The second installment of his hard-boiled Natchez trilogy finds Iles’ (Natchez Burning, 2014, etc.) hero Penn Cage on even swampier, and surely deadlier, ground than before. … Fans will find that the pace has picked up a touch from the first volume—and that’s a good thing. We’ll need to wait for the next one before toting up the body count, but it’s sure to be massive.
Gathering Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #25) by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport, of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, celebrates his 25th appearance by crossing state and jurisdictional lines in pursuit of a killer who's made the pursuit personal. Lucas' adopted daughter, Letty, first hears about Porter Pilate in faraway San Francisco … moves heaven and earth to bring the young woman [Skye] from Rapid City, where she's hiding out, to Minnesota, but Pilate and company are already close by… Skye soon falls into Pilate's clutches, and her fate inspires Lucas, whom Letty has pulled into the case, to track Pilate and his disciples from Minnesota to Michigan's isolated Upper Peninsula. Mayhem follows. What doesn't follow is much suspense, any memorable characters, or even any strong rooting interest, since Pilate's 20 followers can be picked off one or two at a time without seriously compromising his bogeyman reputation as he schemes to kill Lucas, or maybe Letty. ... Fast, proficient, and utterly forgettable. Lucas' wife, Weather, says it best when she tells her husband: "Don't get shot; it'd be really inconvenient for everybody."
During the Great Depression, former Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon gave President Franklin Delano Roosevelt a marked dollar bill and a cryptic note. The puzzle contained in those items now forces retired intelligence agent Cotton Malone to save the world economy. … Action is frantic, major characters are static, but Malone joins forces with serious-minded Treasury agent Isabella Schaefer … in shoot-'em-ups from Venice to the wilds of Croatia. Another page-turning thriller blending history, speculation and fast-paced action.
Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
A lady with a secret to hide and a gentleman reputed to be mad make a dandy investigative team. Ursula Kern … now runs a successful secretarial service in Victorian London. When her best worker, Anne Clifton, is found dead, she refuses to believe the vivacious Anne would kill herself, as the police surmise, and decides to investigate. Ursula had been doing secretarial work for the notorious Slater Roxton, who isn't happy to be shunted aside with little explanation. … Refusing, for his own reasons, to be ignored, he insists on helping Ursula determine the truth about Anne's death. Their quest leads to a wealthy nobleman with an unhappy wife who has a knack for cultivating difficult plants—plants that are being used to create a hallucinogenic drug being offered to those who can afford it at a private club that also provides high-class prostitutes. ... Her partnership with Roxton puts her in more personal danger as they pursue a passionate affair that could break her heart. Quick's fans will not be disappointed in her latest combination of detective story and sexy romance … a pleasing page-turner.
…slim but powerful…This novel does not aspire to the grand sweep of history in Ms. Morrison's dazzling 1987 masterpiece, Beloved, but like Home (2012), it attests to her ability to write intensely felt chamber pieces that inhabit a twilight world between fable and realism, and to convey the desperate yearnings of her characters for safety and love and belonging. The scars inflicted on Bride and Booker by their childhoods are metaphors of sorts for the calamities of history and the hold they can exert over a country's or a people's dreams…Writing with gathering speed and assurance as the book progresses, Ms. Morrison works her narrative magic, turning the Ballad of Bride and Booker into a tale that is as forceful as it is affecting, as fierce as it is resonant.