We’re headed into August and the days aren’t getting any longer. Why not lose yourself in some crime fiction? Here are four new titles, including one from a Seattle author.
“Clark and Division” by Naomi Hirahara (Soho, $27.95). This absorbing historical fiction, by the Edgar-winning author of the excellent Mas Arai series, vividly brings to life the experience of being Japanese American during World War II — a shameful chapter of casual racism, fear and distrust that continues to echo today.
A young first-generation Japanese American woman, Rose Ito, is relocated from a California incarceration camp to Chicago. Two years later, her parents and sister arrive in Chicago, only to find that Rose is dead — an apparent suicide.
Aki, Rose’s devoted younger sister, refuses to believe the official verdict. Clues in Rose’s journal and elsewhere lead Aki to multiple unsettling truths, told in carefully understated prose.
“The Darkness Knows” by Arnaldur Indridason (Minotaur, $27.99). You can always turn to the steady flow of crime fiction from the Nordic countries when you need a break from the heat, and this dark Icelandic novel, crisply translated by Victoria Cribb, is a fine choice.
Talk about cold cases! On a melting glacier, a group of German tourists stumble on the frozen corpse of a man who went missing 30 years earlier. Konrad, the detective assigned to the unsolved disappearance, comes out of quiet retirement to investigate what now, it becomes clear, was murder.
The man whom Konrad had always suspected, now frail and elderly, dies soon after the case reopens. Indridason, a well-seasoned writer, has created an intricate plot with a diverse cast of players, acutely probing the relationships within Iceland’s tightly knit communities.
“Autumn Leaves, 1922” by Tessa Lunney (Pegasus, $25.95). Although problematic, this book by an Australian writer prevails, in part because of its beguiling setting: Paris between the world wars.
A saucy Australian, Kiki Button, spied for England in World War I and is now back in Paris, working as a gossip columnist. This gig gives her entree into high and low society, hobnobbing with everyone from fanatical Communists to the likes of Hemingway, Picasso, Chanel, and Stein and Toklas, all of whom make cameos here.
But it’s not all a glittery social whirl. Kiki’s former spymaster, the shadowy Dr. Fox, persuades — well, blackmails — her into working for him again, gathering intelligence on possible threats. At the same time, Kiki continues to search for information about her mysterious mother, a legendary beauty who once had her own richly varied Parisian life.
The book’s mix of the frothy and the serious never fully resolves, and its characters tend to speak in improbable, paragraph-long soliloquies, but it’s still a winning story.
On the local front: “Island of Thieves” by Glen Erik Hamilton (Morrow, $27.99) is the latest in Seattle writer Hamilton’s swift and sure-footed thrillers about Van Shaw, former high-end thief turned activist, bartender and all-around resourceful guy. Shaw is recruited to work at a conference of highflying CEOs, held on a (fictional) island in the San Juans — the private domain of a dashing but shadowy billionaire.
The billionaire says Shaw’s job is to safeguard his priceless art collection from the other rich guys, who like to play a kind of big boys’ game of stealing each other’s stuff. But it’s soon evident that Shaw’s not expected to be more than expensive window dressing, and that something very serious is happening on the island. The thief can’t help but wade in and discover what’s what.