This week’s NYT Sunday Book Review offers a rundown of crime stories starting with Joseph Finder’s review of Sascha Arango’s The Truth and Other Lies (S&S/Atria; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample). It is an antihero novel about a man pretending to write the very successful crime novels his wife actually pens.
After pointing out that “we’re in something of a golden age of the sociopathic antihero, on the page and on screen, from Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter to the passionate borderlines of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins,” Finder calls this a strong example of the genre:
Arango, a German television writer, has constructed a clever plot that always surprises, told with dark humor and dry wit and bustling with aperçus that show no signs of jet lag from Imogen Taylor’s clean translation.
Trade reviews are very strong and it is a July Indie Next pick.
Reviewer Marilyn Stasio’s crime roundup column in the same issue highlights four further titles.
Leah Stewart returns to her suspense roots in The New Neighbor (S&S/Touchstone; Dreamscape; OverDrive Sample). The secret-filled novel centers on two reclusive women who begin a fraught relationship after they exchange grudging waves from the decks of their isolated houses. As the story unfolds, Margaret, an abrasive 90-year-old, decides to play detective, prying into the past of Jennifer, a much younger woman with a 4-year-old son.
Stasio tantalizingly ends her review with “Stewart never relaxes her tight focus on these complex characters…but even as they begin to break through each other’s defenses, you can’t help thinking it might have been better for Jennifer if she’d never returned that first wave.”
S.J. Watson’s sophomore novel, Second Life (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), which follows his breakout debut Before I Go To Sleep, is the story of middle-aged and bored Julia who discovers her murdered sister was involved in cybersex. As she investigates further a man who could well be her sister’s killer pulls her into his thrall.
Stasio describes it as “a discreetly sexy novel [that] should have a “Beach Candy” sticker on its cover… [the] romantic suspense story pairs high concept with low literary value. But the plot is a pip.”
Clearly a fan of David Mark, Stasio calls him a “craft-conscious author” and his Det. Sgt. Aector McAvoy mysteries “robust police procedurals.” Her review of the newest, Taking Pity (Penguin/Blue Rider Press; OverDrive Sample), in which McAvoy is involved in two cases, a mass murder from 1966 and a present day crime ring, offers a strong pitch to start the series now and keep reading until caught up.
Not so well received is Tom Wright’s Blackbird (Europa; OverDrive Sample). While praising the style, “Wright is one of those regional authors who can out-sing the birds with his lyrical descriptions of his home place,” Stasio has issues with the plotting, “he keeps running away from his own story.” Still, it is getting great trade reviews and is the follow-up to his well-received debut What Dies In Summer.