The Guise of Another: A Crime Novel by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books, $15.95, 269 pages)
Allen Eskens’ The Guise of Another is indicative of a man with a future writing crime novels. Having reviewed many of these books, my experience indicates that writers can slip into many traps – rely solely on plot with no legitimate character development, rely almost exclusively on dialogue to tell the story, interject stray characters randomly to promulgate reader interest… (Insert your favorite criticism here.)
In Guise, Eskens’ delivery is so natural that it is read as a story with a crime element as a backdrop, and not as a stereotypical “crime novel.” A man with a stolen identity is murdered and Detective Alexander Rupert is handed what he perceives as a chance to salvage his sinking career. Big brother Max, also a cop, is called upon to perform heroic acts in the call of duty as he attempts to save Alex from himself. The story is set primarily in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Tattered lives hang in the balance and, of course, judgment is clouded when Alex falls under the spell of Ianna, who is enmeshed in the mystery and pursued by the evil Drago Basta. Just when the reader is convinced that she can predict the outcome, another subtle twist hits the story. While the ending is not quite perfect, it certainly satisfies.
Guise, a quite excellent read, is a follow up to The Life We Bury. Congratulations to Eskens for conceiving of it!
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Dave Moyer is a public school administrator in Illinois, and is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.
The Reckoning: A Crime Novel by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books, $15.99, 373 pages)
What we have here is an easy segue from Ms. Casey’s prior novel, The Burning, that was previously reviewed on this site, to the next episode in the adventures of Maeve Kerrigan, a Detective Constable with the London police force. Although the main character and narrator is a female cop, she works within an equal opportunity team of detectives who share the labor and victory while capturing some of the grossest lowlifes imaginable.
Crime solving in this tale goes beyond just catching criminals, rather, the action takes Maeve into an exploration of the seamy side of pedophilia and underworld crime bosses. The action is fierce and there are some harrowing situations that the reader will be eager to get past. But isn’t that why we read this genre?
I fell into my step behind him. My feet were aching, my neck hurt and I could barely think straight, but I didn’t dare opt out. “Where are we headed?” “Back to the nick. I want to brief Superintendent Godley before the close of business. You might as well come too. Someone has to read through the files on Palmer and Tremlett and it’s not going to be me.”
Author Casey creates some new characters that blend well with the ongoing ones. There are some relationships in the police precinct that are puzzling and some of the characters are abrasive while others reveal their true nature with actions that are engaging. On a lighter note, Maeve’s career and private life move to a new level. Happily, Casey once again sets the stage for another book in the series.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. “Casey has succeeded in writing another impossible-to-put-down thriller…” Library Journal
A review of The Reckoning: A Crime Novel by Jane Casey.
A Bad Day for Mercy: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 272 pages)
A Bad Day for Scandal: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books – Reprint Edition, $14.99, 304 pages)
Stella Hardesty rides again! Author Sophie Littlefield certainly has a talent for creating fresh and amusing mystery novels. There’s a bit of down home in her main character, Stella Hardesty. Her would-be boyfriend, Sheriff “Goat” Jones, makes a mighty fine love interest for followers of this series. Stella’s friends and neighbors, mostly the ladies, come to her when husbands or boyfriends need a bit of attitude adjustment.
Usually, this reviewer would not read two books back-to-back that were written by the same author. Well, breaking rules can be a whole bunch of fun. Scandal and Mercy are the latest in the series. They were preceded by Sorry and Pretty. Each book can stand on its own merits; however, there’s much to be gained by starting with the first book for readers who are new to Ms. Littlefield’s writing.
“This here’s the hospital,” Chip said, as they arrived in front of an imposing clot of buildings featuring a big square limestone main structure and any number of added-on bits in a variety of architectural styles, making the whole thing look like a LEGO set designed by a drunk and hostile modernist.”
The presenting challenge might be rescuing her sister’s stepson from creditors who are seeking repayment for gambling debts, or a snotty former classmate of Stella’s who needs assistance with disposing of a dead body. Stella does not shrink from a formidable opponent or smelly situation. These characters are not the ones you’ll find in a British mystery – proper and polished; however, the lessons learned as the mystery is solved are every bit as meaningful and undoubtedly more poignant.
Review copies were provided by the publisher.
A review of A Bad Day for Mercy: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield.
A review of The Burning: A Novel by Jane Casey.
“You’ll remember this one for a long time.” Lee Child