Tuesday 23 July 2019

Silent night, terrifying night: Thrillers to get into

Myles McWeeney on festive thrillers

Thriller writer James Lee Burke
Thriller writer James Lee Burke

Myles McWeeney

In another strong year for thrillers, Myles McWeeney reveals the best to come on the shelves in the last few weeks:

WAYFARING STRANGER - James Lee Burke Temporarily abandoning the steamy Louisiana bayous of detective Dave Robicheaux, James Lee Burke's latest novel opens in Texas in 1934 when its young narrator, Weldon Avery Holland, has a fateful encounter with Bonnie and Clyde, and moves on to Germany in 1944 where Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland saves the life of his sergeant Hershel Pine. After the war the two men go into the oil business, but among the super-rich in 1950s Huston, they discover levels of greed, cruelty and viciousness as great as they had survived in the blood and horror of war. A powerful, sprawling saga of loss and redemption told in Burke's signature lyrical prose.

BETTER OFF DEAD - Tom Wood Victor is a professional assassin on top of his game, an emotionless hunter of human beings who knows he is being hunted himself. He does not do favours for anyone, but when one of his underworld clients, a ruthless Russian gangster boss, begs him to protect his estranged daughter Gisele from being murdered in London by a rival, he reluctantly agrees - but only because he had once loved her mother. Stalked through the streets of London by vicious killers and the authorities, Victor's every move brings danger even closer to Gisele. Electrifyingly violent and exciting.

AND SHE WAS - Alison Gaylin Brenda Spector is a missing persons investigator. When she was a child, her older sister stepped into a car and was never seen again. The trauma triggered in Brenda a rare neurological disorder that enables her to remember every moment of every day in her life - except, cruelly, that day her sister disappeared. When a case she's working on seems to have links to her own past, it looks like she might be close to the answer she's been seeking all these years. An interesting and deftly plotted debut, the first in a promised series.

THE EXECUTION - Dick Wolf The newly elected charismatic and reforming Mexican president is heading to New York for United Nations week, intent of getting support to tackle his country's murderous drug cartels. With him is the hard-as-nails but beautiful detective Cecilia Garza of the Mexican intelligence agency. When she learns of a mass murder just outside the city, in which the victims are marked with a carving of a hummingbird, she knows Chuparosa, a brutal and cunning assassin she been hunting for years, is also in town and her new president is in deadly danger. Author Dick Wolf, who created the TV series Law & Order, knows how to rack up tension to fever pitch.

THE BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES - Various Finally, what better Christmas gift for crime fiction addicts than this mighty tome, weighing in at 730 pages and containing 60 yuletide whodunits, featuring, among many others, sleuths of the stature of Poirot, Marple, Rebus, Morse, Rumpole and Sherlock Holmes, as well as hugely enjoyable seasonal stories by luminaries like Donald E Westlake, John D McDonald, Josephine Bell, Sara Paretsky and Mary Higgins Clarke. Guaranteed terrifying as well as holy nights.

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