Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pierce’s Picks

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

The Sleeper (Mysterious Press/Open Road) finds Canadian J. Robert Janes taking another of his infrequent breaks from composing the Jean-Louis St-Cyr/Hermann Kohler series of historical mysteries (Clandestine) in order to present this story of David Douglas Ashby, an American with a potentially deadly secret. Following his military service in World War I, Ashby wed Christina von Hoffman, the well-proportioned, yet manipulative offspring of a German general, and with her fathered a child, Karen. As Adolf Hitler consolidated his power in Berlin and became ever more bellicose, though, Ashby--fearing for his daughter’s safety--essentially kidnapped the girl from her mother and fled with her to England. Ashby is now a popular teacher at a country boarding school, the headmaster of which is an old army comrade whose life he once saved, and whose wife has fallen more than a little in love with Ashby. Meanwhile, Karen has been placed covertly in the care of Hilary Bowker-Brown, a surprisingly resourceful young woman who lives on the Cornwall coast and dreams of writing novels. Impatient with Ashby’s determination to keep Karen from her, Christina pushes the German intelligence services to find and recover the child. This task may require the awakening of a “sleeper,” an agent in Britain who has remained quiet and under the radar for a long while, in anticipation of just such an assignment as this one. Concealed motives and rivalries between spy agencies help keep readers off-guard through most of this yarn.

Skeleton Blues, by Paul Johnston (Severn House UK), brings the swift return of maverick, near-future Edinburgh investigator Quint Dalrymple, who we last saw in Heads or Hearts, released just this last summer in the States. It’s 2034 here, and the various city-states that once comprised Scotland are holding a public referendum to decide whether to restore their union. That’s a touchy enough matter by itself, and is destined to be made even more difficult following the murder of a tourist in Edinburgh. Called in once more by the Council of City Guardians to help, Quint and his partner, Davie Oliphant, go looking for a prime suspect who is nowhere to be found, while the threat of violence hangs heavy over the former Scottish capital--social unrest that might be playing into the hands of nefarious parties. The U.S. debut of Skeleton Blues is expected in March 2016.

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

No comments: