the race, as well as a very bad man running a human-trafficking ring in the city.
The three stories begin to merge. In particular, on race day, Diamond spots the very bad man, whom he had put in prison years earlier.
When a runner goes missing, Diamond suspects foul play and directs his team to search a nearby quarry, leading to a tense hunt through its labyrinth of caverns. Throughout, Diamond remains his usual appealing self, and Lovesey retains his knack for tight plotting and supple prose.
And the symmetry? October will see a new edition of the author’s delightful debut, “Wobble to Death” (Soho, $24.95), first published in 1970 and also centered on running.
It’s 1879, and a London promoter has organized a six-day “wobble,” in which dogged competitors walk or run hundreds of miles around a track, with only minimal sleeping and eating. Lovesey masterfully contrasts the stiff social rules of the Victorian era with the chaotic, free-for-all spectacle of the footrace.
(These races were a real phenomenon, by the way. Those wacky Victorians! Anything for a laugh.)
Things go awry when a top athlete is murdered and more crimes accumulate. Enter the cops: Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray, who solve this case (and will go on to star in several more Lovesey books as well).
What if you suddenly saw your younger self, apparently very much alive in the present? That’s the setup for Debra Jo Immergut’s riveting “You Again” (Ecco, $27.99).
A middle-aged commercial art director, Abigail Willard, starts glimpsing a 20-something woman who looks exactly like her at that age, in the same clothes and in the same old haunts. Back then, Abigail was an aspiring artist with great hopes and a lover — a lover who broke her heart and created a tragedy that irrevocably changed her life.
Baffled and terrified, Abigail confronts the enigmatic woman, who calls herself “A.” The older woman tries to warn A of what’s coming, but the results, to say the least, are mixed.
Past and present start to blur, and Abigail starts doubting her sanity. Meanwhile, she struggles to keep her “real” life together. Her husband has lost his job; their teenage son is enmeshed in a shadowy and potentially dangerous anti-fascist group.
The plot threads don’t perfectly mesh and the conclusion is stubbornly ambiguous, but “You Again” overall remains edgy and enthralling.