Saturday 22 July 2017

stiff competition in the crime line

THE PROFESSIONAL by Robert B Parker (Quercus €17.99) ABANDONED by Cody McFadyen (Hodder & Stoughton €19.99) TOOTH AND CLAW by Nigel McCrery (Quercus Stg£17.99) CONFESSION by Martin O'Brien (Preface £11.99)

Spenser is approached by a group of four good-looking and wealthy women who have a shared problem with a man named Gary Eisenhower. All four are married to rich husbands, considerably older than them, and all have had torrid love affairs with Eisenhower who is now blackmailing them. They want him stopped.

When Spencer confronts Eisenhower, he is surprised to discover he likes the guy. Quickly, however, Spenser is dragged unwillingly into the world of Boston's monied aristocracy, where corruption, vice and sudden death are unhealthily common.

Robert B Parker (78) is widely regarded as the doyen of American crime writing, and this is his 38th Spenser novel. The plot is intriguing, but Spenser's recent outings have been disappointingly short -- don't buy The Professional for a transatlantic flight.

FBI special agent Smoky Barrett is at a friend's wedding when a woman is thrown from a car in front of the guests. A former LAPD homicide detective, the woman disappeared eight years previously and has been tortured and imprisoned since. A coldly calculating killer is seizing and holding women to order -- and Smoky may be next.

McFadyen has already had three US bestsellers, and Abandoned might well provide him with a breakthrough on this side of the Atlantic. Smoky Barrett who underpins the series is tough but likeable, her support team interesting and idiosyncratic, and the storyline is breathlessly fast-moving.

Carl Whittley is a very odd young man. His mother, who does criminal profiling for Bristol's police force, has left home. In between changing his crippled dad's colostomy bag and cooking his meals, Carl kills people -- 10 to date, including a sexy, young TV newsreader he tortured to death.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie is a pretty odd fish too, in that he suffers from a rare neurological disease, synesthesia, that causes the sounds he hears to be translated into intense tastes. But his illness may be the unique tool he needs to bring an unhinged serial killer to justice.

In DCI Mark Lapslie, author Nigel McCrery, a former detective inspector himself, has given life to an intriguing and believable character. As the creator and writer of hit TV series such as Silent Witness, All the King's Men and Back-Up, he knows how to drive the narrative along at a breathless pace.

Chief inspector Daniel Jacquot has been enjoying the quiet life in Provence. A former rugby international, he loves food, wine and one woman, artist Claudine. But when Marseilles Magistrate Solange Bonnefoy's 16-year-old niece is abducted, Jacquot has to go undercover to track down a gang of white slavers led by the amoral and utterly vicious lesbian daughter of one of the city's biggest gangster families.

Martin O'Brien, a former travel editor for British Vogue, writes lyrically about the French countryside, food and wine, and graphically about the shocking violence of criminals. A terrific read that whets the appetite for the four previous Jacquot novels.

Irish Independent

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