Monday, November 23, 2015

Pierce’s Picks

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

American Blood, by Ben Sanders (Minotaur), pitches us into the company of Marshall Grade, a former New York City cop who--thanks to an undercover operation gone wrong--is now in the federal Witness Security Program (WITSEC) and living out in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His chief task is to stay low and clear of the headlines. Grade’s interpretation of those instructions leads him to sublet the safe house provided for his use, have minimal contact with his WITSEC handler, and avoid leaving a paper trail. However, Grade still feels guilty for the mess he left behind in New York, and that leads him to make a serious error: he goes looking for Alyce Ray, a young woman who’s disappeared and who reminds him of somebody else he once knew. In the course of his search, Grade manages to piss off a couple of felons and draw exactly the sort of attention that could leave him dead at the hands of a hit man on his trail. This is pretty much a modern-day Western, written by a young New Zealander whose fiction I encountered initially while helping to judge the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel (his tale Only the Dead was among the eight longlisted nominees for that year’s prize). American Blood is so cinematic in its styling, it’s no wonder that Hollywood has already acquired film writes to Sanders’ yarn.

The Yellow Diamond (Faber and Faber UK) finds novelist Andrew Martin, familiar for his books about early 20th-century British railway sleuth Jim Stringer (Night Train to Jamalpur), launching what could become a second series. This one stars Detective Inspector Blake Reynolds, who has assumed command of a special unit of the Metropolitan Police set up to keep tabs on the super-rich. That unit’s creator, Detective Superintendent George Quinn, comes from a privileged background that has left him comfortable rubbing elbows with the champagne-and-Lambourghinis set; Reynolds, who grew up on a northern housing estate, is considerably less at ease in the same crowd. But Quinn has been shot and remains in a coma, so Reynolds will have to polish his shoes and his lifestyle, in general, if he’s to hobnob with the Russian oligarchs and others he must question in order to solve the attack on DS Quinn. Fortunately--even if it doesn’t seem so right off the bat--Reynolds has the help of Quinn’s personal assistant, Victoria Clifford. Might she, though, be concealing information he needs to do his job?

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

1 comment:

Clinton Greaves said...

I'm reading AMERICAN BLOOD at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it. If it holds together through the end it will likely make my upcoming year's best list.