Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Pierce’s Picks

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

Let me apologize for not delivering “Pierce’s Picks” posts during the entire month of October. Between Bouchercon in North Carolina and a subsequent death in my family, I couldn’t find the mind space necessary to be thinking about forthcoming crime, mystery, and thriller novels. But I think (I hope) I can get back on track now, so …

The Mulberry Bush (Mysterious Press), by former journalist and CIA “deep cover” operative Charles McCarry, brings us an unnamed young American narrator who, following the downfall of his estranged father--a brilliant but prankish intelligence agent whose persistent unwillingness to play by conventional rules doomed him at Headquarters (McCarry’s stand-in for the CIA)--sets out to revenge his parent by taking on a mission that appears to benefit Headquarters, but should ultimately leave it in ruins. After contriving his recruitment into the agency, the narrator is first sent to prove himself in the Middle East (where he arranges assassinations), but then infiltrates what remains of a leftist revolutionary group in Argentina with ties to Russia. That circle was once led by a magnetic idealist named Alejandro Aguilar, and it’s his 29-year-old daughter, the lovely Luz, who McCarry’s protagonist falls in love with and endeavors to employ--along with her influential but enigmatic foster father, and a crafty Russian embassy official--in carrying out his retribution plot. A Cold Death in Amsterdam, the debut novel by Anja de Jager (Constable UK), introduces Lotte Meerman, a cold-case police detective in the Dutch capital, still working through the emotional damage she suffered in her previous investigation. Thanks to a gas station robbery, she now becomes involved with a deep-pocketed media celebrity named Ferdinand van Ravensberger, whose nephew claims had a hand in the slaying, more than a decade ago, of Otto Petersen, the sullied head of a capital-investment firm. After reopening that homicide case, Meerman discovers several inconsistencies in the original probe, and comes to suspect that her father--a retired police detective with whom she has lost touch--accepted a bribe to “misplace” relevant files. While protecting (against her better judgment) her progenitor’s reputation, the driven Meerman struggles to figure out who really put an early end to Petersen’s life. When another murder takes place, it adds yet further levels of mystery to an already complicated and quite atmospheric tale.

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

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