Monday, November 16, 2015

Pierce’s Picks

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

We have a couple of really cold cases here. First up: The Girl in the Ice (Bloomsbury USA), by Danish sister and brother Lotte and Søren Hammer. This sequel to 2013’s The Hanging reacquaints us with Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen of the Copenhagen Homicide Division, who is flown--together with fellow cop Arne Pedersen--to Greenland, where the half-naked body of a young Danish woman has been found kneeling in a shallow grave carved into the ice. (Denmark, which historically held sovereignty over Greenland, granted it home rule in 1979, but apparently the Greenlanders still summon help from the Danish police when confronted with extraordinary crimes.) The corpse is located far from any traces of civilization on the world’s largest island, and has been there for a quarter-century. Only ice melt in our age of global warming has finally exposed it. As Simonson and his squad get busy trying to suss out the victim’s identity, they also unearth facts that could prove most inconvenient to certain powerful individuals, making their job even more trying. Most worrisome is that this isn’t an isolated murder; there have been previous victims, all of whom bear a remarkable resemblance, with perhaps more to come. The Girl in the Ice is a meticulously wrought police procedural with a complicated but credible resolution.

Meanwhile, Michael Genelin’s For the Dignified Dead (Brash) brings back Commander Jana Matinova of the Slovak Criminal Police (Siren of the Waters, Dark Dreams), who in these pages must untangle the circumstances behind the dumping of an anonymous woman’s remains in the frozen Danube at Bratislava. The deceased was slain with an ice pick, much like another victim recently recovered in Vienna, Austria. It’s a murderous but familiar methodology that makes Matinova, a fallible judge’s daughter turned cop, believe she could again be on the trail of an abhorrent adversary from her past, one she has no intention of letting get away again--even if it means chasing across Europe, unraveling a big-money scheme and making herself a target for hired guns. Lawyer-author Genelin once served with the U.S. Department of Justice in Central Europe, so he knows his turf well. Fans of Olen Steinhauer’s early Eastern Bloc thrillers (The Bridge of Sighs, etc.) should find similar delights in the Commander Matinova books.

Click here to see more of this season’s most-wanted books.

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