Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pierce’s Picks

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

Once a Crooked Man (Minotaur) finds David McCallum—yes, the Scottish-born performer who played Soviet secret agent Illya Kuryakin in television’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and currently appears in NCIS—offering up a comic thriller about a down-on-his-luck New York City actor who, after accidentally overhearing gangster brothers discuss how best to go about eliminating somebody in London with too much information about their disreputable affairs, tries to warn the intended victim … only to wind up becoming a target himself. A flirty British spy adds another welcome dollop of charm to this tale that suggests McCallum is no stranger to farcical crime capers cooked up by the likes of Donald E. Westlake and other authors.

Peter May’s Coffin Road (Quercus UK) returns readers to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands—the wind-ravaged setting for the same novelist’s award-winning Lewis Trilogy—where Detective Sergeant George Gunn (introduced in The Blackhouse) is pulled into a mystery involving the century-old disappearances of lighthouse keepers. Entwined with that promising plot line is a second, this one involving an amnesia victim who has washed up on the Isle of Harris with no clue to his own identity, save for a map identifying a route called Coffin Road. There is also a bonus, third story thread having to do with a teenage girl in Edinburgh, who has become convinced that the death of her scientist-father two years ago was not the result of suicide.

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

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