Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
British private detective Jackson Brodie, star of three previous Atkinson novels (When Will There Be Good News, 2008, etc.), finds himself embroiled in a case which shows that defining crime is sometimes as difficult as solving it.
Tracy Waterhouse, who is middle-aged, overweight and lonely, heads security for a mall in Leeds. Retired from the local police force, she remains haunted by one of her earliest cases, when she and her partner found a little boy abandoned in the apartment where his mother had been murdered days earlier. Although the murderer was supposedly found (but died before being brought to trial), Tracy never learned what happened to the child with whom she'd formed a quick bond. When Tracy sees a known prostitute/lowlife mistreating her child at the mall, she impulsively offers to buy the child, and the woman takes the money and runs. Tracy knows she has technically broken the law and even suspects the woman might not be the real mother, but her protective instinct and growing love for the little girl named Courtney overrides common sense; she begins arrangements to flee Leeds and start a new life with the child. Meanwhile, Jackson has come to Leeds on his own case. Raised and living in Australia, adoptee Hope McMaster wants information about her birth parents, who supposedly died in a car crash in Leeds 30 years ago. As he pursues the case, Jackson considers his relationships with his own kids—a troublesome teenage daughter from his first marriage and a young son whom DNA tests have recently proved he fathered with a former lover. Jackson's search and Tracy's quest intertwine as Jackson's questions make the Leeds police force increasingly nervous. It becomes clear that the 1975 murder case Tracy worked on is far from solved and has had lasting repercussions.
The sleuthing is less important than Atkinson's fascinating take on the philosophic and emotional dimensions of her characters' lives.
The Jungle (Oregon Files Series #8) by Clive Cussler, Jack Du Brul
Juan Cabrillo and his crew of mercenaries engage in one daring rescue operation after another with progressively higher stakes in Cussler's high-octane eighth Oregon Files novel (after The Silent Sea), his sixth collaboration with Du Brul. The rescue of a kidnap victim, an Indonesian teenage boy, from an Afghan village, yields a bonus in the form of MacD Lawless, a former U.S. Army Ranger, who proves of immediate value. Betrayals, more rescues, and escapes follow as one mysterious man seeks world domination using a discovery linked to 13th-century China. Cabrillo's handpicked team members, who operate from their state-of-the-art ship, the Oregon, are the only chance to stop a plot that threatens to bring the U.S. government to its knees. The frenetic action moves from Afghanistan to Singapore and the Burmese jungle with lots of derring-do at sea before climaxing in a surprising locale in a fashion sure to delight series fans.
The Troubled Man (Kurt Wallander Series #10) by Henning Mankell
After his stand-alone historical Daniel, Mankell returns to his beloved detective Kurt Wallander in this tenth and possibly final installment of the best-selling series. Wallander delights in the birth of his first grandchild and enjoys the company of his daughter, Linda, but struggles with his role as an older and increasingly forgetful investigator for the Ystad Police. When the parents of Linda's partner go missing, Wallander finds himself deep in a decades-old mystery involving foreign spies, submarines, and Cold War politics. He strives to understand the complexities of the case while also dealing with the loneliness of old age, the sadness of friends' passing, and an alarming tendency to forget where he is and what he's doing. VERDICT Wallander might be aging, but Mankell is dead on in crafting an intricate plotline equal to the skills and insight of his famous detective. This is essential for fans of the series, and it succeeds as a stand-alone in the crowded field of dark, psychological Scandinavian thrillers.
When the Thrill Is Gone by Walter Mosley
In the third Leonid McGill mystery, following Known to Evil (2010),the African American private eye (he owes his unusual first name to his "crackpot Communist father"), returns for another adventure. Unlike Mosley's celebrated Easy Rawlins novels, set in L.A. from the 1940s through the 1960s, this series is set in contemporary New York and features McGill employing all variety of high-tech gadgetry. And, yet, despite the trimmings, this one begins in classic hard-boiled Chandlerian fashion: a beautiful woman, Chrystal Tyler, arrives in McGill's office claiming her billionaire husband may be planning to kill her. The claim might be unbelievable, but her cash is real enough, prompting McGill to take the case. Inevitably, he finds himself stuck in the middle of a plot that's several levels more complicated than he had anticipated. Through three novels, McGill has become a likable enough series hero in the old-school mold. Mosley's many fans will find plenty to keep them engaged here, though they may still find themselves wondering if Rawlins really did die at the end of Blonde Faith (2007). HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Mosley's past successes have built a committed readership, especially for his crime fiction, and his publisher will make every effort to hook Easy Rawlins fans on this new series. --(David Pitt)