This month’s sample of new crime fiction bounces from England to Sweden and on to Washington state. Check out these picks as the holiday season creeps up.
Christopher Fowler’s “Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour” (Bantam, $28) is an irresistible adventure starring Arthur Bryant and John May, the oldest police detectives in London. May and Bryant are a terrific pair — the former is straightforward, rational and relatively normal, the latter mystical, intuitive and spectacularly eccentric. A ghoulish series of murders, all occurring precisely at 4:00 a.m., occupies the pair and their endearing, strange colleagues in the city police department’s Peculiar Crimes Unit. The plot is loosey-goosey and insanely complex, but the camaraderie between these two old partners is always a pleasure to behold. And, as always, Fowler offers us a king’s ransom in strange, captivating facts about the hidden corners of London’s geography and history.
Sweden continues to be a powerful source of crime fiction: witness “Winter Grave” (Soho, $26.95) by Helene Tursten, crisply translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy. Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom (last seen in the 2019 translation of 2014’s “Hunting Game”) is an appealing character — a complex, rounded and dedicated cop who is also an elite athlete recovering from a serious on-the-job injury. In a small town in the Gothenburg region of Sweden, she copes on several fronts, including investigating two missing kids, a cop killing and arson … not to mention her love life and the disturbing memories of her own missing childhood friend. Possibly connecting the crimes is a nearly mute, autistic teenager with a seriously lawyered-up father. Fans of intelligent Nordic crime fiction — especially those starring Tursten’s other series character, Irene Huss — will be amply rewarded.
On the local front: “All Along the Watchtower” (Epicenter, $16.95 paperback original) is new from Mountlake Terrace writer Curt Colbert (author of, among others, the Jake Rossiter books set in 1940s Seattle). This authentically gritty tale is narrated by a houseboat-dwelling Seattle private eye, Matt Rossiter, who is still haunted by his years in wartime Vietnam — terrible memories that come back when his former sergeant’s murdered body turns up on Jimi Hendrix’s grave, just before other members of his old platoon also start dying off.
Meanwhile, Gregg Olsen — a Kitsap County resident and prolific author of crime, both true and fictional — offers “If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood” (Thomas & Mercer, $24.95). This new book’s crime is all too true, alas. The case originated in 1994 in the tiny town of Raymond, on Washington’s southwest coast. Three sisters gradually realize that their parents have committed multiple murders … and then turn in their folks to the police. It’s a chilling pick that’s worth a read.