“Killer’s Art” comes to us from one of Sweden’s most popular crime fiction writers Mari Jungstedt. The theft of a painting and the battered and naked body of an art dealer set this mystery in order. This well-crafted police procedural is the fourth in the series and features ongoing characters police superintendent Anders Knutas and reporter Johan Berg and takes place on a Martha’s Vineyard-type island on the Baltic Sea called Gotland where we see the contrast between the glittering art world and the shadowy, savage Gehenna underground surrounding it. As usual with Jungstedt’s books, this is a thriller that will make you care about the characters as you explore those from different economic and erudite worlds.
Class differences are once again at play in “The Girl from Berlin,” the third novel set in the 1950s from spy writer Elizabeth Wilson. There is Communist paranoia everywhere, along with defections, and then murder. As one would expect in a tale of espionage, characters are not what they seem. Paranoia will haunt you as you try to make sense of who you can and cannot trust, not only on an international level, but also personal. Be careful of Wilson’s misdirection; she’ll lead you away. This is the third novel from Wilson set in the same 1950s timeframe involving duplicitous characters playing various major and minor roles as the series unfolds.
Duplicitous characters are not only on a national level, but within the local New Zealand police department in Paul Thomas’s twisted “Death on Demand.” Set in New Zealand, this is the fourth police procedural featuring vigilant Detective Sergeant Tito Ihaka. He’s not popular and his colleagues would love to see him go, especially when he starts revealing the unsavory underbelly of the department as he moves through police diplomacy with the same force of a herd of rampaging cattle. Some have called author Paul Thomas, “Elmore Leonard on acid.” Pay special attention to the believable characters and the dialogue, both excellent and droll.
And now our tour comes back to New York in the 1960s to a mystery debut and the start of a new series. Sexism is common in the 1960s and author James W. Ziskin uses this as his backdrop in Book One, “Styx & Stone.” His main character Ellie Stone wants to be a reporter in a time when this was an all-boy’s club. However, when her father’s life is threatened, she begins to exert herself to find out why. It becomes obvious when another of her father’s contemporaries is murdered and she starts learning all she can from her father’s university colleagues only to discover not everything one hears or reads in college can be considered the truth especially when dealing with some manuscripts that seem to be worth their weight in blood. Look for the surprise ending that really brings this 1960s murder mystery alive.
This should give you something to read for the next few days. Until next time, read like someone is burning the books!
– Clay Stafford is a husband, father, author / filmmaker (www.ClayStafford.com), business owner (www.AmericanBlackguard.com), and founder of Killer Nashville (www.KillerNashville.com) with over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print in over 14 languages. Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” (www.OneOfTheMiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” (www.JefferyDeaverXOMusic.com). Publishers Weekly has named Stafford one of the top 10 Nashville literary leaders playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” not only in middle-Tennessee, but also extending “beyond the city limits and into the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13)
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