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The Whistler by John Grisham (2016)

In The Whistler (that is whistleblower), John Grisham introduces us to the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct’s investigation of the most corrupt judge in Florida’s history. An elusive character named Mix or Myers or maybe something else lodges a complaint with the board in hopes of an award for himself and his undisclosed client. Thus Lacy Stoltz and her colleague Hugo become involved in the most dangerous and compelling investigation of their board career. Their adventures cross paths with the coastal mafia and corruption at the casino run by the Tappacola Native American tribe. Lacy persists with the investigation even after Hugo is killed and she is terribly injured in an unlikely accident that suggests murder. With the FBI’s help, Lacy unravels this corrupt maze of hidden wealth, obscure identities and a convict on death row who should not be there.

Check out a review from The New York Times.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf (2017)

Amelia Winn is a well-respected nurse with a wonderful life. However, following a tragic accident, she is left deaf, falls into a deep depression, and turns to alcohol. She ends up losing all that is most important to her: her husband, her stepdaughter, and her job.

Two years later, Amelia is finally getting her life back together with a lot of help from Stitch, her best friend and service dog. One morning, while kayaking on the river, Amelia discovers the body of a former friend and coworker. Amelia becomes part of a very disturbing mystery that threatens to destroy her newly reconstructed life.

Not a Sound is a great thriller by Heather Gudenkauf, who just keeps getting better and better with each novel she writes. Very entertaining!

The Red Box by Rex Stout (1937)

This story, published in the year of my birth, is still available as an eBook through IPPL. I enjoyed visiting with Nero Wolf and Archie again as they investigate the death of several persons, one by poison in Wolf’s office. This victim first asks Wolf to be his executor and notes the importance of the red box among the items in his estate but dies before he can reveal its whereabouts. The search for the box brings forth adventures for Archie and the police, but in the end, Wolf produces what appears to be the box and solves the mystery. The Red Box by Rex Stout is a good read about the eccentric Wolf in which he actually leaves his office on one unusual occasion.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane (2017)

What could have led Rachel, a journalist, to shoot her husband? In Since We Fell, the reader learns that Rachel has major trust issues after her mother passed away without revealing who Rachel's father is. Rachel also suffers from post-traumatic stress after witnessing horrible events while reporting in Haiti. When Rachel begins to suspect that her husband has not been entirely truthful to her, her investigative instincts go into overdrive and lead her down a path she couldn't possibly have imagined.

While the Dennis Lehane book begins slowly and is leisurely-paced for at least the first third, soon you are engrossed in Rachel's story and can't put it down. The relationship between Rachel and her husband is very reminiscent of the marriage in Gone Girl and readers of the novels of Peter Swanson will find much to love here.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (2014)

If you like mysteries with engaging characters and storylines that delve into their personal lives, then you’ll enjoy this book. Joe, a college student, is given an assignment to write about the life of an elderly person. He goes to a nursing home where he meets Carl Iverson, a Vietnam War veteran dying of cancer. Iverson was recently moved to the nursing home from prison, where he spent the last 30 years for rape and murder. Iverson reluctantly agrees to be interviewed. As Joe learns about Carl's life, he questions the validity of Iverson’s conviction. Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth about the 30-year-old crime.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens is an excellent debut novel that would make a good book club selection.

Code of a Killer (2015)

I loved Code of a Killer. Told in three parts, it follows a serial killer who was killing young teenage girls. And you didn’t see who did it, but the way they showed different people, you formed suspicions.

We also learn about Dr. Alec Jeffreys, whose DNA studies were not going well. When a woman asked him to prove her son was her biological child to prevent his deportation, his test actually worked. At the same time, the police were not getting anywhere with solving the murder. When the killer struck again, someone suggested that Jeffreys could help.

Based on the true story of how the police started using DNA to catch killers, Code of a Killer is a very intense, fast paced mystery.

Find Her by Lisa Gardner (2016)

After surviving 472 days kidnapped by a sexual predator, kept in a coffin-sized box and slowly starved, Flora Dane is rescued. She tells her story only once, to FBI victim advocate Samuel Keynes. When D. D. Warren, a Boston detective, is called to the scene of a brutal murder committed by Flora, she learns that Flora has been involved in three other incidents since her return to society. D. D. Warren wonders if Flora is a victim or a vigilante and whether she can assist in the Stacey Summers case, a college student who has been missing for three months.

Lisa Gardner’s Find Her will give you an awareness of trauma bonding, the effects violent crimes have on the victim and their families, and the psychology of sadistic sexual predators. Discover other titles featuring D. D. Warren.

