A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.
In the Dark Places, by Peter Robinson (Morrow), was published last year in Great Britain as Abattoir Blues. Abattoir is, of course, another word for slaughterhouse, which suggests that there will be blood spilled across these pages--and indeed there is. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks and his crack team are summoned to the Yorkshire countryside, where a pricey tractor has gone missing from the property of a “hobby farmer,” a guy who’s often dismissed by his neighbors as being too upscale for their tastes. Does this incident indicate the existence of a criminal ring specializing in the procurement of high-end agricultural equipment? And might it be connected to the discovery of a bloodstain at an abandoned World War II aircraft hangar, the disappearance of two local young men, and a truck that has crashed on an ice-slick road? This is the 22nd Banks novel (following Children of the Revolution, one of my favorite reads of 2014), yet the DCI receives less attention here than usual; there’s more focus on Detective Sergeant Winsome Jackman, another member of his team, whose love life is looking up. The Windchime Legacy, by A.W. Mykel (Brash), is an intricate high-tech
thriller, originally published in 1980, that imagines America’s espionage network being controlled by SENTINEL, an intelligent supercomputer that keeps close track of all U.S. spies--and can decide to eliminate them, if necessary. When one of SENTINEL’s creators chooses to defect to the Soviet Union, where he expects to receive greater admiration for constructing a more aggressive version of the computer, secret agent Justin Chaple--aka Pilgrim--is sent to stop him. But that task will pit Chaple against the KGB’s foremost killers, lead to the agent’s betrayal, and ultimately leave him on his own with scant hope of survival. The dialogue and sex scenes in this novel can be over-the-top, and the writing creaks a bit with age, but it’s still a solid and often exciting yarn.
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