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (2016)

Retired Chief Inspector Gamache becomes Commander of the Surete Academy in hopes of wiping out the last traces of corruption infecting the Sûreté du Québec. But his choice of professors seems ill advised with two who clearly had been involved in the wrongdoing. Also, the reader is greatly puzzled why Commander Gamache decides to admit a freshman, previously rejected for good reason, just because he recognizes her name.

As expected with Louise Penny’s mysteries, the interesting characters of Three Pines come into play, this time in regards to an old map found in the wall of the Bistro and as hosts to the unlikely freshman and three other cadets for whom Gamache has special interest following the violent death that befalls the Academy. A Great Reckoning brings out hope for redemption, forgiveness, and justice in answer to the misdeeds of the past.

Check out The New York Times list on the “latest and best in crime fiction,” which includes a nod to A Great Reckoning.

Maigret (1992-1993)

If you’re a fan of the Poirot series starring David Suchet, you may enjoy Michael Gambon in Maigret, another PBS mystery show. I’m not familiar with the novels by Georges Simenon that the series is based on, but Gambon’s portrayal is very likeable—in his dealings with people he exhibits that same courtesy and warmth that Poirot does. It’s also fun to watch the Chief Inspector work with his team of police officers—portrayed by a strong British cast. A cast that, by the way, wholeheartedly refuses to drop their accents or in any way act French. An amusing quirk of the show! The series also benefits from the same high production value as Poirot, and its 1950s Paris setting shines.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (2009)

As the first in a new series by Alan Bradley, this mystery has promise. Flavia is delightful, charming, intelligent, and an almost too clever eleven-year-old chemist who deftly solves a murder in her English village in the early 1950s. The reader wants to scream at her older sisters, her silent father, and the authorities to get out of the way and let Flavia solve the crime in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

The Big Heat (1953)

Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame star as an honest police detective who goes after the gangsters who killed his wife and the gangster’s girlfriend who switches her allegiance. Police corruption and a conspiracy drive the plot. I consider The Big Heat to be one of the best noir movies of the 1950s. If you like classic film noir, add this tense, dark, and gritty film to your must-see list.

Check out our list of other 1950s Noir films.

The Crossing by Michael Connelly (2015)

crossingMichael Connelly lets his two popular characters – Detective Harry Bosch and his half-brother Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) – cross paths and work together in The Crossing. Thus the reader is treated to the tactics and viewpoints of both defense and police as the investigation proceeds. But Harry is not at all comfortable working with the defense even though he has been forced into retirement by the police. He can’t help feeling like a traitor crossing over to the enemy and can only justify helping a defense lawyer by saying he is searching for the true killer. Other baffling crossings occur among the killers, victims, and the police who cross to the dark side.

The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (2015)

drifterHighly recommend this debut novel to fans of mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and especially fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. The main protagonist, Peter Ash, is an ex-Marine Lieutenant who served for eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning to the U.S. a year earlier, he decides to live in the mountains, as PTSD causes him to have extreme claustrophobia and panic attacks when indoors for any time. When he finds out that his best friend from the military committed suicide, he goes to Milwaukee to help out this friend’s widow and two sons. The mystery begins when he finds a suitcase with lots of cash and explosives under the porch of their house.

In The Drifter, the cast of characters are vividly-drawn and complex, even the dog, Mingus. A central theme in this book is the effects of war on returning vets. I'm looking forward to Nicholas Petrie’s next book with Peter Ash (Burning Bright, which was released earlier this month).

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith (2012)

cloudsA short novel with a good ending but one that makes the reader wonder who actually stole the valuable painting from the wall of the Scottish country gentleman. Isabel is a philosopher and maybe an amateur detective with almost a compulsion to help others with their ethical and love life problems. She has lots of ideas and is always ready to listen attentively but with great care not to offend those seeking her help. At home she has little Charley, husband Jamie, and a sometimes troublesome housekeeper. With all this, it’s hard to see how she has time to edit the philosophy journal she owns or to help out at her niece’s restaurant. Isabel is a good friend to have as she seems to relish clouds passing by. If you enjoy The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, there is a series of books by Alexander McCall Smith featuring Isabel Dalhousie.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly (2016)

wrongsideAs a private investigator, Harry Bosch has been secretly hired by wealthy Whitney Vance to find out before he dies if he has an heir. While in college in 1950, Vance was told by his girlfriend that she was pregnant, but after telling his father about the situation, the girlfriend disappeared and Vance never saw her again. Vance would like his vast fortune to go to his descendants rather than have it in the hands of his company’s board of directors. Bosch is also part of the San Fernando Police Department reserve unit and is partnered with Bella Lourdes to try and discover a serial rapist in the area that they have nicknamed "Screen Cutter." With these two cases, the reader accompanies Bosch as he uses his investigative techniques to find the answers he needs. The Wrong Side of Goodbye is a very satisfying entry in Michael Connelly’s long-running series.